The natural beauty of the Athirappilly Waterfalls, which has earned the sobriquet ‘Kerala’s Niagara’, is so enchanting that it attracts tourists in droves throughout the year. As the breathtaking huge cascade is situated in the middle of Kerala, people from the northern and southern sides of the state can fancy relishing the beauty of the waterfall on a day trip. But the authorities concerned have to put in place more facilities and usher in certain changes to make the tourist experience superlative.
The Athirappilly waterfalls flow nonchalantly and at times with a touch of arrogance in the central district of Thrissur. Another popular tourist spot, the pristine Vazhachal waterfall, is 5km away from the Athirappilly Falls. And before reaching the Vazhachal Falls, the surging waters of the Charpa cascade would welcome you. If you are travelling during monsoon season, the rains and the unending mystery of the verdant forest would be a perfect combo for travellers who love to be with nature.
You have to take a pass, which could also be used while visiting the Athirappilly Falls, to soak in the charm of the Vazhachal waterfalls. No matter when you go, the area around the waterfalls will be teeming with tourists. You can see the waterfalls in all its glory from the shade that has been put in place to protect the travellers from sun and rain.
The grandiose Athirappilly waterfall would always create a sense of awe in the minds of the travellers. Make sure to reach the falls before 6 pm as the area is closed for tourists after dusk. Once you reach there, you will be greeted by scores of families who are busy taking videos against the backdrop of the waterfalls. Solo travellers would be happy to click a few selfies too with the imposing cascade in the frame. Even though the entire area is brimming with travellers, the water body is busy flowing with great intensity to reach the Chalakudy River.
The guards will blow the whistle exactly at 6 pm signaling that the time is up for the visitors to leave. You can stay in one of the hotels that dot the area so that you can enjoy the freshness of the waterfalls when dawn breaks.
Make sure to reach the viewpoint, which is near the entrance, by 6 in the morning as you can get a sweeping view of the waterfall. You can go near the waterfall to see sunlight caressing the foamy white waters only at 8 a.m. While waiting at the entrance you can see many travellers passing by who are on the way to Valparai as the check-post leading to the tourist spot opens at 6 am.
Many tourists could also be seen taking a break at the viewpoint and savouring the out-of-the-world vistas. The visitors to Athirappilly hail from different places such as Thiruvananthapuram, Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kannur, among others. The modest tea shop near the viewpoint would also be seen teeming with people longing to have a piping hot cup of tea or coffee. The Charpa waterfall also takes a different avatar in the morning as the milky cascade oozes with tranquillity to the delight of the travellers.
Late to open, no accommodation for drivers
The opening time of the Athirappilly Waterfalls area is discouraging many tourists, who club multiple nearby spots while touring this area, from checking out the mighty falls. A few of the drivers who came to the spot with tourists from outside Kerala said that drivers who bring them have no proper accommodation facilities here. Riyas, a Kochi native who was at Athirappilly with tourists from Odisha, said, “In areas like these, it is tough to sleep inside one's vehicle. For instance, this is a six-day trip for me with my travellers touching many spots like Munnar, Thekkady, Wagamon and more. Alongside promoting tourism, the authorities should ensure basic facilities too. The late entry is at a problem near the adjacent Charppa waterfalls too.
What more could be done
If the entry timing is changed to 6 am from the present 8 am, the travellers would get an opportunity to enjoy the heavenly views of the waterfalls.
It would be better if the visitors were allowed to hang around in the vicinity of the waterfall till 6.30 pm.
The visitors are on the receiving end on busy days due to a lack of adequate seating arrangements and washrooms, which should be improved.