February 13, 2017

Places to Visit in Wayanad


Wayanad has always been known for its gorgeous landscapes. The forests, lakes and waterfalls have a charm that leaves a trail and casts a spell on the visitors. The aroma of spices, tea and coffee waft in as you ride through the serpentine roads of Wayanad. Most of its geographical area is covered in forests and a visit post the monsoon is ideal as the landscape turns lush green. Though often seen as a quick getaway, Wayanad has more to offer than just a weekend sojourn.

Located in northern Kerala bordering Karnataka and Nilgiri mountains, Wayanad gets its name from Vayal (paddy field) and Naad (land), and is home to many indigenous tribal settlements. Though most tribes have accustomed themselves to the modern changes, there are still many who continue to live their traditional lifestyle.

For the traveler, Wayanad offers a smorgasbord of places to see and activities to do. Most places are quite far from each other and requires at least four to five days to explore Wayanad leisurely and in detail.

Caves and Rocks:

As per archaeological surveys, Wayanad has been inhabited for more than 6000 years and its evidences can be seen at Edakkal caves. Located in Ambukuthy mala, the insides of the caves have pictorial drawings and unique engravings from neolithic age. As per information shared by the guide, the only other place where you can find such engravings are in France.  The drawings include human figures, elephants, deer, carts and much more. The carvings symbolize the lifestyle of a tribe that lived here eons ago. The caves are actually a huge rift between two large rocks with a huge boulder balancing atop it acting as the roof. The long climb to the caves through coffee plantations is a tough one. From the base of the hill, steps have been cut to take you further up with beautiful vistas all through. 

Nearest town is Ambalavayal.
Timings: 9AM- 4PM




Phantom rock located near Ambalavayal offers nice panoramic views of the hills. The rock looks similar to a skull/ phantom’s head and hence the name.

Nearest town is Ambalavayal.
Timings: 9AM- 5.30PM




Waterfalls:

Soochipara falls also referred to as Sentinal falls is probably the most popular of all falls in Wayanad. It is a lovely ride past numerous tea estates from Meppadi to the waterfalls. A short walk through a well laid path from the entrance gate leads to the base of Soochipara falls. The cascading falls gushes through rocks shrouded by thick forests as it flows down further to join Chaliyar river. In Malayalam, ‘soochi’ means needle and ‘para’ means rock. If not peak season (monsoons), one can perch comfortably on any of the large boulders to enjoy the falls.

Nearest town is Meppadi.
Timings: 8AM- 5PM



Meenmutty was once the most favoured waterfalls of visitors and locals. However, recent mishaps and issues with forest authorities have made sure that it remains closed. Neelimala view point off Ooty road offers majestic views of the surrounding hills (including Chembra peak), valleys and a long shot of Menmutty falls. One needs to either take a jeep or walk up the steep 2.5 Km stretch to the vantage point. The three tier falls is at its best during the monsoon, as per the guide. Blanketed by mist, Meenmutty falls, Chaliyar river and the lush green surroundings are absolutely magical in the months of July and August.

Nearest town is Vaduvanchal.
Timings: 8AM- 3PM





The ride to Kanthanpara falls goes past large coffee plantations.  Though much smaller than Soochipara and Mennmutty, the cascading Kanthanpara falls flows over a large rock and has picturesque surroundings. The large pond as you walk down to the falls is an ideal place for a quick dip.

Nearest town is Meppadi.
Timings: 8AM- 5PM




Another Meenmutty falls near Mananthavady is often referred to as Makkiyad Meenmutty falls. Cut off from the road that leads to Kuttiyadi, the detour (a treacherous road) goes past tea plantations to the falls. A climb down from the entrance gate leads to the base of this falls. Cascading through a pile of boulders, the falls has a nice pool at its base.  

Nearest town is Makkiyad
Timings: 8AM- 5PM





Chethalayam falls (near Sultan Bathery) and Meenmutty falls (near Banasura sagar dam) are best visited during monsoon season. There are 3 Meenmutty falls in Wayanad.


