‘Barkha Ritu’ concert @ Chowdaih Memorial Hall .. Befitting Tribute to Bharatrathna Pt.Bhimsen Joshi

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‘Barkha Ritu’ concert @ Chowdaih Memorial Hall on Saturday, 16 July 2016 evening was pure music incarnate. Most talented and prodigous U.Rajesh on Mandolin and popular Floutist Dr.B.Vijayagopal, senior Mridanga vidwan Sri Praveen and the mercurial Amrit Khanjira II enthralled a packed house first with an elaborate Ragam Tanam Pallavi in raag Varunapriya (Varunaroopini) – U Srinivas composition – was remarkable.

CHOWDAI 2.jpgThen followed Ustad Rashid khan’s legendary vocals comprising Mansoon Raagas Miyaan malhar, Ramdasi Malhar, Sur malhar and famed number ‘Yaad Piya ki’ from the evergreen memory.He was very ably accompanied by Tabla Nawaz Sri SHUBHANKAR BANERJEE, wonderful Pt.Joglekar on harmonium, imaginative Allarakha khan on Sarangi.

CHOWDAIH 1Both concerts left the audience wanting more as the time was up. It was befitting ‘Bharat Ratna Pt.Bhimsen Joshi tribute’, with series of concerts held under the aegis of Banyan Tree all over India alongside co-sponsors L & T.

chowdai 5Also had a chance to meet up all respected Maestros back stage with good friend Deepa Kishan, Kin Nagaraj Aithal P R, upcoming Sarangi nawazSarfaraaz Khan, his younger brother Sarod player Faraaz khan, connoisseur veena shastry, Master Atharva Rao.

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Overall a fulfilling experience

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THE MOST DESERVING PADMASHRI RECEPIENT Pt.M.VENKATESH KUMAR

Epitome of humility and politeness, Padmashri Awardee Pandit M. Venkatesh Kumar

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Born on 1 July 1953 @ Lakshmipura in the Dharwad region of northern Karnataka, Pandit M. Venkatesh Kumar is an Indian Hindustani classical vocalist. Also known renowned globally for his husk, vibrant classical singing style, he’s equally at ease and popular in singing Dasara Padas & Devotional songs.

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Venkatesh Kumar’s father late Huleppa was a folk singer leather puppet artist . In 1968, when he was 12, Kumar was taken by his uncle Sri Belagallu Veeranna to the Veereshwara Punyashrama in Gadag (central Karnataka), run by Puttaraja Gawai, the religious saint and Hindustani musician. Kumar lived and learned at the ashram for the next 12 years.

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Though he admits to the influences beyond other gharanas, chief among them being Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan of the Patiala gharan,  Kumar unremittingly learnt Hindustani vocal in the Gwalior and Kirana gharana styles under Gawai, blending these styles effortlessly in his presentations, His guru was also trained in Carnatic music and as a result, there are traces of Carnatic elements – especially in his sargam patterns – in Pandit Kumar’s music

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14 years after leaving the ashram, Kumar got his first major break in 1993, receiving a telegram-invitation from the Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi to perform at the Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav in Pune that year. He had established a significant local reputation by then, but the performance in Sawai was the first step towards national exposure. However, he had to wait for almost another ten years before he became a regular on the national festival circuit. Since then he has featured in many National musical programs, and has been an “A” grade Artist of All India Radio since 1988.

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Pandit Bhimsen Joshi was asked whom he would like to listen to, on the occasion of  Maharashtra Government conferring the ‘Maharashtra Bhushan award’ in 2002, his first choice was Ustad Rashid Khan whose unavailability to perform pitch forked Pt.Kumar as his immediate choice. Such is the power behind Kumarji’s music.

Venkatesh kumar is gifted with a rarest blend of mellifluous, robust and vibrant voice,rich in tradition and deep in devotion. His vast experience and deep-rooted commitment has made him a name to reckon with through his performances  at all major music festivals in India and abroad.

Pt Kumar was most acclaimed for his Kannada vachana and dasara pada Singin in devotional music. Most Popular ones include “smarane saalade” of Nada Varshini Album. He also has multiple Devotional and Classical CD albums to his credit.

