Few things can beat the beauty of a pleasant drive with your loved ones. The experience requires a calm route for sure. Here is a pick of five routes that are made to enchant the driver in you.
Distance: 36 kilometres
USP: Mountain pass
Sights: The world's first teak museum, Conolly's Plot teak plantation, the Banglavu Kunnu and the Chaliyar River.
The pass connecting Nilambur to Nadukani on the Tamil Nadu border is one of the most breathtaking in Kerala. The pass is flanked by a thick growth of bamboo. The people of Nilambur unwind by going on a trip up the pass. The journey must begin from Vadapuram. Go through the shade of the Conolly's and drive up Nilambur-Chandakkunnu and Chunkathara-Edakkara-Vazhikkadavu stretches.
You have to negotiate about 40 kilometres. Do not get intimidated by an occasional elephant that crosses your path. The drive on the rubberised road is heaven. Do not skip the viewpoints that offers you the beautiful valleys kissed by the setting sun.
You can hardly find a better forest road than Nilambur-Nadukani. Surprisingly, the pass does not have the kind of sharp bends that puts off the drivers. You could check in to KTDC Tamarind on the way. Stock up on refreshments from Vazhikkadavu. You cannot expect to bump into a roadside shop after that.
While you are at Nadukani, you can also think of going to Ooty, Gudallur, Devarsholai, Mysuru and Bandipur national park.
Distance: 38 kilometres
USP: Forest road
Sights: Athirappilly waterfalls, Thumboormuzhi dam, Vazhachal waterfalls and a couple of water theme parks.
The road is not very strenuous. You have plenty of places to eat and rest on the way. However, the foremost attraction of the trip is breakfast from the modest eatery run by Vasu at Ilanjipra in Chalakkudy.
You can extend your drive to the Malakkappara if you cant have enough of the forest roads.
Distance: 45 kilometre
Sights: Pampadumchola national park, Top Station and Vattavada, the only place in Kerala where apple and other cold-climate crops are cultivated.
You can spot elephant herds at Mattuppetty at almost all the time. Mattuppetty and Kundala dams are a sight to behold. You can also find accommodation at the Pampadumchola national park. Vattavada has many private lodgings. Top Station has a variety of food places to choose from. There are restaurants near the Mattuppetty and Kundala dams. Once you leave the place, there is nothing to shop from until you reach Vattavada.
Distance: 38 kilometre
USP: Deserted roads in the hill ranges
Sights: Malankara reservoir, Illikalkallu and misty mountains.
Remember the verdant route featured in the Malayalam movie, 'Ordinary'. Contrary to what many people think, it was not shot at Gavi. That route is the lesser known Muttam-Kudayathur-Wagamon.
Be prepared for a narrow road riddled with potholes but the hovering mist and verdant meadows more than make for the inconvenience.
Wagamon has several places that offer accommodation. You can also drive up to Illikkalkallu, Ilaveezhapoonchira and Idukki dam.
Distance: 26 kilometre
USP: Jungle route
Sights: Deer, gaur and elephants in the Wayanad wildlife sancturay.
Any place in Wayanad is good for a leisure trip. The Pulpally-Bathery is grander even by Wayanad standards. This is a less crowded routes in the district.
You can expect to bump into elephants on this route. Be prepared for wild encounters. Do not ignore the boards warning about the presence of elephants within one kilometre of the Batheri town.
You can take deviations to Muthanga, Kuruva island, Idakkal cave, Ambalavayal heritage museum and Seetha temple.