The great thing about travel is it’s a fun way to learn about things. Recently, the students and teachers of School of Tourism Studies, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, decided to celebrate National Tourism Day with a day trip to Iringole Sacred Grove, Athirappilly and Vazhachal Waterfalls, and Ezhattumugham.
We left Kottayam early in the morning and our first stop was the Iringole Sacred Grove, the second largest of its kind in the state. A few years ago, the grove, also referred to as ‘the green lungs of Perumbavoor’, was selected as a biodiversity heritage site by the Kerala state Biodiversity Board. The core attraction here is the Bhagavathy temple located in the midst of of a 50-acre forest. The sights of the grove fascinated all of us as we strolled through the pathways, enjoying the cool breeze. The area is filled with giant trees, medicinal plants, forest nutmeg, creepers and climbers. We saw devotees who were lining up for the morning pujas.
We then proceeded to the Athirappilly and Vazhachal Waterfalls. The journey to the falls from Chalakudy was awesome. The roads are dotted with teak trees, rubber plantations and oil palms. Vazhachal Falls is a cascade and there was sufficient water because of the opening of Peringalkuthu Dam. To ensure the safety of visitors, the entry to the Chalakudy river bed at Vazhachal was fenced. We then went to see Athirappilly Falls, the largest in Kerala. All of us strolled through the river bed and enjoyed the beauty of Chalakudy river. We trekked to the bottom of the falls to get a better view. We then sat on the rocks, where we enjoyed getting sprayed by the water, and clicked attractive pictures. It was an excellent experience.
After lunch, we proceed to see the Prakrithi Gramam in Ezhattumugham. The prime attractions here are the hanging bridge and a check dam built across Chalakudy river. The hanging bridge links Ernakulam and Thrissur districts and we enjoyed a walk on it. Here, we tasted some lip-smacking fish fry, a sought after dish in the area. At Ezhattumugham, we even swam in the cool waters of the river. All in all, it was an excellent way to celebrate National Tourism Day.
The writer is a lecturer at the School of Tourism Studies, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam.