Vazhachal Forest & Athirapally Falls (Tamil Nadu - Kerala Border)

It was an official trip and I had to catch my flight from Kochi Airport in Kerala. I was accompanied by my boss this time. I was quite a bit relaxed this time unlike my China trip where I went alone and was a bit jittery as I had to clear all immigration thingy myself. I heaved a sigh of relief to be accompanied by my boss.

While deciding the route to reach Kochi, I had 2 options. One was the regular route via Coimbatore and reach the airport in 5 hrs and then THE option two, an unknown forest route and reach the airport in 7 to 7.5 hrs. When have I taken the usual route, to take it up when I have such a great alternative? I said “Forest route, Ofcourse”, with a big grin.
The day came and we were off in his car with his driver. Enroute, near Pollachi were the several windmills. We need them, don’t we.? An alternative and eco-friendly source of energy apart from the regular fossil fuels that might get over any time now. I loved their magnificence completely.
Vazhachal Forest Western Ghats

Windmills at Pollachi Tamil Nadu
After crossing Pollachi was this fantastic place, or rather should I say, a paradise, which I’ve never seen earlier. I thought Horsley was the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen until my boss showed me this thick, dense forest. Comparing to this place, even the sparsely populated Horsley seemed a bit too populated. This was a thick, dense stretch of forest with hardly any human interference.
Yes it was THE undisturbed forest area was Vazhachal Forest located near Parambikkulam Wildlife sanctuary. The SH21 of Kerala Roadways runs through this forest. Yes, the road is pathetic. But that’s definitely a blessing in disguise. This makes the road unfavorable for many, but very much favored by the nature enthusiasts like me and my boss.
Tea Estates in Valparai

Tea Estates in Valparai

Tea Estates in Valparai
Post Pollachi at a point the road gets into Kerala from TamilNadu. I could rather see a stark difference between the two states. The whole Tamil Nadu part of this hilly region rich with vegetation is converted into a big business. Yup, its filled with several tea estates one after another, including that of Tata. Also seen with Tea is the vegetation of Pepper as well. These are some very picturesque places near Athirapally Falls.
It had quite a deal of population who are the workers of the estate. The state government and the estate owners have done their bit to help the workers. There are quite a number of decent schools and hospitals o’er here, so that the local population stays here comfortably.
On our return journey via the same route, I got to see the women plucking the tea leaves in a very typical way which I didn’t get to see during the onward journey. The tea leaves were plucked and packed in huge net sacks and transported on little trucks. 

As we reached higher altitudes the view was breathtaking. With the mist covered hill tops and rich vegetation as far as the vision could take me. I wouldn’t say it was exquisite, it was more than that. The climate became cooler and cooler and I became enthralled. I’d definitely say, it’s a romantic getaway.
The onward journey was made more pleasant with an onset on a slight drizzle. The dark clouds and whiff of cool breeze, was just heavenly. The road was exquisite with just(!) 40 hairpin bends to reach the top. Yes at this point, I came to know my boss is an excellent driver as well!!! He asked the driver to sit peacefully at the backseat and took control of the steering!!!
Vazhachal Forest Sholayar Dam

Vazhachal Forest Route

Vazhachal Forest route
Enroute I reached the beautiful Aliyar Dam. From there we just crossed Valparai and then Sholayar Dam. On the return journey, I just stopped at the Parambikkulam Dam. The dam was so huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge and was a beautiful and scenic and simply, out of the world. I also came across a Contour Canal built by the British. Near it, in a stream water was gushing like Hogenakkal. With some playful monkeys the scene was utterly enjoyable.
As we entered the Kerala border, the whole feel changed. From then on it was the thick forest. The climate was not as cool as the other side. But the best part was the undisturbed forest. It was not a mere used up or cultivated land but almost a virgin forest.
Kudos to them for leaving this forest as it is. Yes, the forest has its own deal of wild animals as well. That’s why taking up this route is prohibited post afternoon. You see, most of these animals are nocturnal. During one of his earlier trips my boss had witnessed a herd of elephant too!!! I couldn’t help but think, how good it would have been if the Tamil Nadu part of the hills was also left untouched. It would have been a huuuuge several hectares of virgin forest filled with absolute wild animals too!!! Perfect, isn’t it?
We were just crossed by some 3 to 4 vehicles on the entire stretch. So secluded and so peaceful the place was, with some little streams here and there.

