Known as the jewel of South India, Kerala has the most stunning mélange of geographical features. Its gently sloping hills, lush forests, thundering waterfalls, mist covered valleys and gentle backwaters are more than just a visual treat; they are experiences that contribute to an unforgettable trip. Kerala will touch all your senses and allow you to truly connect with nature.
Known as the ‘Green Paradise on Earth’, Wayanad is one of Kerala’s finest scenic locations. Its raw, unspoiled beauty and crisp mountain air provide the perfect escape, far away from city life where you can simply sit back and relax. Nestled amongst the Western Ghats and with the river Kabini slicing its way through the vibrant green, Wayanad is a site to behold. Despite Wayanad’s feeling of remoteness, it is easily accessible by road and the nearest airport is the Karipur International Airport at Calicut, just 95 kilometres away. Here are 10 places to visit on your getaway to Wayanad:
1. CHEMBRA PEAK
The highest peak in the Wayanad district, the Chembra Peak is a must visit. At an altitude of nearly 2100 meters, the Chembra peak provides stunning and panoramic views of the brilliant green plantations below. Watch as the mist engulfs the deep valleys below and the fluffy clouds swirl around the mountains. A favourite among trekkers and adventure seekers, the trek up to the peak is dicey, but the view makes up for it. Tourists are advised to carry sleeping bags and other trekking equipment that are available at stores nearby before the trek begins. At the top lies an attraction that will literally make your heart leap. A perfectly heart shaped, crystal clear lake, framed by the lush greenery provides the perfect photo opportunity. (Accommodation is easily available like the Blue Ginger Wayanad Resorts.)
2. KURUVA ISLAND
Ever thought of just escaping away to an island, away from all of the bustle of urban life? Or maybe the islands which remind you of Robinson Crusoe or one of the many escapades of the Famous Five. Kuruva Island in Wayanad fits right into your imagination of the perfect secluded island. This uninhabited island covers just about 4 sq. km and it is the home to a dazzling array of biodiversity. Lying on the tributaries of the river Kabani and covered by thick emerald canopies of the evergreen forest, the island provides the perfect residence to a huge variety of exotic flora and fauna. Watch huge blooming orchids, rare species of birds and soft sprigs of herbs that give the island a unique and magical feel. Once unexplored, Kuruva is now becoming a popular tourist destination, while still maintaining its tranquil peace. Located 17 kilometres east of Mananathavady and 40 kilometres NorthWest of Sulthan Bathery, the island can be accessed by fibre boats and river rafts that are operated by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC).
3. SOOCHIPARA FALLS
A visit to the gorgeous Soochipara Falls is a treat for the senses. The falls get their name from ‘Soochi’ meaning needle and ‘Para’ meaning rock. The clear rushing falls and the gentle tinkling sound of the water gives the feeling of stepping straight into a postcard. Also known as the Senitel Rock Waterfalls, these falls drop from a majestic height of 200 meters. Set against a craggy rock face, the cliffs surrounding the falls are ideal for rock climbing. The three tiered falls are surrounded by dense deciduous, evergreen and montane forests. The tree top huts offer a mesmerizing view of the glistening water below. The pool below offers opportunities for swimming, bathing and water rafting.
4. WAYANAD WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
The major tourist attraction in Wayanad, the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary pulls in visitors from all over the world. Spread over an area of 344.44 sq. km and a must see for wildlife enthusiasts and admirers of nature, the sanctuary is a haven for a mesmerizing variety of flora and fauna. This is your chance to witness nature up close and personal. Look for jungle cats, panthers, Civet Cat, monkeys and Spotted Deer. You’ll also find Spotted Bears, Bison, Gaurs, Cheetah and Wild Bears here. The sanctuary is also home to birds like peacocks, owls, Jungle fowls, Woodpeckers and Babblers. The reserve also houses a small population of tigers. Elephant rides arranged here by the forest department is an absolute delight for kids and adults alike. Tourists can also take jeep drives through the forest path with a local guide sanctioned by the forest department. Entry fees are minimal; INR 10 per adult and INR 5 per child.
