2019 Mazha Yatra Update: Started from June 22
Click the button below for 2019 Mazha yatra package details PDF from KTDC
Exploring the rainforests of Kerala during Monsoon season should be on every traveler’s to do list! A year ago, I undertook a memorable journey organized by the Kerala Tourism Department (hereafter referred as KTD), covering the western ghat rainforests in and around Athirapally Taluk, Thrissur District.
This travelogue covers a detailed review of the package offered by KTD with photographs I have taken during the trip and my overall experience.
I first came to know about this one-day travel package from KTD via a Whatsapp forward Advt. shared by my cousin who was keen on organizing a family trip for long! The advt. was as follows (English translation below the image)
My Translation: The Athirapally-Vazhachal-Thumboormuzhy DMC under the Kerala tourism department is starting a “Jungle Safari Rain Journey Monsoon Tourism package” (short named as Rain Journey (Mazha Yatra)) covering the tourist destinations in and around Athirappilly-Sholayar rainforests, allowing you to experience the enchanting forests and the beauty of rain!
The trip starts at 8 AM from Chalakkudy PWD guest house and is planned to reach back at the same place by 7 PM. The journey will include Breakfast, Lunch, evening snacks consisting “tapioca and chili chutney”, special monsoon health kit and drinks, special coffee and service of a tour guide. Also, special prizes will be awarded to select travelers based on a contest of Mobile photographs clicked on the theme “Rain”. Aiming to make Athirapally a prominent monsoon tourist destination, the KTD is organizing diverse tourism plans. The participants will also be given a bag, an umbrella, and other gifts as part of this package.
The destinations include Thumboormuzhi, Athirappilly, Chapra waterfalls (which becomes active only during the rainy season), Vazhachaal, Peringalkuthu, Anakkayam, and Sholayar dam and the trip costs 1000 INR per person.
For booking, please contact 0480-2769888 or 9497069888. The package starts from June 3, 2017.
I went for the trip along with 16 of my relatives and we were asked to reach Chalakudy PWD guest house by 7:45 AM as the trip was scheduled to start at 8 AM. We reached early, by 7:20 AM and by then few others who would be joining us had also reached, but no KTD official was to be seen around. As the clock ticked, people started to arrive one after the other and at one point we were wondering how big the team will be! Around 7:40, a classy Benz Travel Bus came in, followed by 2 Air conditioned tempo travelers and it was then we realized the trip will be having multiple batches and not just one bus! In another ten minutes, everyone got into the bus and by 7:55 we started the trip, 5 min ahead of our scheduled start time!
10 minutes into the journey, the bus hustled past the concrete jungle and entered greener territory! We were heading to our the first destination which is Thumboormuzhi, also our breakfast point as informed by the guide. 10 to 15 minutes into the journey, the guide started announcing basic instructions like alcohol is not allowed, everyone should finish sightseeing within the stipulated time frame and even gave us a brief history and details of the places we will be visiting. We reached Thumboormuzhi, by 8 30 AM and we were informed that we have around 50 minutes allotted here (breakfast + sightseeing). The travelers from the other two vehicles would be soon joining us, and we were asked to have breakfast first, during which the rest of the team will go for sightseeing and once we finish the breakfast, they will have their food and we will see around the place. This format was followed for Lunch and evening tea as well. We all were given colorful big umbrellas when going for breakfast and was told it is our responsibility to take care of them throughout the journey and no replacement will be offered (more about that later!) We had a nice breakfast (IMO!) which consisted of “Puttu and Kadala Curry” (Rice cake and black channa curry), the “puttu” was made of a mixture of rice powder as well as jackfruit seed powder, followed by idly and white coconut chutney and choice of either tea or coffee. The hotel also had on sale different processed food made out of jackfruit at reasonable prices. There was no limit for the food you can eat I guess, but I did not see anyone asking for more than what was served initially!
We took about 20-25 min for breakfast and then headed towards the “hanging bridge” which is about 5 min walk from the hotel and is the main attraction at Thumboormuzhi. Spanning both sides with picturesque fauna, the place is a great view to get immersed in the beauty of nature. The place also has a viewing deck though I felt the hanging bridge offered a better view of nature. The place was as green as it could get and the beauty compounded with rain. Throughout the journey, it was either drizzling or heavy rains and hence the name “Rain journey” was 100 percent apt for the trip! At Thumboormuzhi I had a glimpse of vezhambal (Great hornbill), the Kerala state bird but unfortunately, couldn’t photograph it. The place also has a nice park and after a quick stroll in the park, and we were back on the bus for the next leg of our journey. We were scheduled to leave at 9:25, we left at 9:30!
The next destination was the most treacherous, challenging, and fascinating of all; the Athirapally waterfalls! We reached near the waterfalls by around 10 AM. When I asked the guide about how much time we have there, he said about 1 hour and I was wondering, “Isn’t that too much?”. Time proved me wrong.
