“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain”, so said an inspiring fellow not very long ago, and nowhere is this more true in Southern India than on the Malayali bhumi. Coz when it pours there, it just pours ! The green cover is simply phenomenal so to say, and to see it in full bloom enchants many a city-weathered soul.
And so it was one fine rainy morning, that we got down from our overnight train on this small station called Chalakudy; our gateway to the Athirappilly and Vazhachal falls, among others. The dark, ominous looking clouds had already been hovering and drizzling from above, even as I was reveling at the sights of a small town station. I guess anything laid-back inspires me for sure :-) !
No sooner had we set foot on the platform and walked our first few lazy steps, did those clouds open up all the more, and the drizzle made way for a sudden downpour. I enjoyed the feeling for few initial seconds but had to sprint myself thereafter towards the dry confines of the station shed, which eventually led us to the exit.
A glass of tea while waiting for the rain to end … bliss ! The downpour ended not long after it had started, and we ventured out of the station on to the greenery and wetness all around us. After trying to find a hotel nearby but to no avail, we hailed an auto to the PWD rest-house ( Ph # 2702686) which was 2 kms away. We had done some homework yes ! It was to be realized later that the Chalakudy town is actually some distance away from the railway station, but frankly it was surprising to find no hotels bang opposite the same.
The rest house is located in a beautiful and spacious compound. It’s a huge building, and we got ourselves a basic room, which was worth the money of course. A good sized room for 2, with a clean and big bathroom as well. Only negative: there was no food or even tea on order. The coffee shop just outside the rest house would have to be utilized for such necessities and for some basic food as well.
We had booked a govt tour on the 1st day of our stay there, just to get an idea of the places/waterfalls that could be worth photographing later. This booking has to be done on phone before you arrive; possibly through the rest house ( or check the web link below ). That is where your bus will start from. It’s a day-long tour that covers 4 to 5 places, and a total of 88 kms according to their brochure. We had chosen the Malakkappara Jungle Safari tour. However, it is not the usual jungle safari even if it does pass through the forest area for the most part, albeit only on regular roads. They cover tourist attractions, but the icing(s) on the cake are some of the places which are off radar for usual vehicles. Details below. Check their website for other tours: http://www.athirappillytourism.org.
After the usual morning purification processes ;-), we rushed to join in the rest of the bus crowd. The bus size depends on the no. of people on board as well as the specific tour, so have your fingers crossed for comfort. Having said that, all the buses that we saw ( different tours ) looked to be well maintained and of good quality. The tour starts at 8A.M., but some delay can be expected of course !
After the usual introductions and a welcome kit later ( which included a big umbrella which is so useful in these parts; monsoon season in Kerala is relentless ), off we started from the rest-house, then drove through the city and on to the winding roads towards the star attraction that is Athirappilly, but not before our first stop at the Thumboormuzhi dam/butterfly garden. It’s not the big dam if you assumed so, but a check dam. Forget the technicalities and enjoy the view !