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Pandit Kumar holds a teaching job at the University College of Music, Dharwad. This commitment regularly forces him turn down concerts, but he refuses to quit the job that offered him stability at a time when concerts were hard to come by. He also received a post graduate degree in music from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya.

If there’s to be someone so deserving for the coveted PADMA Award, it ought to be Pandit M.Venkatesh Kumar and we Kannadigas feel elated and honored ourselves as the Nation salutes him in awe of his dedication, devotion and commitment to lift music to parochial heights.

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He has authored the text book of Music prescribed for the Examination conducted by the Govt. of Karnataka. Sri Venkatesh Kumar served as a faculty member at Music College, Dharwad University and taught Music to degree classes. Currently under retirement from the job, he is the proud recipient of several titles namely:

  1. Swarashree
  2. Sangeet Sudhakara
  3. Sangeeta Ratna
  4. Karnataka Rajyotsava Award (1999)
  5. Karnataka Sangeet Natya Academy Award (2007)
  6. Vatsala Bhimsen Joshi Award 2008
  7. Krishna Hangal Award (2009)
  8. Kendra Sangeeth Nataka Akademi Award (2012)
  9. Honorary Doctorate from Karnataka University, Dharwad (2014)
  1. Swara Laya Samrat (2014)
  2. Padma Sri Award by Government of India (2016)

Our Nation has many such proud sons. Honoring these great men who have turned their lives into live examples by legendary herculean efforts fighting poverty and lack of education through utmost dedication. We, the Nation honor ourselves by honoring these men of steely resolve and utmost humility. 

It’s matter of great pride for me listening to his heavenly music for more than 3 decades. He’s travelling to Sirsi for a concert while I called, but sooner he reverted to me on bang to accept my hearty wishes. Such humility from an Iconic person floored me. May their tribe grow in zillions.

‘CHIRANTAN’ A TRIBUTE TO PADMA VIBHUSHANA DR.MALLIKARJUN MANSUR

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‘CHIRANTAN’ & DEPARTMENT OF KANNADA & CULTURE IN KARNATAKA jointly conducted a simple yet meaningful felicitation in honor of Padmashri Awardee Pandit Sri M.Venkatesh Kumar last Sunday, 20 March 2016 under the aegis of Pune based NEW AGE FOUNDATION @ Canara Union, Malleswaram, Bangalore. CH 2Both 19 & 20 March evenings, venue was jam packed by connoisseurs of music, witnessing concerts by names to reckon, renowned Sarod exponent from New Delhi, Pt.Biswajit Roy Chowdary, Vocalist Pt.Ganapathi Bhat Hasanagi from Sirsi, Karnataka & Vidushi Aditi Upadhye. I felt damn lucky to attend back to back vocal concerts by Pandita Priyadarshini Kulkarni & Padmashri 2016 Awardee, our own Pt.M.Venkatesh Kumar on 20 March though.  CH 3

Pandita Priyadarshini Kulkarni’s New Age Foundation, Pune  jointly organized this memorable musical tribute to Hindustani Music Doyen Padma Vibhushan Late Mallikarjun Mansur in a befitting manner. She regaled the audience first by evening raga Behag followed by sonorous Nayaki Kanada presentation. Aptly accompanied her on Tabla and Harmonium were M/s Gurumurthy Vaidya and Anirban Chakroborthy. 

Also stood released to her credit on the occasion by Padmashri M.Venkateshkumar & dignitaries, was a pack of 2 CDs comprising of Morning & Evening Raagas rendered by Pandita Priyadarshini Kulkarni.

CH 12What followed later was vocal rendition by Pt.Venkatesh Kumar who virtually brings in so much of magnetism by his purity of music filled with devotion, gayaki ang and the tehrav in awe. If there’s a vocalist-musician holding sway on the audience wherever performed, it’s  to be none other than him. His music automatically connects to the audience so well. Raag Chayanat, Basant Bahar, Late Mansur’s favorite  ‘Akka Kelavva’ and the ever popular number on my request ‘Toredu Jeevisa Bahudhe”, his Vachana gayana enthralled the audience no end. CH 13M/s Keshav Joshi on Tabla and Anirban Chakroborthy on Harmonium very appropriately accompanied him. Humility personified & such a towering performer, Pt.Venkatesh Kumar deserves much more than what’s bestowed upon, for making musical inroads all over the globe. To me his Godly Gayaki directly descends from heaven as he weaves a magical web by his difficult taans made look simpler in presentation and the audience too won’t settle for his lesser either..! The magnificence of his singing is simply electrifying.CH 10So as his wont, Sri Vijayendra Athanikar lent a meaningful prologue to the invited audience both days. A word of appreciation must go to Pandita Priyadarshini Kulkarni, who not only performs but also carries lot of ethos & understanding for musical roots she inculcated from the Rich Jaipur Atrouli Gharana.CH 9.jpgHer earnest effort to felicitate the cynosure of all eyes, Pt.Venkatesh Kumar had to be on a high note and those present were neither disappointed by the enthusiastic response. Her accomplices including the Canara Union office bearers will have to be surely patted for hosting such a commendable event.CH 8Special thanks must go to other accompanying artistes giving sath to all musicians including my friend table Nawaz Sri Rajendra Nakod.CH 5I personally gained two more kind musically oriented persons in well-known & affable Sarod Exponent Pt.Biswajit Roy Chowdary and Sri Rajneesh Atre, an avid photographer and Senior Physics Professor from Indore who also delves on musicology once in a while – some of the photographs flashed here are his courtesy. Can you imagine, so passionate Sri Atre travels to most places just to cover these concerts. Truly  blessed we are if such quality music recurs over and again.CH 1 CHIRANTAN 2

PADMASHRI HARIHARAN ENTHRALS @ KANTEERAVA STADIUM

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Sunday, the 27 Dec 2015, had an entertaining evening in Hariharan Live Concert at Kanteerava Stadium..an AFH initiative must be thanked (Art For Humanity) !!

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Someone close sent vvip passes to make it more meaningful !!…but I had to say it was just one of many indoor concerts wherein I’ve heard Hariharan perform much better.

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Must admit not being judgmental, female voices were a great disappointment and not even a patch for such huge outing, though the sound system and video coverage were fantastic..!

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However, most invitees were unaware what for the ‘Art For Humanity’ meant after all and the initiative. Organizers should’ve taken care of creating awareness in Public mind by elaborating in detail about the admirable initiative, lest the very purpose itself remains unfulfilled.

Thanks for Organizers nevertheless, for not going overboard with overbearing endless speeches by dignitaries..!

In future, also may the organizers avoid  major gaffe like introducing hon’ble Union minister Sri Ananthkumar to the audience as Chief Minister!!

Let them not get offended by my opinion, but it’s been my earnest request to be more professional in approach as I also honestly feel to be a part of AFH indirectly by my participation.

 

‘Bangalore Dreams Live’ @ BlueFrog, Church Street

Dr.Jyotsna Srikanth wows invitees @ BLUEFROG

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She’s unmistakably one of the most unassuming Global Star of certain stature, but just guess right when she ticks off messages to her connoisseur friends back here while she sets on a visit to India, especially her trip this week to Bangalore certainly brought most fans to her concert considerably and that’s a true connect indeed.!!

I feel, it was so sweet of her to send a missive to me on messenger a week before like she does to many. My neighbor Ganapati Hegde and me made it right on dot for a memorable Bangalore Dreams concert.

Hardly very few musicians figure out this idea. It is here Dr.Jyotsna Srikant literally enjoys her music via discerning. Neither does she commit this secure act to play to the gallery. Perceptive would not only listen to her choice while she makes it a point to play their favorites in a medley or in a different form.

‘Bangalore Dreams’ organizers very aptly named the world music concert by none other than our own innovative & celebrated violinist, the very affable Dr.Jyotsna Srikanth.

Born and brought up in Benguluru, India, Jyotsna went on to receive her MBBS and MD from Bangalore Medical College, India, currently lives in London. Jyotsna has trained herself under her mother, Ratna Srikantiah and later under Guru R. R. Keshavamurthy, a doyen of classical Indian violin. She’s also learnt western classical and achieved her grading from the Royal School of Music, London. Amidst this, she approached V.S. Narasimhan, a solo violinist who works with the notable Indian composer Ilaiyaraaja for advanced training. She certainly needs no introduction now globally..!!

Europe’s leading violinist from the Carnatic classical tradition, Jyotsna Srikanth’s initial foray into music came in the film industry, playing under the direction of film composers such as Hamsalekha and Ilaiyaraaja.

Her recitals combine a deep understanding of traditional music with jazz and contemporary touch. This rare balance between tradition and modernity has helped her carve a unique niche, captivating audiences across the globe. She established a foundation, Dhruv Arts to promote Carnatic Music in United Kingdom, as well as raise funds for charity. Jyotsna continues her Carnatic music career as a soloist and as an accompanist, and has performed with masters such as Dr M. Balamuralikrishna. She enjoys a large fan following across the countries and is popular with her world tours.

December 22, 2015, she played with our own Ace Key Board/Piano Player of Bangalore, Shadroch Soloman, now almost an integral part of Jyotsna’s ensemble. Accompanying on Drums with her was N.S. Manjunath. These Trio created a sinuous atmosphere while playing all those Carnatic Kruthis set on World Music beats. Whether it is “Raghuvamshasudha” or the “Sallapa”, Raag Jog or the evergreen songs of Legendary Illaiyaraja or A.R. Rehman in a medley, Jyotsna just sailed effortlessly as ever, her quintessential trademark.

Jyotsna composes music rooted to Indian-Jazz and interweaves this with flamenco, electronica, funk, Indian, Celtic folk and Bollywood – the musical genus shift shall depend on the festival, Mela, Auditorium and audience.

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KEY BOARD & PIANIST SHADRACH SOLOMON

Hailing from a family of music lovers, it did not take long for Solomon to garner love for music from his father. Shadrach Solomon is an accomplished pianist, performer, music director, arranger and composer in his own right. His formal education in Western Classical Piano started at age 6. This was an intense study in Piano Pieces, Sight Reading, Scales, Ear Test and Viva. His indefatigable enthusiasm swiftly took him through five grades passing each one of them in distinction with deft management by Trinity College of Music, London. After having acquired a degree in Engineering in the field of Electrical and Electronics, he has now completely devoted himself to music composition and direction. What metamorphosis he’s been able to bring about over years of dedication in the field of music is there for us to see.

PERCUSSIONIST N.S.MANJUNATH

Ace Percussionist Pandit Suresh Talwalkar’s disciple, young N.S.Manjunath has been on the music circuit for quite a while now, practicing concept of handling loops, grooving along hitting the cords and reciting Indian drum syllables in both Hindustani and Carnatic forms. Very much keen on reproducing syllables on the drum kit, Manjunath truly inspires majority key performers with lot of fervor by energetic innovative percussion display, was a key ally to Jyotsna’s breathe stopping numbers.

 

 

 

GHAZALS & THUMRIS REGALE INVITED AUDIENCE

USTAD FAIYAZ KHAN – RAVI MURUR – TRILOCHAN KAMPLI ENTHRAL

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An in-house Ghazal and Thumri Mehfil in Bangalore is rarity. Tabla Nawaz Trilochan Kampli and his few likeminded friends organized such an event on a short notice @ Sri Puttanna Kanagal Grihasthoma (son Sri Ramu Kanagal’s abode, just behind Devagiri Temple in 2nd Stage) last Saturday, the12 December 2015 evening.

Our own Karnataka Pride, popular Sarangi Exponent & a well-known singer-composer Ustad Faiyaz Khan enthralled connoisseurs by passionate Ghazals and Thumris in his inimitable style. Commendably accompanying him at their best on Harmonium were well-known Composer/singer Ravi Murur and an electrifying Trilochan on Tabla. Ghazal gayaki shall sound more enriched should these accompaniments sync well.

Commencing the evening with an evergreen Ghazal of Late Mehdi Hassan “Ranjish hi sahi”, Ustad Faiyaz Khan explained nuances of Ghazal and Thumri Gayaki, followed them up by famed Urdu poetry of Ahmed Faraz, Momin and many more with great ease.

