A Monsoon Bike ride to Valpara- Via Athirapally, Vazhachal and Malakkapara

Bike Trip to Valpara- Via Athirapally, Vazhachal and Malakkapara

The best view of the entire trip- View of Aliyar Dam and Reservoir from the Hill tops of Valpara

The best view of the entire trip- View of Aliyar Dam and Reservoir from the Hill tops of Valpara

Since I had a flight to catch on Sunday noon to Mumbai for an office purpose I couldn’t go home this Saturday. So I knew it is my chance and didn’t want to spend this whole day doing nothing. There were so many places in my mind but the Monsoon said not to almost all the places and I could also figure it out to be a bad idea to go trekking. The climate may turn it out to be a waste of time. It has been a while now since I have hit the road also. So the idea of going for a long drive came in popping out of the wits. I decided to materialize the much awaited monsoon ride of Athirapally – Vazhachal – Valpara – Pollachi route. Being heard about the beauty of the road I had earlier done some decent research on this trip and had well read about the route. I was little doubtful also whether to take this route as any mishaps, even a puncture, would turn out to be treacherous in this route. It passed through the dense forest covers of Athirapally Valpara forest range. But finally decided against all such odd thoughts and commenced the trip.

It was on Wednesday I got a message in my blog from an unknown friend Anish (A cool guy works at CTS in Info park) who visited the blog and sounded very eager to join for future trips. We exchanged some messages and called each other to start an acquaintance. When I suggested the trip Anish raised his willingness without a second thought and we planned the same for Saturday Morning. We planned to start early in the morning so that we can reach Vazhachal fast and get into the route before much intruders. I woke up by 4am and started from room by 4.30 am. In no time I reached Edapally and waited for Anish to join in front of the Lulu mall. In another 5 minuted Anish also joined and we started the trip. On the way we fueled as we know it would be something next to impossible to find a fueling station if we take the detour from Angamaly to Athirapally road.

Road Inside the Palm plantation of plantation Corporation of kerala

Road Inside the Palm plantation of plantation Corporation of Kerala

It started raining from the very beginning and I was worried about it. We had to take comparatively good drizzling on the way and by day light we reached Ezhattumugham and entered into the PCK (Plantation Corporation of Kerala) Palm plantation estate. The road is still in the same bad condition. The last time I took this road was when I and Sayed paid a visit to Athirapally falls two years back. We could move very slowly due to this and frequent rain was sidetracking us. It was difficult to take photos due to rain but I managed to get a few clicks. It started raining heavily after this and there was nothing else to do than to get going rather to stop very frequently. Before reaching Athirapally itself we could hear the roar of the falls though water was comparatively less than my previous visit. We didn’t have any plans to visit the falls but was planning to have our breakfast from Athirapally. To add to our disappointment none of the hotels in Athirapally was functional by that time and hence we decided to move along. Still it was raining and it was almost dark after crossing Athirapally entering into the dense forest route.

Charpa falls (Second falls after Athirapally enroute ) was also promising due to occasional rain.We reached Vazhachal check post by 6.15 am and completed the formalities there. The rain doesn’t seem like getting subsided and I was very much disappointed that I couldn’t take photos enroute. I had to wear rain coat from Vazhachal. But thanks Mother Nature It was getting clear after sometime and soon after 20 minutes of our ride started from Vazhachal we reached Puliyilapara junction, a small midtown area with a few shops and two hotels. We had our breakfast from there. From Puliyilapara if we take a left we will reach Peringalkuthu Hydroelectric project and Dam.

The road from Vazhachal to Puliyilapara is mediocre forest covers and from Puliyilapara the real dense forest began.

IMG_7697 IMG_7689 IMG_7688 IMG_7685 IMG_7681 IMG_7674 IMG_7660 IMG_7656There is literally nothing enroute other than one or two forest check post outlets and some abandoned buildings. The entire stretch from Vazhachal to Malakkapara is 44 km. The route was really wild and the wilderness grew as we moved inside. It was thick woods and Elephant dung was all over the road. We could take all the curves with a heavy heart fearing to encounter and elephant or some other mammal. The presence of wild animals was very much visible and some places we had the smell of elephant very close. I even thought of discontinuing or waiting for some more vehicles to come but later somehow gathered courage to continue. The road was luckily in superb condition. Apart from some fallen trees and shrubs in between there were no huddles enroute. The sunlight was still waiting to peep into the woods and the air was so fresh. The greenery was really heart soothening.

IMG_7672  _MG_7691I was riding in front and taking a curve I saw a Wild dog. But as soon as he sniffed my presence he swifted into the woods before I could think of taking my camera. That was the first animal sighting of the day apart from the chirping birds and fluctuating butterflies. We came to an open space in between and I suppose this would be the reservoir of the Peringalkuthu Dam though I am not sure about that. Having a brief stop there we continued.

