Until the Chalakudy River reached Kannamkuzhi, it continues to remain turbulent for a distance of nearly one kilometre. Eventually the river flows calmly close to the dam at Thumburmuzhi. The beauty of this waterfall has inspired several movie directors to shoot numerable movies including 'Dil Se..' starring Shah Rukh Khan and Manisha Koirala, Tamil movie 'Iruvar' starring Aishwarya Rai and Mohanlal, 'Guru' starring Aishwarya Rai, 'Raavan', Tamil movie 'Punnagai Mannan' and others.
Tourism near Athirappilly Falls
Tourists are welcomed to Athirappilly Falls by the lush greenery around the villages and winding roads and will be capable of accessing the waterfall through a paved roadway surrounded by bamboo clusters. Innumerable tourists from all parts of the world throng this waterfall particularly during the time from June till September during the monsoons. Bison, Asiatic Elephant, Tiger, Leopard, Sambhar, Lion-Tailed Macaque, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Indian Grey Hornbill, etc. are some of the fauna found near the Athirappilly Falls. It is said that if the Athirappilly hydroelectric project is constructed here, it would lead to the loss of these exotic animals and birds from this habitat. Visitors will be attracted to this region also due to its abundant sources of Eucalyptus trees, Bamboo, Teak and others.
The area around Athirappilly Falls had been declared as an 'Important Bird Area' by the International Bird Association and according to the suggestions put forward by the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation, the region should be proclaimed as a national park or wildlife sanctuary. More than 85 species of fishes survive in the Chalakudy River which makes it a healthy ecosystem.
Hydroelectric Power Project near Athirapilly
The creation of a 163 megawatt Athirappilly Hydro Electric Project had been planned by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) during 1994. It had been proposed that a dam measuring about 1, 020 feet in width and 75 feet in height would be built in Vazhachal Forest Division over the Chalakudy River. This decision was vehemently opposed by human rights groups and environmental bodies as it creation of the dam would take a toll on tourism, destroy the natural environment and threaten the ecosystem, apart from interfering with human rights. Critics also asserted that this would lead to drying up of the Athirappilly-Vazhachal waterfalls. Environmentalists also argued that the construction of a dam over the waterfall would dislodge the 'Kadars' who were the regional tribals of this area. However, the plan was approved by the Kerala Ministry of Environment and Forests, prodded by a report submitted by the Water and Power Consultancy Services (India) Ltd. or WAPCOS. The controversy regarding the hydroelectric project continued for several years.
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