Whether it is famed Thumri composition ‘Woh Jo Hum Mein Tum Mein Karar Tha’ or the effervescent popular Ghulam Ali Ghazal ‘Chupke Chupke Raat Din’ Faiyaz Khan bore a stamp of his class in each rendition. Those familiar to Hindustani music could feel foretaste of most popular raags like, Yaman, Keervani, Bhageshri, Charukeshi, Bahar, Bhimpalas, Des, Mishra Bhairavi, Revathi and so on in a Ghazal concert. ‘Mastana Piye ja Yuhi’ or the final rendition a robust famed  “Chadtha Sooraj…Dhal Jayega” that spiraled spiritedly.

He has recently belted a very hauntingly melodious Ghazal “Kaho Math” for a Mohanlal Starrer Malayalam movie “Kanal”in such an uncanny manner that suffices the talent and grows on you each day..!!

In fact, his voice perfectly sets the audience moods to euphoric heights as he was on his own, never leaving a semblance of doubt in everything that he presented were already much acclaimed renditions by some Legendary global performers of sub-continent. This is the hallmark of true musician.

 

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Without a doubt, Ustad Faiyaz Khan wins the hearts with remarkable Talaffus and clarity of elucidation in his inimitable style. I personally opine, he stands among the very few topnotch Ghazal presenters of the country as he’s known to be so adroit to classical singing and Saarangi Vaadan, needless to mention here, he happens to be a key exponent. Imaginative elaborations in raag & alaap add vehemence and flavor to subtle gayaki.

 

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Ghazal Gayaki can either be too sensitive or sinuous, is usually related to clairvoyant from the heart, melody, ethos and pathos, being the major attributes for majority renditions. Else, the same Ghazal renditions would end up like a simple Geet in filmi style. This is where Faiyaz Khan scores by impeccable timing and concise sargams brought perfect tehrav in semi- classical-classical  approach for which he is so much grateful to peers.

Years of dedicated Sarangi play he’s known for and an equally resonant voice restore an exemplary gamut, support his caprice, sets him and the rest apart. Innovativeness in raag-aaap in a slender Ghazal-Thumri Gayaki brings all emotions together in a nutshell. This is where he lugs an indelible impression.

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Notwithstanding rather, one of the most underutilized vocalists in Ghazal genre owing to lack of opportunities created or community loathe about a rich Legacy in this region, Ustad Faiyaz Khan stands among an all time Ghazal greats of our country undoubtedly.

Discerning audience witness such a lovely and almost perfect chord between his accompanists, though he hardly renders to the gallery. Unless a singer connects to those discerning ears, he can’t enjoy singing to such an extent so as to elucidate the difficult Urdu enunciation. May many more such concerts follow suit in ensuing days is my fervent wish.

KERALA – TRUE BLUE UPHOLDER OF TRADITION & ENVIRONS

It’s one of my most briefest yet satisfying outings of late. Undoubtedly nicknamed “GOD’S OWN COUNTRY”, our immediate neighboring state, though minuscule in area, has plenty to be proud of its little yet very rich legacy well entwined into next generation..

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May it be lush greenery, meticulously conserved forests, habitats, Lifeline water resources preservation, roads, potable drinking water, eco-friendly plastic-free awareness & rich tradition. All these make Kerala very very unique. One of my oldest dreams of visiting Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple got fulfilled on auspicious Diwali day whereby I could also witness series of 1 hour Carnatic Music vocal performances by accomplished artistes – while standing in que for Darshan before retiring into the room for the day. What immediately followed later is sheer delight experiencing the nature

