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 worlds 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.
The picturesque waterfalls of Athirappilly are situated in River Chalakudy, which originate in the upper ranges of the Western Ghats called Anamudi Mountains. River Chalakudy flows down through the Vazhachal Forest Division till it reaches Athirappilly. The rocky river-bed at Athirappilly makes the river water turbulent and it gushes forward around big rocks to form segmented water cascades. The Athirappilly waterfalls consist of three waterfalls, the biggest of which is 42 meters high and 220 meters wide.
Athirappilly is the abode of Kadars, which is a primitive tribal group in Kerala. Kadars, who reside in hilly forest areas, are specialised collectors of honey, wax, sago, cardamom, ginger, etc.
The natural riparian ecosystem at Athirappilly consists of about 319 species of flowers of which 24 are endemic to the Western Ghats and 10 are rare and endangered. Out of 85 species of fresh water fish found in River Chalakudy, 35 are endemic and 9 are endangered species.
The Athirappilly Forest Ranges is also the natural habitat of species like the great hornbill, Malabar pied hornbill, Malabar grey hornbill, Indian grey hornbill, Asiatic elephant, tiger, leopard, bison, sambar and lion-tailed macaque.
Athirappilly tourism offers excursions to picnic spots like Vazhachal Waterfalls, Charpa Falls, Anakkayam, Malakkapari/ Vaparai, Thumpurmuzhi Gardens, Peringalkuthu & Sholayar Dams, Vazhachal Forest Gardens and Parambikulam and Malayattur Wildlife Sanctuaries. Athirappilly also offers adventure activities like river rafting, trekking, etc.
Athirappilly is located at a distance of 63 km from Thrissur and 30 km from Chalakudy, on State Highway 21. The vicinity of Athirappilly to Coimbatore and Ernakulam makes it a popular holiday destination. September to February is the best time to visit Athirappilly.
Kochi airport is the nearest airport to Athirappilly which is 55 km away. Kochi and Thrissur are two major railways junctions which lie at 78 km and 66 km away, respectively. The nearest railway station is Chalakudy Railway Station at 31 km from Athirappilly.
There are plenty of bus services plying between Cochin and Bangalore, both government and private. There are also luxury Volvo buses operating between the two cities.