I finally leave Karnataka – and drive into Kerala. I am not in Wayanad area for too long to understand why Kerala is referred to as ‘God’s Own Country.’
The disappointment first: almost across the border was the entrance to Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary near Manathavady in Wayanad. I was looking forward to a safari inside – I had been told you have great tiger sightings here. Unfortunately, the park had been closed for many due to political reasons. The official statement said it was the fire season hence not safe to go in.
I drove on, eventually reaching my resort overlooking the Banasura reservoir created by a dam project. What a reception I got: as I sat and watched from my balcony, I saw rain clouds rolling in from the horizon till they were almost inside my room. And then a light rain started. I wanted to take a siesta, but could not pull myself away from nature in a good mood.
I went to the Meenmutty waterfall nearby the following morning – while the water flow was low being the dry season, it meant I could clamber up its path on the rocky surface. It would not be possible during and after the rains.
I got a local guide for the cost (Rs. 15 only) of paying to park on his plot of land; would not have been able to walk all the way without him. This is the largest waterfall in Wayanad, with water dropping 300 metres over three stages. A woman designated sell entry tickets came in her night dress still brushing her teeth – I had gone before official hours but she still obliged.
The misty morning was a perfect time to just sit back and listen to the birds. And then I heard someone playing a flute. The guide said it was a Nightingale – I later learnt it was a Malabar Whistling Thrush (known locally as Whistling Schoolboy too) found in the Western Ghats.
There were strange water pools cut naturally into the rocks – could be romantic to lounge in one with your partner with some wine and candles at twilight. Naughty, naughty!
Did not know this earlier, but Wayanad is both tea and coffee country – and the estates cut on hills were just the sight to make you want to order a cuppa and more.
Wayanad is the place to go for wildlife, mountain caves, aborigine tribes, hidden treasures, tree houses, jungle trails, waterfalls and plantations. And you need a lot of time to cover all of it. I would only be able to cover a fraction of it.
A few factoids about Wayanad:
* Bounded by Kannur, Malappuram and Calicut in Kerala; Coorg and Mysore in Karnataka; and Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu.
* The altitude varies from 700 – 2100 metres above sea level.
* Total area: 2132 sq. kms. (823 sq. miles)
* Weather is generally pleasant all year round, dropping to 15 degrees Celsius during winters. Annual average rainfall is 2300 mm with two monsoons like the rest of Kerala: June – September and October – November.
Ajay Jain is currently on the Great Arabian Sea Drive, starting from Delhi and following the coastline all the way from Gujarat down to Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Follow all updates on:
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