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Athirapally Waterfalls

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athirapally waterfallsAthirapally WaterFalls

Athirapally is the perfect frame for some stunning nature photography. A luscious waterfall; dense green forest surrounds; the refreshing, crystalline waters of the mountain stream that eddy around the huge rocks that rise majestically out of it; such photogenic setting makes it a favourite with shutter bugs and film makers. The movie Raavan was almost completely shot here and so were some of the most sensuous song sequences. Hindi film Dil se is a case in point, apart from umpteen others. The Athirapally fall is among the best known falls in Kerala, situated at the entrance of the Sholayar ranges in the Western Ghats, around 70 kilometres from Kochi. The water cascades down from about 80 feet into the Chalakkudy river. The fall can be accessed by a two kilometer trek up a steep climb through lush, green forested area. As you climb deeper into the forest, a calming quiet and a blanket of interesting flora envelope you, spiked only by the chirping of the huge bird population that inhabits this unique riparian ecosystem in Kerala.  After a fifteen minute walk you peak the incline where you stop dead in your tracks at the almost unreal vision ahead.

A gleaming silver swathe of waters streak down the dark rocky ridges, and thickly wooded hills flank it on both sides. Wild orchids in purple hues trail with gay abandon down the trellis of creepers that blanket the steep banks. The pesky waters that create a swift stream where the falls hit flat ground, run playfully around the huge boulders and dance off into a deep dip a few feet away, where the river disappears down another steep ridge. The foam from the fall mists the sky around and caresses your skin in a refreshing spray as you walk down the rest of the way and merge with the milieu. At that point you could feel an acute sense of déjà vu, for this is probably a picture that you have seen so many times and wondered where on earth it was. The huge boulders that pop up from the river provide a good perch to sit on and click some great snaps.

Visit Athirapally during the monsoon, and you can see it in its more untamed, menacing avatar, as the rainwater creates a lusty swell to the fall which comes thundering down, flooding the river into a menacing twirl of rapid fury. Tempting as it is, bathing in Athirapally is not advised, though most tourists find it hard to resist the dip. Precautions are taken to avoid mishaps and a full-fledged police post is stationed here. Athirapally, along with the smaller Vazhachal waterfall five kilometers further downstream, is considered to be the most bio-diverse area in the state, home to scores of endangered endemic species of flora and fauna, including four endangered hornbill species. If you want to explore the adventurous terrain around, there are a number of trekking spots here. To add lure to the place are many water theme parks that offer more fun and frolic to children and the child-like adults. If you cannot tear yourself away from the place, there are many resorts for an overnight stay or for a lavish lunch for a one day picnic.

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