Wayanad, which is also known as the ‘green paradise’ lies in between the mountains of the Western Ghats. It is called the ‘green paradise’ because it forms the border of the greener portion of Kerala. It lies at a distance of 76 km from Kozhikode.
Wayanad district is located on the southern tip of the Deccan plateau and in the north-eastern part of Kerala. It is at a short distance from popular tourist destinations like Ooty, Kannur, Bangalore, Mysore and Coorg.
History of Wayanad
Wayanad is spread over an area of 2132 sq km and includes three talukas, namely, Mananthavady, Sulthan Bathery and Vythiri. The headquarters of the district is situated at Kalpetta. Wayanad District was formed on November 1, 1980 as the 12th district. It has been formed from the Kozhikode and Kannur districts. ‘Wayanad’ means ‘Land of Paddy Fields’.
Wayanad has a rich history and the hills of Wayanad have several evidences of the New Stone Age civilisation. There are pictures and pictorial writings on the walls of both the caves of Ampukuthimala, which lie between Sulthan Bathery and Ambalavayal, that provide crucial information about the past era and civilisation.
In ancient times, Wayanad was under the rule of the kings of the Veda tribe. Later its control came into the hands of the Pazhassi Rajahs of the Kottayam Royal Dynasty. After becoming the king of Mysore, Hyder Ali invaded this land and brought it under his control. However, it went back to the Kottayam Royal Dynasty during the reign of Tipu Sultan.
Numerous changes were seen in Wayanad, after it came under the British rule. Tea and other cash crops were cultivated in the plateau and roads were also built from Kozhikode and Thalassery, across the risky slopes of Wayanad.
People & Culture in Wayanad
The famous tribal events and folk dance performances by tribes are hosted between February and May. Wayanad celebrates Onam, a famous festival during August- September. Other main festivals celebrated in Wayanad include Maha shivaratri and Vishu.
Food & Shopping in Wayanad
Special cuisines of Wayanad include Poricha kootu, Moru kootan, Avvial, Pal payasam and many more. However, tourists can have customized food as per their needs, such as north Indian, Biryani, purely vegetarian food, Jain cuisine, etc.
Wayanad is well known for the spices of Kerala. Wayanad has shopping centers where tourists can take home the spices of Kerala, different flavours of tea and coffee. Wayanad is famous for crafts made of coconut shells, ivory, canes, wood, Bamboo articles and metals which can be shopped.
PLACES TO VISIT
Banasura Sagar Dam
With the renown of being the largest earthen dam in India and the second largest in Asia, the Banasura Sagar Dam offers a spectacular view of the little islands forming its upstream, seamlessly merging with the background of surrounding Banasura Hills. Located 21 km from Kalpetta, the dam is an ideal starting point for the trek enthusiasts to explore into the surrounding scenic mountains.
Enclosing the Karamanathodu tributary of the Kabini River, the dam is a part of the project started in 1979 to cater to the needs of hydroelectricity, irrigation and potable water.
The highest peak in Wayanad located 2100m above the sea level, Chembra peak sits as a part of the Wayanad Hill ranges in Western Ghats adjoining the Nilgiri Hills in Tamilnadu and Vellarimala in Kozhikode district in Kerala. The major scenic attraction is a heart shaped lake en route to the top of the peak that also is an adventurous endeavour to the trek enthusiasts. The peak is also accessible by foot where tourists could set up temporary camps. District Tourism Promotion Council provides guides, sleeping bags, huts etc on hire charges to the tourists.
Located on Ambukutty Mala 25 km from Kalpetta, the caves apart from imparting hypnotizing beauty to its viewers, impound historic significance in favour of ancient civilisation. The pictoral writings and stone age carvings found inside the caves are the only known evidences to exist in southern India that have greatly inspired and enticed the archaeologists and historians over the years.
Away from the chaotic cacophony of city life, harboring nature’s rare exotic species of birds, orchids and herbs is an uninhabited island spread across 950 acres of evergreen forest. An ideal destination to spend a secluded holiday characterized by the peace and tranquility of nature, the Kuruva Island is located 40 km north west of Sultan Bathery. The island is a protected river delta system on the Kabini river.
Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary
The largest abode of wild animals in Malabar, the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary is located 16km east of Sultan Bathery. Spread over 344 sq.km, the sanctuary is a part of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and is inhabited by wild birds, peacocks, peafowl and wild animals such as bison, elephant, tiger, cheetah etc. Elephant rides are a fascinating activity in the itinerary of tourists visiting the sanctuary.
With the lush green mountains forming the silhouette and salubrious weather lingering around, Pookot lake is a much sought after tourist spot in Wayanad. The natural fresh water lake is a hypnotizing beauty spread over an area of 8.5 ha. and has a depth of 6.5m. The lake has boating facilities provided for its tourists.
The waters that fall from 100 ft down to 300 ft heights is a refreshing treat to eyes. To reach the waterfall follows a 2 km trekking down the steep rocks. The pool on ground provides for water rafting, swimming, bathing etc. The tree top huts at Soochippara are a great tourist attraction for they allow to breathe the scenic view of the valleys of Western Ghats and the surrounding shallow waters.
Known as the Gateway of Wayanad, Lakkidi is home to nature’s best beauty reserves. Located 5 km south of Vythiri, the journey to Lakkidi from Adivaram is an adventurous expedition with nine hairpin bends through thick forests. The place is located at a high altitude of 700m above the sea level and has recorded the second highest level of rainfall in the entire world. The soaring mountain peaks, cascading water streams, rich vegetation and bird’s eye view of the Deep South valley atop are other fascinating tourist attractions.
Located 1740 m above sea level in the Brahmagiri Hills at Thirunelli, Pakshipathalam is an ideal tourist spot for adventure seeking tourists that involves 16 km of journey through thick wild forests. The deep rock caves seated amidst thick blocks of rocks are abode to various birds and wild beasts. Pakshipathalam is also known by the name of Munekal caves.
Pazhassi Tourist Resort
Pazhassi Tourist resort is located at Mananthavady in north Wayanad, 34 km from Kalpetta. Pazhassi Raja who was known the Lion of Kerala and organized warfare against British East India Company, was cremated here in 1805. Associated with historical significance, it is an ideal tourist resort situated at a height of 500m near to Kabini river. Boating, childen’s park, aquarium, exhibition and sale of handicrafts and spices, are the main attractions.