Dams:

The sprawling Banasura Sagar dam is the largest earth dam in India and the second largest in Asia. Surrounded by Banasura hills and sprinkled with islets all over, the dam offers spectacular views. The islets are formed when the reservoir gets flooded during monsoon. There are boating facilities too at this expansive reservoir.

Nearest town is Padinjarathara.
Timings: 8.30AM- 5.30PM





A detour from the Mysore- Kozhikode highway at Kaakavayal leads to Karapuzha dam, one of the largest earth dams in India. Formed out of Karapuzha river, a tributary of Kabini, the dam offers nice views of the surroundings.

Nearest town is Kaakavayal.
Timings: 9AM- 6PM




Lakes:

Despite being crowded most of the time, Pookote lake stands out as a major attraction in Wayanad. The serene lake shrouded by a dense landscape offers a gorgeous frame. One can walk around the lake along its periphery. The premise has a children’s park, aquarium and also offers boating facilities on the lake. The Uruva eco shop has a wide range of souvenirs made by the local tribes.

Nearest town is Vythiri
Timings: 9AM to 6PM



Though not a very popular one, the placid Karlad lake surrounded by tall palm trees offers more than just boating. The adventure camp here offers kayaking, zip lining and rock climbing. It is also one of the largest fresh water lakes in Kerala.

Nearest town is Thariyod.
Timings: 9AM- 5PM




Sanctuaries and Parks:

Adjoining the sanctuaries of Bandipur and Mudumalai, Muthanga wildlife sanctuary with a rich bio-diversity is known for its large population of elephants, deer, macaques and numerous birds. Tigers and bisons are also occasionally spotted in this sanctuary. Elephants are frequently sighted here by the road side as you drive along the Mysore- Kozhikode highway. Elephant rides are arranged inside the sanctuary at Muthanga. The sanctuary is also home to many tribes such as Paniyas, Kattunaykans and Kurichyas.

Nearest town is Sultan Bathery
Timings: 7AM- 10AM and 3PM- 5PM. Closed on Sundays.

Tholpetty wildlife sanctuary in northern Wayanad is an extension of Muthanga sanctuary (they together form Wayanad wildlife sanctuary, the second largest in Kerala). Located next to Nagarhole national park, this sanctuary has a huge elephant population. Wild dogs, deer and peacocks are also commonly spotted here. Safaris are arranged here and you would be accompanied by a naturalist.  This is less popular than the sanctuary at Muthanga and hence devoid of the huge crowds.

Nearest Town is Thirunelly.
Timings: 6AM- 8AM and 3PM- 5.30PM

Kuruvadweep is a 950 acre island surrounded by Kabini river and covered with lush greenery. The island is known for its various species of flora and avian fauna which form an interesting eco-system.  The island can be accessed only by a raft and is an ideal place to spent time amidst nature.

Nearest town is Pulpally.
Timings: 9AM- 5PM




Treks:

Known for its rich avian fauna, Pakshipathalam is a delight for birders as well as nature lovers. The trek here is an ideal way to soak in the nature, capture beautiful frames and learn more about the birds. The trek from Thirunelly is a moderate one, but requires permission from the forest department in prior. The watch tower enroute offers lovely views of the gorgeous surroundings.

Nearest town is Thirunelly
Timings: 7AM- 5 PM Closed from February to May

The trek to Chembra peak is the most popular one in Wayanad. The 2.5 Km trek goes through forest patches, rocks and open plains with panoramic vistas all through. The heart shaped lake at the end of the trek is the major attraction. Trekking further up isn’t permitted. Tickets for the trek can be bought at the entry gate. Read more about the trek here.

Nearest town is Meppadi
Timings: 7AM- 2PM


Museums:

The heritage museum at Ambalavayal gives an insight into the lives of tribes of Wayanad. The displays include pottery, ornaments, hunting traps, musical instruments and much more.  The museum also displays centuries old objects and sculptures unearthed from various locations across Wayanad.

