Bandipur -> Wayanad -> Kozhikode -> Guruvayur -> Cochin -> Periyar
Although we passed through Wayanad, a beautiful place in itself, we had not made plans to explore much of it. With nearly a week to spend, we wanted to travel down south to Cochin and Periyar to explore places far from our base. This was my third visit to Wayanad and we did not spend much time here.
Around ten in the morning, we visited the beautiful Phookot Lake, took a stroll around the lake and before we drove further to Kozhikode. Below is all the information about travelling in Wayanad. Also see:
Wayanad Travel Information
Wayanad is relatively less touristy, unexplored and unexploited area of Kerala. This lies high in the Western Ghats, and is home to a few wildlife sanctuaries, tall hills and tea estates. Kalpetta is the largest town and district headquarters of Wayanad. There are many places to see and activities to do. Directions and tourist information is easily available once you reach there, so don’t worry much about the homework and just arrive here to explore more.
Places to see and things to do.
TREKKING AND WALKING
Chembra Peak: This is the tallest peak in Wayanad district, and is a day’s climb. To climb the peak, you need to get permits from forest department office at Meppady village. To reach Chembra, take the Kozhikode road from Kalpetta and turn left just after the town. You will hit Meppady village after a short drive where you can get your permits, ask for directions and proceed. Start early, since the trek up and back will take six hours or more. See more about my experience on trekking up the Chembra here.
Landscape on the way to Edakkal
Edakal Caves: Caves may be a misnomer, they are actually a bunch of rocks which form a shelter. Inside the shelter are a few prehistoric inscriptions and pictures, about which a guide gives you some vague explanations. The real attraction is the hill on which the rocks are located. It is a good climb that gives you uninterrupted views of the surroundings from the top. See more on Edakal on my birding trip report.
Pakshi Patalam or Narimale Caves, and Brahmagiri Peak: This is a trek up the Brahmagiri ranges. What is called Narimale in Karnataka is called Pakshi Patalam in Kerala. The trek requires permits an escorting forest guide, for which you need to contact at their office on the way to Tirunelli. Arrive early at the office, since the trek can take the whole day. Trek up the Brahmagiri peak is much shorter, but there is a longer approach from Karnataka. You can also walk along river Kalindi, which flows down from Brahmagiri ranges. Another attraction is the Tirunelli temple at the base of the hill. See a brief on my visit to Tirunelli on my birding trip report. Also see a detailed report on climbing Brahmagiri from Karnataka side.
Meenmutty Waterfall: Plan this as a full day activity. This is a 30-minute drive away from Kalpetta, followed by a long trek into a valley. Some locals may be willing to guide you through the walk, though hiring one is not really necessary. The waterfall is in a deep valley which also has some amazing views. You need some degree of fitness, as the trek to the valley takes you through a very steep bridle path.
WILDLIFE AND BIRDING
Birding around Wayanad: With Wayanad having some thick evergreen vegetation and hills, you can see many birds of the western ghats in this region. Here a small incomplete list of birds I saw when I made a birding trip to Wayanad: Asian Fairy Blue Bird, Scarlet Minivet, Emerald Dove, Yellow Browed Bulbul, Bar winged flycatcher shrike, Black lored tit, Chestnut tailed starlings, Forest Wagtail, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Plum headed parakeets, lorikeets, and many many more. Edakal caves and Tirunelli are great places for birding, where we saw many different species.
A Yellow Browed Bulbul
Wildlife sanctuaries: Wayanad has many wildlife sanctuaries. Muthanga wildlife sanctuary is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, and is contiguous with Bandipur National Park. You can go into Muthanga with your own or hired jeeps(which are available in Sultan Battery), with a forest department escort. Other sanctuaries include Begur Wildlife Sanctuary and Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary.
Phookot Lake: A beautiful natural lake amidst dense forest, this is around 15 minute drive from Kalpetta and is a short deviation after Vythiri on Kozhikode road. A must visit place in Wayanad.
Tea Estates: There are many hills south of Kalpetta where tea is cultivated. The road to Chembra from Kalpetta, Kalpetta – Ooty road, and the road towards Meenmutty falls are good choices if you want to drive around tea estates. The road to Chembra peak takes you inside a private tea estate, which is worth a look.
Tea estates on the way to Chembra Peak
Other than these, Soochipara waterfall is another well known tourist destination. The road to Kozhikode near Lakkidi is scenic, where you drive through winding roads which quickly drop down to the plains before you hit the sea.
Kalpetta is a good place to stay and explore Wayanad. It has a few hotels from budget to mid-range. Green Magic resort near Vythiri has made a name for itself for its tree house accommodations.
MORE INFORMATION, ELSEWHERE
1. See Wayanad.com and wayanad.net for tourist information, hotels, and more information on Wayanad district.
2. Wayanad Tourism Organization is a non-profit organization to promote tourism in Wayanad.
3. Wayanad District on Wikipidea
To be continued..