Village comes together to banish fear surrounding 'Haunted' Erappu waterfall

South India
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The striking Erappu waterfalls located in the village Archal in Kollam was known to only a very few number of people. The roaring sound produced by the waterfalls gives it the name Erappu which means Noise. But Erappu waterfalls surrounded by lush greenery has a sense of mysticism to it.

The legends and myths of ghosts and ‘gandharvas’ (mythological characters) instilled a fear among the villagers, especially the women of the village. Stories of a creepy cave as well rang around the people, though no one had seen it. The tales were connected to the people who went missing near Erappu and it culminated into the superstition that spirits of the missing people are haunting the other visitors.

The report of few deaths amplified the fear among the villagers and the waterfalls became abandoned. The pollution surrounding Erappu also unfortunately helped to the abandonment. The abandonment was taken to the advantage of by miscreants, who used the place for consumption of drugs or alcohol.

A section of people in the village missed the remarkable beauty of the waterfall and wanted to restore it to its glorious past. In early June, a group of women workers under Kudumbashree and the NREGA scheme, volunteers from a local library called Shahul Hameed Memorial Granthasala and a youth club Naveena Arts and Sports club, together formed a committee called the Archal Oliyaruk Erappu Waterfalls Athijeevana Samiti to revive the waterfalls. The committee also had the cooperation of the Eroor grama panchayat and the Forest Department.

On June 5, the World Environment Day, the committee took the first step with a clean up-drive. The campaign had a prominent audience of 300 people, who among them were mostly women from the village. The women themselves were facing the most difficulty because of encroachers, miscreants and fear driven spooky stories.

Sacks of plastic waste were collected and removed from the area near the waterfall; the surroundings were cleaned and trees were planted on both sides of the path that leads to the waterfall.

The committee members campaigned that there are no mysteries surrounding the waterfall and that there are no invisible caves.

Things visibly started changing after the Erappu revival campaign in June. “With frequent involvement by the locals, the police also keep an eye these days," said Vishal Usha Udayakumar, the convener of the committee.

The District Tourism Promotion Council has included Archal village on its tourist map. "Now visitors are rushing here. During Onam holidays in September, Erappu waterfalls witnessed a huge crowd," he said.

Vishal added that the committee is closely monitoring the cleanliness of Erappu regularly since June. They are planning to hold different campaigns enlisting educational institutions to preserve the natural beauty of Erappu.

“We have fixed dustbins in and around Erappu so that no waste is thrown into the water. Erappu is the lifeline of Archal village," he said.

The villagers hope that soon the area will be a preserved biodiversity zone, free from all kind of human interventions that harm the environment.

Image Credits: The Better India

With Input from Agencies

 

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