By Niji N. G.
Bollywood movies have always thrived by depicting picturesque locations in India. Tourism in many states have flourished after serving as a backdrop in movies. Goa, is a great example for such a trend, which became tourist hotspot after being showcased in many movies through 1980s and 90s. But somehow, the beautiful locales of ‘God’s own country’ escaped the attention of Bollywood location scouts. Once Dil Se (1998 classic) with its song “Jiya Jale” hit the theaters, it started Bollywood’s tryst with Kerala’s picturesque beauties. So, which are the tourist attractions of Kerala that flourished after being showcased on the silver-screen? Let’s find out.
Best time to visit Kerala: June – October
Top Bollywood Locations of Kerala
Dil Se at Vembanad Lake
“Jiya Jale” – the popular song from Dil Se still has us foot tapping even today. The opening scenes of the song were shot at the beautiful Vembanadu Lake in Alleppey. Alongside the traditional boat, the scenic backdrop did a great job in invoking interest among the tourists.
Vembanad Lake is a stop along the famous backwater cruises of Kerala. This is the world’s second largest freshwater lake and many tourists even mistake it for a sea. The lake is algae rich and is marked with two variations of water (brackish and freshwater). The shores of this lake are dotted with coconut trees and small villages. While visiting this lake, also visit the Kumarakom tourist village and bird sanctuary.
- Other movies shot here: Tashan and Saaya
- Nearby tourist attractions: Kuppappuram village, Pathiramanal
- Trivia: While in Alleppey, taste Kallu (a kind of mild alcohol extracted from coconut trees). Shots of Kallu are best taken along with Kappa (Tapioca) roast and fish curry or fry.
- Nearest railway station: Alleppey
Dil Se at Periyar Lake
Staying on with the same song – do you recall a lake with stumps of wilted trees and lush greenery on all sides, shown in the middle portion of the song? That is Periyar Lake for you. This lake along with its scenic town of Thekkady, came into limelight after appearing in this song.
The beauty of this lake is unique. The stumps of the wilted trees appearing out of the water compliment the lush greenery all around perfectly. To make most of your trip, take a ride in one of the traditional boats (just like the one shown in the song) to enjoy the scenery. Situated on the shores of this lake is the Periyar National Park, which is a notable elephant and tiger reserve of Kerala. The national park offers high sighting chances of bison, elephants, wild boars and deer. And if you are really lucky, you may even spot a leopard or tiger in the forests.
- Other movies shot here: Gupt, Ijaazat, Safari
- Timings for Boat services: 7:30 AM – 5 PM
- Boat ride charges: Rs. 150 for a trip of around 90 minutes.
- Tip: Try to avail the first boat of the day as there are more chances of watching the animals drinking water during the dawn.
- Trivia: Plan a drive through the Kambam Valley which holds vast agricultural fields and beautiful villages. Also care to buy some garden fresh fruits (mangoes, grapes and bananas) at low rates.
- Nearest railway station: Kottayam (107 KM away)
Raavan & Guru at Athirappilly Waterfalls
Tourism in the small village of Athirappilly really took off after featuring in two Mani Ratnam classics – Raavan and Guru. Both these movies have popular song sequences shot at this majestic waterfall (“Bahne De” from Raavan and “Barso re” from Guru).
Known as the “Niagra of India”, this bristling white waterfall is surrounded by thick forests adding to the charm of the place. In the recent years, Athirappilly has become a perfect destination for romantic couples! Water falling from a height of 80 feet, creates a daunting sight. Stand on the rocks beside the falls and you will get the perfect click.
- Other movies shot here: Pukar (parts of the song “Sunta Hai Mera Khuda”) and Madras Café
- Timings: 8 AM – 6 PM (Note: Ticket counter closes by 5 PM)
- Entry fees: Rs. 20 per head for adults.
- Tip: The rocks beside the Athirappilly Falls are deceptively slippery. It all looks fine when Aishwarya Rai dances on them! But tread carefully when you actually go there.
- Nearest railway station: Thrisur (59 KM away)
Chennai Express & Nishabd at Munnar
When Shahrukh Khan lands up in the village of Deepika, from the movie Chennai Express, he is standing in Munnar. While the house of Amitabh Bachchan, from the movie Nishabd, where Jiah Khan goes to spend her vacation is situated in Munnar. Unlike others, the movies did not quite accelerate the tourism in Munnar, it was the other way round.
Each year thousands of tourists from world over visit this group of charming hills. Apart from treks up the hills and witnessing lush greenery, visits to tea estates, Chinnar forests, national parks and scenic villages are some of the action you can enjoy at the hill station.
- Other Movies shot: Hollywood movie Life of Pi.
- Must see: Eravikulam National Park (inhabited by Nilgiri Tahrs), Kolukkumala (world’s highest tea estate), Aanayirangal Dam, Kandala Dam, agricultural fields (of Kanthalloor and Vattavada), Marayoor sandal groves, tea estates of Devikulam and Chinnakanal and Chinnar forests.
- Tip: Please arrange for a stay of four or five days to enjoy all the attractions of Munnar.
- Trivia: Make it a point to buy the locally made wine, chocolates, herbal and spice products.
- Nearest railway station: Ernakulam (130 KM away)