Wayanad is all about beautiful green countryside with lovely waterfalls, tea and coffee estates, wildlife, lakes and more. Wayanad literally means land of paddy fields. There are plenty of things to see but the first-timervisitors here do not realize that the distances in Wayanad are huge. More often than not, they end up just spending a lot of time on the road, rather than at the tourist destination. Most of us unknowingly, pick hotels and resorts that are not close to the places that we really want to visit. One important thing that we must do when planning a trip to Wayanad is to understand the key tourist attractions in Wayanad and then look for accommodation that suit us -keeping in mind the proximity to our list of attractions. In this blog post, I divided Wayanad into three key areas based on the tourist attractions in each of these areas. This should help you plan your stay better and enjoy the lovely tourist spots in Wayanad.
This is the main town with lots of resorts and restaurants in Wayanad. You will find me covering a lot more of the places under this town as this is the focal point for Wayanad. From waterfalls to lakes and dams, access from Kalpetta town is a lot better. With Kalpetta as the center point you can visit Meenmuthy Falls, Soochipara falls and the Kanthapara Falls – each of them unique in their own way. Note that these are not close to each other and are quite spread out. Hence, covering all of them in one single outing may not be a great idea.
Meenmuthy Falls are around 30 kms from Kalpetta . The best part about seeing them is the lovely 2km trek that needs to be done to reach it. The Soochipara Falls or the Sentinel falls are also, 20 kms from Kalpetta. The drive to these falls is amazing with lovely green tea estates along the road. These falls require a trek too. The water here falls along three-tiered rocks into a pool, which is great for some water fun whilst here.
Chembra Peak at 2100m is one of the key attractions of Wayanad. This peak is around 10 km from Kalpetta and is a great spot for trekking – and the trek is not too long and difficult. It is around 5kms from the start point and for the same, you have to take permission from the forest officials. There is a small entry fee and a deposit for every plastic bottle that you carry. There are also, guides available at the forest office. The trek is allowed only between 7 am to 2 pm and one has to return back by 5 pm. Overnight camping is not really allowed. Watch out for the beautiful heart-shaped lake on the way to the peak. From the top, you can get a glimpse of Waynad and Kodaikanal.
You can also, have a lazy evening on the banks of the Pookot lake – a freshwater lake surrounded by lovely green trees. There are boating facilities available here and a few small stalls for refreshments and snacks. There is also, a small aquarium as well as a mini handicrafts bazaar on the banks of the lake. Pookot Lake is an extremely popular attraction in Wayanad and hence, pick your day for the same. I ended up on a weekend when there were tons of families here and the queue for boating was huge. 🙁 Despite the crowd, one cannot help but admire the lovely water body with floating flowers and green borders and various birds calling out to you. Don’t forget to take your binoculars as you can spot some really beautiful birds around here.
Around 24 kms from Kalpetta is India’s largest earth dam and the second largest one in Asia. The Banasura Sagar Dam is a beautiful waterfront with little green islands and hills overlooking it. To reach the dam, one needs to trek a few kilometers or alternatively opt for the autos at the checkpoint. One can engage in activities like trekking and speed boating at the dam. Again, keep time aside for the crowds as there are limited boats and this being a popular tourist attraction of Wayanad, there could be a long waiting time. One can plan a picnic at this spot . There is a lovely garden that is developed here for people to sit around and just admire the beauty around it.
Remember to head to the Banasura Falls– something that I discovered owing to the Banasura Hill Resortthat I was staying in. These are lovely un-spoilt falls that have these lovely boulders on which you can climb and feel the water. Some of these boulders are right under the water and if you can take the cold water, then, a shower is a great idea. My hubby, kid and I had an amazing time trekking along these falls and enjoying the cool spray of water.
2) Sulthan Bathery
I know that sounds like Sultan’s Battery, but that in fact, is the actual name of this place. A bit of history here to explain the same – When Tipu Sultan attacked this region, it is said that he destroyed the place- including the Jain temple and killed the Jains here to make space for storing his ammunition or battery. Hence, the name. This place is the first access to Wayanad from Bangalore. As you can guess, the historic temple, now in ruins is still there for all to see.
The ruin temples are within 5 kms from Sulthan Bathery. Another interesting and fascinating attraction of Wayanad is the Edakkal Caves.