And on the other end of the forest, there is the Athirappally Waterfalls. It was this waterfall which was filmed in the legendary Tamil movie – Punnagai Mannan, of Kamal Hassan. Also this is the very location where Bahubali (actor Prabhas) - the protagonist of the monumental Telugu movie Bahubali, tries to climb the waterfalls and underneath which he keeps the huge Sivalingam! Also, this is the very waterfalls where Raagini (played by Aishwarya Rai) jumps down to escape Veera (played by Abhishek/Vikram) but survives in the unusual movie Raavanan (Raavan) by Mani Ratnam. The whole song of 'usure pogudhe/behene de' was filmed here.

Btw, remember, we were actually going to the airport? So we didn’t have time to get down to the falls. I just had a look of it from the road. On reaching the airport my boss said, “No one would have ever taken such a route for airport transit!!!”. I nodded my head in positive, ofcourse. 
Athirapally Falls Filming location of Baahubali, Raavanan, Punnagai Mannan

Vazhachal Forest Route
I can give a tip or two. There is no other mode of transport than your own car. Yes, car. No bikes. If at all you come face to face with an elephant, atleast your vehicle should protect you. The route has several thorny, jumpy, bumpy areas, so have a spare tire, or make that two. Then better to take a BSNL mobile sim. None of the other cellulars pick signal here. Once in a while in those little villages that come in between BSNL has tower. Next thing - The hairpin bends + oily food = Upset Stomach. It’s better to travel hungry than travel with an upset stomach!!!

I have so many more pictures of this gorgeous place. Will share them in my next post - Vazhachal Forest Picture Album!

Vazhachal Forest stretches from Anaimalai to Athirapilli Falls (60 km) in Tamil Nadu, Kerala border.

How to reach Anaimalai - The entry point in Tamil Nadu, India
     On Google maps: Anaimalai
     From Pollachi: 15 km
     From Salem: 200 km via Bhavani, Thiruppur, Pollachi
     From Trichy: 225 km via Karur, Dharapuram, Pollachi
     From Madurai: 205 km via Periyakulam, Palani, Pollachi

     On Google maps: Athirapally Falls
     From Chalakudy: 30 km
     From Kochi: 82 km via Ernakulam, Chalakudy
     From Thrissur: 60 km via Chalakudy

Indians: Rs.30; Foreigners: Rs.100
Cars (medium): Rs.100

There are quite a few resorts, villas & hotels on the SH21 itself, with Athirapally falls views.
KTDC run govt. guest house (motel) called Araam is also available.
Chalakudy is the nearest large city for luxury hotels near Athirapally, and can be reached in less than 1hr by car.

Vazhachal Forest & Athirapally Falls Pinterest Vazhachal Forest & Athirapally Falls Pinterest


An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands


  1. Interesting......After Reading This Article, The Way You Have Described Along With The Most Attractive Pictures, I Am Just Feeling Like Jumping Into The True Nature Spots :) :)

    Thanks A Lot For Sharing The Information & Pictures :) :)

  2. I guessed you would say "Forest route" Mitr. It was very interesting to read about the tea estates.

  3. Gorgeous pictures and texture. You look so beautiful in the picture!

  4. This looks like a beautiful area. Thanks for the tour. I love the scenery and the monkey picture!

  5. thozhi i have been to parambikulam and spent nearly a week when i was in school and then second time i visited during college tour and spent half day there. wonderful place to live

  6. Definitely this is a stomach burning trip. Enjoy! enjoy!! Very nice photographs.

  7. This is amazing.. but can you blv that I've NEVER visited GOD'S OWN COUNTRY even once???

  8. Beautiful road trip. The shots of winding roads, forest, and the water falls are spectacular.

  9. I know its real kewl to be there...Kerala is special to me for many reasons, place I would love to visit...wind mills r awesome pieces...enjoy ur trips...

  10. Such a good narration, you must be a really good time manager. How did you get time after long office hrs for such a long post. I felt like been with you for the whole journey. Your picture looks pretty. Such an animated set-up, wonderfully looking girl sitting in the foreground of the mist covered hilly dam in the BG. BTW did you made it to the airport finally?