5. EKKADAL CAVES
A delight for both history buffs and thrill seekers, Ekkadal Caves are located in the remote area of Edakkal, 25 kilometres away from Kalpetta, near Sulthan Batterhy area. Situated at an altitude of 1200 meters on the hills of Ambukuthi mala, there are two natural caves. These caves contain pictorial drawings and pictures by the Neolithic man, dating back to 6000 B.C. These are some of the most important historical sites in South India. The rocky mountain also presents an ideal spot for seasoned trekkers.
6. POOKODE LAKE
Visit Pookode Lake for the ultimate sense of serenity. There is no peace as profound as the peace at Pookode Lake. Shaped like the map of India, the aquamarine blue waters of the lake are surrounded by dense greenery. Take a boat ride on one of the many small boats lining the lake or take a stroll around the lake. The lake has gorgeous blue lotuses and lots of tiny freshwater fish. Watch the sun set into the sparkling water while the evening breeze brings a slight crispiness to the air. Located just 3 Kilometers before Vythiri and 15 kilometres from Kalpetta, Pookode Lake is perfect for an evening sojourn. Owing to its popularity, it may get slightly crowded during the holiday season.
Known as the Gateway to Wayanad, Lakkidi sits perched upon Thamarassery which is one of the highest hills of Wayanad. Offering unparallel views of the entire Wayanad, a trip to Lakkidi is a mesmerizing experience. Admire tiny rivulets, gentle streams, thick vegetation, and the view of rich mountains peeking out above the lofty clouds and narrow valleys covered with mist amidst a dense blanket of forests that will transport you to a paradise from another realm. Don’t forget to take your hiking shoes in your hurry to see some of the most breathtaking sceneries around.
8. The Bamboo Factory, Uravu
Uravu means ‘the bamboo village’ and is one of the best places for the curious traveller who likes to learn as well as get an insight into the life of locals. Its rustic charm makes it a popular tourist place and a must on Wayanad’s to do list. The bamboo factory is a successful initiative to save the ancient and traditional art of bamboo crafts. See how a variety of bamboo products like baskets and figurines are made. You can spend an entire day with the locals and learn the authentic way to make bamboo crafts. Don’t forget to buy some very expertly crafted and chic bamboo souvenirs to keep the memories of your trip fresh.
9. MEENMUTTY WATERFALLS
A must on your Wayanad itinerary is the Meenmutty waterfalls. This is the largest falls in Wayanad and the second largest in Kerala. A tourist place that still remains untouched and rare, this is perfect for the tourist who’s looking for something off the beaten track. Gaze at the fairytale like setting of the falls, with its dense vegetation and watch the cascading Meenmutty, a three-tiered waterfall falling from a height of 300 meters. Meenmutty fall is the biggest and most spectacular waterfall in Wayanad. A one of a kind component is that water slumps around 300 meters more than three phases to give a mesmerizing effect. This is about 30 km away from Kalpetta town and to reach the falls you have to trek nearly 2 Km into the interior. The surrounding location is stunning and well worth the effort it takes in getting there.
10. BANASURA SAGAR DAM
Banasura Sagar Dam is one of the best tourist places in Wayanad, located merely 21 km from Kalpetta. The captivating beauty of the emerald waters of the Banasura Lake which is surrounded by verdant rolling hills makes for a good day out or an enjoyable picnic with friends and relatives. Tourists can enjoy a boat ride in the lake in this calm and placid environment. The dam and a canal project had started in the year 1979 on Kabini River to solve the shortage of electricity, irrigation and drinking water problems in the nearby villages. It has now turned into a popular tourist spot owing to its lovely location.
Wayanad truly offers some of the most striking views, best adventures and most unforgettable experiences that will make your trip a memorable journey. You’ll find yourself falling even more in love with Kerala after visiting its gem Wayanad.
Contribution: Akshita Agrawal