If you’re visiting Wayanad, Kerala, then planning an itinerary is tough. There are so many things to do and see.
The Thamarassery Ghat
A hair-raising drive down the Kozhikode-Bangalore highway takes one towards Lakkidi, the gateway to Wayanad. As your car winds its way up the Thamarassery Ghat, crane your neck to have a peek at a tree bound by a large chain around its trunk.
Legend has it that a tribal person from Wayanad showed a British engineer, who was searching for a path to build a road running through Wayanad), the Thamarassery Ghat as an easy way to reach Mysore from Kozhikode. Eager to take credit for it, the engineer killed the helper and buried his body under a nearby tree. Soon after these roads were built, several people met with horrendous accidents at the Thamarassery Ghat – all attributed to a wanton spirit haunting that stretch of road. Before long, an exorcist was summoned and fettered the victim’s spirit onto that nearby tree. Today, one knows it as the famous Chain Tree.
The Tea Plantations of Vythiri
The British opened up Vythiri for the cultivation of tea in 1889. You can meander through the sprawling tea plantations that are ensconced atop the rolling hills of Vythiri. You’ll usually comes across 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.
The primordial Edakkal Caves are cradled in the Ambukuthi hills near Ambalavayal. 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 arrows fired by Luv and Kush, the sons of Rama, legendary hero of Ramayana. Like the world-renowned Ajanta and Ellora Caves in Maharashtra, the Edakkal Caves were stumbled upon by an Englishman (in 1890) while on shikar. Over the years, the Edakkal Caves have drawn the attention of archaeologists from around the world. The latter say that 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 are sure to leave one spell-bound.
A picturesque drive down the Chundale-Udagamandalam road takes one towards Neelimala. An easy 30 minute upward climb takes you atop Neelimala. No sooner are you atop, you begin to hear the roar of a cascading fall. The Meenmutty Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in Kerala, has to be really seen from atop Neelimala to fathom its utter beauty.
At 2100 meters above sea level, it happens to be the loftiest peak in Wayanad. The Chembra Peak that seems to imperiously gaze upon the countryside can be seen from almost all parts of Wayanad. For those who have a head for heights the Chembra Peak makes for exhilarating trekking.
Muthanga Game Sanctuary
Muthanga forms an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, one of the bio-diversity hotspots of the world. Safari is the thing to do here. You may come across herds of elephants, barking deer, sloth bear, nilgiri langur and the odd tiger lurking in the woods…
About 15 kilometers from the town of Mananthavady lies this picturesque 950-acre group of uninhabited islets bound the River Kabini.
There is a resort at the foot of the Edakkal Caves called Edakkal Hermitage. They have a cosy restaurant in a cavern (a natural cave which is part of the Edakkal Caves chain) where at night, dinner is served inside the cave, which is lit by hundreds of candles. It is the only natural cave restaurant in India.
CheersBye Homestays offers various welcoming family homes to stay in Wayanad.
Homestays combine the comfort and distinction of a boutique hotel with the personal hospitality, informality and local knowledge enjoyed when staying with family friends. They offer an insight into the culture, traditions, history and everyday life of an Indian family. What’s more, guests get the chance to enjoy authentic Indian food at its very best – home cooked.