“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
This was indeed the feeling when I first visited Wayanad – often known as ‘the spice garden of India’, ‘the land of paddy fields’ and ‘the home of the monsoons’. Planning for a trip to get away from hustling bustling city life, this is one place that should definitely be on your list. The place is known for its cool climate, misty peaks, enchanting forests and its pepper and coffee plantation. Wayanad offers a vast and diverse attractions from thrilling hikes to wildlife sanctuary to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in India. With its rich history, rustic charm and natural beauty, it is a must visit for nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts and bird watchers who want to have a time of their lives.
Located in the north-east region of Kerala, Wayanad is around 350 km from Bangalore. We started our road trip from Bangalore at 6 AM in the morning. Enjoying the beautiful morning weather, we reached Kamath Lokaruchi, situated in Ramanagara on Mysore road around 75 km from Bangalore. The restaurant is famous for its delicious south Indian breakfast buffet and costs around INR 150. The next pit stop on our way was the sea of marigold flowers in a place called Gundlupet, around 200 km from Bangalore. The view was breathtaking and refreshed the memories of famous Bollywood movie DDLJ (Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge). Driving our way through the Bandipur National Park, we saw enchanting elephants and deers roaming around in their natural habitat. The whole aura of the place was very mesmerising as we glided our way through the national park and reached Wayanad at 3 PM.
Best season to visit Wayanad: Although the best time to visit Wayanad is during October – March when most of the outdoor activities are available but if you enjoy rainy season, the ‘home of the monsoons’ will definitely exceed your expectations during July-September.
Accommodation: There are lot of good options in Wayanad to suit everyone’s budget from wonderful home stays to budget hotels to lavish resorts. We were looking for a place amidst virgin forests of Wayanad with rustic charm and comfortability. After doing a lot of research, we finalised Rain Country Resorts located in the verdant misty hills of Rain Forest at Lakkidi in Wayanad. Situated at 1300 m above the sea level in a valley between three hills, the 22 acres property is surrounded by luscious tropical vegetation. The resort invites you to submerge in the ambience and serenity of its dark woods coupled with music of the natural stream and varied birds. We booked a cottage room worth INR 4000/night including breakfast. The last 3.5 km drive to the resort is a detour from the main highway up the hill on a muddy road with stunning views of tea and coffee plantation on the way. Overall, nature lovers and people looking for serene and tranquil surroundings would find this place a blessing.
Food: With the property situated in the tropical forests, we used to have our dinner in the resort itself. The food options were limited however, most of the dishes in the buffet were delicious. The meal was supplemented by the Ayurvedic red water prepared by adding the Pathimugam, also known as Sappan wood or Indian red wood in the boiling water. It is believed that decoction of this wood can help in curing diarrhea, skin infections etc.
Here comes the highlights of the beautiful places :
1. Banasura Sagar Dam: The largest earthen dam in India and the second largest in Asia, it has a vast area with greenery on one side and reservoir on the other. It is one of those places where you can just close your eyes and feel the nature. The speed boat ride offers you some of the magnificent and photogenic views as you zoom across the vast expanse of crystal clear water of banasura reservoir. The dam is accessible by walk or jeep from the parking and is worth half a day visit.
2. Chembra Peak: Looking for an adventurous and adrenaline trekking experience through sneaky trails and forests, head out to the highest hill of Wayanad – the Chembra Peak. The 14 kms (to and fro) trek is really beautiful with amazing views of tea estates, pristine surroundings, thick forests, waterfall and well known heart shaped lake. As per locals, the trek is tiered into six levels and everyone including beginners can hike till level 3 where you will come across a beautiful waterfall and a heart shaped lake. Hiking above this level requires intermediate trekking skill and a guide. If you have never been on a trek, don’t miss out on this golden opportunity to experience some spectacular views of natural beauty at its best. Hiking till level 3 and back will take around 3-4 hours. Permission from the forest office in Meppadi is required for trekking the Chembra Peak. Make sure to carry enough water, chocolates and some high calorie snacks with you as there are no shops on the way. It is advisable to check with local authorities before you plan your hike as there are some months when trekking will be closed.
3. Tea and coffee estates: The trip to Wayanad is not complete if you haven’t been to a tea or a coffee estate. For coffee and tea lovers, the aroma of strong, bubbling coffee and tea will fill your heart with joy and smiles. A visit to the vast ocean of green zigzags is as refreshing as tea, & is definitely a tea-rrific idea. You can see the beautiful sight of woman employees plucking tea leaves which you might have seen in photographs. Coffee is like air in Wayanad. It is cultivated in every village in Wayanad district, either in large plantations or small holdings.
4. A walk to remember : The soft trekking and nature walk experience within the resort was beyond words. Our senses were dancing to the different aromas of nature. Once we reached the top, the view was mesmerising.
5. Natural water stream in the resort: The Rain Country Resort also offers a natural stream of water that can be enjoyed to the fullest. After having our breakfast, we head down to this stream and started sprinkling the natural fresh water over each other. It was an amazing experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Back to Bangalore and we are still reminiscing about the wonderful experience that we had in Wayanad. There were lot of happy moments, wow moments with a want to go back to Wayanad again. Do share your experience of Wayanad!!!