A decision of traveling during COVID pandemic was not easy one. Even then, after spending months within a restricted physical and mental space, it was a much-needed break which we all wished for.
From stockpiling of hand sanitizers to masked up people in hotel reception desk, thermal screening while crossing interstate border, localized movement restrictions, downloading contact tracing app—ongoing pandemic has introduced many new entries to travel vocabulary. On top of everything, you need to wade through a maze of ever-changing govt guidelines and regulations before you FINALLY revive your dream of beaches, mountains, and monuments.
Yet we set our mind and destination to Wayanad—the land of mystique paddy fields—after lots of deliberation.
Wayanad is an Indian district in the north-east of Kerala state. The name came from Wayal-Nad that means “The Land of Paddy Fields” in English. “Imagine a land blessed by the golden hand of history, shrouded in the timeless mists of mystery, and flawlessly adorned in nature's everlasting splendor”—a very apt narrative about this enthralling place. On an early-October morning we started our journey from Bangalore to this place over the hills and far beyond. A significant part of our travel plan had been dedicated to find out a suitable accommodation. Thanks to recommendation from a few of my kind-hearted friends, we found Enteveedu as our home-away-from-home for next few days. On a rain-soaked afternoon, the homeowner cordially welcomed us to this beautiful property. That is the beginning of a remarkable journey for next few days.
Upon arrival, rest of Day One, we spent in exploring the area on bicycles! The accommodation keeps several of those if you need any—well maintained and of incredibly good quality. Pedalling through lush green paddy fields and treelined roads was a much-needed respite from a life of mundane, confined months within four walls.
Banasura Sagar Dam was on our itinerary for Day Two. The largest earthen dam of India (second largest of Asia), Banasura Sagar Dam is built across the Karamanathodu River, a tributary of River Kabini. The dam is ideally placed in the foothills of Banasura hills, which got its name from 'Banasura', the son of King Mahabali, the famous ruler of Kerala. The adjacent natural park and available facilities there have made the place a tourism hotspot for adventure tourism.
An early morning rise on next day would be good enough to experience Edakkal Caves with sufficient time in hand. Footprints on the sand of times, Edakkal Caves are Neolithic rock shelters of pre-historic era at the altitude of 1200 ft. from sea-level. These caves are among the oldest human settlements ever discovered. Inside the caves are pictorial drawings and engravings that indicate the presence of it as human habitat. The cave paintings are remarkable in their sheer scale and complexity albeit their mysterious origin.
Among several well-endowed waterfalls in the region, we got an exclusive entry and visit to Kanthanpara waterfalls (most of all other places being closed because of pandemic) thanks to Mr. Anand, then-Secretary of DTPC, Wayanad, and my good friend Shaji—a highly motivated traveller and adventure tour enthusiast himself. The serene beauty of this 30-feet high waterfall is riveting. Both the falls and the surrounding greenery are at their scenic best during monsoon.
Our return journey to Bangalore was through a 36-km long stretch of Tholpetty and Nagarhole wildlife sanctuaries. Tholpetty sanctuary is home for a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Open to jeep safari during daytime, you could catch glimpses of various animals and bird species in their natural surroundings.
Other Must-visit Wayanad Attractions
*- Priyadarshini Tea Environs*—for Camping, Trekking, Cycling all in one place
Our Host—The People of Wayanad
Wayanad is presumable the wettest place in Kerala even though it is a land of warm welcoming people who are extremely attached to their cultural bond and deeply rooted to the land. It is the least populated district of Kerala with highest number of tribal populations. The name of the place itself indicates the agricultural economy base; however, the people here have a strong martial history as their profession along with traditionally being artisans and skilled craftsmen. Their works include wood cravings, sculptures, pottery, furniture, musical instruments, and hunting weapons. Other than ethnic origins of people here, Wayanad has a religiously diverse population too. Beliefs and subcultures of Hindu, Christian, Muslim, and Jain population have great influences on the secular and multicultural mainstream society of Wayanad.
Spend few days in Wayanad when it is safe to travel.