Kavitha kandasamy shares with us her experience travelling to Wayanad.

As I am interested in visiting places and travel is one of my best pass times, I travel almost most of the weekends and holidays, along with a few...
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As I am interested in visiting places and travel is one of my best pass times, I travel almost most of the weekends and holidays, along with a few of like-minded friends. One of these long weekend trips, is when I hit upon this Hill station of Kerala, Wayanad. The trip had been a good trip, with loads of way farer shopping, beautiful landscapes and loads of trekking and walking episodes along the up hills and down hills. But, alas we went in the months of early march and the heat was too much to take. Here, I guide you through the trip and also tell you how I had my share of fun.

Lets have some history of the place.!

The picturesque Wayanad is in the north-east district of Kerala. The Wyanad district comprises of three taluks: Vythiri, Mananthavady and Sulthan Bathery and the district headquarters is Kalpetta. Wayanad literally means ‘Land of Paddy Fields’ in Malayalam. Apart from paddy fields Wayanad has vast tea estates and cardamom plantations. There are many indigenous tribes in this area. Wayanad is the only district of Kerala lying in the Deccan plateau.

It is set lofty on the majestic Western Ghats with altitudes ranging from 700 to 2100 meters above mean sea level. It is bounded on the east by Nilgiris (TN) and Mysore (Karnataka), on the north by Coorg (Karnataka), on the south by Malappuram (Kerala) and on the west by Kozhikode and Kannur (Kerala).

Wayanad has no airport, as well as railway station. Nearest Airport and Railway station is Kozhikode (formerly Calicut). Alternatively tourists can take a train up to Kozhikode (CLT). Taxis to Wayanad are available from the station, which cost around Rs.1, 000.

From, Bangalore it is about 280 kilometers.

There are three possible routes that you can probably take if you are driving down to Wayanad from Bangalore.

1. Bangalore -> Mysore -> Nanjangund -> Gundelpet -> Muthanga (Border) -> Sulthan Bathery (Forest Checkpost closes between 9.00 PM and 6.00 AM)

2. Bangalore -> Mysore -> Hunsur -> HD Kote -> Bavali (Border) -> Katikulam -> Mananthavady (Forest Checkpost closes between 6.00 PM and 6.00 AM)

3. Bangalore -> Mysore -> Hunsur -> Nagerhole -> Kutta -> Tholpetty (Border) -> Katikulam -> Mananthavadi (Forest Check post open throughout but bad road conditions)

Best time to visit:

October to May is the tourist season and many tourists prefer to visit Wayanad during this period. It is ideal for sightseeing, wildlife trips, video and photography. But the best time to visit is in December to February when the winter is in a little bit of swing and keeps you cooler with all those mist, fog and cool showers of chill weather). Wayanad will be cool with minimum temperature reaching down to 10°C. The period is ideal for sightseeing and other tourist activities.

If you are a type, who loves rain then, June to September (Monsoons) is at  Appropriate with the rains bounty to colour the Mother earth with loads of freshness and the lovely smell of nature mingled in the air.

But, there is a pitfall. There would be a lot of Leeches around so, you need to carry the extra packet of salt. Nevertheless, seeing the forests in their bounty is one of the wonders of nature.

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We decided to drive down to Wayanad.  Keeping in mind the road conditions and the restrictions of entry at the forest check posts we took Bangalore – Mysore – Gundlupet – Sultan Bathery (Wayanad) for our onward journey and on the return took the Kalpetta (Wayanad) – Mananthavady – Tholpetty – Nagarhole – Hunsur – Mysore – Bangalore routes.

The roads from Bangalore to Mysore are good. The roads from Mysore to Gundlupet were good enough but it’s an undivided highway. The roads touch the Bandipur and Wayanad National Parks on the way to Sultan Bathery.

we started from Bangalore at 3 AM, in the morning and cover the the forest check post by dawn, 6.00 AM, visit Muthanga Wildlife Santuary (just across the Karnataka border) and then go to our home stay at Kalpetta.

We had planned a good schedule, for us for the rest of the day, with Banasura Dam.

The second day of the trip we spent on local sightseeing. We visited Phantom Rock, Edakkal Caves and Wyanad Heritage Museum. We broke for lunch and proceeded towards Vaduvachal to see Meenmutty Falls, Kantanpara Falls, Soojipara Falls, Chembra Peak, Pookode Lake, Chain Tree and View Point. Think, we were a little too ambitious and had to skip places as the trek towards Edakkal caves took away all our restrained energy.

The last day of our visit, we visited the Ruined Jain Temple, Kuruva Islands. and Thirunelly Temple.  And head back to Bangalore, at dusk. Though it was terribly hot and sweaty we enjoyed the trip and had an amazing experience amongst the valleys and hills of Wayanad.

