A dream come true. The planning of “Wayanad visit” started way back in 2006 and had been in “planning” stage until recently when the plan was converted to execution :-).
A conversation over the coffee table sparked off a 3-day vacation to the misty hills of Wayanad in God’s Own Country.
The best way to reach is to drive down in your own vehicle. The route (Bangalore-Mysore-Nanjangud-Gundlupet-Kalpetta) is fairly straight forward and a treat to drive. The 4 lane state highway (SH-17, Bangalore to Mysore) leads one into a 2 lane National Highway (NH212, Mysore to Calicut). Though its a 2 lane, a comfortable speed of 100+ can be maintained. From Mysore , continue on this road past Nanjangud onto Gundlupet. At Gundlupet, the bifurcation happens. The road going straight leads to Bandipur and a turn to the right takes you all the way till Calicut. This is the road you want to watch out for reaching Wayanad.
The best part of this drive is the 1hr drive through the lush green vegetation of the forest once you are near to the Kerala Check-post. Here is the advantage of having your own vehicle. You can stop to click a pic or two.
Places to stay
Wayanad in the state of Kerala, where tourism is a major revenue generator, has a wide range of accomodation. From Resorts in the thick of jungle (Rs 4.5-5K per night) to budget hotels (INR 700 per night). More details @ http://www.wayanad.org/accommodation.htm
Places of interest
Once in Wayanad, you can do the following things
a. Go all out and try to cover as much places as possible
b. Not go anywhere and jus laze around in the comforts of the resort
c. Visit few places of your choice and make the most of it
We chose to go with the third option since we had a mix of people (a and b). Most of the tourist attraction in Wayanad are spread across in 2 different directions. One would need to travel a distance ranging from 10 – 30 kms for the places. 10 kms in a hilly area is going to take more time than it takes on plains (Roads are narrow but motorable). If you are able to cover more than 3 places in a day , its a great thing :-)
Here are some of the places that we could make it to (in the duration of 2.5 days of stay)
Banasura Sagar Dam
This is located at a distance of 24 kms from the town of Kalpetta. Roads to this place are narrow but good. Considered to be the largest earth dam in India, An interesting feature is a set of islands that were formed when the reservoir submerged the surrounding areas.
To get access to the dam , one needs to purchase ticket at the counter. There are Jeeps available to ferry you up and down the 2km stretch (ticket counter to the Dam). Its a treat to watch the greenry all around. At one side , there are tall coconut trees. In midst of these trees , you would find a house. One side is covered by the hills and then there is water all around.
Here , you can take a speed boat ride, which takes around 20-25 mins to go around the dam. Charges are 250 for 6 ppl. its a refreshing experience. Apart from the boat-ride, one can spend time sitting on the rocks taking in the beauty of the place. If you plan to spend a lot of time here, ensure to carry enuf food supplies to keep your stomach going.
Soochipara falls (Sentinel Rock falls)
This again is at a distance of 20 odd kms from the town of Kalpetta. Its a good idea to visit this place when there is a lot of light so that you get to make the most out of the visit. The roads are narrow, but good (this is a common thing in Wayanad).
Once you reach the parking lot , you need to walk down 2km and then there is a descent through the woods to the falls. It takes close to 20-30 mins to reach from the parking lot to the foot of the falls. There are jeeps again that take you from the parking lot to the point where the descent begins.
The descent is quite simple & great fun except for 2 things:
1. The wet leaves that carpet some steps can get tricky – a few falls for all :o) Be patient.
2. There is one particular intersection where you have steps to the right as well as to the left – stay to the right! During our descent in poor light, some of us strayed down the wrong route for at least 20 minutes before hitting a dead trail. This can be quite creepy during nightfall, without torches. Really.
As the sun goes down , the clouds take over and it gets a bit cold if u happen to stay after sun-down. Carrying a torch would help if you get late while visiting this place. The 2km trek is worth the sight that awaits as you near the water-fall. Milky white sheets of water dropping from a height is a treat to watch. Don’t let the apparent water rush fool you. Since you are more or less sandwiched between rocks, getting into the near knee-deep water is quite safe – don’t miss out!
I am told that one could order food (there are eateries near the parking lot) before heading down to the falls. By the time you are up again , the food would be ready. Should try this out next time.
As I mentioned earlier, getting here when there is abundance of sunlight is a good idea :-) (unfortunately there was no one to tell us this and we ended up reaching the falls at 6 PM in the evening). As we turned to head back to the parking lot, it was totally dark with the cloud cover and dense mist . The only source of light that we had was the AF assist beam of my Nikon D80 camera :-) .
At the end of Day I , we had managed to cover 2 places.
Day II was another fresh day and we set out towards yet another place.
Kuruva Island (or Dweep) is 40 km from Kalpetta.
