Athirappilly Falls

Athirappilly / Chalakudy Taluk, Kerala, India

About Athirappilly Falls


Hiking Distance: 2-3km round trip
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2009-11-17
Date last visited: 2009-11-17

Waterfall Latitude: 10.28499
Waterfall Longitude: 76.56989

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Athirappilly Falls was perhaps the most spectacular waterfall in Kerala (pronounced like Carol-uh) and was certainly one that Julie liked very much.

We remember this 24m high falls most because we stayed at a pretty nice upscale and comfortable resort called the Rainforest Hotel which yielded nice frontal views of the falls.

Athirappilly_Falls_123_11162009 - Looking over the brink of Athirappilly Falls
Looking over the brink of Athirappilly Falls

This place was also conveniently located within a 10-minute walk to the official entrance of the Athirappilly Falls along the main road.

We were able to buy the tickets from a booth just a few paces to the left of the easy-to-miss gated driveway for the resort.

Even though the walk to the entrance was short, we were sweating bullets well before we even got there thanks to the humidity.

Experiencing the Athirappilly Falls

Beyond the official entrance, there was more walking on developed walkways flanked by native teak trees along with some interpretive nature signs.

We couldn’t read the signs because they appeared to be mostly in the local Keralan Malayalam script.

Athirappilly_Falls_081_11162009 - At the entrance facility for the Athirappilly Falls
At the entrance facility for the Athirappilly Falls

We also noticed some birds as well as the ubiquitous monkeys (which I suspected were fed by visitors and locals alike) while walking through the complex.

Ultimately, we reached a fork where one path descended to the misty bottom of the waterfall while the other path continued straight to the top of the falls (where we got the photo you see at the top of this page).

The path to the bottom went down several steps under the shade of the forest (though I don’t think the shade helped too much with the humidity).

We did see some locals in dhotis and lungis (both were kind of like a cross between a towel and a kilt) opting to go barefoot on a steep and slippery shortcut bypassing the established walkway altogether.

Athirappilly_Falls_113_11162009 - Julie checking out the Athirappilly Falls from its base as we looked against the morning sun
Julie checking out the Athirappilly Falls from its base as we looked against the morning sun

By the way, we were told that dhotis were intended for going out while the lungis were for home or other non-outside purposes).

Due to the late monsoon in this area when we visited, Athirappilly Falls had a pretty healthy flow despite signage suggesting that there was a hydroelectric facility further upstream.

The dam was out of sight, but the presence of high voltage power lines in the surrounding forested hills of the Western Ghats suggested to us that the hydro was definitely there.

Moreover, there were signs warning us that water could be released from the dam at any moment.

Timing A Visit to Athirappilly Falls

Athirappilly_Falls_068_11162009 - Early morning view of the Athirappilly Falls from the Rainforest Resort
Early morning view of the Athirappilly Falls from the Rainforest Resort

We had been told that the three segmented columns of the Athirappilly Falls could actually merge and span the entire width of the Chalakudy River during sustained downpours in the monsoon.

That statement kind of brought back memories of what we were told regarding the behavior of Ntumbachushi Falls in Zambia.

Speaking of timing, I happened to take most of my photos in the early morning before the sun came up.

It seemed that when the sun would go high enough on the horizon, morning would not a good time to see the falls directly because the sun would shine against us while casting a shadow on the falls.

Athirappilly_Falls_103_11162009 - Using the nearby trees to try to shield ourselves from the morning sun when photographing the Athirappilly Falls
Using the nearby trees to try to shield ourselves from the morning sun when photographing the Athirappilly Falls

I’d reckon early to late afternoon would be the time when the light would be more favorable for frontal views of the falls.

Notoriety with the Athirappilly Falls

Apparently Athirappilly Falls was very well known in Southern India.

I’ve seen it in some of the complimentary magazines on the domestic flights as well as being featured in several TV shows of both Bollywood and Tamil origins.

I’m sure the presence of the upscale Rainforest Resort also helped the falls’ accessibility and popularity.

Athirappilly_Falls_004_jx_11162009 - We could see the Athirappilly Falls from within our room at the Rainforest Resort, which I'd suspect would be a suitable accommodation for film crews and actors filming on location
We could see the Athirappilly Falls from within our room at the Rainforest Resort, which I’d suspect would be a suitable accommodation for film crews and actors filming on location

We certainly appreciated the comfortable and clean rooms along with some pretty delicious Keralan food.

