Thursday, May 30, 2013

Valparai – Places of Interest – IV

Waterfalls in & around Valparai
Monkey Falls
Monkey Falls is a excellent place for a getaway. The Monkey falls is an excellent roadside stop situated 65 kilometers (40 mi) from Coimbatore and 27 kilometers (18 mi) from Pollachi on the Coimbatore - Pollachi - Valparai main road next to Arutperunjothi Nagar and Azhiyar Valparai Forest Department Check Post of IFS. Monkey Falls is a famous and popular tourism spot. Monkey Falls is located on road connecting Pollachi and Valparai.

This waterfall originates from the Valparai hill ranges. And it proves an excellent place with astounding natural flora and fauna all around. This Monkey Falls attracts many visitors who throng this place during weekends and public holidays.
It lies on the foothill of Valparai. It is about 5 km from Aliyar. It is continuing waterfalls, one can relax their mind and body by taking Ayurvedic bath in this falls.

Monkey Falls are natural waterfalls located near the uphill Ghat road Valparai on the Pollachi-Valparai road in the Anaimalai Hills range, in Coimbatore district.
An interesting trek route at the Monkey Falls; a linear stretch of evergreen forests surrounded by rocky cliffs is available and regular guided treks are conducted during favorable season. Prior request should be given to the Tamil Nadu Forest Department headquarters at Pollachi before a fortnight.
People raveling in the area of Coimbatore or Pollachi will want to visit Monkey falls as it is an outstanding scenic attraction. Monkey falls is an ideal place for little children and adults to take a bath. Ticket fee is Rs 15 to enter inside the falls vicinity.
Monkey Falls is also known as Chinna Kutralam. It is located close to the Azhiyar Park and the Siddashram.
One of nature's finest and purest sources of minerals and ayurvedic formulations, these falls truly rejuvenate your body and mind.
Chinnakallar Falls
Chinnakalar is a geographically important place. It is the second highest rain fall area in India. Always found wet and misty. A greenish dense forest with tall majestic trees all along the road to Chinnakalar a pleasure to enjoy. There is a falls in Chinnakallar which sounds like a roaring lion. Situated at a distance of 15kms from Valparai.

 Considered to be one of the wettest places in India at par with Mawsymram, Cherrapunji and Agumbe. The waterfalls in this area can be reached by an adventurous trek upon a hanging bridge, a legacy of the British.

Falls is situated in Chinnakallar near Reserve forest boundary which is 18 kms away from Valparai. Facing the waterfalls at 100m, there is a suspension bridge constructed [during the British days] using wooden boards and ropes. 

On the mildly dancing bridge, standing and watching the waterfalls while heaven pouring as rains is a pleasant experience for the visitors. This falls is also called as Lawson Falls.

Iraichal parai falls:
Location: 8 kms from Valparai near the Balaji temple.
The water originates from the springs in the Grass Hills and it forms the perennial Nadumalai River which flows through Valparai. Bathing in the falls is strictly prohibited as it provides drinking water to the surrounding region. There is also a check dam on the river.

Birla Falls
Birla falls is 2km from Valparai. Situated in sholayar estate surrounded by tea fields. Watching the water fall in the mid green tea fields is a pleasant view for eyes.

Falls is situated within Sholayar Estate (I-Division-opposite to Muneeswaran Temple) of Ms.Jayshree Tea Industries Ltd., (Birla group) just 2 kms away from Valparai.
Congreve falls/Poonachi Falls
It is situated on the way to Pollachi to Valparai, the 28th hair pin bend.