  11. wow.. u have enjoyed well it seems... but i hate you.. you should have selected the first option.. hope u know that i m in coimbatore .. :) athanala than escape aaytiyada? :))
    anyway as usual another block buster post.. u rock baby..

    btw u look soooooo cute in the 8th pic.. ( no smily )

  12. @Creativity,
    Guess you're visiting my blog for the first time. So first, lemme welcome u. Welcome to My Travelogue. Do jump into some true nature spots coz that's what gives us a piece of peace of mind in this stressed hectic life. :)

    Oh dear. You know me so well.. Lolz... :)
    Glad that the tea estates were interesting.. :)

    Thanks a lot dear.. :)

    Its my duty to take you on a tour. Ur welcome.. :) Thanks a lot for the compliments.. :)

  13. @Thala,
    Its definetely a wonderful place to visit. But dunno about living... I wouldn't want to open my door at night for a knock by a hungry leopard or bear!!! Lolz....

    No. Don't burn your stomach.. :) Wish me to travel all the more... :)
    Thanks for the compliment. :)

    Don't tell me!!!

    Thank you so much dear.. :)

  14. @Sujay,
    Ya... I know.. Kerala is so beautiful... Thanks sweet heart.. :)

    When you love something, u'll somehow find time for it, right.?
    And, U felt like.??? Wow.. That's nice.. Thank you.. :) And thanks for the compliments about my pic. I'll convey it to the photographer.. :)
    And, ya we made it to the airport.. :)

    Yes. I did a lot.. Adada, next time kandippa Kovai route dhan pa.. Thank u so much dear.. :)
    Btw, I too hate u for the EIGHTH pic compliment(!!!).. :(

  15. hey sorryda.. number maridichi.. 7th pic is too good..


    preparing parupu satham.. variya?

  16. You are very good at describing your traveling experiences.;) I love the shot of the monkey.;) To see one is for me very exotic. Lovely pictures.;)

  17. Your trip blog seemed quite similar to what I do in my blog. how is the road condition in vazhachal stretch?

  18. I wanted so much to have visited Kerala but, as I arrived after the tsunami, there was much devastation and I went to Goa instead...

  19. There's an award for you on my blog! Take it and showcase it on your blog :)

    The Day

  20. @Sanjai,
    Nakkaladichuttu ippa samalikkaringala... Had Paruppu sadham only today.. :)

    Just now came to know that ur name is Zuzana. Nice name. I love it.
    Thank u so much dear.. :) Monkeys are so many here in India esp in mountain regions.. :)

    As said in this post itself, the stretch of road is in a pathetic condition..

    Do visit south of India. There is so much to see here..

    Coming dear.. Thank you so much.. I am glad to receive it.. :)

  21. hehe.. therinji pocha? vidu kanna.. namakkulla enna..:)

  22. Mitr, those photos of the forest and the mountain are just stunning. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  23. Thank you for visiting Vazhachal.

  24. Mandan,
    It was a pleasure visiting Vazhachal. Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. Do drop in often.. :)

  25. hi mitr, its a luvly post n i Njoyd a lot.. am frm pollachi bt i havent been thru tis route.. ur pics were awesome n i really wanna travel by tis route..

    think u r aware of many routes, still i wud lik 2 share few things wit u..

    if u r fond of trekking, der r places named megamalai near theni, erbanadu near ooty n another one near bodimettu.. srry i forgot d name of d last one.. i hd been to megamalai n my frnds hd ben to other 2 places.. v got d trek arranged thru Ecologin (sumthing lik an NGO, bt not sure).. u cn Njoy ur trip der..

    tirumurthy hills near udumalai, kattazhagar perumal koil near srivilliputhur and sathuragiri r other places i think u cn Njoy..

    munnar route s a grt one 2 travel, either udumalai - munnar or bodi - bodimettu - munnar.. u cn experience elephant or bison crossing in udumalai - munnar route.. I once Njoyd elephant chasing our vehicle.. ;)


    P.S.: srry if u feel lik am talking too much..

  26. A visual experience narrated poetically.
    sasikumar v

  27. @Nayagan,
    Thanks for dropping by and taking time for the comment. Do drop in often.. :)
    Do travel by this route. Its a fantastic route. Do let me know your travel experience.
    I've heard of Megamalai, but haven't heard of the other 2. Thanks so much for the info.
    It sounds like a great experience to be chased by elephant. :)

    Thank you so much for the compliment. :)
    Do drop in often. I'd love your visit. :)

  28. The pictures of animals and trees are amazing and attractive. The way you presented The pictures of animals and trees are amazing and attractive. The way you presented is nice

  29. hi.guys.but this route is not safety one............ beware of chetah n elephants in tat route..........i am a local guy.i m saying in my dnt try tat route before 7 am and after 5pm

  30. @Prem,
    Thanks for the advice dear.. :)


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