Remember the glorious tunnel featured in the Amal Neerad movie 'Iyobinte Pusthakam,' where Fahadh Faasil's and Jayasurya's characters engage in a fight? The Anchuruli water tunnel, a 5.5 km-long engineering wonder, was constructed by KSEB in the 1970s to divert water from Erattayar Dam to the Idukki Dam reservoir. It is often considered a yardstick to measure the intensity of monsoon in the district. With rains lashing the catchment areas of the Idukki dam in the past few days, the tunnel in Idukki's Kanchiyar Grama Panchayat and the frothy waterfalls at its mouth have come alive.
Anoop Jose, a local resident and tour operator in the area, said, “With the tunnel and the water flow coming to life, tourists are flocking to Anchuruli. The place was named Anchuruli because there are five mounds of earth seen inside the dam reservoir similar to the shape of inverted vessels (uruli).” During the peak of the summer in April and May and at times during weak monsoon seasons, the tunnel remains dry as there won’t be enough water on the Erattayar side for inflow through the tunnel. The tunnel is near Kakkattukada on the Kattapana-Elappara route.
Though passage through the tunnel is not allowed now even when there is no water flow, some of the local residents like Anoop have travelled the entire 5.5 km tunnel. Apparently, his friends and he, like many others, have explored the tunnel without torches or emergency lamps and by just depending on the light rays from the other end of the tunnel. That said, tourists need to be careful, he opines. “With no barricades and infrastructure ensuring safety, the tourists need to be alert while checking out the mouth of the tunnel and the mini falls on the Idukki reservoir side. The waterfall is just 10 feet away from the tunnel and barricades should be placed in the area for the safety of tourists,” Anoop said.
A few other local residents said that even during the historic floods in 2018, the water level of the reservoir in Idukki did not rise above the mouth of the tunnel for the water to flow in a reverse direction to Erattayar Dam. Those who have explored the tunnel in the past say there is a slight upward slope from the Idukki to the Erattayar side. Kanchiyar panchayat president Suresh KC said, “There are times when we had 25,000 visitors at Anchuruli a day. The Grama Panchayat had allotted as much as Rs 1 cr to improve the tourism infrastructure here. However, we are facing stiff objections from the Dam Safety Authority and Forest departments to conduct any work to improve safety and other facilities.”