This falls is situated within Nadumalai Estate of M/s. Peria Karamalai Tea & Produce Co. Ltd. which is very near to Valparai Town. This falls named after Mr. C.R.T. Congreve, one of the early explorers of this hill. Congreve Falls is about 6 Kms from Valparai.
Rhythm Falls
Rhythm falls is about 30 km from Sholaiyar and 5 km ahead of Athirampally falls. Water droplets from the falls scattering on adjoining road gives an excitement show.
Rhythm falls is about 30 Km from Sholaiyar and it is 5 Km ahead of Athirampally falls. The water droplets from the falls scattering on the adjacent road are really quite exciting to watch.This falls has featured in the film "RHYTHM"
Athirapally Falls
An 80 km drive from Valparai through one of the thickest evergreen forests in India simulates the canopied rainforests of Amazon and Central Africa. The conopy is so thick that any tough effort taken by sunlight to enter the forest seems clumsy. Such is the road that leads to the falls. Popularly known as 'Punnagai Mannan falls' or 'the Indian Niagara', Athirapally falls has been the backdrop for many south Indian movies. You can look at it from the top and from the bottom as well. You can take bath in the Chalakudy River too. On the way there are two other falls Charpa and Vazachal. In charpa falls the water plunges on to the road in the monsoon, so get ready to get drenched if you are visiting it in the rainy season. Vazhachal waterfalls are set in the backdrop of a lush green forest near gorges.

It is near to the entrance of the Sholayar range is a place of great scenic beauty. Here, the water plunges from a height of nearly 80 feet before joining the Chalakudy river.  This picturesque spot is adjacent to dense green forest, and is a part of Chalakudy River, 50 Kms. from Valparai towards Chalakudy, Kerala.
Athirampally is a minature Amazon within Kerala. The forest here is so lush and dense that it gives you a feeling that all civilization has disappeared from the face of earth and the world has become nature’s unchallenged abode again. The end of your journey will lead you to Athirapalli falls or the ‘punnagai mannan’ falls named after a famous tamil film. The waters of the chalakudi river falls from a height of 80 feet and the view here is an awe inspiring experience.

Athirappally Falls is situated in Athirappally panchayath in Thrissur district of Kerala, on the southwest coast of India. Located on the west-flowing Chalakudy River near the Vazhachal Forest Division and the Sholayar ranges, this 24-metre (80 ft) waterfall and the nearby Vazhachal Falls are popular tourist destinations. It is nicknamed "The Niagara of India". Controversy about a state-proposed hydroelectric dam on the Chalakudy River above the waterfalls began in the 1990s and has continued through 2011.

Athirappally Waterfalls is located 78 kms from Kochi (Cochin), located at the entrance to Sholayar ranges, this waterfall is a popular picnic spot. Affording to the onlookers, one of the most bewitching sights, Athirappally Falls is about 80 feet high and located in the forest area.   Combined with the greenery, it infuses freshness into any tired soul.  The Athirappally Falls join the Chalakudy River after plummeting a drop of 80 feet.
A tranquil and much needed escape from the troubles and stress of life. Let the soothing sounds take you to some of nature’s most relaxing places - the beautiful waterfalls of Athirampally and Vazhachal (Prounced as vaazhachaal).
The charm of the Athirampally and Vazhachal nature cannot be described by words, Starting calmly from the high ranges, and crashing through gorges overhung with trees, these waterfall is one of the best places in India to re-capture a real sense of the classical idea of the 'Picturesque' - not just calm and sweet, but something wild and natural.
Athirapally falls, a popular picnic spot, is located at a distance of 78 km from the buzzing town of Cochin in Kerala. Boasting of being 80 ft in length, the waterfall is a haven for flora and fauna alike. This gushing waterfall finds its source from Chalakudy River. 
Being home to some of the most endangered species of flora, the waterfall is also a quite refuge for the endangered species of Hornbill. The cool ambiance and the tranquility felt in this place acts as a remedy for the exhausted souls. The waterfall is calm, peaceful, wild and challenging. 
Swimming is a popular indulgence near the Athirapally waterfall but a few mishaps has led a camp of police to be positioned in order to take preventive steps. Though one can enjoy driving in the jungles yet some people are discouraged to do so during the night. 
Athirapally waterfall can be reached by taking the SH-21 highways connecting Tamil Nadu to Kerala. One can also opt for private cab or tourist buses that ply regularly from the Chalakudy private bus terminal.
This waterfall has inspired many film makers, especially the legendary Mani Ratnam, to shoot some part of their film here. Some of the most popular Hindi films to have been shot here are Guru, Dil Se and Raavan, of recent fame.
The 145 kilometres (90 mi) long Chalakudy River, originates in the Anamudi mountains of the Western Ghats  and flows through the Vazhachal Forest toward the Arabian Sea. The river initially runs smoothly but becomes more turbulent as it nears Athirappilly. At Athirappilly Falls, the water 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. Then it calms and flows smoothly until reaching the dam at Thumburmuzhi.
Forest wildlife in the area includes the Asiatic elephant, tiger, leopard, bison, sambar, and lion-tailed macaque. The unique 180 metres (590 ft) elevation riparian forest in the Athirappilly-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. If the proposed 163-MW Athirappilly hydroelectric project is built, these unique birds may vanish from these forests because it will submerge the hornbills' habitat.

