Athirapally or Athirappilly the largest and most famous waterfall of Kerala in the Chalakudy town of Thrissur District of Kerala. Originating from the upper reaches of the Western Ghats Athirapally waterfall is 80 feet (24-metre) high. It is one of the major picnic spots of Kerala. Athirapally waterfall is located at the entrance to the Sholayar ranges in Athirapally panchayat of Chalakudy Taluk in Valparai at an altitude of 1000 ft. The cool spray that covers a large area near the falls makes Athirapally a scenic location. The picturesque beauty of the Athirapally waterfall has been a location in many films including Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi and Telugu. To Name a few starring Shahrukh Khan’s Dil Se, Iruvar (Tamil), Guru(Hindi), Punnagai Mannan, Ravan, and the latest Bahubali are some of them. The Athirapally waterfalls attract visitors from across India, especially during the monsoon months (June–September). About 7 million tourists visit the Athirapally and Vazhachal picnic spot each year. Monsoons add to the charm of these falls. However, trekking up there during that season can be risky. Swimming in the river during monsoon is not recommended.
Read also: Vazhachal Waterfalls
The Athirapally waterfall is also known as “The Niagara of India”. It is 100m (330 ft) wide and has 4 drops. Originating from the Anamudi mountain ranges of Western Ghats the river initially runs smoothly but becomes more turbulent as it nears Athirapally, surges around big rocks and cascades down in three separate plumes. Below the falls, the river remains turbulent for about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) until it reaches Kannamkuzhi,
Athirappilly is just 30 Km from Chalakudi town and can easily be reached by hiring a taxi or by bus from Chalakudi. Athirapally is situated on the highways connecting Tamil Nadu and Kerala, amidst thick forest, so night riding is not advised. The journey to Athirapally is mesmerising as it passes through winding roads, small villages and lush green forests. There is also a trek of 2 kilometres to reach the falls. Paved paths are there which leads you to the top of the waterfalls through thick bamboo clusters. If you wish you can also go to the bottom of the fall though the path is steep and narrow.
Thrissur District Tourism Promotion Council along with Athirapally Destination Management Council organizes daily Jungle Safari trips from Chalakudy to Malakkappara. It is the most attractive and most beautiful wildlife watch and Ecotourism Jungle safari in the entire Kerala through the evergreen Sholayar forest ranges of Western Ghats. It is about 90 km across the rain forests of Sholayar ranges. A unique opportunity to experience the rich flora & fauna of Athirapally- Vazhachal Ecotourism, covering Kauthukapark, Thumboormuzhy Dam & Butterfly garden, Athirapally water falls, Vazhachal falls, 40 km of amidst thick forests, valleys, lofty peaks, tea garden and wildlife watch. This Jungle safari is the most memorable experience, one can have in his Kerala visit.
Flora and Fauna
The unique 180 metres (590 ft) elevation riparian forest in the Athirapally-Vazhachal area is the only location where all four South Indian species of hornbills- the great hornbill (the state bird of Kerala), Malabar pied hornbill, Malabar grey hornbill, and the Indian grey hornbill are found living together. Wildlife in the area includes the Asiatic elephant, tiger, leopard, bison, sambar, and lion-tailed macaque. The river provides habitat for 85 species of fresh water fishes. Among these, 35 are endemic species. All these makes the area the best place to find most animals in the wild.