A 15-minute cruise inside the Idukki reservoir arranged as part of the Christmas and New Year season is a unique experience especially for an outsider. The greenic view of the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is covered till Meenmutty towards the Kulamavu dam. If one is lucky, view of the wild elephants is a surprise gift in store.

The boating facility is made available in the reservoir in connection with the opening of the Idukki Arch Dam and the Cheruthoni dams for public entry as part of the festival season.

Heavy rush is being experienced from Friday onwards when the dam was opened. Two speed boats are made available from the Mattupetty dam for the seasonal cruise in the reservoir by the Kerala Hydel Tourism Corporation under the Kerala State Electricity Board. Sumesh K.J., a staff of the KSEB at the ticket counter said that 1,380 persons visited the dam till 2 p.m. on Monday and the tickets for boating were booked till 5 p.m. The dams are opened till 5 p.m. and the boating facility is from near the Cheruthoni dam. Entry to the arch dam is also allowed with the ticket rate of Rs 10 for adults and Rs 5 for those above 5 and below 12 years old.

On the first day, 128 persons visited the dams, followed by 604 persons on Saturday and 1,275 persons on Sunday. Mr Sumesh said that entry will be closed on January 10 as per the government order. However, there is chance for extending the date in view of the heavy rush, he said. During the last Onam season around, 80,000 persons visited the dam. ``Now it is a rare opportunity to see the bottom line of the dam as the water is in the lowest level ever since the dam opened for public,'' said an official of the KSEB

The view of the Asia's largest hydro-electric project is a special occasion for many. Nikhil Mathew along with his family of four who had a boat cruise, said that it was for the first time he is enjoying the scenic beauty of the dam area. Since it is at a time when the water level is at the lowest, he could see a few natural islets formed in the reservoir.

For the children too it offers some practical experience on the structural features of the Idukki dam.

Most of the visitors are from the neigbbouring districts and tourists on a visit to Munnar and Thekkady also spare time to visit the dam area which lies between the two most favorite tourism spots in the district. ``The aim is to pen Cheruthoni and adjoining areas for foreign tourists too and it will reduce the pressure in Munnar and Thekkady,'' said an official of the District Tourism Promotion Council. A large number of North Indian tourists also visit the dam and in the coming days the rush will be heavy, said Stephen, another staff deputed at the ticket counter. Police security has been provided to in the area and the visitors are prohibited from carrying mobile phone, camera and electronic equipment.

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