Peringalkuthu Dam reservoir--I suppose. There was no one there to reconfirm...

Peringalkuthu Dam reservoir–I suppose. There was no one there to reconfirm…

The zig zag road was very subtle and we could not take much speed. I stopped often to click on what all I could and believe me this route is a heaven for photographers. There were so many small streams and waterfalls enroute and it was very difficult to stop myself from stopping. We reached Mukkunnapra forest station in some time. The road from Mukkunnapara to Malakkapara is the wildest part of the entire stretch. Some places the canopy is so thick that we can’t even see the sky for some distance. We saw a two batches of nilgiri langurs. They were less scary and could get some pics.

IMG_7765 IMG_7671Surprisingly couldn’t spot any birds during this stretch though we could hear the sounds of so many. We reached the lower Sholayar Dam and the view of the reservoir was beautiful. Water level was down and hence the forest covers of the banks were more visible. We saw the Private bus Don which does service from Chalakudy to Valpara when we were there. We reached Malakkapara Check post where we need to register our details and hand over the pass obtained from Vazhachal. This is the Kerala Tamilnadu border and the forest cover thins from this points. Malakkapara is a small town area with couple of provision stores and plenty of Home stays. Those who plan to stay can easily find a place here though we can only expect medium facilities. From Malakkapara the road is little more broad and clear.

_MG_7725 _MG_7728 IMG_7732The route is mainly through plantations like tea or Eucalyptus. We could see workers, their settlements and all. Moving forward we reached the Valve station of Upper Sholayar dam. The pipes which carried water from the dam to the power station were a good view. We were attaining some heights by now and we reached the upper Sholayar Dam. Sholayar Dam is literally huge and I haven’t seen such a big reservoir anywhere. The road goes through the banks of the Sholayar and it actually went in kms. The banks of the Sholayar Dam were so beautiful. There were some Islands inside the reservoir.

IMG_7790 IMG_7756 IMG_7755 IMG_7700 _MG_7847 _MG_7841 _MG_7840 _MG_7838 _MG_7826 _MG_7829 _MG_7830 _MG_7820 _MG_7821 _MG_7808 _MG_7810 _MG_7813 _MG_7814 _MG_7818 _MG_7802 _MG_7754 _MG_7708 _MG_7849By 12 Pm we reached Valparai. Valparai is a town area. It was very crowded and littered. It was an eye sore to see something like after being in the wild for a long time. The greenery, forest, back waters, dams, Tea estates plantations etc suddenly gave way to the hurry burry of civilization. But at this point of time we didn’t know that we are going to witness the most beautiful sights of our life. I wanted to get out of the city very fast. Without any stop we crossed Valpara town and proceeded to Pollachi. I have read that there are 41 hairpin curves from Valpara to Pollachi. But it was against my logical thinking and geography that Pollachi being not a place in that height and Valparai being in comparative height how come there are 41 hair pin curves to reach Pollachi from Valpara. The answer was right in front of the road. The 41 hair pin bends includes an ascend from Valparai to Pollachi road and descend from the high hills to Pollachi. What awaited us on the road was astounding and stunning. The road went through the edges of a high hill. We could see the Aliyar Dam and reservoir beneath the hills. There were magnificent views at every hair pin bends. The view from the vantage points where like being in some foreign lands. I don’t understand the logic of people going outside India spending lacks of rupees for sightseeing when these places are right under their noses unexplored and unraveled. At all vantage points I stopped for photos. I didn’t want to come back from that place. I even thought of returning back the same way but it was past 2 pm by then and I was sure we are not gonna make it back to Vazhachal via same road before the allowed time.

IMG_7785 _MG_7948 _MG_7942 _MG_7923 _MG_7920 _MG_7935 _MG_7917 _MG_7915 _MG_7914 _MG_7907 _MG_7897 _MG_7889 _MG_7885

The best view of the entire trip- View of Aliyar Dam and Reservoir from the Hill tops of Valpara

The best view of the entire trip- View of Aliyar Dam and Reservoir from the Hill tops of Valpara

_MG_7880Reaching Pollachi the climate was burning hot. We were also burning with hunger and the first thing we had to do was to eat something. There were not much hotels in the vicinity and after a round in the city we reached a vegetarian hotel and had our lunch from there. The meal was ok types. The return travel plan was like this. Nenmara > Mannuthy > Vadakkanchery > Chalakudy > Angamaly > Cochin. This stretch of 180 kms is going to be boring through the plains and highways. But the morning session was worth enough to keep our mind and heart cool enough to endure that. By 3 pm we started from Pollachi and by 7 we reached Cochin.

Anish took a deviation on the way to Kakkanad and I Reached room by 7.30 negotiating with a horrible traffic block in between Kalamassery and Edapally. I kissed my bike and thanked Mother Nature for keeping me safe for the entire day reaching the parking area. The first thing I did in the room was to take a look at the pics taken in the wider screen. With an over joyous heart and stress free mind I went to sleep.