Plantations in the area contain teak, bamboo, and eucalyptus. Environmentalists claim that Athirapally is a one-of its-kind riparian ecosystem in Kerala. V.S. Vijayan, Chairman of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board and former Director of the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), Coimbatore, has been quoted in Down to Earth magazine as affirming that the Vazhachal forest division is the second most biodiverse area in the State. The International Bird Association has declared it an ‘Important Bird Area' and the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation has recommended that the area should be declared a sanctuary or a national park, he points out. The Wildlife Trust of India says it represents one of India's best elephant conservation efforts. “Any disruption to this fragile ecosystem will spell disaster,” says Vijayan.  The river provides habitat for 85 species of fresh water fishes. Among these, 35 are endemic species. This place is the best place to find most animals in the wild.
The railway station nearest Athirappally Falls is 30 kilometres (19 mi) to the west in Chalakudi Railway Station, and the nearest airport is Kochi International Airport, about 55 kilometres (34 mi) southwest of the waterfall and 58 kilometres (36 mi) south of City of Thrissur.
Athirappally is easily reachable from Chalakudy by taxi or by bus from the Chalakudy private bus terminal. Athirappally is situated on the highways connecting Tamil Nadu and Kerala, amidst thick forest, so night riding is not advised.
The journey from Chalakudy to the Athirappally Falls passes through a landscape of winding roads, small villages and lush green trees. Visitors can reach the top of the waterfall via a paved path that leads through thick bamboo clusters. A steep narrow path also leads to the bottom of the falls. The falls attract visitors from across India, especially during the monsoon months (June–September). About 7 million tourists visit the falls and the Vazhachal picnic spot each year.
The scenic beauty of Athirappilly falls has always been attractive to filmmakers.
This falls is used as a location for several Malayalam films.
Ø  A major portion of 1986 Tamil movie Punnagai Mannan was shot near the falls, the fall itself playing a role in it. It made the fall popular in Tamil Nadu that it got the nickname "Punnagai Mannan Falls".
Ø  The falls were featured in Mani Ratnam's Bollywood film Dil Se.., starring Shahrukh Khan and Manisha Koirala.
Ø  The 2007 Bollywood movie Guru used Athirappally Falls as one of its locations. Rajiv Menon, the cinematographer of the movie, chose Athirappilly Falls as a background for one of its songs.
Ø  The falls are also famous as a site location for Narumugaye Narumugaye, a song from the Tamil film 'Iruvar' acted by Malayalam superstar 'Mohanlal' and actress 'Aishwarya Rai'.
Ø  This falls is also a major location in the Hindi Film Raavan and Tamil Film Raavanan.
Ø  The song "Adada Mazhaida" featuring Karthi & Tamannaah was shot in this location.
Ø  "Arjuna Arjuna " song featuring Sarathkumar and Namitha in Movie "Aei" was shot here.
Hydro Electric Project
In 1994, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) proposed a 163 megawatt Athirappally Hydro Electric Project. It was to include a dam 23 metres (75 ft) high and 311 metres (1,020 ft) wide on the Chalakudy River in the Vazhachal Forest Division about 5 kilometres (3 mi)upstream of Athirappally Falls and 400 metres (1,312 ft) upstream of Vazhachal Rapids (Vazhachal Falls). However, environmental groups and people's collectives opposed the project on grounds that it would damage the environment, infringe on human rights, and threaten tourism. Though it was not their main concern, critics also noted that if the entire course of the river were diverted to make electricity, the Athirappally-Vazhachal waterfalls could dry up. To avoid damaging the falls, the KSEB proposed adjusting the water releases to maintain the falls. The debate continued in 2007. Environmentalists also expressed concern over whether the proposed hydroelectric project at Athirappally waterfalls would lead to displacement and eventual extinction of the primitive tribal group, `Kadars,' in the area. 
In 2005, the Kerala Ministry of Environment and Forests approved the project on the basis of a report by Water and Power Consultancy Services (India) Ltd. (WAPCOS), an environmental impact assessment (EIA) agency. In 2006, the Kerala High Court quashed the clearance and ordered another public hearing. The debate continued the following years.
On 29th Jan 2011, the chairman of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) Madhav Gadgil opined that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Athirappally hydel power project was not properly carried out and 70% of it is bogus. The panel, appointed by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, was asked to look into and give recommendations on various projects in the Western Ghats such as the hydroelectric projects in Gundiya in Karnataka and Athirappally in Kerala and the overall development projects in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra. Gadgil said that the proposed Athirappally hydro-electric project cannot be approved until the Forest Rights Act is implemented in its true spirit for the Kadar tribal community of the area and also no comprehensive study had been carried out so far on the natural riparian forest vegetation along the Western Ghats. On 14th Jun 2011, Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said his ministry would not grant approval to the Athirappally hydro electric project. The Minister also stated “When states are denied such projects on larger and long-term environmental considerations, they are entitled to some sort of green bonus,”  The first part of WGEEP report was submitted to the Ministry on August 31.The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), on Sep 6th 2011 recommended to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests against granting permission to carry out any construction activities at the sensitive Athirappilly-Vazhachal region. The panel, which submitted its report to Union Environment Minister Jayanti Natarajan in the Capital, named Athirappilly as one of the 18 eco-sensitive localities (ESL) in the state. But renowned experts on generation projects like K Radhakrishnan, Former Member (Generation), KSEB, has opined that this panel report was highly biased and the project was eco-friendly doing minimum damage to environment and forests.
Vazhachal Falls 

