Wayanad: Beauty unexplored
Kerala, in the southern peninsula of India is home to some exotic locations, such as azure white sand beaches, dense forests and serene hill stations. One of the lesser explored, virgin beauty is that of Wayanad’s. Nestled away in the heights of Western Ghats, Wayanad offers several gems of delights to quench one’s wanderlust. It is home to waterfalls, ancient caves, rivers, green valleys and even secret islands hidden away alongside the forests and the lakes. Here are a few of Wayanad’s best attractions.
1) Kuruva Island
Kuruva Island, locally known as Kuruva Dweep, is a 900 acre uninhabited haven of flora and fauna in a delta within the Kabani River. It is a group of three islands, a tropical paradise of lush greenery and serene silence, the silence disturbed only by the flow of the Kabani River. To some, it might be the perfect visualization of the Carnivorous Island from the book life of PI. To enter the island, one must traverse the surrounding streams in a boat provided by the local Tourism department. During summer, when the water levels are low, occasionally tourists are permitted to cross the streams by foot. This is quite an adventure in itself and non-swimmers are recommended to choose the less- intense option of a boat ride. In the island, one is surrounded by a multitude of lush ever-green trees. The islands are connected to each other by bamboo bridges. There are options for rafting through the streams within the islands, provided the weather gods permit. It should be noted that the Islands remain closed for the public in the monsoon season, between June to August because of the heavy rainfall.
2) Edakkal Caves
The Edakkal Caves are a set of natural caves located on Ambukutty Mala in Edakkal, Wayanad. The cave is home to several ancient drawings that dates back to 5000 BC. Anthropologically, these are amongst the oldest cave paintings in the world with speculated links with other ancient civilizations. The caves itself are a sight to behold, with majestic views from atop the peak. A moderately difficult trek is required to get to the zenith of the caves, but everyone can enjoy the ancient wall paintings without having to scale the whole cave.
A pristine, peaceful spot to feel at harmony with nature, Banasurasagar is an Earth Dam, the largest of its kind in India. The spectacular view of the Islands at the center of the lake coupled with the serenity of the place makes this place one of the must visits in Wayanad. Speed boats as well as pedal boats are available to enjoy a tour of the reservoir around the dam.The hills at the top of Banasurasagar are ideal for trekking. The Banasura Hill resort, an eco-friendly getaway about 20kms from the dam, allows travellers to stay in traditionally constructed mud houses whilst enjoying the vivid green of the area. The local tribesmen who live at the foot of the hill are part of the Kurichya Tribe, once known for being fierce warriors. It is an enlightening experience to listen to the locals, their experiences and their ancient folk-songs.
Wayanad also has several other unexplored, serene places such as Karappuzha Dam and waterfalls such as Meenmutty. The Muthanga wildlife sanctuary is home to a diverse set of flora and fauna, while Pakshipaathalam is one of the best locations in south India for bird watching.
Chembra Peak offers stunning views to adventurers prepared to trek to its top, and is quite a sight to behold.
How to get there: Calicut/Kozhikkode is the nearest airport and the railway station. Wayanad district is about two hours’ drive from Calicut city, at about 85 km. It is also possible to drive from Bangalore to Wayanad, but the drive takes around 5 hours, at 271 km.