Athirappilly falls: On camera and off it

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It is the steady roar of water gushing down almost a 1000ft that greets your ears before you reach Athirappilly waterfalls. A small trek from the road through a forest filled with the sounds of birds takes you closer to the waterfall. And when you actually see the threefold falls dancing down almost 80ft, it fills you with awe.

During the monsoons, the greens take on different hues, small streams break free and flow into the waterfall. The huge trees of the jungle around create a calm environment. And suddenly, if you are a movie buff, it will hit you that you have seen this place in a lot of movies.

From Mani Ratnam to S.S Rajamouli and Santosh Sivan, Athirappilly Waterfalls has been one of the most favourite shooting locations in Kerala for Bollywood and South Indian movie makers. Each of these directors have canned their shots—mostly romantic ones—with the leading ladies dancing with abandon against the Athirappilly Falls as the backdrop. The forest at the top of the waterfall has been used as a hideout for villains.

'Baahubali: The Beginning' portrayed the falls in a whole new light. Director S.S Rajamouli shot the movie in Athirappilly and later enhanced the shots digitally, making the waterfall all the more alluring. Prabhas who plays Sivudu/Siva in the movie is fascinated by the waterfall. He wants to know what lies above it, not knowing that it will change his destiny. He tries to scale it time and again. Add in a lot of CGI and the famed Ramoji Rao film city in Hyderabad to supplement the waterfall scenes, and what you get is the beautiful song sequence between Siva and Avantika at the waterfall. But this was not the only song sequence shot at Athirappilly.

Mani Ratnam, who has time and again returned to Kerala for exotic locations has shot two songs with Aishwarya as his heroine here. The camera pans in on Aishwarya who plays Sujatha in Guru as she dances in the rains for the song 'Barso Re'. You are taken to Rayagopura in Karnataka, Pollachi in Tamil Nadu and then Athirappilly waterfalls in Kerala. The waterfall adds to the mood of the song.

In 2010, Mani Ratnam was back with Aishwarya again at Athirappilly for a couple of scenes in for his bilingual movie Raavan/Ravaanan. Beera/Veera kidnaps Ragini and brings her to the top of the cliff to kill her. That scene was shot at the top of Athirappilly waterfall. Ragini jumps off the cliff in a bid to die and falls into the water and the song that follows, 'Behne de' in Hindi, showcases the grandeur of the falls.
But long before these two movies were shot, Mani Ratnam had made Preity Zinta dance next to the waterfalls in the song ‘Jiya Jale’ for the movie ‘Dil Se’. The song was shot in Kerala and shows the lead pair in Thekkady, Thrissur and Alappuzha before the shot at Athirappilly falls.

It is not just Bollywood that loves to shoot at Athirappilly. It was a hot favourite for Tamil movies too. 'Adada Mazhaida' from Paiyaa featuring Karthi and Tamannaah was shot here. The movie 'Punnagai Mannan' was shot here. 'Kurukku Siruthavale' from Mudhalvan starring Arjun and Manisha Koirala, and the Hindi version of the same song 'Chalo chalain mitwa' for its remake Nayak (2001 film) starring Anil kapoor and Rani Mukerji were also shot here. And the list goes on.

Santosh Sivan put Athirappilly Waterfalls on the international circuit with his movie ‘Before the Rains’, starring Nandita Das, Linus Roache, Rahul Bose and Prithviraj. And we are sure that more will follow. Rang Rasiya by Ketan Mehta too had a couple of sensuous scenes shot at Athirappilly. Situated near Chalakudy in Thrissur district, Athirappilly is also a very popular tourist destination. The lush green forests around the waterfall is home to a lot of endemic species of flora and fauna. The forests around Athirappilly is home to four endangered Hornbill species and has been declared an 'important bird area'. The ideal time to visit Athirappilly waterfall is from July to September.

Reaching Athirappilly
Is about 80 kms away from Kochi on the SH-21 which connects Kerala with Tamil Nadu. Nearest railway station is Chalakudy Nearest airport is Cochin International Airport

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