Wayanad is a district in the north east of Kerala and consists of Mananthavady, Sulthanbathery and Vythiri taluks. It is a picturesque plateau at a height of 700 to 2100 metres above sea level. It is at Kerala’s borders with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states. Agriculture is the main occupation of the people with production of cash crops like coffee, pepper, cardamom, tea and spices.
Enroute to Wayanad, we had darshan at Kottiyoor temple. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are the main idols. Lakhs of devotees visit the temple during the annual Vaisakha Maholsavam celebrations.
As our car climbed up towards Kalpetta, the outside temperature gradually came down. Along the way, we passed a number of tea plantations. We could see a mountain stream for part of the route.
Ancient Jain Temple Ruins at Punchavayal
Some 19 km from Kalpetta, at Punchavayal, is an ancient Jain temple. It is built entirely of huge granite blocks. There are many carvings on the stone pillars. The temple is believed to have been built sometime during 12th to 14th centuries.
The temple has been built according to the architectural style of the Jains. Many portions were destroyed during Tipu Sultan’s invasion. The temple is in ruins now because of long years of neglect and is in need of urgent repairs.
Facing the temple was a field full of arecanut trees. Arecanuts are chewed with betel leaves for their effect as a mild stimulant. It is also used in the preparation of certain ayurvedic medicines.
Banasura Sagar Dam
Banasura Sagar is India’s largest earthen dam. It is at an altitude of 3,200 feet and a short drive from Kalpetta (21 km). The dam is in a scenic spot. On one side of the dam is the beautiful reservoir and on the other side are the misty hills of Wayanad.
Visitors can enjoy speed boat rides on the lake. A restaurant and washroom are available. There is an entry fee. Parking can be rather chaotic.
Soochippara Falls is in a beautiful location, in the middle of a dense green forest at Vellarimala in Wayanad. The drive from Kalpetta is scenic. We passed beautiful tea gardens with manicured bushes.
Soochippara in Malayalam means Needle Rock. The water cascades down from a small opening. The flow of water was quite heavy. But during summer months, the flow will naturally get reduced. Entry to the area may be stopped during the monsoon months.
When we got close to the falls, we could hear the roar of water falling on the rocks below. On reaching there, we found a crowd of revellers who added to the noise level. There were a few life guards who tried their best to control the revellers. The steps going down were wet and slippery. Visitors have to be careful when nearing the water. Underneath the falls is a pool. From there, the water flows into Chaliyar River.
Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary
Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary was a unique experience. It is on the Kozhikode – Mysore highway, an hour’s drive from Kalpetta (36 km). The sanctuary is open from 7 to 10 in the morning and 3 to 5 in the evenings. There is an entry fee of Rs. 500 and we were taken on an hour’s drive through the forest in a jeep. Outside vehicles are not allowed inside. The roads are not tarred and the ride was bumpy at times. There was a forest guide with us in the open vehicle and he kept a lookout for wild animals and birds. The guide pointed out fresh pug marks of a tiger. But the tiger himself was not to be seen,
A number of peacocks were seen and some of them were molting after the monsoon season. The male peacock sports about 150 of the beautiful peacock tail feathers with which we are so familiar with. The feathers are shed each year just after the breeding season and regrown the following season.
Thirunelli Temple is a famous pilgrim centre in a beautiful jungle valley surrounded by mountains on four sides. It is dedicated to Lord Maha Vishnu. The temple is at the base of Brahmagiri hills. It is 30 km from Mananthavady in Kerala, at an altitude of 900 metres.
Panchatheertham is the holy temple pond. A notable feature of the temple is that there is no temple well. Water to the temple is transported through an aquaduct from a jungle stream.
Calicut International Airport to Thirunelli Temple is a drive of 141 km (3 hours 45 minutes). The roads pass through dense forests of bamboo and teak. Elephant crossings are common at night. Travel at night is best avoided as the roads are mostly deserted with hardly any traffic beyond Mananthawady.
Leave a comment if you like something.