If you, too, are spellbound by the journey through nine hairpin bends in a 14 km stretch of road in Wayanad Ghats, you are indebted to an individual. Who? Someone like Tarzan, you may say.
Like it is commonly said that Columbus discovered America, it is also said that the mountain pass Wayanad Ghat (or Thamarassery Churam) was discovered by Karinthandan, a tribal warrior who lived facing constant challenge from wild animals and the thick jungle.
There was a time when the British found it difficult to purloin the spices from Wayanad via Beypore. The local henchmen of the British engineers gave the information on Karinthandan who knew the ways around and could negotiate the hills as deftly as animals. As soon as they heard of Karinthandan, the entire British troop flocked to his village at the foot of the hills and presented their requirement of finding a shorter route.
The tribal youth happily took up the daunting assignment of guiding the British through the mountain pass and worked hard through to its completion. It is believed that the British rewarded Karinthandan with a bullet through his chest in an act of extreme deceit.
There is a memorial of Karinthandan today at Lakkidi, a small village towards the upper reaches of the mountain pass. The memorial is in the form of a chained tree. The tribal people believe that Karinthandan's soul is shackled to the tree.
But whenever you pass this shackled tree traversing these treacherous roads winding up the hills, the story of Karinthadan and his martyrdom come gushing into you, like it does to thousands of travellers. You feel Karinthandan looking at you from somewhere with his innocent smile. You can still hear his laughter in the wind.