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The Punnathur Kotta in Guruvayoor, Kerala Devaswom maintains a unique elephant sanctuary, the only one of its kind in the World. It has 60 elephants now. These jumbos are the offerings of the devotees to the Lord. A large number of pilgrims and tourists visit this fascinating spot every day. In this vast compound, there are road facilities for pilgrims and tourists to go around. Punnathurkotta was once the palace of a local ruler, but the palace grounds are now used to house the elephants belonging to the Guruvayoor temple, and has been renamed Anakkotta  (meaning “Elephant Fort”). There were 86 elephants housed there, but currently there are about 66 elephants. The elephants are ritual offerings made by the devotees of Lord Guruvayurappa (Lord Sri Krishna)The present elephant sanctuary is in Punnathur Kotta about 3 kms north of Guruvayur temple. Punnathur Kotta is the ancient palace of the Punnathur Rajas, now in the possession of the Devaswom. There is also an ancient temple where Lord Siva and Bhagavathy are worshipped. It is a 16 acre compound which Devaswom purchased in 1975, which was under receiver rule of Trichur sub court. Till that time elephants were kept in this Kovilakam compound (present Sreevalsam) to the south of the temple.All the elephants were shifted to the Punnathur Kotta in a grant procession lead by Gajarajan Kesavan, all the elephants from the Kovilakam marched to Punnathur Kotta on 1975 June 25.

Many elephants of Guruvayur have become the part of history. The sweet memories of Gajarajan Kesavan – literally the king of all Elephants- still enthrall the hearts of the elephant lovers worldwide. The mammoth physique, his intelligence and devotion to the Lord were very famous.This facility is also used to train the elephants to serve Lord Krishna as well as participate in many festivals that occur throughout the year. The oldest elephant is around 82 years of age and is called ‘Ramachandran’. The rituals ofGajapooja (Worshipping Elephants) and Anayoottu (Feeding Elephants) are observed here, as an offering to Lord Ganesha. The legendary elephant “Guruvayur Keshavan” was housed here. The compound also has a naalu kettu, a traditional rectangular home with a central courtyard, which belonged to the Punnathur Raja. It is poorly maintained and presently houses a training school for Papans (Mahout). This complex also contains a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Bhagavathy.The visiting hours are 8.00AM to 6.00PM. The entry fees are Rs. 10/- per adult & Rs. 5/- for Children. An extra Rs. 25/- is charged for to use a camera and Rs. 1000/- inside the complex.

Athirapally And Vazhachal

The two picturesque and majestic waterfalls, Athirapally and Vazhachal are located just five km apart, on the edge of the Sholayar forest ranges. The Athirapally falls join the Chalakudy river after plummeting down a gigantic 80 ft. The cool spray that covers a large area near the falls makes Athirapally a scenic location. The picturesque Vazhachal waterfall is close to dense green forests and is a part of the Chalakudy river. Athirappilly Falls is situated in Athirappilly panchayathChalakudy Taluk in of Thrissur district, Kerala on the southwest coast of India. Located on the west-flowing Chalakudy River near the Vazhachal Forest Division and the Sholayar ranges, this 24-metre (80 ft) waterfall and the nearby Vazhachal Falls are popular tourist destinations. There is another waterfall on the way from Athirappilly to Vazhachal Falls, in close proximity to the road and is locally called “Charpa Falls”. Athirappilly Falls is the largest waterfall in Kerala and is nicknamed “The Niagara of India”.Controversy about a state-proposed hydroelectric dam on the Chalakudy River above the waterfalls began in the 1990s and has continued through 2011

River

The 145 kilometres (90 mi) long Chalakudy River, originates in the Anamudi mountains of the Western Ghats and flows through the Vazhachal Forest toward the Arabian Sea. The river initially runs smoothly but becomes more turbulent as it nears Athirappilly. At Athirappilly Falls, the water surges around big rocks and cascades down in three separate plumes. Below the falls, the river remains turbulent for about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) until it reaches Kannamkuzhi. Then it calms and flows smoothly until reaching the dam at Thumburmuzhi.

Wildlife –near threatened Great hornbill

Buceros_bicornis_4Forest wildlife in the area includes the Asiatic lephanttigerleopardbisonsambar, and lion-tailed macaque. The unique 180 metres (590 ft) elevation riparian forest in the Athirappilly – Vazhachal area is the only location where all four South Indian species of hornbills — the great hornbill (the state bird of Kerala), Malabar pied hornbillMalabar grey hornbill, and the Indian grey hornbill are found living together. If the proposed 163-MW Athirappilly hydroelectric project is built, these unique birds may vanish from these forests because it will submerge the hornbills’ habitat.