Chalakudy Valparai Route via Athirapally : Most beautiful route in South India

The most beautiful route in S.India, 88Kms across the Western Ghats..Chalakudy> Athirapally> Valparai> Coimbatore: amidst thick forests, across many waterfalls, valleys and lofty peaks.


The most beautiful route in S.India, 88Kms across the Western Ghats..Chalakudy> Athirapally> Valparai> Coimbatore: amidst thick forests, across many waterfalls, valleys and lofty peaks.

DamFor most of us Athirapally waterfalls is the end of that breathtaking road. Those who have traveled further have enjoyed the one of the most beautiful rides in south India. A trip to Valparai (Tamilnadu) via Athirapally from Chalakudy (Kerala).

The Background

It has been a long while since I have been looking for a nascent route to do a trip. I have traveled along almost all border routes between Kerala and Tamilnadu, but there was one major route which I missed. This was the Chalakudy (Kerala) – Pollachi (Tamilnadu) route. This route passes through the beautiful  rain forests of the Western Ghats starting from Chalakudy in Kerala, heading west beside the Chalakudy river via Athirapally-Puliyilapara-Malakkapara-Sholayar-Valparai- Aliyar and  finally reaching Pollachi in Tamilnadu, across the western ghats. The famous Athirapally and Vazhachal Waterfalls are on this route.

Most of the buses from Chalakudy town will go only up to Athirapally   (13Kms from Chalakudy ) from Chalakudy town to cater the tourist group to Athirapally waterfalls. The travelers make a visit to these waterfalls and just return: believing that is it is a dead end, even me for several years.

IMG_3578tA bus to Valparai from Chalakudy. There are a couple of buses everyday from Chalakudy to Valparai and vice versa.

Bus Timings : There are only very few buses, daily from Chalakudy to Valparai.The first bus, Sri Abhirami starts from Chalakudy Private Bus Stand at Early Morning

6:30. The next one at 2 PM and 2:45PM (7:30 AM, 9:30 AM and 12 PM from Valparai to Chalakudy). The bus fare to Valparai from Chalakudy was Rs 69 (The distance is 88 Kms. The conductor of the Bus was a very friendly person, who was talking at least a few sentences to every traveler in the bus. He explained to me about a few major picnic spots along the route. He talked to me about  20 top spots and mentioned about another 100 hidden spots along the route . Frankly speaking, this  was the most beautiful route I have traveled in South India.


Start off

By 6.40, the bus moved out of the Chalakudy Bus Stand slowly heading east with a few passengers from the nearby villages. The roadsides drifted from the closed lonely streets and shops of Chalakudy Town to Houses and Plantations on either side. The road with steep ups and downs was very narrow, just enough for a bus to move. The driver, an young man with long hair was able to drive the bus along the route road with occasional gutters, making passengers bounce off their seat.

 Athirapally Waterfalls

We were moving beside the Chalakudy River, which was flowing along our right side with violent waterfalls cascading from the huge rocks through a deep valley cut through the rock. I could hear the loud roaring cry of a waterfall far away from me, and for no doubt, I knew it was the Athirapally waterfall.

The Athirapally  Waterfalls (GPS 10.23 N, 76.57 E) is the largest waterfalls in Kerala and so a hot spot for many  South Indian movie cameramen. There were many tea shops and Pettykadas (Small shops selling food) all along the road side and near the entrance to the waterfalls.

IMG_3594tThe hair pin bends on the way. higher up to the western ghats. Narrow road in the Kerala side.

I have visited these waterfalls long time back when I was a kid. The waterfalls were not visible from the road, but I could spot out the signboard leading to the falls. There was forest range office and a few small houses nearby. The bus made a short pause here for the entry and exit of a few passengers. There was a lot of luggage in the bus now, including but not limited to eggs, milk, bananas etc.

Beyond Athirapally

Beyond Athrapally waster falls was the winding roads through the scenic winding roads beside the Chalakudy river .  There was a forest Check post just after the waterfalls and we there was a halt for a few Minutes. On both sides there were thick Deciduous forests and no sign of Human life.

A Tamil movie was played in the bus and all the passengers were enjoying it. A guy was asking the conductor, if they should stop the bus at his destination which is just  few Kilometers away for a longer time so that he can finish watching the movie before getting  out of the bus, but the smart conductor invited him to  travel till Valparai, the final destination of the bus another 4 hours of Journey.


Tea plantations at Valparai.

