This monsoon, the Idukki dam grabbed headlines with its water level touching the brim. Reports of the dam opening raised enough curiosity to send tourists packing to its scenic environs. The festival season of Onam has witnessed a record number of tourists visiting the Idukki dam.
As per the estimate of the hydel tourism department of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), as many as 2.43 lakh people visited the dam till Saturday. The public entry, which will be closed on Sunday, was allowed for 36 days.
"It is the highest number since the dam was opened for tourists during the festival seasons and on the special occasions," said an official of the KSEB.
The hydel tourism department has raked in Rs.3.39 lakh this season through the sale of entry tickets. A total of 1,400 people used the boating facility, and the department collected Rs.8.4 lakh in this regard.
There was heavy rush on Sundays and holidays with Cheruthoni witnessing traffic snarls during peak hours. Last Saturday, 24,000 people visited the dam, said the official. "One of the highest arch dams in Asia, Idukki dam is always an attraction to the tourists," said the official.
Last year, when water level in dam was at rock bottom, there were only about 60,000 visitors during Onam.
The early monsoon this time has indirectly helped draw more people.
Roshy Augustine, Idukki MLA told The Hindu that there was a plan to open the dam for the public on Saturdays and Sundays and if it went well, it would reduce the pressure of tourists in Munnar.
Situated near the district headquarters and between the tourist spots of Munnar and Thekkady, there was tremendous tourism potential in Cheruthoni, he said. The record number of visitors points to a change in tourists' preferences towards places that are not necessarily well-known but those that provide them with a different experience, he said.