By Rajiv Muralidharan.
You know when you're in love with a place & can't get enough of it. While planning his 8th trip to Wayanad, Rajiv talks about 8 experiences that keep calling him back to the hill country of Kerala he loves so much!
1. Chembra Peak.
|Along the Chembra Peak.|
The Mighty Chembra, the highest peak in Wayanad, is located in the south of Wayanad and 17 kms away from Kalpetta. Climbing the peak is a fascinating experience, and a slightly difficult trek for normal fitness levels. Half way through the trek, you come upon a heart-shaped fresh water lake! This lake never dries out, and is the source of water for wild elephants. Atop Chembra, you experience breathtaking views, standing really close to the clouds. For me, the experience was surreal.
2. Edakkal Caves.
Wayanad, located in the northeast of Kerala, is rich in history, and a visit to Edakkal Caves is a must do for all Indian history enthusiasts. Edakkal caves are located on the sleepy Ambukutty mountains, in the southeast of Wayanad. Inside the caves are pre-historic pictorial writings, believed to be dating back to 5000 B.C, i.e. the last part of the Stone Age. Edakkal caves are 25 kms away from Kalpetta, the district headquarters of Wayanad. It takes a 30-40 minute walk and climb from the base of the Ambukutty hills to reach the caves. Of course, this world heritage site is worth the effort and exercise!
3. Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary.
Wayanad boasts of three wildlife sanctuaries, of which Muthanga, located on the Sulthan Bathery- Mysore NH is the largest. The second, Nagarhole, is located on the Kerala–Karnataka border, and is just an extension of Muthanga on the Karnataka side. The third is Tholpetty, located along the northern stretch of Wayanad. Tholpetty is much more secluded than Muthanga, and so the chance of spotting a wild animal is much higher in the former. You are likely to chance upon elephants, peacock, deer, bison, Malabar squirrels & black langurs. The sanctuary is open to the public from 7-9 am in the morning and 3-5 pm in the evening. Make sure you reach the Sanctuary by 6:30 am or 2:30 pm to have enough time for your pursuit of the wild.
4. Banasura Sagar Dam.
Asia's second largest and India's largest earth dam, Banasura Sagar, is located in the southwest of Wayanad, near Padijarathera. During monsoon, enroute to the dam from Kalpetta, water flows like a tributary of a river till 5 kms before the dam. At the dam, a motor boat ride is a must for an instant adrenaline rush.
5. Biking along the Forest.
Sometimes, a long drive alone on a bike can freshen your mind. The inspiring scent of nature can provide clarity of thought to your senses. Rent a bike and go for a drive on the stretch from Mananthavady to Tirunelly. This could be best bike ride you've ever had; the 30 km ride takes you through two wildlife sanctuaries and forests. If you really do love some adventure, try to make your return journey after dusk! A bike ride from Sulthan Bathery to Ponkuzhi temple is another recommended alternative, which takes you through the Muthanga wildlife sanctuary. The best times for the bike ride are from 4-8am in the morning and 4-8pm in the evening. This is an experience you shouldn't forget to share.
|Vantage point at Meenmutty.|
Meenmutty , Soochipara and Kanthanpara form a triumvirate of waterfalls in the southeast of Wayanad, along the Wayanad–Ooty NH. Soochipara and Kanthanpara are frequented by families with kids, while Meenmutty is the bigger one, reached via a short trek. Mountain lovers can trek 3km for breathtaking views of Meenmutty through the mountains. For a more dare devil trek, try the Kadachi Kunnu waterfalls.
7. Kuruva Island.
In the north of Wayanad, Kuruva is a 950-acre island surrounded by the Kabini River on all sides. The island is full of streams, evergreen forests, and famous for its rich flora and fauna. For good reason, it attracts lots of tourists, especially families with kids. Kuruva is huge, and it takes more than a day to look around the entire island cluster.8. Pookot Lake.
|Paddle boating at Pookot Lake.|
Pookot is a fresh water lake in the southwest of Wayanad, and is as beautiful as it gets; think serene views of the mountains and their reflections on the lake. Couples can go on a paddle boat to have a quiet time together, while families can shop at the Gandhi Gramam shops with excellent shopping options.
Weather in Wayanad
If you are thinking about a trip to Wayanad, avoid April and May, the hotter months. The best time to visit is in the winter, from September–February or during the monsoon, from June–August. The monsoons are exceptionally beautiful in this part of Kerala.
Muddy Boots - If you are done with all the above options, sign up for some terrific wildlife treks with http://muddyboots.in/.
Bamboo Village - Shop for bamboo products at Uravu in the village of Thrikkaipetta, located 5km from a small town called Muttil. This is a social initiative offering alternate livelihood opportunities to the skilled men & women of the village, and their products have a finess that's hard to match.
Where to Stay
Bamboo Village offers a village homestay program that is an experience in itself. You can immerse in the local life of the village, soak in the natural beauty of Wayanad amid the western ghats, and indulge in the delicious local cuisine.
Wayanad is also part of India Untravelled's Best Kept Secrets of Kerala trail.
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