Wayanad's myriad attractions beckon tourists

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One of the worst hit districts during the recent floods in Kerala, Wayanad saw deluge and landslide in all their fury. Although ripped apart, the spirit of the hills is far from destroyed. Wayand and its people are fast recovering from the travails that befell them.

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Putting Wayanad back as a safe destination on the tourism map of the country is central to the recuperative measures. The District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC), tour operators and the Wayanad Tourism Organisation are all geared to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for tourists making their way to the hill district.

With its lush evergreen forests, a wild life sanctuary that is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and an abundance of natural beauty at every step, Wayanad is forever the traveller's paradise.

Lakkidi View Point

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The gateway to the district, Lakkidi is a befitting preface to the saga of Wayanad's natural beauty. It is located at a distance of 16 km from Kalpetta, 41 km from Sulthan Batheri, and 51 km from Mananthavady.

Changala maram/chain tree

Changala maram is a Ficus tree that stands on the side of the national highway in Lakkidi and is part of the folklores of Wayanad. The story goes that a tribal youth called Karinthadan had guided a British engineer to the hills of Wayanad which was out of reach for them due to the impenetrable forests. The Brit, in his greed, killed the youth after receiving the help. Local lore has it that the vengeful spirit of Karinthadan was chained to the tree after travellers to the hills began to meet their death at the hands of the ghost. The spot is 15 km off Kalpetta, 40 km from Batheri and 45.8 km from Mananthavadi.

Pookode Lake

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This scenic fresh water lake is the first major attraction awaiting you as you wind your way up the mountain pass. Nestled amidst evergreen forests, the lake makes a picture perfect spot for boat rides. A fresh water aquarium, children's park and stalls selling authentic spices from the mountains are some of the tourist attractions here. Entry is allowed from 9 am to 6 pm. Located at a distance of 13 km from Kalpetta, 37 km from Batheri and 42.8 km from Mananthavady.

Soochipara Waterfalls

Soochipara or Sentinel Rock Falls is a three-tier waterfall tucked away in the lush forests of Vellarimala region. With a natural pool at the base which is ideal for swimming, the fall is hailed as one of the most scenic spots in the district. The journey to the falls through the picturesque tea plantations of Meppadi is a joy unto itself. Visitors are allowed at the spot between 8 am and 5 pm. Soochipara is 23 km away from Kalpetta, 44 km from Batheri, and 52.7 km from Mananthavady.

Kanthanpara Falls

Located on the Meppadi-Vaduvanchal route, Kanthapara is easily accessible by road. The waterfall framed by evergreen forests is open to visitors from 9 am to 5 pm. Distance – 19 km from Kalpetta, 30 km from Batheri, and 48.8 km from Mananthavady.

Karalad Lake

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Karalad is the third largest freshwater lake in Kerala and the second largest in Wayanad after Pookode lake. It is also the site of Thariode Adventure Camp. Visitors can indulge in fun activities like kayaking and boat rides. The site is at a distance of 15 km from Kalpetta, 39 km from Batheri, and 27.2 km from Mananthavady.

Banasura Sagar Dam

It is the largest earth dam in India and the second largest in Asia. The surrounding Banasura Hills make it a picture-postcard setting. The dam site is the starting point for trekkers going up the hills. Speed-boating is a major attraction for visitors to the dam. Entry is allowed from 9 am to 5 pm. Distance – 20 km from Kalpetta, 44 km from Batheri, and 20.7 km from Mananthavady.

Banasura-Meenmutty Waterfalls

Just about three kilometres away from the Banasura Sagar Dam, the three-tiered falls is a just a little way off the Wayanad-Ooty road. A 2-km jungle hike off the Ooty road is an alternative route to reach the falls. It is about 25 km from Kalpetta, 50 km from Batheri and 25 km from Mananthavady.

Karapuzha Dam

Karapuzha is one of the biggest earth dams in India. The site also has a children's park, rose garden, and butterfly park. Entry is allowed from 7 am to 4 pm. Distance – 17 km from Kalpetta, 16 km from Batheri, and 40.2 km from Mananthavady.

Edakkal Caves

The only known site in India which has Stone Age carvings, the two natural caves are located at a remote location atop Ambukuthi Hills. The caves lie about 1200m above sea level. It is formed by a great boulder weighing several tons that is wedged between two greater stones to give the appearance of a cave. The writings suggest that the caves were inhabited several times at different points in history from as early as 6000 BCE. Visitors are allowed from 8 am to 4 pm, but only a limited number of people are permitted to enter.

Phantom Rock

A rock formation that naturally resembles a skull, the archaeological site is named after the comic character 'Phantom.' The spot offers a beautiful view of the hills. Located near Ambalavayal, it is 19 km from Kalpetta, 12 km from Batheri, and 35.4 km from Mananthavady.

