What strikes a visitor touring Waynad district, Kerala, is the region’s natural beauty endowed with hills, valleys, forests and plenty of green cover.
There are tea, coffee, rubber and spice plantations that nestle among the forests. Houses are built among the trees to add to the charm and make a green living for residents.
Small villages and towns dot the roadside testifying to the high density of population. People are industrious and friendly. Road network is extensive and generally in good condition.
The drive from the coastal town of Kozhikode (formerly Calicut) up the mountains is interesting and exciting. It is mostly a winding road through the Ghats. Lakkadi is a small village right on top of the Ghat and has a commanding view of the hills and the valleys.
Visitors stop their vehicles after a long drive up the mountains to admire and relax in the cool atmosphere. Vythiri is a resort town nestled among forests, hills and plantations. There are many home-stays too for visitors to spend a few days in comfort and tranquillity. One can get fantastic views of nearby hills.
Those interested in hill produce will have a field day shopping at recognised outlets that sell honey, tea, coffee, spices, bananas and much more. Watch out for local handicraft too.
Kalpetta, a district town, is sprawled along the highway with a view of small hills. The bazaar here is a place to shop for everything — fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken, etc. There are a few nice cafes and restaurants and lodges/hotels as well as homestays nearby. A few churches and temples dot the town known for its picturesque locale.
Mananthavady could be the base to explore nearby places of interest.
The Kuruva Island makes for an interesting outing, as it is about 16 km from town. One could use public transport or hire a taxi to reach the island, which is open from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. The island is located in the Kabini River and can be reached by a ferry made of bamboo. Several exotic species of flora and fauna are located on the island. There are many islands in the river, but only one island is allowed for visit.
Sultan Bathery is a small town about an hour’s drive from Mananthavady, amidst forests, winding roads, small villages, coffee, tea, areca nut, and coconut plantations. Tipu Sultan of Mysore had built a fort here. A short distance away is the historical Edakkal Cave, located on the Ambukuthi Hills, which has inscriptions dating back to the Stone Age civilisation.
Thirunelli is a pilgrim centre, with its famous Vishnu Temple. Those interested in wildlife viewing will have a wonderful time through the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, where one can spot wild elephants, spotted deer, sambar, sloth bear, birds and reptiles. The best season for visiting is from December to April. There are birdwatching spots and hidden waterfalls to be discovered, if one has the time and patience. People are friendly and can guide visitors properly.
Any visit to Kerala would be incomplete without a short trip to the district of Wayanad, which is rich in flora and fauna. A quiet, peaceful and relaxing vacation could be expected in any of the small towns. One could also indulge in trekking, and walking amidst nature’s bounty, practicing meditation and yoga.