The route was pretty filled with all essentials for a long ride. Water falls. Streams, curvy road, wilderness of the jungle, wild life, greenery, Dams and reservoirs, viewpoints , tea estates and plantation, hair pin bends, Plains and what more we could ask. I would recommend this route for the ones who want to test their courage and riding skills.( Please be careful those who endure to do this) I consider the initial drizzling as a blessing of Mother Nature to have a wonderful day out there in the wild.

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49 Comments
    • Thanks Sandeeep. Gud to c u here. U Remember ?? our Pythalmala Thadiyantemol trek is still pending. That mavoist issue is almost over now. We can do the same when the rain is over. The guide has asked me to contact after September.

  1. Sure Anish…I wouldn’t mind doign it once again. It is such an awesome place to be. I was also thinking of a second trip to Pollachi and return via the same road. Don’t know when it can be done… :)

    • Hi Arun…

      Thanks for visiting the site…happy to know that the content was interesting to you… Regarding the route I have travelled through marayoor > munnar route two three times hence chose the other one as road condition is gud… Do visit again and keep travelling…

      • sir..
        iam planing a bullet ride to valparra then munnar and kottayam is hat any kind of wild attacks or any bad condition of roads,,,,plz help me to find ou

        • Dear Jiss

          Road condition is excellent from Athirapally to Valparai. As it is expected to be raining in July in Kerala(Monsoon) you may come across wild life sighting in between but no chance of any attack. Let me know if you want some help in Munnar or Kottayam like arranging treks, guides or stay.

    • Hi

      Thank you very much for the correction Rahul. The same has been checked and updated in the narration.

      Thanks for your valuable time

    • Thanks Arun. I am happy to know that you liked the information on the site and thanks for visiting the site.
      It would be hot during this time especially between Malakkapara and Pollachi.

  2. First of all your article was superb..
    I also plan to make my trip.
    Can you please explain, what are the procedures in the checkpost?

    • Hi Mishel

      Gud to know that the content was interesting to you… Not much proceedures in the check post… You can go and take permission there itself…
      Have a gud time…

  3. Excellent narration…stupendous photos.. Good work!!
    Actually I was planning the same route but ON A BICYCLE.. Hope it goes fine. It would b great if u share ur thoughts ..

    • Hi Arun

      Thanks for visiting the site and its good to know that the content is interesting. Its ok for bicycling also but dont do it in rainy days as there can be animal interference in the road if it is raining. I advise not to do it solo. If you are a group it would be good. Start early so that you can cover the entire stretch before noon. By 6 am the check post at Vazhachal will be open. Have a great time and be safe. Safety is important above all adventures.

  4. Hi… it was a nice write up..we were planning a trip but confused about where to goo…can yu please suggest some more places as option..I am ernakulam…preferably nearer places as well as natural beauty…

    • Hi Haritha

      Thanks for spending time on the site and good to know that the content is interesting.
      As you are in Ernakulam you can try Parunthumpara, Thommankuthu ecotourism, Bhoothathankettu Dam, Ezhattumugham, Athirappally, Vazhachal, Chimmony WLS, Thattekadu bird santuary, Illikkal Kallu, Urumbikkara, irumulachukallu, Wagamon, Thangalpara, Kodanadu elephant farm, Illithodu Mahaganikadu,Kumarakom, etc. Any of this places can be covered in a day. If you have a couple of days to spend try Marayur, Chinnar, kanthallor, Vattavada, Kovillor, Nelliyampathy, Silent valley, Palkulamedu, Idukki Dam, Calvary mount etc. If you plan more nothing will happen. Just start and let the destination be where you reach.Try to absorb the beauty of everything.

      have a good day..

  5. thanks for your usefull writeup! ! !
    hope u can do better nd better…….head to manjula if u never visited there…..! :)

    • Hi Shameel

      Thanks for visiting the site and I am happy that the content was useful.I hope you refering to Manjoor Hills ??

  6. It was nice reading your entire article. I was longing to go this trip. It has not happened so far. Thanks for your valuable inputs

  7. Very Nice write-up. We are planning a lil long trip. Plan to rent a car. Starting from Coimmbatore – Pollachi -Valparai – Athirapally – Chalakudy on day 1. Night stay at chalakudy. Take the chalakudy – munnar route. Stay @ munnar for 2 days and take the udumulpet road to return back to Coimbatore. Catch is we are planning this trip from 27th to 31st this month. Hope rains doesnt play a spoilsport for our trip.

