Kochi

Spike in tourist footfall at Athirappilly

Over 200 visitors descend on the destination a day on an average

With the start of summer holidays, tourists are pouring in to see the picturesque Athirapilly-Vazhachal waterfalls in Thrissur district.

“Weekdays now see an inflow of around 200 tourists a day, and this doubles and even triples over weekends. Holidays always draw in more tourists here,” said Veena Devi, range forest officer of Charpa Range in the Athirapilly Forest Division.

Tourist footfall has been steadily going up each year, the official added. While 11.6 lakh tourists thronged the destination in 2013-14, it rose to 15.6 lakh last year, according to Forest Department figures.

Last year, the place recorded the highest number of visitors – 23,344 people – on September 5. The numbers also indicate that tourists visited the Athirapilly falls more than the smaller Vazhachal cascade less than 5 km away.

Visitors delighted

The tourists include not just foreign nationals and those from other States but also travellers from across Kerala.

“It is a sign of nature’s glory, and I am spellbound,” said Sheena K.V. from Kannur. She is seeing the Athirapilly falls for the first time. “We will come again. It is obvious that if the proposed dam comes up, it will decrease water flow and destroy this beauty,” she added.

It is for the third time that K. Anbarasan, who is part of a 55-member group from Villupuram near Salem in Tamil Nadu, is visiting the waterfalls. “We are on our way back from Sabarimala. We always stop here to see the falls,” he said.

“I wish we could go closer to the waterfalls and enjoy the fine spray,” said Suju S. who came from Palakkad. “But the watchers are ever vigilant and do not let us get close to the edge at all!”

More guards

However, watchers do not want to take chances. “We make sure that visitors do not venture too close to the waterfalls, for their own safety,” said Subran P.K., a forest watcher deployed to supervise tourists at the base of the waterfall. “There are six of us monitoring the area here,” he added.

Local Vana Samrakshana Samiti (VSS) members have also been deployed at strategic locations to ensure that people do not cross the makeshift rope boundary erected on the banks of the river.

During the holiday season, however, traffic is the main worry, says Devi.

“There are no dedicated parking lots for the hundreds of vehicles that arrive at Athirapilly. Right now, vehicles are parked beside the road or in private land. We employ up to 70 VSS members to control traffic, apart from 20 additional forest staffers,” she said.

Traffic also goes up on the State highway 21, which connects Athirappilly with Tamil Nadu’s Valparai hill station, this season, she added.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 12:54:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/spike-in-tourist-footfall-at-athirappilly/article23631751.ece

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