The Sholayar dam is supposed to the second deepest dam in Asia, but it is not this feature of the dam that strikes me the most. Rather, it is the sheer size of the dam that astonishes me.
Generally, one does not get a real perspective of the dam’s size as our view is limited to one entrance or at most one side of the dam. However, the Solaiyar dam is very different. In the case of this reservoir, one can drive around its entire length and breadth. In fact, the road from Valparai to Athirapally falls provides stunning views of this massive water body.
The Sholayar dam is actually split into two reservoirs. One is called the Upper Sholayar dam, which we tourists have access to and the other deep in the forests is called the lower Sholayar Dam. It is the combined waters of the Sholayar and the downstream Parambikulam reservoir in Kerala that provide water to India’s Niagara – the famous Athirapally Falls.
Whenever I have seen this reservoir, I have seen it a bit below is full capacity. Locals mention that it remains full during the rainy season and one can continuously hear the sound of gushing waters when the sluice gates are kept open.
The Sholayar Dam is situated about 20 kilometres from the hilly town of Valparai, but the reservoir waters start very close to the town itself. In fact, it crisscrosses a large area from near the town to the actual dam setting. Most of its banks are decorated with tea gardens. The ones which are not, are decorated by evergreen forests.
In terms of tourist infrastructure, there is not much, but the people can enjoy a good picnic near its banks, enjoy its beauty while driving through the winding roads that connect Valparai to Chalakudy or stand right below the dam walls and enjoy the water gushing out from the open sluice gates. So whether you are planning to explore the Valparai are in Tamil Nadu or the Athirapally area in Kerala, do give Sholayar Dam a visit. I am sure you will be proud of your decision.