Jun 17, 2008

Wayanad calling

It was quite some time since I had vanished from Bangalore and my adrenaline was pumping for some action. After deliberating on Kemmanagundi, Kudremukha, Chikmagalur, we finally settled on visiting Wayanad, this also being my first as a driver and my car being a new Alto. This was also the first time we were venturing out of Karnataka on an adventure trip and what an adventure it turned out to be!! 

Wayanad is close to Karnataka borders and yet to pickup on tourism, so it’s relatively cheaper and virgin like… with the tourists inflow slowly picking up, the potential now being realized by the Kerala government. Kalpetta is the district capital of Wayanad, which also serves as an ideal place to cover surrounding places. Wayanad has everything in it: leisure places in Pookote lake, Kuruva dweep and Lakkidi view point; adventure and trekking as in Chembra peak, Edakkal caves, Pakshipatalam; Wildlife in Tholpetty, Muthanga sanctuaries and a whole lot of waterfalls and the honeymoon getaways in the form of ultra luxurious resorts (tree-top cottages) in the Vythiri region. Route taken: Bangalore - Mysore - Nanjangud - Gundlupet - Sulthanbathery - Kalpetta Itinerary: Pookote Lake, Lakkidi view point, Edakkal caves, Meenmutty waterfalls, Tholpetty sanctuary, Tiruneli temple and back to Bangalore via Nagarahole.

Our Experience: 29th Feb 2008 – Being a fresh graduate in driving and also being a new car, we had permission only to start off early in the morning; finally 4 of us friends left Bangalore by 6am. We raced on to mysore road, filled up the tank sufficient to cross the border and zoomed ahead, made our mandatory stop at Kamat Lokaruchi for breakfast, then it was only the 4 of us, our alto, blaring songs from the music system and a empty highway and nerves full of excitement till we reached Gundlupet. Roads till Gundlupet were good, from there a deviation to right should be taken to proceed to Kalpetta, there the road stretch is under repair for about 10-15 kms, and once you enter Kerala roads are better. We were lucky enough to see a herd of elephants in this stretch, and one of them was in a mood to charge but we were in no mood to stop !! we raced ahead and reached Kalpetta by 1pm in the afternoon (with stops of nearly 1.5 hrs in between). We had booked our accommodation from Bangalore itself with the help of my mallu friend Uncle Joshua with just a phone call !!! (surprised when in many places inspite of paying we dont find accomodation !!). Also many more thanks to him for giving valuable inputs, suggestions and helping us in preparing our itinerary. Kudos to Uncle Joshua!

We covered Pookote lake (ideal for kids and those keen on boating) and Lakkidi viewpoint for the day. Sunset view from the viewpoint, one of the best I have seen and the numerous photographs taken provide evidence for that.

valley view from Lakkidi view point....

Sunset magic at Lakkidi view point...

We were there early and we were the last ones to leave, what a evening it turned out to be... We returned back to Kalpetta to call the shots for the day and for the very much needed rest for our soiled bodies.. (the accommodation was also decent enough and the rooms pretty clean and well maintained, i was particularly impressed by it...). Just dozed as soon as we lay on the beds awaiting a thrilling day ahead... ;-)

1st Mar 2008 - We had planned Edakkal caves, Meenmutty falls and Soochipara falls for the day, but ended up covering only the Edakkal caves and the mesmerizing Meenmutty falls with an added bonus of a trek into the deep estates...

me on top of Edakkal thinking what next !!! Manoja trying to pose

Only me and Raja reached the top as the other two lost courage mid way !!! Edakkal has nothing much to offer but some century old carvings on rocks and a lengthy crevice between two rocks. A small peak is on top, which can be climbed which ended up as a mini trek for us preparing us mentally for our next adventure at meenmutty.

The crevice b/w two rocks at Edakkal; the valley view from the top of the hillock.

Meenmutty falls was supposed to be a 4km walk into the deep estates but ended up being one of the most misjudged, tiresome but adventurous treks into the estates. But once face to face with the falls, we just stood there capturing the natural raw beauty, which made the difficult trek we undertook worthy. People presence here is low compared to Soochipara falls because of the trek involved, was good to see clean natural environment.

At 4 in the evening, in the cool water, below the magnificent falls, we were only four of us with not a soul around and that was itself so enjoyable with nobody else to disturb and the whole place for you to use as background for the customary photo session. Wondered how the falls would be during peak monsoon as water was pretty cold even in summer, but most importantly there was water rumbling down as the magnificient Meenmutty falls. This falls can be scaled right upto the top, but as dusk was fast approaching and still we had to do a 4km trek uphill and with no guide, we dropped the idea and continued our sojourn back after playing in the cool water for sometime...

the meenmutty falls in all glory...  
view of the falls from where we need to descend below the rocks; estate view on the way to the falls..
trespassed into one of the estates for the photo session on way back to kalpetta... .. 

Came back to our hotel for the much-needed rest and waiting to encounter the nerve wrecking next day to unfold.

2nd Mar 2008 - checked out of the hotel at Kalpetta and proceeded straight towards Tholpetty sanctuary which borders the Nagarahole sanctuary in Karnataka as we had to return back to Bangalore the same day. Managed to sneak in at 10am even after the timings was over because it being a Sunday and the gates were shut after the last jeep with us in it entered the sanctuary. Lucky 4 of us!!!

It was turning boring of the customary sighting of deers, langurs etc till we saw 2 jeeps ahead of us which had stopped midway. We sensed something and raced to that spot only to see elephants behind bushes at quite a distance.

  Wild Dogs, Spotted Deer at waterhole in Tholpetty...

Still we persisted there trying to capture them on our hungry cameras when suddenly the herd getting irritated of us started charging behind us on the jeep track. All of us were shocked, excited, dumbfounded at this sudden charge which took all of us by surprise and those scenes rest peacefully in our memories to cherish for a longtime.

the chase photos..... this being the 1st experience remains etched in our memories forever...

After having our share of excitement and preserving long lasting memories, which we encountered during those 3 days, it was time to go back to our roots. After a brief visit to the Tiruneli temple, we chose the route back via Nagarahole, as we did not want to traverse the same route by which we came. We stopped enroute at Nagarahole hope to catch some more wildlife scenes but ended up seeing only deers all around with a lone sight of a tusker miles away.

the male tusker; herds of deer at Nagarahole

nagarahole map; sunset view on hunsur highway...

The driveway in the Nagarahole sanctuary has been tarred newly and numerous humps are provided so as to not exceed the speed limit of 40 kmph. Reached back Bangalore by 10:30 with loads of memories, unforgettable experiences and with a hope to visit back after monsoons.

Check out these videos of Elephant chase and Meenmutty falls.

Participants : Santosh, Nagaraj, Gururaj and Manoj

Tips and suggestions:
Atleast 3-4 days required to cover Wayanad with full paisa vasool. Food is authentic keralite, be ready for it.

Knowing Malayalam is very very helpful otherwise u might struggle at some places

Refer these for more information:
Go there relax and enjoy...

Care for the nature and the nature cares for you!