Clear the mind of what one imagines God’s own country to be before beginning a tour of Wyanad
It was an exhaustive five hours journey by flight to Calicut airport from Delhi and from there it took two hours more to reach Vythiri in Wayanad district of Kerala. But our long journey seemed to pay off the moment we prepared to land. From the plane itself I could see a sea of coconut palms ~ it appeared that God himself had arranged them to make them look more beautiful. Of course, the sight was soothing for people like us, who are more exposed to urban life. It was evening when we reached Vythiri, a small hill station at an altitude of 2,000 metres, braving thick forests and hills.
For all those, who know Kerela only for its rice boats, backwater cruises, sandy beaches, colonial churches or thatch-roofed fishing villages, be informed that this part of Kerala doesn’t offer any of these. Wayanad has tea gardens and coffee plantations covering the hill-sides, the largest tribal population with a distinctive culture, an 800-year-old Jain community ~ the numerous Jain temple ruins as evidence ~ and last but not least, soft green paddy fields (Wayanad means land of paddy) covering the foothills. The region also houses a wildlife sanctuary, forest range, waterfalls, lake, dam, rocks and caves, is a paradise for trekking and, not to forget, tasty cuisine. What else does a visitor need?
Back to nature
We stayed in the Vythiri Village Resort, sprawled across 20 acres, amid mesmerising mist-clad hills of Wayanad. Sited in a picturesque corner of Wayanad, Vythiri Village is poised to be a five-star resort with 200 guest rooms and a high-tech conference hall spacious enough to accommodate 2,000 delegates, when fully commissioned. The resort has streams, a waterfall, nature walks and a zipline, swimming pool, an excellent Ayurvedic spa, and a huge convention centre housing a state-of-the-art auditorium with a capacity of 1,500. The food is outstanding and the rooms are spacious. There are 12 cottages, 36 deluxe rooms and 26 suites. Some 40 pool villas will soon be ready.
The next morning, it was the chirping of birds that broke our sleep, compelling us to leave bed early because a lot more was to come. Our exploration of Wayanad began with the Edakkal Caves, which was an hour’s drive from the hotel. Inside these magnificent caves were pictorial writings, believed to be from Neolithic times. Our resort manager had warned that there would be a tough, steep climb for about a kilometre, so better come in trekking mode. Edakkal Caves are not really caves, but a small rock formation that is partially covered. Although the inscriptions on the walls are very old, they are not visually interesting unless one can read them. The engravings are spread over an area of 500 sq feet on the two walls of the cave. Archaeologists have dated these rock engravings to the Neolithic period, between 4000 BC and 1000 BC.
Next on the list was the picturesque Kanthanpara Waterfalls, situated about 6 km from Meppadi. The crystal clear water flowing down from the top of the mountain present an exhilarating sight and an ideal picnic spot.
The next morning, we left for Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary, which is an ideal place for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Established in 1973, Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary is rich in bio-diversity. One could spot elephants roaming freely here and tigers are said to be sighted occasionally. Various species of deer, monkeys and birds are also found in the Reserve, which is home to a small population of tigers, butterflies and insects. The trees and plants in the sanctuary are typical of the south Indian moist deciduous forests and west coast semi-evergreen forests. We had taken the morning safari in a semi-open jeep and were lucky to see deer, peacocks, wild boar, monkeys and elephant. The safari lasted for an hour and covered a total distance of 21 kms.
The trip ended by visiting Banasura Dam, the largest earthen dam in India. The view from the dam is beautiful. Nothing much else to speak about the dam itself, the activities there make it more interesting (?? WHAT IS THIS?? SOUNDS SUSPICIOUS! PL EXPLAIN “ACTIVITIES” OR REMOVE THE SENTENCE.).
How to reach:
There are daily flights (vie Mumbai) and train to Kozhikode from major cities.
Where to stay:
Vythiri Village Resort (+91-4936-256716, vythirivillage.com),