4.8 / 5

Mullaperiyar Dam
πŸ“ Mullaperiyar Dam, KeralaView map β€Ί

πŸ—“ Best Time To Visit:September to March

⏰ Open Hours:24 hours, all days of the week

🏞 Things To Do:Photography, Sightseeing, Boat rides

πŸ’° Budget:No entry fee

🧳 Traveller Types:Nature Lovers, Photographers, Adventure Seekers

πŸ”– Known For:Architectural marvel, Scenic beauty, Rich biodiversity

πŸš„ Distances:Nearest railway station - Kottayam (114 km), Nearest airport - Madurai (140 km)

🌳 Surroundings:Situated amidst Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary

πŸ“Έ Photo Opportunity:Panoramic view of the dam, wildlife sightings

🚀 Activities:Boat rides in Periyar Lake, Wildlife Safari in the Sanctuary

🏞 Unique Aspects:One of the oldest dams in India, Lies on an active seismic zone

🧭 Directions:Accessible via road from Thekkady

πŸ“Œ Restrictions:Restricted entry during heavy rainfall or potential flooding

πŸ’‘ Tips:Carry a camera, binoculars for wildlife viewing, Wear comfortable shoes for walking

🏨 Nearby Accommodations:Numerous hotels and resorts in Thekkady

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Mullaperiyar Dam - A Marvel Of Engineering And A Source Of Controversy

Mullaperiyar Dam is one of the oldest and largest dams in India, located in Thekkady, Kerala. It was built in the late 19th century by the British engineer John Pennycuick to divert water from the Periyar River to the Vaigai River basin in Tamil Nadu for irrigation and power generation purposes.

The dam is a marvel of engineering and a source of controversy, as it has been the subject of several disputes and conflicts between Kerala and Tamil Nadu over its safety, environmental impact, and water rights. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about Mullaperiyar Dam, its history, purpose, benefits, challenges, and tourism attractions.

Photo of Mullaperiyar Dam 1/6 by

History of Mullaperiyar Dam

The origin and background of the Mullaperiyar Dam project can be traced back to the late 19th century, when the British colonial government in India was looking for ways to improve the agriculture and economy of the Madras Presidency (now Tamil Nadu). The region was facing frequent droughts and famines due to the lack of water resources. The idea of diverting water from the Periyar River in Travancore (now Kerala) to the Vaigai River basin in Madras was proposed by several engineers and officials, but none of them could execute it due to technical and financial difficulties.

The person who finally took up the challenge and succeeded in building the dam was John Pennycuick, a British engineer who had served in India for many years. He was appointed as the chief engineer of the project in 1887 and started working on it with great dedication and determination. He faced many obstacles and hardships during the construction of the dam, such as hostile terrain, heavy rainfall, malaria outbreaks, labor strikes, fund shortages, etc. He even sold his wife’s jewelry and mortgaged his property to finance the project. He also employed innovative techniques and materials to build the dam, such as using lime-surkhi mortar instead of cement, using rubble masonry instead of concrete, using curved gravity design instead of arch design, etc.

The dam was completed in 1895 at a cost of Rs. 8.4 million (about $112 million today). It was inaugurated by Lord Wenlock, the then governor of Madras, on October 24th that year. The dam was named after two rivers that meet near its site: Mullayar (a tributary of Periyar) and Periyar. The dam has a height of 53.6 meters (176 feet), a length of 365.7 meters (1,200 feet), and a storage capacity of 443 million cubic meters (11.5 billion cubic feet). It created an artificial lake and reservoir that covers an area of 8.5 square kilometers (3.3 square miles).

The dam was built under a lease agreement between Travancore and Madras, which granted Madras the right to use the water from Periyar for 999 years at an annual rent of Rs. 40,000 (about $530 today). The agreement also stipulated that Madras would be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the dam, while Travancore would retain the ownership and sovereignty over it. The agreement was later renewed and modified by independent India in 1970.