The road was a narrow road amidst the teak and Cashew nut plantations and there were pockets of bamboo grass. A co passenger was busy in making me frightened by telling his stories of  mischievous elephants – blocking roads and damaging vehicles.. ..Luckily or Unluckily I haven’t seen any

After a few kilometers we crossed a very narrow bridge over the Chalakudy River, making the river to our left side.  The bridge was so narrow – just enough for the wheels to pass over it and one require real guts to drive a bus over it- A slight turn would drive the bus down into the river. The surface of the roads was worse that, it resembled a jeep road.


Narrow road in the Tamil Nadu side

By around 8 we reached at a place called Pulielapara, a very small town where there was a powerhouse. The villages were speaking Malayalam (Local Language of Kerala). The bus stopped for a while and we all had our Morning Breakfast from a restaurant near the bus stop. The conductor told me that, it was the last Village and the next town would be Valparai. Even Though I was not that hungry, I ate an Appam and then did a small walk across the town to have a look around.

There were only about 20 passengers in the bus and I took hold of the empty back seat, the long one stretching from left to right so that I can capture photographs from either sides.

The forest was almost dry, as it was close to the summer season, but it was lively with stretches of gentle streams fetching water from the wet rocks. We crossed several hairpin bends and many were so narrow that the driver had to drive back and forth between the road’s edge of bend the bus.

The road beyond the town was through thick jungle with no human beings around. I could spot out a few racks of Bamboo stems stacked at the road side. At times, I could spot out a few temporary tent set ups and very few tribal people walking.

ValparaiTea pickers at Valparai.

There were many cross roads leading to dam sights and powerhouses on either sides. Since I was traveling in a regular shuttle bus, I could not visit these sights. Another thing I saw was a group of 4 huge pipelines carrying water from one dam to another. The next dam was Poringalkuthu Dam.

Poringalkuthu dam the forests dissolved into lush green patches, and all clues of summer season just vanished. This was the beginning of the evergreen forests. The Backwaters of this

dam was not that vast like  Idukki dam but the reservoir was almost full. I was lucky to have a glimpse of the dam, far away from the bus but couldn’t get a chance to get a close up. If you are traveling by a private car probably you can have a better view of the dam.

IMG_3646tSholayar Dam 19 kilometers before Valparai.

The condition of the roads remained the same, with thick evergreen forests on either side. The bus had halt several tribal settlements adding up the number of passengers every time. Most of them had big bunches of Bananas to be sold at the Valparai market.

Reaching the Border

After moving further, the forest cover disappeared and it was Coffee and Tea Plantations. I remembered about the Munnar and Peermade Tea plantations. The tea plantations at Valparai is run by Tata Tea (They have estates at Munnar too). It was the the boundary between Kerala and Tamilnadu.

The tea estate workers lived in small houses, painted in Bright Green and Blue Colors unlike Kerala. The houses lacked proper maintenance and I guess it was all built by the British several centuries ago. Major part of the population was Tamil Speaking, even though there were many Malayalis living here. People at Valparai are comfortable with both Tamil and Malayalam.

IMG_3720tValparai town: a little town, with very few options to stay.

I saw a huge construction to my right side and it was the Sholayar dam, the second deepest dam in Asia. We crossed the dam via a small bridge over the channel in front of the it.  Water was flowing out from the partially open shutter, which was channeled to Parambkulam dam. There were a lot of visitors  to watch the beauty of this dam. The backwater of the Sholayar Dam was bounded by steep hills of tea plantations.


reached Valparai by around 11:30. I had my lunch and went back to the bus stop to get a Pollachi (Available Frequently) bus. The town of Valparai was like any other hill stations of Tamilnadu. There are a lot of lodges and hotels to cater the needs of the tourists. There was no proper bus stand but there is a common place where all the buses are parked.

After roaming a bit in Valparai town I caught a cus to Pollcahi by 12:30 (45 Kms Charge 21 Rs) The bus moved down slowly along the winding roads through the tea plantations. At this side the road was a bit wider than its counterpart at the other side. I had a magnificent view of the Aliyar dam and a few other tourist spots including monkey falls,a few temples  and many more.IMG_3722tBus to Pollachi from Valparai.

By around 2 I reached Pollachi, and I got a bus to Coimbatore and went to Coimbatore (45 Kms Rs 12 Bus fare). Late evening I Left Coimbatore and went to Bangalore (350 Kms).

