Wayanad is Kerala’s exotic stud that glistens in all its natural beauty and richness, still virgin and unmarred by any onslaught of the modern times. Placed at the southern tip of the Deccan Plateau, it is lined by the Western Ghats, spattered dense forests and nature growing unhindered. The lofty mountains, deep valleys, the flora and fauna, all lend the land an aura, as though in a trance.
The grandeur of the forests locks time in, and why not, since the forests have been here for over 3000 years. Historians say that human settlements have existed here since, at least, ten centuries prior to the Common Era. Numerous evidences of the New Stone Age, such as etchings and pictographs on the Edakkal Caves, point to a distant era.
The recorded history of the land commences around 10th century with conquests by many dynasties like Ganga and Kadamba, competing with each other for the land. It has seen a fair share of tussles between rulers and even the erstwhile British Empire. The iconic Tipu Sultan fought valiantly to keep Wayanad from the British during his time, after which the land changed hands between the Raja of Mysore and East India Company before coming to Pazhassi Raja, an epic hero in Kerala’s history. The British played a major role in making the land accessible by making roads and connecting them to communities across states. In fact, the Ghat road crisscrossing Wayand was developed into Carter Road by the British.
Numerous cultures and dynasties have contributed to its rich, colourful history and heritage. Although the least populous district in the State, it has the most number of cultivators, planters, and indigenous tribes. Cultivation remains a staple occupation, with produces like paddy, tea, coffee, cocoa, pepper, cardamom and other cash crops. The Wayanad Jeerakasala and Gandhakasala Rice are two of the most aromatic rice types found around the globe.
Nestled in the Western Ghats, Wayanad is an exquisite hill station luring honeymooners, tourists, and nature lovers. It is home to many endangered species of plants, herbs, trees, and animals. The Wayanad forests bring glimpses of exotic animals roaming in the wild, and have one of the largest concentrations of wild Asiatic elephants around the world. It is home to Tigers, Bison, Sambhar, Spotted Deer, Boar, Leopard, Bonnet Macaque, Slender Loris, Mongooses, Jungle Cats, Jackals, Hares, Squirrels, and many more.
The Chembra Peak, Banasura Peak and the Brahmagiri are a few of the significant accessible peaks around. The Kabini, a tributary to the major river Kaveri flows through Wayanad, and the Banasura Sagar Dam is built over one of its tributaries. Wayanad is a subtropical highland, and the climate is always cool except in summer when it may go up to 31 degrees. Cool breeze, heavy rains, mist, and long monsoons keep the rainforest luscious and thick through the year.
Pakshipathalam in Wayanad is accessible only by trekking and is home to rare birds, whereas Kuruvadweep is an uninhabited island and has rare, exotic orchids and herbs. The Tholpetty and Nagarhole and the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuaries are home to varied animal species. The Chembra Peak is a trekker’s paradise while the Banasura Park and the Meenmutty Waterfalls are also interesting sites. The Kanthanpara and Sentinel Rock Waterfalls add to the wild charm of this beautiful forest land. On the way to Wayanad are Lakkidi and the Pookot Lake, a fresh water lake with boating trips, handicraft emporiums and a fresh water aquarium.
Another secret tucked away in the hills of Wayanad are the many tribal communities living in their natural settlements. Threatened by the onslaught of settlers and planters, the tribal communities like the Paniyas, Adiyas, Kattunayakans, Kurumans and Kurichiyans are struggling to keep alive their heritage and rights. Indigenous rituals, traditions, music, dances, jewellery, dressing, art and festivals, and their settlements with mud huts, bamboo and thatched roofs, mark the tribes. They have to their credit a system of treatment created from locally available herbs and medicinal produces. They have distinct martial art forms of combat and defence. History says that during the battles between Pazhassi Raja and the British, the tribal warriors made an entire wing of the King’s army with archery being their most noted talent.
Wayanad is accessible by road and rail. The nearest airport is the Kozhikode International Airport at Karipur, 95 kms from Kalpetta, the major town in the district. Bordered by the Western Ghats, the Ghat Roads are the easiest routes to travel. They are mountain passes with numerous hairpin curves and accessible from different areas in the surrounding districts. Tour and trekking packages are available for planned trips covering most of the sites at a go. Hotels, Resorts, Spas, Ayurveda Treatment Centres are available aplenty with a range of offerings and budgets to suit most travelling preferences.
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