There are several legends around these caves – one of the caves being formed by arrows of Luv and Kush. The inscriptions in the caves are said to belong to the Early Man’s age or the Neolithic age. This is the only place in India, where such dated inscriptions have been found.
And if this fascinates you, remember to head to the Muniyara- a series of ancient burial vaults that have been discovered at the foot of a hill, around 12 kms from Sulthan Bathery. These are from the Megalithic age and are quite fascinating structures – almost like a child’s drawing with four slabs of stones placed vertically and one capstone on the top.
12 kms from the main town of Sulthan Bathery is the Muthanga Wildlife National Park, home to some amazing wildlife – free roaming Elephants, deers, bears and tigers. This park is also, called the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. If you are lucky, as I was, you might spot an elephant or two on the road. During my trip, we found a tusker right in the middle of the road- looking quite annoyed with the people clicking on their camera. Scary huh? Going past him was an act of bravery and in this case, would award my husband for taking charge and driving past in a haste. The sanctuary is open on most days and you can take a small ride within the same. The Forest officials also, organize Elephant rides – if you are really keen for one.
There are quite a few temples around Sulthan Bathery to visit. One of them , Manikavu temple having a Swayambhoomi Shivling with a small stream tricking on top of it.
3) Mananthavady in Wayanad
This area is quite close to the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. However, this is a long distance from the other natural attractions that I have mentioned above. One main reason that I mention this area is the eco-island of Kurva.
An un-inhabited ecological wonder, marooned by streams around it – I found Kuruvadweep extremely fascinating – at least for a one-time visit. The Island is around 17 km from Mananthavady and can be accessed by rafts only. I guess, half my fascination came in from its location and the way to reach it.
The rafts are not moved by rowing but rather by a rope that is strung between the island and the mainland. You can see the same in the picture above. Once you reach the island, you can see the vegetation that has grown in various shapes of its own. There are some lovely bamboo bridges, orchids and herbal plants. Plenty of spots of selfies here – all made naturally.
The time spent on the island would not be more than 1 hour unless you are a botanist – in which case a day is definitely required 😉
Other than this island, you could visit the tomb of the Freedom fighter Pazhazzi Raja and the Boys town for its unique herbal gardens and sericulture units. Another important attraction in Mananthavady is the Pakshipathalam. This is a little far- around 32 km but is a must for ornithologists. Literally meaning abode of birds, this place has some rare bird species. What adds to the wonder of this place are some caves, which serve as a den for these birds.
Seems quite a few things to do – right? But that is the beauty of Wayanad and which is why most of us return to this lovely natural place to experience, what we missed the previous time.
What is the best way to reach Wayanad?
- The nearest airport to Wayanad is Mysore or Calicut.
- Wayanad is well connected by road from Mysore, Bangalore and Calicut. Hiring a cab is the best option as the roads are lovely, flanked by the Wildlife sanctuary and if you are lucky, you may spot some wild animals like deer and monkey on the roads itself. There are a lot of buses available to Wayanad from Bangalore.
- Travel within Wayanad is best done by hiring a cab or renting a car. Distances between the tourist attractions in Wayanad are quite huge.
- Wayanad is enjoyed throughout the year, with the peak season being from October to February. Monsoons in Wayanad has a different charm.
- Pre-plan your trips well in advance as the distances are quite huge and you may just end up spending a lot of time on the road.
- For the Chembra trek, take a guide along with you from the Forest office. The trek is through the jungle and hence, remember to dress comfortably. Carry a jacket as the area is prone to rains. Trek price for the Chembra Peak is INR 500 for Indians and INR 1000 for the Foreigners
- Most of the homestays, resorts and hotels are well connected with cab companies and hence, can arrange a transport for you. Some of them have a complimentary tour to the nearest attractions as a part of the package. Remember to inquire about them when planning a stay.
- When heading for the tourist attractions, it is advisable to start early and plan an entire day’s excursion from your hotel. Remember to consider this when option for a MAP or an AP package at your resort or hotel.
- Remember to apply insect repellants as this being a part of the forest area, does have a lot of mosquitoes and insects.
- Carry a binocular here as Wayanad has some amazing birds – no matter where you stay. We had an amazing time spotting beautiful colored birds every morning in all the places that we stayed.