Travel by Own Vehicle

The road is suitable for cars and bikes. Start early morning. At some places the road is very narrow: though no tigers: except a gaur or an elephant blocking your way. There will be very few vehicles and the road will be mostly yours.  Never travel along at Night. There are many spots where u can enjoy a lot of mammals, birds and insects endemic to the western ghats.


58 thoughts on “Chalakudy Valparai Route via Athirapally : Most beautiful route in South India

  1. Amit

    Hi Aravind, As always, a great trip acuncot. We are planning a trip to the region in late jan. The tramway trek is on our agenda. How long does the trek last?

    • mohamed khalid

      Hotel Krishna Inn Valparai is the very very best hotel for food & also for accommodation. it is located in Valparai town. No other option, u can try it… then u will be a repeat customer.

  2. Shrikumar

    Hey, nice account of your travel. I have been planning to take this route for a long time. But was always doubtful of the road condition. Reading this, i am confident to take my car now. Thank you !

  3. Krishnan

    Superb route. Road is n very good condition and can fully enjoy the wilderness. 86 kms to valparai and 60 kms to malakkapparai which is kerala border from athirappilly

  4. Md Rafeeq

    Thanks mate….i got nostalgic. on 19.04.2006 as a birthday surprise my friend took me munnar on enfield via chalakudy and valparai… was amazing…i can never forget that..

    • admin Post author

      Its just the best drive in South India, there is one more via Manjoor to ooty from coimbatore…

    • admin Post author

      Yes, Many at Valparai… We stayed at Monica bungalow in Valparai, it was good…..Dont miss to go through the Encyclopedia of Psychedelic Drugs in the room.

  5. suresh


    Can you say me the exact bus timing for chalakudy to valparai early morning so that i can reach before the start time of the bus since i have to travel from Ernakulam.

    • admin Post author

      I guess the first bus is by 6:30, but need to consult someone from chalakudy to know the exact timing..

  6. Balasubramanian

    many thanks for the superb narration…while reading the entire thing, i felt i reached there….thanks for the same…keep it up….expect another episode from you…

  7. Sreeram

    I am travelling from Cochin to Valparai with my kid who has motion sickness. Is it advisable to take the Athirampilly route or the Wadakancherry-Pollachi route and then proceed to Valparai?

  8. Jignesh

    I traveled Kerala in last august and after landing at Kochin airport directly visited Athirapalli site. As this was my first trip and due to limited time, I could spend only half day and returned back to Kochin. I read your recommendation about traveling deep into the area and will surely plan in next Kerala trip through my own vehicle.

    Can you recommend any specific path to drove from Kochi? I may travel in my own vehicle.

  9. Faiz

    Much needed info for me as I am planning for a trip to south kerela via this route pollachi-valparai-kochi .,and I just wanted to know whether it is ok to travel in feb lastweek?! with respect to the climate and road conditions?!
    mode of transport is Car(swift).

    kindly do reply asap admin.

  10. Joseph Saju

    Do you know any reliable private tour operators in this route? I mean Chalakudy Athirappilly Valparai Parambikulam.

  11. srinik

    Hi ..feeling elated to find a nice representation. Would like to plan this route with family but in a reverse way. Coimbatore to Cochin. Can I make it? What are the best stay/halt options to visit Athirpally falls if I make it from Coimbatore?

    • admin Post author

      Yes you. can.. There are a couple of places to stay near Athirappally, .. you have more stay options at Valparai. Thank you

  12. Sam

    Hi thanks for describing your journey. We’re actually planning for a trip through this route by a hired car: Coimbatore->Pollachi->Valparai->Athirapally->Alleppey. We’re traveling with our baby who’s just 5 months old. Do you foresee any issues? I had this doubt especially because I read about no human beings seen on the road, and presence of wild animals like elephants etc. Also because of the sharp turns and the hair pins. Please suggest us whether this trip can be taken or not.

    • Rishi

      My friend,first dont go with a hired car,this route has sharp bends and turns.Second dont go with your family,its truly a sole journey to be made with a bike.I have tried with my family in a car, they just didn’t kill me.
      But am still waiting to have a ride alone through this route.Its really adventuristic!

  13. Mahesh

    It had been my dream to travel in this route, when I was staying in Coimbatore , but couldn’t implement. Just came up to Valparai few times. Really enjoyed your travelogue and now I have a feeling that I too travelled with you. It was such a nice write up on the said route. Planning to travel shortly in this route. Thanks Dear.

