February 17, 2016

The verdant getaway throws in a lot of pleasant surprises to the writer as she feels cradled by nature in all its forms during a short sojourn to the district.

Wayanad has plenty to offer those who come in search of green views, wildlife and many other nature’s magnificent creations. It never disappoints the gleaming eyes of photographers; I can vouch myself for its breathtaking photogenic attributes after I took a trip to the pretty place recently. Even if it is a short journey that lasts about two days like the one I took, there are plenty of attractions to experience that make your trip worth its while. It is a perfect destination for families and there are plenty of resorts and hotels that offer comfortable stays.

The winding roads to Wayanad gave us a blissful welcome before unfolding their enchanting tales. The view of the mountains standing tall in harmony and the fog made me forget to blink. We stopped at the view point and enjoyed the sight of curving miniature roads and toy-like vehicles moving at the pace of ants and wondered how reality is double-faced, projecting amusing but illusionary images of itself.

When we had almost reached Wayanad, we stopped at the Chain Tree to which an old story has been bound with rusted chains. The locals said that a tribal guide, who is assumed to have found his way through the mountain terrain leading to Wayanad, was killed by a British engineer to take the credit of finding the route. It is believed that the soul of the murdered guide used to haunt the place and had to be chained to the tree. We could see many people stopping by at the Chain Tree.

After reaching Wayanad, our very first halt was at the Soojipara waterfalls near Mepady, which is about 200 metres. To see the spectacular view of water gushing down through a narrow opening, we trekked down about 2 km through a stone laid path domed with trees on both sideswhere the sun tries hard to pierceits eyes on the visitors. When I saw the falls, I felt as if a creative hand had painted an animated picture that was still fresh with the paints of white, green and black. If you are tired after the short trek, you can stop by one of the many petty shops that sell refreshments amidst the chirping of winged visitors around.

When you come back to the initial place from where you started tramping down, you can buy baskets made of bamboo and cane, utensils and many other useful things that you can take home as a souvenir. You can also savour the gooseberry dipped in honey which is a local food.

Later, we left for Kuruvadweep, a group of uninhabited islets of evergreen woodslocated on one of the tributaries of River Kabani, also known as Kabini, about 14 km from Mananthavady and close to the border of Karnataka.

Nature lovers would find the place a paradise with the trees and the gurgling of the river along with the mellifluous warble of birds and little kids. At Kuruvadweep, I felt wrapped in the arms of giant trees that spread its hands around and walked on small connecting bridges across streams, while engraving the moments in my mind.

Crossing the river is an adventure of sorts as one has to step on to a raft that makes one feel almost on water. Of course, we did not miss any chance to wade through shallow waters wherever possible.

Our last halt on day one was the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary that borders the Bandipur National Tiger Reserve. The sanctuary offers jeep safaris but we took our car to traverse the forest. The tarred roads,unstained by the mud, and the spotlessly clean air provided for a breather of fresh air, literally and figuratively.

When we took this road, we joined fellow tourists who were on an expedition to explore the region’s vegetation and native lifestyle; we managed to spot elephants, deer, monkeys and multi-hued birds. The road is laid down with plenty of speed breakers onto which you bump every now and then, thus letting you slow down to take in the essence of nature at a calm pace. Every time the car in front of us slowed down, we were filled with excitement and looked fervently in all directions desperately hoping to spot an animal or two, but, it was more often than not a speed breaker. The joy and thrill of travelling through the forest, with the car windows down, is indescribable. In the truest sense, I deeply inhaled the scent of nature in its crudest form and captured it into a memory that I would often replay in my mind. Surely it will be one among the most treasured and memorable experiences I have ever had.

When the sky started splashing reddish orange hues, we drove to the Bandipur National Tiger Reserve. Our eyes widened even more in search of tigers as we entered the reserve. We spotted safari jeeps packed with tourists with their heads tilted to either of the two sides, coming from the opposite direction.The majestic sun, that seemed to have bathed in red ink, spilled the diluted colours of red and orange on the sprawling vegetation and trees, rendering the entire place absolutely picturesque.

It was not long before the area was enveloped by darkness and we had to move out of the reserve; it is not advisable to drive on one’s own without a forest guide or a guard. Moreover, we were found ourselves filled with hints of fear as we saw fewer vehicles on the road. We lost no time in turning back to our return route. Even while inching towards night time, the forest still looked beautifully bathed in silver moonlight. Until we reached the main town, we continued to hold on to jitters that refused to subside. At the end of the day, we all could tell that it was quite an adventure.

On our second day, we woke up early t watch the day break at the Sunrise Valley, which is one of the noted scenic spots in Wayanad. However, to our dismay, we were told that due to some unfortunate events, it had been closed. Luckily, our disappointment did not last long as we chanced upon a tea shop in the vicinity. Its owner, an old lady, welcomed us with her warm smile, and suggested that we walk a little towards the left to reach a breathtaking waterfall cascading down huge mountains, the only hitch was that there were no proper paths to walk towards the spot.Undeterred, we prodded on to find the falls which definitely compensated for the valley visit that we missed.

Next, we went to the Banasura Sagar dam built across Karamanthodu River, which is also one among the many major tourist attractions in Wayanad. It is the largest earthen dam in India and the second largest in Asia. We enjoyed the spectacular views of the Banasura hills the most as they threw their reflection on the water, thus holding spectators in pure rapture! After relaxing a bit on the green laps of lands stretching towards the water, we stopped at the nearby lake adorned with pretty water lilies, before we bade goodbye to the birds and butterflies.

On the way back to the place we were staying, we happened to see the Pazhassi Park that shelters tall trees bearing fewer leaves and more number of bats hanging to it, making themselves appear as bat-shaped fruits. Apart from that,theremarkable clusters of bamboo everywhere gave the perfect frame for the greenery, the nearby brook and the paths flanked by lines of colourful flowers. That was the icing on the cake for us in the entire Wayanad trip. Since we planned to return on the same day, we decided to relax at our relative’s place for the rest of the day.

Wayanad is a perfect getaway for short trips and the only thing is that you need to have a guide with you to show known and lesser known nook and cranny of the place. You need to choose the places to visit beforehand so as to make the best use of time, especially when you are on a whirlwind trip and thereby, cover maximum places. Food lovers will surely enjoy Kerala cuisine here. A word of caution for those planning to visit Wayanad between the months of December and February, be prepared for cold weather. The preferred time to visit Wayanad is from October to May. If you are a trekking enthusiast, make sure to carry a pair of trekking shoes.

A trip to Wayanad is all about discerning nature at a relaxed pace and to me, it is not a matter of the number of attractions that I cover. If you have more number of days you can add more attractions to your itinerary, because Wayanad is never short of tourist attractions.

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