Athirappilly, located to the east of Chalakudy in Thrissur District, is a famous holiday destination in the state of Kerala. Situated on the fringes of Sholayar forests of the Western Ghats, which are the rain forests of Kerala, Athirappilly is famous mostly for its 42 meter high waterfalls.
Athirappilly, lying at an average elevation of 300 meters above sea level, consists of 14850 hectares of tropical wet, evergreen, semi-evergreen and moist deciduous riparian forest ranges. Athirappilly forests is one among the five territorial ranges of Vazhachal Forest Division, the others being Charpa, Vazhachal, Kollathirumedu and Sholayar.
The forestland of Athirappilly is one among the world’s biodiversity hotspots, as it is home to endangered as well as threatened species of flora and fauna. Athirappilly also draws the attention of biologists as its forest ranges are situated at a low altitude (300 meters), which is a unique phenomenon in the whole of Western Ghats.
Athirapalli Falls is situated in Athirappilly panchayath, Chalakudy Taluk in of Thrissur district, 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. There is another waterfall on the way from Athirapalli to Vazhachal Falls, in close proximity to the road and is locally called “Charpa Falls”. Athirapalli Falls is the largest waterfall in Kerala and 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.
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.
Daily Jungle Safari trips are organized by Thrissur District Tourism Promotion Council with Athirappilly Destination Management Council from Chalakudy to Malakkappara. It is the most attractive wildlife watch and Ecotourism Junle saffari through the evergreen forest of Sholayar ranges of Western Ghats – Kerala. It is also the most beautiful Jungle Saffari watching Wildlife in the entire Kerala and is about 90 km across the rain forests of Sholayar ranges. A unique opportunity to experience the rich flora & fauna of Athirapally- Vazhachal Ecotourim , covering Kauthukapark, Thumboormuzhy Dam & Butterflygarden, Athirapally water falls, Vazhachal falls, 40 km of amidst thick forests, valleys, lofty peaks, tea garden and wildlife watch. This Jungle safari is a memorable experience ,which one can have on his Kerala visit.