It was a swiftly planned trip to Athirappalli waterfalls, near Chalakkudy, Kerala. A marriage in Trissur sounded like a perfect reason to jump out on this trip. And as usual, with the least amount of planning, we booked the tickets the day before the journey. Getting the third one, Darshan from Chennai, to join us was the hard part(or rather the easy one). True to his nature, he gave all kind of reasons to not make the trip and then was there promptly, the morning of the trip. To go to Athirappalli from Trissur, first you need to take a bus to Chalakkudy and from there one of those short buses which will take you all the way up the hill. The bus slowly winded its way up the scenic road. The driver's music sense was appreciable considering the fact that he was playing the evergreen hits of Rahman and Ilayaraja all through the journey.
Contrary to our expectations, the monsoon still hadn't arrived in Kerala. Rising temperature and the humidity were irritations. But as the altitude began to rise, we could feel the coolness. Atlast after an hour's journey, the falls came on view. My first feeling was of nostalgia, a quick memory brush up of my last trip here, as a 10 year old. I could scarcely remember the places but the view of the falls was still fresh in memory. Then it was a quick run to the bathing point to cool off. The bathing areas were cordoned off with ropes to prevent people getting caught in the heavy water flow. The water level was little less and the waterfall was lean considering the scorching heat of the summer. Now its only a few days left before this falls is back in full force. The funniest part of the time in the water was the traditional Indian 'seven stones' game that started spontaneously. There were some 3-4 stones piled up on a rock towards the centre of the river. Somebody threw a stone at it. Before that misdirected throw hit the water, we saw stones coming from all directions, including our own group. This started many rounds of serious gaming, with me once almost throwing a stone on a guy's head. In a fit of spirited throwing, I had taken a particularly heavy stone which didn't go the distance and landed perilously close to the guy. He glared at me and motioned his hand to signal that he'll beat me up if I repeat this. Thats when the last of Darshan's 50 misdirected throws missed the stone yet again.
To get the full view of the falls, we need to walk down a bit. Its a breathtaking sight, even when its leaner because of the long summer. The water droplets were spraying all around making it difficult to shoot pics. The whole area was cordoned off and no one was allowed to get down at this point. But when I came here as a kid, I remember a big crowd taking bath at this very spot. This is the same place where the 'barso re' song from 'guru' was shot. Being one of Mani Ratnam's favourite locations, this place is featured a lot in his upcoming movie 'Raavan' too. As we prepared to walk back, the rain clouds were slowly gathering. We took another bus to 'Vaazhachal', a 5km ride further upstream from Athirappalli. Here, you can watch the water's fury as it flows down a long slope. Further walking upstream will reveal bathing points, notably cleaner than the downstream ones. There were no soap covered men ready to pollute the river with an year load of dust and sweat from their bodies. The tasty mango pickle with extra chilly and salt was yummy. As was the 'vazhakka bhaji' and the 'hot tea'. Half way into the tea, the last bus from this place arrived and it was time for us to bid goodbye to Vaazhachal and Athirappalli.
your crusader Praveen