The picturesque Athirappilly waterfalls in Thrissur district is a sought-after travel destination for tourists from across the world. Scores of travellers, both domestic and foreign, come to see the pristine waterfalls in all its glory, especially during the monsoon season. There is a marked spike in tourist footfall at Athirappilly after this popular spot found a place in many popular films, including the visually stunning 'Baahubali.'
The Chalakkudy river flows through the Vazhachal forest division before cascading down a series of falls at Vazhachal, Charpa and Athirappilly – making it a popular tourist destination. The water gushes down about 80 ft in a threefold fall that fills you with awe.
Athirappilly is also known as the 'Niagara of India' and the 'Punnagai Mannan Falls' for people from Tamil Nadu after the movie was shot here. Tickets can be bought from the counter just outside the entrance. There are a couple of shops that sell curios and snacks here.
Closer to the waterfalls, the plantations give way to lush green forests on of either sides. These forests are home to some rare flora and fauna. It is the home of four endangered Hornbills among various other bird and animal species. Once you are out of the vehicle, keep an eye out for them. If you are lucky, you can spot a hornbill or even listen to its piercing trill. Monkeys are common, do not feed them if you are not ready to handle the menace. And if you are going here during the months of October and November, keep an eye out for snakes too.
For a long long time, Athirappilly waterfalls has been one of the favourite shooting locations in Kerala. From Aishwarya Rai to Kareena Kapoor, Preity Zinta, Tamanna Bhatia and Bipasha Basu, there is perhaps no heroine in the Indian film industry who has not shaken a leg with this waterfall as the backdrop. Most often, the waterfall formed the backdrop of a romantic number. There were times when the forests around doubled up as a hideout for a villain or where the main characters came to end their lives.
The falls have strong currents which can be quite dangerous. So it is best not to venture too far into the waters, especially if there are little kids.
This is a plastic free zone.
Visitors time is between 8 am to 5 pm.
Where to go
An attraction in the vicinity is the Vazhachal waterfall, which is 5km from Athirappilly. On the way to Athirappilly, which is on the Chalakudy-Valappara road, one can also visit Peringalkuttu Dam and the Charpa Waterfalls, where water flows only during the monsoon season. Other popular tourist stopovers are the Malakkapara, Chimmini wildlife, Vilangan Hills and the Marottichal waterfall situated 4km inside the forest.
Rich in biodiversity and amazing greenery, Malakkappara can be reached through the rainforests in Vazhachal area of the Western Ghats.
Pristine forests and tea gardens lie close to each other here, presenting a unique sight. Malakkappara is located on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border and the forests are under the Vazhachal and Malayattoor divisions. Beyond Malakkappara, the thick forests give way to scenery of tea gardens.
While planning a trip, travellers can camp at Athirappilly or Malakkappara. There are several eateries near the waterfall.
Located 15 km from Thrissur town, the waterfalls at Marottichal present scenic views during the monsoon. The main attraction of the place is the presence of numerous mini waterfalls. All along the narrow forest trekking path, these small falls provide a soothing sight. Marottichal is home to several bird species too.
This area is not known to host significant wildlife but it has the presence of a wide variety of wild animals and birds. Located near Amballoor in Mukundapuram taluk of Thrissur district, the Chimmini wildlife sanctuary also has a 75-m-tall dam. The Chimmini dam is part of the dam-to-dam tourism circuit.
The wildlife sanctuary is rich in facilities for trekking in the hills.
Other nearby destinations include:
Silver Storm Theme Park
Dream World Theme Park
How to reach
Nearest Railway station: Chalakudy Railway station is about 28 kms from Athirappilly, however all trains do not stop at this station. The major stations nearby are Thrissur (52km) and Ernakulam (57km).
Nearest airport: Conveyance is easily available from Kochi International Airport and is about 32km from Athirappilly.
Buses are also available.
Where to stay
For the best view of the Athirappilly waterfalls in Thrissur district, a traveller should head to the Rainforest Resort. The overwhelming greenery of the forest, mango trees all around, and the waterfalls at a stone’s throw, draw visitors to the resort.
As soon as a traveller turns to the Athirappilly-Vazhachal road flanked by thick vegetation, one can feel the temperature falling. Even during hot summers, this area offers a pleasant weather.
A unique facility of Rainforest resort is the tree house which has been designed by a Swiss architect. One can stay closest to the forest here.
There are several swimming pools in the resort, for kids as well as for adults. The path down the pools lead to the forest. Facilities are arranged for sun bathing as well as for meditation.
What to do
A short trek through the forest takes you near the waterfalls. If you are feeling adventurous, there are steps that go down to the base of falls. It is easier and safer to go to the bottom of the falls in summer.
During the monsoons and the rainy season this pathway may get a bit slippery. You have to be very cautious. Standing near the falls during the rains is an awe-inspiring experience. The roar of the water and a mist of water droplets that light up in myriad colours when the suns ray strikes it paints a pretty picture.
Kerala Tourism Department also offers the following adventures:
Malakkapara Jungle Safari
Valparai Hill Safari
Nelliyampathy Farm Tour
Sholayar Wild Life Safari
Athirapally Mazha Yathra
One can contact them at 04802769888 | 9497069888