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Paddy fields in Wayanad district

Wayanad is a beautiful mountainous district in the Malabar region of Kerala located on the western ghats. It is sparsely populated and rural, with most of the land area covered with forests. The district abounds with hill stations, wildlife sanctuaries, rivers, dams, tea estates and trekking opportunities, with temples and heritage locations thrown in for good measure. Spread over 2,132 square kilometres, the district lies at an elevation of 700 metres, with its highest point reaching 2,100.

Wayanad borders Karnataka to its east and Tamil Nadu to its southeast. The districts of Kozhikode, Kannur and Malappuram form its eastern, northern and southern borders respectively. Wayanad is a popular weekend destination for travellers from Bangalore and Mysore.

Street in Wayanad

Cities[edit]

Map of Wayanad

Wayanad is divided into three talukas - Vythiri, Mananthavady and Sultan Bathery, named after the towns that serve as their headquarters.

Karapuzha Dam in Wayanad
  • 1 Kalpetta - the headquarters and largest city in the district.
  • 2 Mananthavady - a little town located on the banks of the river with the same name, home to the Latin church.
  • 3 Sultan Bathery - gets its name from the time when it was the military outpost of Tipu Sultan's army, where he placed his artillery battery.
  • 4 Pulpally - small town in a thickly forested area
  • 5 Meppadi - scenic village with hiking, mountaineering, and tea estates
  • 6 Vythiri - a hill station and headquarters of the taluka with the same name.

Other destinations[edit]

Understand[edit]

Wayanad is the best place in Kerala for hill tourism. Most parts of the district are protected forest and the remaining area is lush green cultivation with a relatively thinner population.

Urbanization has reached only 4% of the district. The altitude reaches up to 2,100 ft in some parts of Wayanad.

History[edit]

Wayanad gets its name from Vayal Naadu, or "The land of the paddy fields". It shares much of its history with Karnataka, having been a possession of many of the dynasties that ruled that state, including the Kadambas, the Chalukyas and the Hoysalas. This history accounts for the existence of Jain temples in this region, though Jainism has a negligible presence in modern Kerala.

In the 18th century, the region of Wayanad was at the centre of a tripartite conflict between Hyder Ali (and later his son Tipu Sultan), Pazhassi Raja, a ruler of the kingdom of Kottayam, and the British. Wayanad changed hands multiple times. When it was with Tipu, he stationed his artillery battery in the village we now know as Sultan Bathery. After Tipu was defeated and killed by the British, Pazhassi Raja rebelled against the British over the status of Wayanad that ultimately resulted in the killing of the Raja, whose tomb can still be seen in the district.

Wayanad finally came under the British who made it part of the Malabar district of the Madras Province. After independence, Madras province became Madras state. When the states were reorganized on linguistic lines, Wayanad became part of Kerala due to the prominence of its Malayali speaking population

Talk[edit]

Malayalam is the most commonly spoken language. English is understood by about half the people, but most lack conversational fluency, so you may not get a reply. According to Wikipedia, there is a Kannada-speaking population in Wayanad, but Kannada is not understood widely.

Get in[edit]

Banasura Sagar Dam

The district has neither an airport nor railway lines, so the only way to get in is by road. The nearest airport and railway stations are located at Kozhikode, around 100km away. Bangalore and Mysore are the other two nearby cities with airports, Of the two, Bangalore is the more realistic option as there are few flights to Mysore at the moment.

Driving in from Karnataka via Mysore or Madikeri is easier than from other districts of Kerala, Access from Kerala is difficult because of the mountain passes or 'ghat roads'.

Buses are available from Kozhikode and Mysore.

Night traffic is banned towards Mysore, Bangalore side. However, night traffic is allowed through Mananthavady.

