Mention the Ooty of Kerala, Wayanad and it brings to mind the numerous verdant peaks, paddy fields, heritage spots and more. This season, consider planning a weekend getaway to this green haven that's one of the most beautiful places in God’s own country. And here's what you need to know more about the district before you start rejuvenating on the lap of its soothing environs.
Embraced by a forest reserve
Famous for wildlife and spice plantations, Wayanad is a part of a forest reserve in Kerala that is connected to the Mudumalai forest in Tamil Nadu and Bandipur in Karnataka, thus forming a large mass of forest area for wildlife to move about freely.
Located at a distance of 76km from Kozhikode on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Wayanad – a lesser-known beauty, offers great scenic views of the western ghats and is a nature lover’s paradise.
Wayanad is also known as the ‘Spice Garden of India’ as it is dotted with vast plantations of various spices like cardamom, black pepper, star anise, fenugreek, black cumin and more. There are plenty of coffee and fruit plantations here as well, that impart their fragrance to this hill station along with the spices.
Wayanad’s scenic topography has made it quite popular as a hub for adventure sports like trekking, hiking, rock climbing, rappelling and camping. The hill station is also home to India’s largest earth dam and Asia’s second largest earth dam, the Banasura Dam – a must-visit!
How To Reach
Travelling to Wayanad is relatively easy as it is well connected to some of the major cities of South India like Ooty, Mysore, Bangalore, Coorg and Kannur. The nearest airports are Kozhikode (120km), Bangalore (290km) and Kannur (58km). The nearest railway station is also at Kozhikode (110km).
Places To Visit
1. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
It is the second largest wildlife sanctuary in India and is home to various species of flora and fauna. Founded in 1973, the sanctuary is famous for spotting tigers and elephants.
A wildlife safari here is a must to get a glimpse of the jungle and its activities. There are certain spots inside the sanctuary as well, that are specially demarcated for activities like trekking, nature walks and bird watching.
Located deep inside the forest on the Brahmagiri Hills, at an altitude of 1700 metres, Pakshipathalam are caves that are home to a wide variety of birds, a few animals like Gaurs and Giant Malabar squirrels and some rare species of plants.
One needs to trek 7kms inside the forest to reach this spot and prior permission is required to be taken from the District Forest Officer.
3. Edakkal Caves
Take a journey to the past at the Edakkal Caves. Located 10kms from Sultan Bathery, these are two natural rock formations that are carved with pictorial drawings and figures dating back to 6000 B.C, to the age of Stone Age man, thus indicating the presence of ancient human settlements in this region.
To see the Edakkal caves, one has to trek up Ambukuthi Hill which is dotted with coffee plantations and thus the aroma of coffee accompanies you the entire way.
4. Banasura Sagar Dam
A majestic beauty in itself, India’s largest earth dam is worth a visit. The dam with its scenic backdrop of the Banasura mountains is the perfect place to enjoy a boat ride and a picnic.
The place gets its name from the Asura king Banasura, the son of Mahabali, who as legends say, used to rule this region. The dam constraints the waters of the Karamanathodu river, a tributary of the Kabini river and was constructed in 1979 to aid the local people with irrigation and drinking water requirements.
5. Chembra Peak
Home to the famous heart-shaped Chembra Lake, this peak is Wayanad's highest point at an altitude of 2100 metres above sea level; it offers a panoramic view of the misty valley and beyond and is a trekker’s paradise.
Furthermore, the trekkers also get the opportunity to camp beside the lake!
6. Soochipara Falls
Also known as Sentinel Rock Waterfalls, this is a three-tiered seasonal waterfall, best visited during the monsoon to catch it in all its splendour and beauty.
Cascading from a great height, the waterfall creates a small pool below it which is surrounded by big rocks, thus offering the perfect backdrop for a picnic. The place also offers scenic views of some of the best tea estates in Wayanad.
7. Pookode Lake
A scenic freshwater lake, the Pookode Lake is located at an altitude of 770 metres above sea level. The lake nestled amidst the evergreen forests and the western ghats is a popular tourist spot for boating and other water activities.
8. Neelimala View Point
The Neelimala viewpoint offers a breathtaking view of the Meenmutty Falls and the valley surrounding it. The trek upwards to the viewing point is quite exciting as you breathe in the aroma-laden air and try to distinguish the smell of coffee, ginger and areca nut.
Once at the viewing point, your trek gets rewarded with the spectacular sight of the white, milky waters of the Meenmutty crashing down on the rocks.
9. Phantom Rock
A popular tourist destination and an archaeological wonder, this is a natural metamorphic rock formation that resembles a human skull and is thus known as Phantom Rock.
Surrounded by the western ghats, Phantom Rock is quite a scenic place and a favourite amongst trekkers and hikers as well.
10. Wayanad Heritage Museum
Located at Ambalavayal, 12kms from Sultan Bathery, the Wayanad Heritage Museum is one of the largest archaeological museums in Kerala. The museum is home to one of the largest collections of remnants dating back to the second century.
The four sections of the museum Veerasmruthi, Gothrasmruthi, Devasmruthi and the Jeevanasmruthi, house different types of items ranging from the Neolithic Age to the 17th century.
We hope that this article has got you excited about visiting Wayanad. Why wait any longer? Start planning for your next getaway to this beautiful and picturesque hill station! We guarantee you will fall in love with this place!