There are 2 places from where you can see the waterfalls! Either from a viewpoint which is at the same height as the waterfall or from the base of the waterfall. However, to reach the base of the waterfall, one needs to go through a tough 400-meter steep downhill trek and the path is very difficult to alight and climb. By the time I went down and came back, my muscles had lost all its glucose reserves and I could barely take a step forward! But the trek is worth the view you will get once you reach the base of the waterfall!
It easily takes 1 hour for you to complete the sightseeing at Athirapally taking into consideration the trek to the base and back. By the time we resumed our journey, it was almost 11:15!
On the way to our next destination, vazhachal, we had a brief stop at charpa waterfall which is a roadside waterfall which did not have any wow factor. We were there only for a couple of minutes, (Reached at 11:20) the guide didn’t even give us time to click proper photographs, and it even started raining, so we were back in the bus quickly.
Next destination was Vazhachaal, (reached by 11:30) another mediocre waterfall. More than a waterfall, it felt like water flowing over rocks which are inclined at a downward angle. We were taken for a walk beside the “waterfalls” through a tribal colony and we completed the walk in 15 minutes and was back in the bus by 11:50!
Our next stop was Peringalkuthu a KSEB inspection bungalow, which is a restricted area with access only through pre-approval from KSEB. Our lunch was arranged here. We reached Peringalkuthu by 12:20 PM. The lunch was a typical Kerala style lunch (Non-veg) which included white rice, sambar, rasam, theeyal, Thoran, fish moli, chicken masala, papadam, and lime pickle. I would rate it as a good fulfilling meal.
The only place to see from Peringalkuthu is the Peringalkuthu dam. It was very difficult to see the dam because of heavy fog. It also was raining heavily when we were at Peringalkuthu and by 1:30 PM, we were ready to resume the trip.
Our next destination was the Sholayar Dam, which is near to the Tamil Nadu border (few of us were receiving ‘Welcome to Tamil Nadu’ message by the cell phone provider!). Photography was banned at the place and the Dam viewpoint was also closed, so the trip to Sholayar dam turned out to be a waste of time, except for the ones who used the washroom to attend natures call!
On the way back from Sholayar, the guide took us for a “nature walk” which is a 30 min walk into the forest through a narrow makeshift road. We reached the place around 3:00 PM. After the trek to Athirappilly waterfalls, I found this small walk the next best thing in the trip. The place was all foggy and we were unable to see even 10 meters ahead! Add to it, it was drizzling enough to make you feel the rain but not so hard you couldn’t walk, There were leeches on the road, but thankfully I did not get bitten! We clicked a couple of photographs and were back to the bus by 3:40 PM.
The nature walk was the last “spot” in our itinerary and we started our journey back to Chalakudy. On the way back, we stopped for our evening tea at a roadside hotel (which again was a pre-designated place) and had “kappa and mulaku chammanthi” (Cooked tapioca with chili chutney) which was very spicy and a black coffee with jaggery! There is a well-maintained restroom complex at this spot. We left by about 5:40 PM.
The bus was playing nice melodious Malayalam songs all the way back and half of the travelers were asleep during the return journey and by sharp 7 PM, we reached back the PWD guest house!
Summing up, I would definitely recommend everyone visiting Kerala or who are from Kerala to go for this trip. Though not all the places which we visited can be called breathtaking, the experience is definitely worth the money. The greenery throughout the journey itself is enough to fill your mind and heart with happiness. Walking through the forests, seeing the waterfalls from so close, breathing fresh air, the sound of nature and not machinery and vehicles, the trip gives you a lot than what is written above. Do note that the KTDC organizes this kind of trip throughout the year and they just re-named it as “Mazha yatra” to mark the monsoon season. Those year round trip also costs 1000 rs and includes one more destination which is malakkappara and that trip starts earlier since the distance is more.
We did not even stop at “anakkayam” mentioned in the itinerary, the bus passed through the place and the guide just announced “we are passing through anakkayam” Phew!
Coming to the freebies offered in the package.
Umbrella: The umbrella given is of very low quality, some of its handles came out halfway through the journey, for some, it couldn’t handle strong winds and couldn’t even close the umbrella. You can use it at your home to go around during rain, but definitely not an all-weather high-quality umbrella. But the umbrella is really big!!!
Bag: When I heard “bag” I pictured in mind a backpack or at least a sling bag, but no, what you get is a cloth cover with a zip called as a bag. You can probably use it to store a few papers in it! The bag would have cost them 15 rs! The “kit” mentioned in the advt. was present inside this big.
Kit include: Brochure, 1 appam, 1 eladi sweet, 1 marunnu and jackfruit squash sample.
Additional Gift: A Biodegradable pen with seeds in it !!!