Trekking to Cheengeri-Kaduvakuzhy Hills

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Cheengeri Hills, with its pristine forests and breathtaking view of the Karapuzha dam, is a favourite haunt of adventurous trekkers. Those on the lookout for some action can trek to the underground cave in the hills, called Kaduvakuzhi. Devoid of natural light, the cave owes its name to the lore that it was inhabited by the tiger population of the region. Located near Ambalavayal, the Cheengeri Hills are 22 km from Kalpetta, 13 km from Batheri, and 40.2 km from Mananthavady.

Wayanad Heritage Museum

Also known as the Ambalavayal Heritage Museum, it is located at Ambalavayal, 12 km south of Sulthan Batheri. With artefacts sourced exclusively from Wayanad, the museum showcases the tribal heritage of the district and its layered history and culture. The museum is open from 9.30 am to 5 pm. Distance – 21 km from Kalpetta, 11 km from Batheri and 40.2 km from Mananthavady.

The Jain temple of Sulthan Bathery

Dating back to the 13th century, the temple sheds light into a past when the Jain community populated the hills of Wayanad. Built using huge stones, the temple was later used by Tipu Sulthan to set up his battery. The place came to be known as Sulthan Bathery after that. The temple is now a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India. It is 23 km away from Kalpetta and 57.6 km from Mananthavady.

Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary

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An integral part of the Niligiri Biosphere Reserve, the sanctuary connects Karnataka and Tamil Nadu through the Bandipur and Mudumalai National Parks. Spread over an area of 345 sq km, Muthanga is one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries of Kerala and one of the richest in biodiversity. An hour-long jungle safari is the major attraction here. With a huge population of pachyderms, visitors can explore elephant camps. Safari is arranged from 7-10 am and 3-5 pm. It is 38 km from Kalpetta, 13 km from Bathery, and 52 km from Mananthavady.

Tholpetty Wild Life Sanctuary

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Tholpetty offers a 2-4 hour guided jeep safari through the jungles. Sharing boarders with the Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka, Tholpetty is populated by countless bird and animal species like bears, tigers, leopards, and elephants. Visitors are restricted to the outer zone of the sanctuary. Entry is permitted twice daily – 7-10 am and 3-5 pm. Tholpetty is at a distance of 47 km from Kalpetta, 52 km from Sulthan Bathery, and 36.5 from Mananthavdy.

Kuruva Dweep

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Kuruva Dweep or Kuruva Islands is a protected river delta comprising a cluster of 150 small islets. Spread over 950 acres on the Kabini river, the islands are home to two freshwater lakes and dense evergreen forests. It is a favourite haunt of migratory birds. Visitors can go river rafting or take boat rides on the Kabini. Kuruva can be reached via the Mananthavady-Palvelicham route or the Pulpally-Pokkam route. Entry is allowed from 9 am to 3.30pm. It is 36 km from Kalpetta, 39 km from Sulthan Bathery, and 15 km from Mananthavady.

Pazhassi memorial

The tomb is a memorial built in memory of the valorous King Pazhassi Raja who scored a military victory over the British. In 1996, the tomb, constructed on his burial site, was converted into a museum that houses the King's sword and other artefacts apart from information about the cultural history of the place. It is managed by the State Archaeology Department. Located close to the Manathavady town, the tomb is 31 km from Kalpetta and 40 km from Sulthan Bathery.

Kurumbalakotta Hill

The monolith hillock is a major tourist attraction in the district. The misty mornings here are often likened to those in Meesappulimala of Munnar. There is two-wheeler access up to the foothills. Trekkers can camp on top of the hills. Spread over Panamaram-Kottathara panchayats, Kurumbalakotta is 14 km away from Kalpetta, 35 km from Sulthan Bathery, and 32 km from Mananthavady.

Centres that are temporarily closed

Chembra trekking – Trekking to the Chembra peak is temporarily closed as the roads are yet to be reconstructed.

Pakshipathalam – Close to Thirunelli and nestled in the Brahmagiri hill range, Pakshipathalam is a birder's paradise. It can be accessed only by trekking and is currently off limits due to security reasons.

Kuruwa Dweep/ Kuruwa Island – The deep forest area of the 950 acre protected river delta is not open for visitors. But there are plenty of options for rafting, boat rides etc on the islands.

Places of worship in the district – Varambetta mosque, Valliyoorkavu temple, Thirunelli temple, Pallikunnu church, Ponkuzhy Seetha Devi temple etc.

For more information, tourists can contact the Tourism Information Centre. Phone: 04936 202134 or 04936-204441

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