After having stayed in pretty basic accommodations in both Sirsi and Murudeshwar (both in Karnataka state) the previous two nights, it made the resort experience that much more memorable.

Nomenclature of Athirappilly Falls

Finally, you might also see Athirappilly Falls spelled Athirapally Falls as well as Athirampally Falls.

As is often the case when you Romanize a typically non-Roman language, you get variations on spellings as attempts were made to approximate their pronunciations in the English language.

A local Keralan tour representative pronounced it slowly to us as “ah-TEE-ram-Pah-lee.”

Athirappilly_Falls_092_11162009 - Some people standing near the base of the Athirappilly Falls providing a sense of scale of its overall height
Some people standing near the base of the Athirappilly Falls providing a sense of scale of its overall height

Note that Vazhachal Falls was merely 3km from the official entrance of Athirappilly Falls though we didn’t have time to visit it.

There was also another falls 5km from the entrance as well but the name of that one escaped me.

Authorities

Athirappilly Falls resides near Athirappilly in the Thrissur District of Kerala State, India. It is administered by the Thrissur District Government. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can visit their website.

Athirappilly_Falls_003_11162009 - Our early morning view of the Athirappilly Falls right from our room at the Rainforest Resort
Athirappilly_Falls_014_11162009 - Contextual view of Athirappilly Falls from the balcony of our room
Athirappilly_Falls_030_11162009 - Looking towards Athirappilly Falls from a different perspective closer to the general dining area at the Rainforest Resort
Athirappilly_Falls_035_11162009 - More zoomed in look at the unobstructed view of the Athirappilly Falls from the general dining area at the Rainforest Resort
Athirappilly_Falls_047_11162009 - Context of me checking out the Athirappilly Falls from the Rainforest Resort
Athirappilly_Falls_049_11162009 - Contextual portrait view of the Athirappilly Falls from the Rainforest Resort
Athirappilly_Falls_059_11162009 - View of Athirappilly Falls later in the morning as the sun was illuminating the mist in the distance as seen from the Rainforest Resort
Athirappilly_Falls_006_jx_11162009 - Looking back at the Rainforest Resort where we had spent the night and then started our self-guided walk to experience the Athirappilly Falls from its complex
Athirappilly_Falls_083_11162009 - It got hot and sticky enough for Julie to remove her long sleeved shirt by the time we got past the entrance to Athirappilly Falls
Athirappilly_Falls_085_11162009 - Julie on the walkway flanked by some indigenous hardwoods and other trees within the Athirappilly Falls complex
Athirappilly_Falls_087_11162009 - Some souvenir and refreshment stands located where the path branched into two at the Athirappilly Falls complex
Athirappilly_Falls_116_11162009 - Looking down at some young Keralans aggressively taking a shortcut to quickly make it down to the base of the Athirappilly Falls
Athirappilly_Falls_088_11162009 - Arriving at the base of the Athirappilly Falls where a couple of other visitors stood providing a sense of scale of the waterfall's height
Athirappilly_Falls_096_11162009 - Profile view of Athirappilly Falls as we made it down to its base
Athirappilly_Falls_109_11162009 - Direct view of the Athirappilly Falls against the morning light

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It took us about 75-90 minutes of driving north from the Cochin (or Kochi) Airport to the Rainforest Hotel in the Vazhachal Forest of the Thrissur District (near the town of Athirappilly).

Even though the road was winding and flanked by thick forest, it was in pretty good shape so our evening arrival wasn’t that big of a deal if you (or your driver) take it slow.

I even recalled that our driver had to watch out for some pretty big sambar deer as one happened to cross the road in front of us en route to the Rainforest Hotel.

For additional context, Cochin was a 3.5-hour flight from Panaji, Goa, a 2-hour flight from Mumbai, and a 3-hour flight from Delhi.

Left to right broad sweep of the falls from the misty base

Trip Planning Resources


Tagged with: thrissur, kerala, trivandrum, western ghats, athirappilly, hydroelectricity, vazhachal falls, cochin, india, waterfall



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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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