Marottichal: The Ilanjipara waterfalls at Marottichal in Puthoor Panchayat of Thrissur district, known for its coveted waterfall trek, is being shut down by the Forest Department from public.
The route to the falls is sealed with an electric fence. The new restriction is implemented following concerns that the waterfall and the nearby area are being hijacked by hooligans who resort to activities that disturb the ecological balance of the area. Another reason is visitors frequently losing their way in the forest on their way back from the waterfalls to the main road.
The adjacent Olakkayam waterfall is still open to the public.
The lesser known waterfall is a trekker’s paradise, especially during the monsoon season, as the four- kilometer-long trail, which begins at the Marottichal waterfall, passes through mostly verdant, untouched forest until it ends at the glorious Ilanjipara waterfalls.
Lost and trapped
The Ilanjipara waterfalls is located four kilometers farther into the forest from the Marottichal falls. The one nagging issue was visitors losing their way and getting trapped in the forest. The sound of the waterfalls helps to locate it easily but the return becomes complicated as there are no sign boards leading to the main road.
Three months ago, two trekkers from Triprayar were stranded in the forest and found after a massive search of 45 hours. Locals remember that the duo were fortunate to escape unharmed from the wild animals in the area.
Wild animal attacks
The area is notorious for human-animal conflict; wild animals wandering into human settlements is a constant. Leopards and elephants have been spotted often in the area. Tourists have also come under attack on many occasions.
The Marottichal trek is in a restricted area of the reserve forest not officially recognized by the Kerala tourism department as a tourist spot. The forest department has so far been lenient to nature lovers and trekkers. Since there are no guards or official surveillance, it had become difficult to control unmindful behavior of tourists detrimental to the sensitive nature of the place. This also prompted the authorities to shut down the area from public.
The electric fence which works on solar energy, is 150 meters from the waterfall. There is already a fence to stop wild elephants from wandering into the human territory. The forest department has also posted a security guard for morning surveillance.
The Olakkayam Waterfall at Cheerakund located half-kilometer from Marottichal center is still open to the public. That the waterfall is only 400 meters from the main road is also an advantage. The ideal time to visit are the monsoon months from June. Olakkayam Waterfall resembles the Vazhachal Falls near Athirappilly waterfalls, two popular tourist spots located at the edge of Sholayar forest ranges inside Thrissur district.
Nature lovers are demanding to turn Ilanjipara Waterfalls into a tourist spot. The green trail leading to the spot and the 50 meter high waterfall in the midst of tropical forest is a sight to behold during the monsoon seasons. The forest department only has to demarcate the trail and fence the area from wild animals and post guards to turn it into a profitable tourist spot.