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Kerala's wonderland

God's own country, Kerala, exhibits the best of nature's contrast with its tranquil forests and furious waterfalls

travel Updated: Jul 20, 2011 13:31 IST
Gangadharan Menon
Gangadharan Menon

Kerala, the narrow strip of land sandwiched between the Sahyadris and the Arabian Sea is a visitor's delight. Every drop of sweet water that originates in the Sahyadri range reaches its saline grave within 12 hours.

Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary, located about 60 km north-east from Kochi, is many sanctuaries rolled into one. Since its undulating terrain ranges from 100 feet above sea level to over 1,500 feet, it's a hot spot of bio-diversity. It was during his innumerable birdlife explorations in India, that Dr Salim Ali, one of the best known ornithologist, discovered these forests.

The forests range from tropical evergreen to semi-evergreen to deciduous forests and even large tracts of open grasslands.

These are surrounded by a placid lake formed by the backwaters of Pooyamkutti Dam on the Periyar River. Because of this unique landscape, land birds, birds of higher altitude, and even water birds can be seen here.

The Adivasis living in the Silent Valley of Kerala have a unique custom. Once they collect nature's treasures from a particular area, they don't come back there till nature replenishes them. Taking a cue, the forest department has recently made a part of the Thattekkad Sanctuary out of bounds for tourists.

Athirapally Falls on the Chalakudy River, 78 km from Kochi in Thrissur district, is a study in contrast. This unique waterfall is controlled by the shutters of the Sholayar Dam up in the evergreen reaches of the Western Ghats. Thereby hangs a tragic tale too. When it rains, the shutters are opened without a warning. And, what was a gentle fall becomes an angry fall that literally sweeps people off their feet, leading to many tragic deaths. You can be privy to one of the most awesome moods of the river as it plunges 80 feet headlong into a gorge.

First Published: Jul 20, 2011 13:31 IST