Romancing the rain in Wayanad

Tucked away at an altitude of 700-2100 meters above sea level in a particularly beautiful corner of Kerala is Wayanad. I packed my bags and headed to Wayanad to enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of one of the better kept secrets of Kerala.

As soon as I entered Wayanad, I came across lush green tea plantations. Wayanad is dotted with several tea plantations. As it turns out, the British had opened up Wayanad for the cultivation of tea in 1889. If you meander through one of the sprawling tea plantations in the early hours of the morning, you are sure to find a bunch of women nipping of ‘two leaves and a bud’ with their nimble hands and tossing them over their shoulders into baskets slung along their backs.



I chose to put up at Vythiri Resort; a romantic hideaway cocooned in the lap of the rainforests of Wayanad. Spread over a whopping 150 acres, it boasts of 20 thoughtfully designed cottages, a multi-cuisine restaurant and a spa. Since the time it opened its doors to the discerning traveler it has been winning the hearts of people from across the globe. Not surprising then that it was conferred the prestigious International Quality Crown Award by the Madrid-based Business Initiative Directions (BID). For a truly out-of-this-world experience you should stay in one of the dizzy tree houses at the Vythiri Resort. You will be on a new high!!! Literally. For, these tree houses are perched some 100 feet above ground level. Incidentally, these luxurious tree houses come with a bath attached bedroom.

Wayanad which is blessed with nature’s bounty truly comes alive during the rains. The monsoon sets in here in early June and lasts till late September. Incidentally, a place in Wayanad called Lakkidi boasts of receiving the highest rainfall in the country after Cherrapunji in Meghalaya.

If you happen to be in Wayanad during the monsoons you must head to the Meenmutty Falls. The latter happens to be one of the largest waterfalls in Kerala. I drove down to Neelimala; a hillock that lies near the town of Vaduvanchal. An easy 45 minutes climb took me atop Neelimala. No sooner was I atop that I began to hear the roar of the Meenmutty Falls. The sight of the waterfalls cascading from nearly 1000 feet was indeed breathtaking.

Splash; the highly acclaimed monsoon carnival is organized by the Wayanad Tourism Organization here, every year, in the month of July. My visit to Wayanad had coincided with this year’s edition of Splash. An array of adventure activities such as river rafting, mountain biking and zorbing was held in Wayanad as part of Splash.

Wayanad has a history that dates back to 3000 BC. I paid a visit to the primordial Edakkal Caves which has drawn the attention of archaeologists from across the globe. The Edakkal Caves are basically two rock formations purportedly formed by a large split in a mammoth rock. Legend has it that they were caused by the arrows fired by Luv and Kush, the sons of Rama; the legendary hero of Ramayana. Like the world-renowned Ajanta and Ellora Caves in Maharashtra, the Edakkal Caves too were stumbled upon by a British (in 1890) while he was on shikar. The engravings found inside the Edakkal Caves (Neolithic etchings such as these are to be found only at few places in Africa) shed light on the existence of a Stone Age civilization in Wayanad. The Edakkal Caves had left me spell-bound.

The following evening, I headed to Annapara; a romantic hideaway perched atop a hillock near Vythiri. Annapara which is as cut off from the world as it could get has been named so after a surrounding hill which bears a striking resemblance to the back of an elephant.

The Chembra Peak which at 2100 meters above sea level is the loftiest peak in Wayanad forms the backdrop to Annapara. For those who have a head for heights, it makes for some exhilarating trekking. Almost half way up, you will come across a heart-shaped lake- what a romantic spot to get down on one knee and propose to her!!!

I was awoken early, the following morning, by the chirping of birds. After a hearty breakfast, I hit off on The Vythiri Wilderness Trail. The latter has been designed by Zafar Salim; the young man behind Annapara especially for his guests. It took me past sprawling tea plantations through a stretch of rainforests that lead me towards a spectacular waterfall.

When you are in Wayanad, you will be spoiled for choice. But make sure that you hit off on a game safari in tiger country; Muthanga, go on a bout of speed boating on the Banasura Sagar; the breathtaking lake that is set against the backdrop of the Banasura Peak and pay a visit to Kuruvadweep; a picturesque 950-acre group of uninhabited islets bound by the Kabini River.

Although I enjoy the rains every year, I reveled in the rains in Wayanad as if it was the very first of my life. You needn’t worry if you are not able to make it to Wayanad during the monsoons. If you come here later in the year, you will find Wayanad all the more beautiful. I am sure that you would love it as much as I did.

Brass Tacks

  • Wayanad is located about 75 kilometers from Calicut. It is accessible only by road. National Highway 212 (NH 212) that runs from Calicut to Mysore passes through Wayanad. The nearest airport is the Karipur Airport at Calicut.
  • Wayanad Tourism Organization happens to be a consortium of some of the best resorts, homestays and hotels of Wayanad. For more details, check out www.wayanad.org.
  • The District Tourism Promotion Council of Wayanad organizes conducted tours in Wayanad. For more details, check out www.dtpcwayanad.com

11 Comments

  • Sandeep Gupta says:

    Dear Sanjay,

    So nice to read travel articles which so informative and highlight not only the beauty of the place but also include all round aspects e.g. history, geography, tips for travellers etc, etc.
    Congrats for a very well documented article.
    Born in the West, raised in the North, based in the South, like to visit the Tea Gardens; yet must be only a Coffee fan.

    Regards,
    Sandeep.

  • Jerry Jaleel says:

    Thank you for the interesting post on Wynaad, the enchanted part of Malabar. Thanks too, for venturing into Kerala, India’s least known state by foreigners. The picture of the Giant Malabar Squirrel is fascinating. Again, thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Very informative post !!!! No words to pictures.

    Looking forward to see some more travelogues from you.

  • Nandan says:

    Welcome aboard Sanjay.

    Very beautifully described. I have seen the pic of Giant Makabar Squireel for the first time. Are they found and spotted easily ?

    Also, please respond to comments by fellow Ghumakkars as you find time.

    We look fwd to your next story.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    What a fabulous read, Sanjay. I can’t seem to recall on how I have not read this before. A belated welcome to Ghumakkar.

    So it seems that one should have enough time at Waynad to make the most of it. When your time allows, would you share a short itinerary which we can follow.

    Hope your zest for travel and writing are going strong and you are packing your bags for Egypt. Wishes.

  • Pooja Kataria says:

    Hi Sanjay, you have written so very well about this beautiful place. Never knew that Wayannad receive such high rains after Cherrapunji and dates back to 3000BC. Liked the pictures specially of the resort and tea garden.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Sanjay,

    Very good write-up of a very nice place that is close to my heart!
    Wayanad marks my maiden trip from college and your post just brought my memories to life, again! We had covered almost all of the places that you have mentioned in the post.. Thanks for the nostalgic boost :)

    I am told that the region surrounding Kabini has witnessed a sudden increase in resorts and properties making it even more accessible and sought-after.. Have you been there any recently, again? Maybe you could validate better..

    Best.

    • Sanjay Sivadas says:

      Hi Archana,

      Thank you for the same. Been to Wayanad several times over the past 10 + years. I have covered the place for a few magazines, a few travel portals (Mahindra Homestays & Yatra) and one TV channel (Bloomberg India). Have seen a big change (mushrooming of hotels, resorts & homestays) in Wayanad over the last 10 years.

      Have been to Kabini a long time back. I, believe, there is a restriction on the construction of hotels/resorts there.

      Regards,

      Sanjay

      • That is good to know, I mean if there is a restriction, really!
        The soil is pretty cultivable in those regions. I hope it remains more agro based than getting into the mode of attracting tourist herd!

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