Are you a person who admires forests and looks forward to a forest ride? If yes, you should travel to Malakkapara on Kerala’s ‘aanavandi’ (the KSRTC bus) for 40 kilometers, watching the exciting waterfalls and sites such as Athirappilli, Vazhachal, Charpa falls, the Sholayar dam, the fantastic rainforest, and the wild animals.
To the Chalakkudi Bus Station
I planned to spend a holiday, breathing the fresh air and seeing the greenery. However, I could reach Chalakkudi only by noon. There are bus services to Malakkapara from Chalakkudi at 7.30 in the morning. A friend, Deepak, consoled me, telling me that it was good that I arrived late. Deepak used to travel on ‘aanavandi’ on weekends. He has visited Malakkapara almost 50 times this way. I could see a lot of nature lovers at and near Chalakkudi. There are many ‘aanavandi’ fans associations throughout Kerala. However, I can say that the youngsters of Chalakkudi are deeply in love with the ‘aanavandi.’
The bus sets forth from Chalakkudi at noon. Besides the foreigners, several locals were on the bus to enjoy the journey. This KSRTC service is a boon for the people in Athirappilli and Vazhachal.
The Profit of Reaching Late
I already said that there was a morning bus service to Malakkapara. But there the afternoon bus services can offer you some added benefits. The 40-kilometer bus route from Vazhachal to Malakkapara is a forest road with the most wildlife in entire Kerala. A jungle in which the elephants, the gaurs, the sambar deers, and the deers live in this habitat peacefully. And therefore, the forest department has several regulations for the vehicles passing through this route. Private vehicles are not allowed to stop, horn, or play music inside the forests.
The important rule is about the duration allowed the individual vehicles to cross the region. Such transports cannot pass from the Vazhachal check post to Malakkapara after 6 in the evening. The check post will be closed from Malakkapara too. The buses from Chalakkudi, those set off between the hours of 12.30 pm and 4.40 pm, return only after this regulated time. In the hours when there are no other vehicles on the road, only the ones traveling in this ‘aanavandi’ can see the elephants and the gaurs passing by fearlessly. Not any other vehicles can see these creatures after the restricted time other than the bus riders. That is a significant benefit, as Deepak told me.
The Malakkapara Vibes
As the bus reaches Athirappilli through the many inhabited places, at least some passengers are likely to board there to see Kerala’s biggest waterfall, the Athirapilly falls. Many people, including the foreigners, board the bus to reach Athirappilli. People who head directly to Malakkapara will only have a glance at Athirappilli. The bus will wait at Athirappilli only for a few minutes. The same is the situation at the Vazhachal falls.
The forest route starts after the Vazhachal check post. On the left side of the road, the Charpa falls are visible. This waterfall is wild during the monsoon but is a calm wonder to the tourists during other seasons. And then for hours, only the jungle is visible at the front and the sides. As we go forward through the snake-like road, the significant scenes we have are the Sholayar powerhouse, the Sholayar dam, the parts of the dam that belong to Tamil Nadu, and many others. And then, we see the shadow of saffrons of the setting sun above the vast jungle. As the bus starts climbing the tea farms leaving the forests behind, we understand that we are nearing Malakkapara village.
Malakkapara; The Tamil-Kerala Village
Even if it is within Kerala territory, Malakkapara village follows Tamil culture and lifestyle. When we reach Malakkapara by crossing the jungle roads, we see plantations on both sides. We can see several Tamil tea plantation laborers with tea leaf baskets on their back treading through the foggy paths throughout our journey. After the Malakkapara check post, the evening life of a small Tamil village will freshen up our eyes and heart.
The Halt of ‘Aanavandi’ at Malakkapara
Our ‘aanavandi’ halts just below the upper Sholayar Dam, a part of Tamil Nadu. They spare us time to have tea, that is, approximately 15 minutes. This place is also the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. Twenty-eight kilometers from here is the famous tourist center, Valparai. There are bus services for the passengers to Pollachi and Valparai. The Tamil Nadu government’s buses will mostly be here.
Like me and some Chalakkudi locals, some tourists will be returning on the same bus. If one desires to stay there for a day or two, one can easily find a homestay or resort in Malakkapara.
Why is the Malakkapara Journey a Different Experience?
The Malakkapara journey is unique as a jungle journey. This place is suitable for someone who is planning for a one day hike at a lower budget. You can enjoy the fresh air, experience the forest, and be free from daily stresses since you are in an “out of coverage” region. This particular bus service will make tourists fall in love with the ‘aanavandi.’ Hundreds of individuals reach Malakkapara daily to spend their day.
The Hands of Care
The bus employees have a great role in the growth of Malakkapara. The care and consideration given by them to the passengers is a factor that makes this journey distinct. Though the road is not wide enough, the ‘anavandi’ adjusts with all other vehicles. Since this road has several ‘s’ curves, there may be situations when the bus has to stop for a long time or even drive reverse. But in these circumstances, complete safety is ensured by the bus employees. The driving expertise of our driver, Ranjith, was remarkable throughout the ride. When animals or nature were to be enjoyed, they could facilitate taking photos, which are very helpful for trip lovers.
Each Time a Different Experience
The sambar deers at Vettilappara, the beauty of penstock pipe sceneries, and the song of Kalabhavan Mani- the passengers sing, the tea and snack at Malakkapara are some valuable experiences beyond description. To feel them, one must go to Malakkapara, on the magnificent ‘anavandi.’ While enjoying the Tamil tea in the late hours, my heartbeat began rising. I was thinking about the lucky animals that slumber, free from human intervention, and other vehicles’ disturbing noises. While traveling back home, I was expecting the sights of some lovable nocturnal (night animals) that would appear on the way to entertain the travelers. Also, my mind was full of the glow-worm sights, which only the luckiest travelers would see in some parts of the Malakkapara forest. Looking around, I understood that each one was anticipating those beautiful sights.
- For more details about this journey, contact the Chalakkudi bud station: 9544444513
- For accommodation, trekking and nature walk in Malakkapara, contact Preman Malakkapara: 9447285377
- One side ticket fare: 80 INR
- From Chalakudi: 07.40 am,12.20pm, 03.00pm and 04.40pm
- From Malakkapara: 07.10am, 08.10am, 12.25 pm and 05.00pm
To know about Anappara, the beautiful top station near Thodupuzha at Idukki, read this blog.