Nearest town is Ambalavayal
Timings: 9AM- 5.30PM




Pazhassi tomb and museum is a memorial to Veera Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, who boldly fought the British during pre-independence. The museum here houses various records and memorabilia which belonged to the king.

Nearest town is Mananthavady
Timings: 9AM-5PM. Closed on Mondays.



Temples and Shrines:

Wayanad has a significant Jain population and is known for its Jain temples.  The 13th century jain temple at Sultan Bathery is the most popular one.  Influenced by Vijayanagar style of architecture, the temple also served as an ammunition store yard of Tipu Sultan’s army. There are Jain temples in Kalpetta and Panamaram too.

Nearest town is Sultan Bathery
Timings: 9.30AM- 12noon and 2PM- 5.30PM



The ancient Jain temples in Punchavayal are in a dilapidated state and are quite an attraction. Amidst coffee plantations, both the temples here remain neglected and have overgrown shrubs creeping over them.

Nearest town is Panamaram.





Centuries old Thirunelly temple in northern Wayanad is often referred to as the Kashi of the south and a popular pilgrim centre in Kerala. The temple is located at the base of Brahmagiri hills and the Papanashini stream that flows nearby is believed to cleanse your sins.

Nearest town is Thirunelly.
Timings: 5AM- 10AM and 6PM- 8PM

Chain tree is a small shrine at Lakkidi that has a lot of significance in the history of Wayanad.  It is believed that the spirit of a tribal, Karinthandan, is chained to the tree here after it started troubling travellers. Karinthandan was killed by the Englishman whom he helped reach Wayanad and post that his spirit attacked people who travelled that route.

Nearest town is Vythiri.




View Points:

The 9 hair pin bends that lead from the plains of Kozhikode to Wayanad offers breathtaking views of the expansive valley and distant hills. Known as Thamarasseri ghats, the views are spectacular in the evening from the view point just before the entry gate to Wayanad. Take a break at the small stalls at the second hair pin bend which offers mouth watering short eats.

The nearest town is Vythiri.





Travel Tips:
  • It is recommended to cover all the places as early as possible as it gets warm as the day progresses.
  • Ideal time to visit Wayanad is during monsoon or post that. Avoid the summer months.
  • Most resorts can help you arrange tours to all these places.
  • Most of the attractions are far from each other. Take into consideration the commutation time while preparing your itinerary.

Location:

Northern Kerala
Closest airport and major railway station: Kozhikode
Kozhikode to Kalpetta- 75 Kms


Food and Accommodation:

Being a popular tourist destination, there are numerous restaurants and a wide range of resorts, hotels and budget stays across Wayanad. Most of the tourist attractions have small shops nearby where you can relish the local dishes.

14 comments:

  1. Though I have visited Wayanad, missed quite a few of the places mentioned,that temple seems very interesting.

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    Replies
    1. Hope this helps you during your next visit.

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  2. Done a great job - A very good reference for those who visit Wynad

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  3. Very informative. I would love to travel these places.

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  4. Perfectly put across. Wayand is definitely must visit for all nature lovers.

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  5. Replies
    1. Am sure you would be able to add more to the list. :)

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  6. Thanks for an exhaustive post, Niranjan. Seems to me that it needs more than three visits of three days each, to 'feel' this place! The multitude of the places has created a chaos in my brain which is not yet programmed to remember the tongue twister names, but, the beauty, the serenity and the tranquility exuding from your pics has made sure I'll read, reread, ask questions and google about it till I understand the nuances of the place! Thanks again for this post!😊

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    Replies
    1. Glad you liked it, Kokila. Hope this helps in your travel to Wayanad. Always happy to help.

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  7. V have planned 2 visit this weekend from madurai so pls suggest tourist places on D way 2 wayanad

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let me know the route that you are taking to Wayanad from Madurai.

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