The Forest Department has cleared a project to provide more facilities to tourists at the Palaruvi waterfalls in Kollam district.
Divisional Forest Officer (Thenmala) K. Karthikeyan told The Hindu that administrative sanction for Rs.56 lakh had been obtained for the project. The construction work would start in a month, he said.
The waterfall is one of the popular tourist attractions in the State where the bulk of the tourists arrive from neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
One of the important components of the project is a comfortable vehicle parking bay for the tourists who arrive there. This will come up at the entry point from the Kollam-Thirumangalam National Highway at Aryankavu. The waterfall is located about 4 km from the entry point. Once the parking facility is completed, tourists will be ferried to the waterfall in jeeps or mini-buses to be operated by the Palaruvi Vana Samrakshana Samithi (PVSS), which manages the waterfall area on behalf of the Forest Department.
Mr. Karthikeyan said that at present, vehicles were permitted to go up to the waterfall. However, in the peak season this caused congestion there, and many found it difficult to reach or leave the area. If vehicles were banned from the core location, tourists would feel more comfortable.
An ornamental gateway to the waterfall will be constructed at the entry point. A new office complex-cum-spices hall will be constructed there. The spices hall, to be managed by the PVSS, will sell spices and other permitted forest produce to the tourists. These include cloves and pepper grown in nearby plantations, lemon grass oil, cardamom, forest honey, incense, herbs with medicinal properties, kokum, and cinnamon collected from nearby forest areas.
A stall already selling these products at the entry point is a big hit among the tourists, and the Forest Department wants to expand it with more products under a bigger roof.
More toilets and facilities to change will be constructed for tourists. A ticket-checking counter will be constructed at Kadvupara, which falls midway between the entry point and the falls.
Mr. Karthikeyan said that at the waterfall, a ramp would be constructed to allow the tourists to get a better view of the water plunging from a height of 300 feet. A separate area had been earmarked for women and children to have a dip in the water. This area would be managed by women volunteers of the PVSS.
Consumption of alcohol has been banned from the entry point to the waterfall.
The tourists are restrained by the volunteers from going near the plunge pool of the waterfall if the flow is too heavy, like after a downpour.
A horsetail category waterfall, Palaruvi comes under the Aryankavu range of the Forest Department. Range officer A.J. Ramesh Kumar said that on an average, nearly 800 tourists arrived at the waterfall a day during season. On holidays, the crowd swelled. Nearly 2 lakh tourists visited Palaruvi each year.
Many arrive at the waterfall for a bath, as it is believed that the waters of the Palaruvi have medicinal properties capable of healing some diseases.
Palaruvi, one of the tributaries of the Kallada river, literally means “stream of milk,” and in season, true to its name, the fall resembles milk flowing from a giant tap that cannot be closed. June to November is the best time to be at Palaruvi.