  14. Vivek M S

    Athrapally to Pollachi route is very good deep forest. last week I was travelled best experience in forest. pls drive day night drive very dangerous especially this route

  15. Ganesan

    Is there any lodging facility (single) near the bus stand in Chalakudy ? because, I don’t want to miss the morning bus to Valparai in any way during my trip. Thanks.

  16. Raj

    Hi, I’m planning to go to Guruvayur from Coimbatore on 3rd December and wants to do it by public transport only.
    Can I reach on the same day. Whether there are enough buses connection. I will be reaching Coimbatore only around 9 am on that day. Please advise. Thanks in advance.

  17. Vikash

    Hi, I am planning to visit Valparai and nearby place. Actually, me and my friends are passionate about bike trip. Our route will be Bangalore – Pollachi – Valparai and 2nd-day Valparai – Athirapally – Chalakudy, and 3rd-day from Chalakudy to Bangalore. As you mentioned that dense forest is there from Valparai to Attirapally, Is it safe to do the bike ride from Valparai to Attirapally?

  18. faiselknr

    Thank you for your valuable information.
    My route plan is Kannur-Chalakkudy-Valparai-Parambikulam-Kannur.
    Give me your guidance please.Is there any bus from Valparai to Paranbikulm.
    Expect your prompt response .
    Faisal knr

  19. poongani amudhan

    Planning Bike trip from Chennai – trichy- valparai -chalakudy -palakad- coimbatore – villupuram -chennai Travel dates will be April 28 to 30 th April. Any suggestions & about travel period is better or not ? need to know ..Pls help me out .

  20. Mathew Joseph

    I wish to send my travelguests to Valparai this year.Please publsh the names of Resorts or Home stays in Valparai.

  21. Tarun

    I am planning to go Valparai and visit Athirapally. I will be staying in Valparai. Is there any public transport available to roam around places near Valpari? Can I return in a day from Athriapally to Valpari by bus?

  22. Shakhul

    Dear travellers,
      I’m  Shakhul from Tirupur. Recently I travelled  from Tirupur to Alleppey via Thrissur NH66 and travelled back from Alleppey to Tirupur via chalakudy & Athirapally via Valparai .The route was extraordinary with lush green, drizzling rain and mist covered hill tops. It’s no doubt,that this is  one of the south asia biggest rain forest. In the western ghats On the way  I visited Athirapally falls and had a long drive in my car with my family.
     First I was stopped in a checkpost near Athirapally falls, there the officers requested the driver’s name, passengers details and vehicle name and they filled a form  which they asked me to return to next checkpost(Malakapara) .Initially the road was good and I really loved it.  After crossing few kilometers the road was totally damaged and  become narrowed(15 feet ) with lots of holes  and breakages. I arrived Malakkapara kerala village which was 27 kms before valparai.There we are supposed to return the slip  which we received earlier because in the case of mishappening  the forest department  will get notified and search for us.
    I literally had a worst driving experience in that road due to bushes which covered both sides of road.As we didn’t have  network in that place it made our trip much more difficult  to contact anyone in emergency. Thanks to god as we returned safely.
    I noticed very few buses and lorries on the way from valparai to cochin.we would be left unhelped if the vehicle is breakdown since none is there to help you. As it’s a thick dense forest even forest officers won’t pass after 5 pm. I found  few tribal people in the tents on bank of the lakes and there is no villages or shops for nearly 70 kms till Malakkapara . Definetly you will have lot of adventures and can encounter parade of elephants but make sure  you are safe and not scared.Travelling with family from chalakudy via Athirapally  to valparai is dangerous  so kindly avoid this route.If you are an Adventurer travel in vehicle having good condition and with good tyres with fuel back it would be much better to start early and reach your destination before dark. But its worth to avoid this route and use highway from Athirapally to chalakudy. Hope you have the best and safe trip experience.

  23. kirupa

    As i had trip from valpari to athirapalli on 06 Jan 2020, i was used this road. Road was very bad, the vehicle condition should be good. becaz full of forest area. nobody is there if anything happen to ur vehicle..finished the happiness. almost 50% area no telephone signals,
    before u start please check everything and start this route.

  24. Goutam Das

    How much state TAX we have to pay if we are entering into Valparai(TN) from Athirapally Waterfalls(Kerala)? I are going with our EcoSports car?

  25. Sheik

    We are planning to make a family trip to Valparai by lat week of Feb. Is this the right time to visit Valparai region. Will it be greenish or dry since it is the starting of summer season? Also, can we make a road trip in the Athirapally route? Kindly suggest.


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