Photo of Mullaperiyar Dam 2/6 by

Purpose and Benefits of Mullaperiyar Dam

The main function and objective of Mullaperiyar Dam is to divert water from Periyar River to Vaigai River basin in Tamil Nadu for irrigation and power generation purposes. The dam has a tunnel that carries water from Periyar Lake to a forebay near Kumily town in Kerala.

From there, another tunnel carries water across the Western Ghats to a canal that leads to Vaigai River in Tamil Nadu. The water is then distributed to various areas and districts in Tamil Nadu through a network of canals and channels.

The benefits of Mullaperiyar Dam for irrigation and power generation in Tamil Nadu are immense. The dam provides water for irrigating about 685,000 hectares (1.7 million acres) of land in five districts: Theni, Madurai, Sivaganga, Ramanathapuram, and Dindigul. The crops that are grown with the help of Mullaperiyar water include rice, sugarcane, banana, coconut, cotton, etc. The dam also generates electricity for Tamil Nadu through four hydroelectric power plants: Lower Periyar, Periyar Dam, Periyar Power House, and Vaigai.

How to Reach Mullaperiyar Dam

Mullaperiyar Dam is located in Thekkady, Kerala, about 26 km away from the town center. The nearest town to the dam is Kumily, which is well connected by road to other major cities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

You can reach Kumily by bus, taxi, or private vehicle from Kochi, Trivandrum, Madurai, Coimbatore, etc. From Kumily, you can take a local bus or a taxi to reach the dam site. The road to the dam is narrow and winding, so be careful while driving. The distance and transportation options from Kumily to Mullaperiyar Dam are as follows:

Distance: 13 km

Bus: There are frequent buses from Kumily to Mullaperiyar Dam that charge Rs. 10 per head. The bus journey takes about 30 minutes.

Taxi: You can hire a taxi from Kumily to Mullaperiyar Dam that charge Rs. 300 to Rs. 400 for a round trip. The taxi journey takes about 20 minutes.

Private Vehicle: You can also drive your own vehicle from Kumily to Mullaperiyar Dam. There is a parking facility available at the dam site that charges Rs. 20 per vehicle. The driving time is about 15 minutes.

Visiting Hours

Mullaperiyar Dam is open for visitors from 6 AM to 6 PM every day. However, the best time to visit the dam is from 10 AM to 6 PM, when you can enjoy boating in the reservoir and admire the scenic views of the dam and its surroundings. The boating facility is available from the Boat Jetty at the Thekkady side of the reservoir. The boating charges are Rs. 25 per head.

Best Places To Stay Near Mullaperiyar Dam

Yes, there are some hotels or resorts near Mullaperiyar Dam that you can choose from if you want to stay close to this amazing attraction. Here are some of the options that I found from the web search results:

Photo of Mullaperiyar Dam 3/6 by
(c) Elephant Court / Booking.com

The Elephant Court: This is a 5-star resort that is located about 8 km from Mullaperiyar Dam. It offers spacious and luxurious rooms, a swimming pool, a spa, a restaurant, and a bar. It also provides activities such as nature walks, plantation tours, cultural shows, etc.

Club Mahindra Thekkady: This is a 4-star resort that is located about 13 km from Mullaperiyar Dam. It offers cozy and comfortable rooms, a swimming pool, a gym, a restaurant, and a lounge. It also provides activities such as trekking, boating, wildlife safari, etc.

Aranya Nivas KTDC: This is a 4-star hotel that is located about 7 km from Mullaperiyar Dam. It offers elegant and spacious rooms, a swimming pool, a restaurant, and a conference hall. It also provides access to the Periyar Tiger Reserve and its attractions.

Lake Palace: This is an all-inclusive specialty retreat that is located about 4 km from Mullaperiyar Dam. It offers rustic and charming cottages, a restaurant, and a garden. It also provides an exclusive and serene experience in the middle of the Periyar Lake.