Main routes[edit]

  • Bangalore-Mysore-Gundalpet-MuthangaForest-Sultanbathery. 256 km (good roads with too many humps inside the forest. You can expect six humps every 6 km).
  • Sultan Bathery-Kolagappara-Kakkavayal-Muttil-Kalpetta-Chundale-Vythiri. 35 km (Wayanad Main Road)
  • Ooty-Gudalur-Devarshola-Sultan Bathery. 92 km
  • Kozhikode-Thamarassery-Vythiri-Kalpetta. 70 km.
  • Kannur-Iritty-Kottiyoor-Boystown-Mananthavady. 94 km (Very steep and risky climb)
  • Thalassery-Kuthuparamba-Nedumpoyil-Periya-Boystown-Mananthavady. 82 km
  • Vadakara-Kuttiady-Niravilpuzha-Kanhirangad-Kallody-Mananthvady. 67 km
  • Vadakara-Kuttiady-Kanhirangad-Vellamunda-Tharuvana-Padincharethara- Kalpetta. 88 km
  • Malappuram-Nilambur-Vazhikkadavu-Gudalur-Sultanbathery. 120 km
  • Mananthavady-Kutta-Gonikupa-Virajpet-Madikeri. 115 km. Night traffic is allowed only in this route.
  • Mysore-HDKote-Bavali-Mananthavady. 112 km (No hump issue, night traffic is not allowed).
  • Mananthavady-Nalammile-Panamaram-Kambalakkad-Kalpetta. 37 km

Get around[edit]

  • Autorikshaws charge ₹15.00 per km
  • Buses charge only ₹.00 for three km.
  • Walking is impossible as numerous noisy motorcycles pester you even in village roads.

KSRTC buses are available to longer distances.

  • bus stations in Wayanad tend to disappoint you with the shortage of buses and no facility for sitting. But the KSRTC bus station at Sultan Battery has good connections to places inside Wayanad or outside Wayanad.
  • Cars can be rented for as cheap as ₹1800 a day with a driver. The rate is even cheaper if you rent without a driver.

You can drink coffee at this bus station, but any snacks purchased will be immediately snatched by the ubiquitous monkey groups.

See[edit]

A tea plantation estate at Meppadi

The attractions in this region can be broadly categorized into three based on proximity. A 3-4 day tour allows covering all or most of these attractions. For further info, refer details on each town.

Kalpetta area[edit]

  • Banasura Sagar Dam
  • Chembra Hills.
  • Karappuzha Dam
  • Meenmutty Falls
  • Pookode Lake
  • Meppadi Hills

Sultan Battery area[edit]

The main temple at the Mariamman Temple Complex at Mappadi in Wayanad, India.

Mananthavady area[edit]

  • Kuruva Islands
  • Latin Church
  • Pakshipathalam
  • Pazhassi Raja Museum
  • Thirunelli Temple
  • Kutta Forest
  • Nagarhole National Park
  • Pulpally - Bathery forest road

Do[edit]

  • Hiking in the hills
  • Walking in the tea estates
  • Enjoying lakes and rivers
  • Watching the Wildlife
  • Walking in the serene villages

Eat[edit]

Vegetable shop in Meppadi

Kerala food is available in restaurants. European food is available in resorts and home stays only.

Bamboo rice (called Mulayari by locals) can be found in Wayanad. These are seeds of the Bamboo plant, richer in protein than rice and wheat, but tasting like rice. Bamboo rice payasam stalls can be spotted near Edakkal caves walkway. Bamboo is said to yield seeds after a long span, so it is said that harvesting bamboo rice is a 'once-in-a-lifetime' experience.

Home-made chocolates and local Wayanad tea and coffee are also sold in many places. Shops near Edakkal caves offer many options such as spiced versions.

Drink[edit]

Beer and wine are easily available. Stronger drinks are prohibited. Kambalakkad though does not have beer- you'd have to get it from Kalpetta or a neighboring town.

Sleep[edit]

Lodges in Wayanad have the cheapest tariff compared to other parts of Kerala. Resorts and home stays are expensive options. Accommodation below ₹500 per night are available in Kalpetta and Sultan Bathery towns. Mananthavady is even cheaper. Resorts and homestays charge between ₹2,000 and ₹4,000 per night. They can also arrange tours and trips.

Stay safe[edit]

  • The eastern hills of Kerala are vulnerable to attacks from an Indian communist group called Maoists. In early 2015, they attacked the ticket counter of Silent Valley National Park, Mukkali. As the Maoists are armed and dangerous, be careful when you trek in lonely areas.
  • Leeches are common in the hills. Carry some table salt to dislodge the leeches.
  • Monkeys can be a nuisance, especially at places like Lakkidi viewpoint. Be careful and keep your car windows closed, and food items hidden. Try to keep a wooden stick with you in order to scare monkeys away.

Go next[edit]

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