    • Thanks for reading Ravi. Thanks for sharing. Wishing you a good time…Ensure you get through the Vazhachal Check post before 5 pm. Though it is raining it is not that strong to spoil you journey. Only place where you may get in trouble is the stretch from Malakkapara to Vazhachal. Pollachi to Valparai is Tamilnadu climate. Though there is rain in Munnar it would be dry when it comes to Chinnar region as it is in the Rain shadow region.

      • Thanks for this info. I was never keeping tab of time of crossing a check post. Will this check post be closed beyond 5pm? Will any such similar ones be there on TN side?
        Also this being the first time im going in this route i guess we may not be able to make it beyond this heck post by 5. Stopping by multiple times for taking pics and im going with family :). We will have to stay put at valparai for the night. Do we have few decent options to stay at valparai? And morning at what time will the check post be open? Any idea on that?
        “Only place where you may get in trouble is the stretch from Malakkapara to Vazhachal.”
        You mean trouble due to rain or due to stray wild animals.

        • Yes Ravi check post will be closed after that and you may have to answer unwanted questions and delay coming past the check post. Once you reach the Malakkapara check post they will inform you regarding the timing. It is for our safety only as after 5 pm there can be issues with stray wild animals including elephants blocking the whole road. At Valpara you can find some decent stay options. if it is raining the stretch from Malakkapara to vazhachal will be difficult as there can be obstacles like fallen trees, dangerous slippery curves, stray animals etc

          • Hi,

            It’s great to read your blog… I was thrilled.. We are planning to take the route in Aug mid. Is it safe time of the year? Also can u tell me how much time it will take to reach athirampally from Coimbatore airport in this route!

          • Dear Bhargavi

            Thanks for reading the content and good to know it was interesting. This time it may be raining and there is no such safety issues in this route except for fallen trees and stray animals which is normal in this route. You may take the Coimbathore > Mettupalayam > Pollachi > Aliyar Dam > Valparai > Athirapally road. It is 185 km by road and May take approximately 6.7 hours. Vazhachal check post will be closed by. 4.30 – 5.00 pm. try to cross the check post before that.

  8. Dear Rakesh,

    I am planning for a bike trip to Valparai from Sivakasi in 3 days. Could you please tell me about the road conditions from Valparai to Pollachi. This is monsoon time and how about the weather during this weekend. I am planning also for a bike drive from Valparai to Athirapally. Could you please suggest me about the pros and cons of bike travel in these routes.

    • Hi Maniraj

      The Road Condition is really good… From Valpara to Pollachi weather will be good… but Valpara to Athirapally you can expect rain… Lot of Bikers take this route now a days… nothing to worry about… there can be obstructions like fallen trees or stray animals some times but it is regular affair in this route…

      • Dear Rakesh,

        Thanks for your valuable suggestion. Is it good to have a bike drive during night time in the route between valparai and athirapally?

        • Maniraj…Not possible..Check posts will be closed by 5 pm at both sides. That means Malakkapara and Vazhachal. We cannot roam around there. If caught They will fine you. Besides you will have encounters with animals.

  9. Hi Brother I need an advice from you…
    Actually I am planning for a bike ride from Cherthala to Valparai
    I am thinking to start at early morning 4 am from cherthala so the doubt is that “is there any timing such as after 8 o clock only entry etc to vazhachal checkpost like that
    Also is it advice-able to return through the same way after 2 o clock

  10. Hii bro. its really nice write up.

    I need an advice from you. i am planning for a bike from Coimbatore to thattekad via Valparai. How is the roads and safety point because going with my wife and any good bike rental provider in Coimbatore.
    Please suggest me.

  11. Hi Rakesh,
    I have some doubts regarding this trip. Please give me some solutions

    1. We are planning to bullet trip from vazhachal to valparai, is there any gov approval or pass needed for this, to cross the boarder or forest, ??

    2. One of my friend told that bike will not get entry to forest . only gov geep or car get permit to forest safari, is there something like that??

    3. Can we get hotels or rooms in valparai??

    4. How many days it takes to cover all sightseen in valparai??

    Thanks and. Regards Alam

    • Hi Alam

      Hope this will clear your queries

      1. We are planning to bullet trip from vazhachal to valparai, is there any gov approval or pass needed for this, to cross the boarder or forest, ??
      ans : you need to take pass from Vazhachal check post for entry into the forest. At Malakkapara also you need to show the pass. The check post is open from 6 am. No other permission required

      2. One of my friend told that bike will not get entry to forest . only gov geep or car get permit to forest safari, is there something like that??
      ans: Bike is also allowed. Take care of animal tress passing. Avoid rainy days
      3. Can we get hotels or rooms in valparai??
      ans: yes Rooms and hotels are available in Valparai and there are some rooms and Home stays available in Malakkapara also.

      4. How many days it takes to cover all sightseen in valparai??
      ans: It depends on how deep you want to explore. Normally a day would be enough to cover the regular sightings. Try the Valpara Pollachi Road. Excellent views are there.

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