As you leave the town of Kalpetta behind and travel towards Kuruva island, the hustle-bustle and noisy town side gives way to a calm and serene country-side (so to say) . All through the way till the end , one is invited by the lush green vegetation. Thanks to the overnight rains, the leaves appear greener and also the wet surface makes them gleam as the occasional rays of sun fall on them. Taking in the scenic beauty cuts down the tiredness (if at all) of the 40 kms of drive through the ups and downs and curves of the road. Finally you hit Kuruva island after an hour’s journey (from Kalpetta).
To get to the island from the main-land or parking-lot (for the want of a better word), one needs to take a ferry (10 Rs per head). The ferry ride across the river Kabini takes less than 5 min.
Off the ferry and on to the island. As you step into the “island” you are welcomed by tall bamboo trees which makes a creaking sound , as if they are going to break and fall any moment J. You can take a walk along the path among the tall tress of climb on trees (thanks to the inherited genes from our ancestors), and take pictures ;-) .
One can spend time by sitting on the rocks in the river (literally “cooling your heels”). During rains the water appears murky. SInce this is an island that is formed around the river Kabini, there is more than one side to it. As you venture into the deep, you hit upon another clearing from where you can see lush green fields on the other side of the river. To cross this , you can make use of the raft.
This raft ride is pretty interesting. The Raft itself is made of huge bamboo sticks. There are no seats in this raft (u can choose to sit on one of the supporting bamboo pole though), so you need to ride this standing. The method of “rowing” the raft was unique. There is a rope that runs across the breadth of the river, ends tied to the trees. The “raft-man” (for the want of a better term), pulls the rope to make the raft move. Slowly but steadily the raft makes its way across the river. Interesting!!!! Ride it to experience it. 5 rupees per head (to and fro)
On alighting from the raft, the lush green fields come into view and it feels as if a bright green carpet has been laid down.
In midst of the fields , we found 2 huts and much to our relief we found them stocked with eatables and coffee/tea. A cup of tea while enjoying the calm and serene surroundings is more than one could ask for.
Well, there’s a lot you can do at this place. The least, laze around on the banks of the river :-).
Having spent much of the day here, we decided to head to another place , the Pookote Lake. It was more than an hour’s drive from Kuruva island through Mananthavady. By the time we reached Pookote Lake it was 6PM. It was dark and life comes to a standstill here at 5.30 PM. So, if you want to have a decent time at Pookote lake, plan to be there no later than 4PM. Boating , Kayaking is available here at Pookote lake. We missed it this time , but then there should be something to do on the next visit , right ? :-)
Pookote lake to Kalpetta is a 20 min drive. Rest of the evening was spent at a cake shop and then dinner.
An old saying goes “Save the best for the last”. Day III happened to be the last day of our visit and we had planned to go to Edakkal Caves , which was on the Kalpetta-Mysore road. A 9 km deviation from the main road take you through winding and narrow roads upto the foot of the edakkal cave.
Edakkal means “Rock in between”. These caves were formed as a result of earthquake. One Rock got lodged between 2 rocks and this is how the name was derived. To reach this cave, you need to climb vertically for close to 20-25 mins. Most of the climb is a steep one, but with marked steps and railing wherever necessary.
A note on Phantom Rock:
As you ascend , the scenery gets better. From the top (near the entrance of the cave) , one can see the “Phantom Rock” between 2 “white” rock mountains . A naturally formed monolith rock that looks like a human. U need to have powerful binoculars to view this from Edakkal cave. (OR a powerful zoom lens of a SLR/DSLR)
Murals on the walls of the rock suggests tribal inahabitants occupied this place very very long ago (3000 BC).
Now to the most exciting part of this place. Most of the tourist go up till the caves and come back. The actual adventure is going beyond the caves , to the top of the rocky mountains. Its a un-guided climb , as in , there are no proper steps. You need to find for footholds and make your way up. Two places the going gets interesting. First is a place where there is very little gap between the rocks and one has to go on all fours to climb. The second place is crossing a smooth and huge rock. Luckily here, there is a rope tied to iron poles that are drilled into the rock. You have to hold on to the rope (no matter what) till u climb off this rock. This one was real thriller.
Once you are past this point , you need to cross few rocks and then you hit upon a clearing. Needless to say, the view from this place is awesome.
From this point onwards, the difficulty level is greater. Its a good idea to do this in group and when you have time at your disposal. whatever said and done, this place is a must-visit. To get to this clearin, it takes 20 min from the cave’s entrance and to get down 30 mins. Getting down is a bit tricky in the 2 places that I mentioned earlier. But overall , the experience is awesome. And last but not the least, kudos to the group that made it up till here.
Thats it from me for now!!
Our busy lifestyles leave little time for planning personal times like holidays. When you realise that you have time off and nowhere to go, choose a last minute holiday online.