Vazhachal Falls is a rushing watercourse in the Chalakudy River in the Thrissur district of Kerala, South India. It is located 36 km from Chalakudy and 5 km from Athirappally Falls. The riparian forests of the Chalakudy River have revealed the existence of a thick riparian vegetation of more than 10 metres width for a distance of 10.5 km downstream from Peringalkuth, covering an area of 58.5 hectares. Out of this, 26.4 hectares lie within the Vazachal area, including three large islands densely covered by riparian forests. Chalakudy is the nearest railway station and Athirappally is the nearest bus station.

The Vazhachal Falls are located just 3 km to the official entrance of Athirappally Falls and it has its origin from Chalakudy River. This waterfall, cascading on the edge of the Sholayar forest range has been categorized as one of the finest present in India. There are several water parks and natural gardens located near to the region of the waterfall. 

The months from June to October are considered as the best seasons to visit this place because of the pleasant weather conditions. Private taxis and buses are also available that connect this place from the Chalakudy Bus Station.

Uralikal is a beautiful tea estate managed by the Tata Tea Company. This tea estate is at an elevation of 3,746 ft above sea level. It was established in 1915 and covers an area of around 430 hectares. The estate is divided into three divisions, namely the lower, the upper and the No. 2 divisions.
Oldest Teak Tree
This tree is 500 yrs old with 90 feet height and 23.5 feet girth situated in sheikalmudi forest area of valparai.