These are some of the hotels or resorts near Mullaperiyar Dam that you can consider for your stay.

Things To Do Nearby

Mullaperiyar Dam is not only a marvel of engineering and a source of controversy, but also a gateway to some of the most amazing places in Kerala. Some of the things to do nearby are:

Photo of Mullaperiyar Dam 4/6 by

Periyar Tiger Reserve:

This is one of the most popular wildlife sanctuaries in India, located about 23 km from Mullaperiyar Dam. It is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including tigers, elephants, leopards, deer, monkeys, birds, etc. You can explore the reserve by boating, elephant rides, jeep safari, bamboo rafting, trekking, etc. You can also visit the tribal hamlets inside the reserve and learn about their culture and lifestyle.

Photo of Mullaperiyar Dam 5/6 by

Mangaladevi Temple:

This is an ancient temple dedicated to Goddess Mangaladevi, located about 15 km from Mullaperiyar Dam. It is situated on a hilltop at an altitude of 1337 m (4386 ft) and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding hills and valleys. The temple is believed to be more than 2000 years old and has a legend associated with Kannagi, the heroine of the Tamil epic Silappathikaram. The temple is open only once a year during the Chithra Pournami festival in April or May, when thousands of devotees flock to the temple. You need to get permission from the wildlife authorities to visit the temple.

Other Places:

There are many other places worth visiting near Mullaperiyar Dam such as Thekkady Wildlife Sanctuary, Idukki Dam, Kumily, Vandiperiyar, etc. You can also enjoy some activities such as spice plantation tours, ayurvedic massages, cultural shows, etc.

You may also like to read: THEKADDY IN KERALA----a dream destination for nature lovers

Best Time to Visit Mullaperiyar Dam

Photo of Mullaperiyar Dam 6/6 by
(c) The Hindu

The best time to visit Mullaperiyar Dam and its nearby places is from October to March, when the weather is pleasant and dry. This is also the peak season for tourism in Kerala, so you can expect a lot of crowd and rush during this time.

If you want to avoid the crowd and enjoy a peaceful and serene atmosphere, you can visit during the monsoon season from June to September, when the dam and its surroundings are lush green and beautiful. However, you may have to face some inconveniences such as heavy rainfall, roadblocks, landslides, etc.

Some safety tips for visitors to Mullaperiyar Dam are:

1. Follow the instructions and guidelines of the authorities and staff at the dam site. Do not enter restricted or prohibited areas or cross the safety barriers.

2. Wear life jackets and follow the safety rules while boating in the reservoir. Do not lean over the boat or throw anything into the water.

3. Be aware of the weather conditions and avoid visiting the dam during heavy rainfall or thunderstorms. Check the water level and flow before visiting the dam.

4. Do not litter or pollute the dam site or the reservoir. Dispose of your waste properly and respect the environment.

5. Be careful of wild animals and insects that may be present near the dam site or in the nearby forest areas. Do not feed, tease, or disturb them. Carry insect repellents and first aid kits with you.

5. If you are visiting the Periyar Tiger Reserve or the Mangaladevi Temple, obtain the necessary permissions and tickets from the wildlife authorities and temple officials. Follow their rules and regulations and do not harm or damage the flora and fauna or the cultural heritage of these places.

You may also like to read: Visiting Thekkady?

Mullaperiyar Dam is a remarkable and fascinating attraction that you should not miss if you are visiting Thekkady, Kerala. It is not only a marvel of engineering and a source of controversy, but also a gateway to some of the most amazing places in Kerala.

You can learn about its history, purpose, benefits, challenges, and tourism attractions by reading this article. You can also visit the dam site and enjoy boating, sightseeing, wildlife, culture, and more.

Mullaperiyar Dam is a place where you can witness the beauty and the conflict of nature and human intervention. Are you ready to explore this place? Book your trip now and share your experience with us!

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