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Places to Visit:

I am listing the places of interest that you can look forward in a trip to Wayanad. There are four kinds of trip that you can make to Wayanad depending on your interests. There is abundant wildlife, heritage, nature enthusiasts, or just a simple temple visits.
Muthanga Wild Life Sanctuary: This sanctuary is the biggest abode of wild animals in Malabar.. Elephant, spotted deer, bison, tiger, cheeta, wild bear, etc. are found in this sanctuary. The forest department has facilities for providing elephant rides to tourists, here. The Sanctuary is closed in summer for fear of forest fire and the best is to and check availability of elephant rides and safaris.
Banasura Sagar Dam: This is the largest earth dam in India and the second largest in Asia. The dam is built across the tributary of the river Kabani. The background is the Banasura hill will provide a hypnotizing sight to tourists. The scenery from the dam and islands are a sight to behold. There are horse rides on the dam, you can take one to reflex your muscles…!
Pazhassi Raja Tomb: Pazhassi Raja, who fought against British East India Company, was cremated here in 1805. Pazhassi Tourist Resort at Mananthavady is a good picnic center in north Wayanad.
Phantom Rock: Phantom rock is a rare natural rock structure. The Phantom Rock has a special skull head shape like in the Phantom Comics. The surroundings have lot of greeneries and rocks.
Edakkal Cave: It is not a cave, in the real sense but only a cleft about 96ft long and 22ft wide in the rock with a heavy rock roof. The carvings represent human and animal figures and objects of human use and symbols. These cave etchings date back to at least 5000 years, though the cave appears to have been inhabited at various historic stages.
Wayanad Heritage Museum: This museum is an archeological museum and has a grand collection of rare artifacts. This museum has rare form of arts,, hero stones, which show tiger hunting and war heroes, glimpses of tribal life, hunting traps, ear ornaments, bangles and necklaces used by tribesmen and stone idols from 12th and 16th century.
Meenmutty Falls: This water fall is a 300 meter high fall and is three-tiered. The three tiers of the waterfall requires separate hike through the forest. You need to trek for 2-3 kms. But you must also remember that once you reach the falls, you will have great deal of enjoyment in store.
Kanthanpara Waterfalls: There are beautiful tea gardens on both sides of Kanthanpara waterfalls adding more beauty to the scenic waterfall. This wonderful cascade is for a day trek.
Soochippara Waterfalls: This waterfall is a treasure of natureThe pool below, provides for water rafting, swimming, bathing, etc.
Chembra Peak: Trekking to the Chembra peak is considered a risky mountaineering endeavour. Trekking to the top of this peak takes almost a day. One or two days at the top of the peak, you can do a temporary camp. In consent from the District Tourism Promotion Council who provide guides, sleeping bags, canvases, huts and trekking implements on hire.
Pookot Lake: It is a natural fresh water lake amongst lush mountains. There is an aquarium and a greenhouse here. Boating facilities are also available. Spices and handicraft items are sold at Pookot.
Chain Tree: The Chain Tree is a large Ficus tree bound by a prominent chain. There is a dramatic local myth surrounding the tree. As per the myth, Karinthandan, an adivasi youth guided a British Engineer to the perilous mountain region. In order to take the full credit of the discovery, it is believed that the Engineer murdered Karinthandan. It is so believed that his soul had haunted visitors. It seems that a priest chained the spirit onto this tree.
Lakkidi: The view point lies atop Thamarassery, a ghat pass at an elevation of 700 m above mean sea level and has picturesque scenery.
Kuruva Island: The Kuruva island ever green forest on the tributaries of east flowing river Kabani, is an ideal picnic spot. There are 2 entrances to Kuruva Island. The best is to go through the main entrance. The island is uninhabited.
Pakshipathalam: Pakshipathalam in the Brahmagiri hills at Thirunelli special permission has to be obtained from Forest Department to go to Pakshipathalam. The District Tourism Promotion Council arranges vehicle, guides, camping equipment, etc. to the tourists, on hire.
Thirunelli Temple: Thirunelli is a Vishnu temple in the middle of mountains and beautiful woods. The feature of the temple is the absence of temple well. A perennial mountain stream deep in the valley transports water to the priests’ room, via stone aqueducts.
Papanashini: One dip in the cold Papanasini waters is to wash away all sins committed in a human lifetime. Papanasini is believed to be the confluence of the rivers Ganges and Saraswathy.
Thrissilery Shiva Temple: The Thrissilery Shiva Temple is temple of brilliant architecture. The temple of Thirunelli and this temple complete the circle of human life by doing the ritual rites of ancestral.

Points of Consideration:

There are loads to see in Wayanad. Plan your trip well in advance and have a local guide you in all your endeavors.

Don’t depend on the bystanders to guide you through the roads of the places, form all you get is a Go straight help. Jokes apart, there seems to be a reference to the famous saying, “All roads lead to Rome.” So do the road sin Wayanad led to the destination you want to go. So, probably a local, can guide you more and when you ask for directions make sure you ask for a shorter and easier route.

The road work is progressing as I write this article but it is always better to double check with some local on the condition of the roads.

Be conscious of the time when the Muthanga and Bavali Forest Check posts closes and opens.

At this point in time, the Muthanga check post is closed between 9 PM to 6AM in the morning and the Bavali check post is closed between 6 PM and 6 AM.

The Muthanga Wildlife Santuray is closed in the months of March-April for fear of forest fires and the best is to call and check for availability of elephant rides and safari’s.

During Mansoon (June to September), Meenmutty and Kuruva Islands are mostly closed. The water falls will be very rough and people will not be allowed to take bath.

The path to reach the Meenmutty, Kanthanpara and Soochipara Falls is perilous and tiring. You would have a great deal of enjoyment if you would like to go swimming.

There are 2 entrances to Kuruva Island. The best is to go through the main entrance.

The best time to visit Lakkidi or View Point is after 5 PM in the evening. The view towards sunset is amazing. The road is situated amidst thick forests. The 12km drive along the Ghats road from Adivaram to Lakkidi with 9 hairpin bends, is a drivers delight.

Pakshipathalam, Nellimala, Chembra Peak, Phantom Rock and Edakal Caves to some extend are ideal for adventurers and trekking enthusiasts.

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