Monday, 20 October 2008

Wayanad

Starting Point: Bangalore
Places Visited: Chembra Peak, Minamutty falls, Edakkal caves, Thirunelli Temple, Kuruva Island and Pookot Lake
Dates: 2nd - 4th October
Distance: 300kms
Conveyance:Toyota Qualis
Approx Cost: 2000 per head (for a group of six )
Album Link: http://picasaweb.google.com/vin.kamath/Wayanad

Our weekend escape to Wayanad was a welcome break from the humdrum Bangalore life, but was a tad damped as we had chosen a very busy time of the year. The tourist places we visited were teeming with people. A bit of a disappoiontment I must say. However there were umpteen other reason to revel.

We set out from Bangalore at 5am and our route took us through Mysore, Gundalpet and the Bandipur wildlife sanctuary. Roads are good and its a 5 hour drive from Bangalore. It can take almost an hour at the Karnataka - Kerala border to get the permit, but the place around the check post is worth exploring. Bamboo groves with a little, lazy stream meandering along, with loads of fresh elephant dung here and there! By the time we reached, it was noon and the sun was shining high and bright.







Edakkal Caves

This was the first of the places that we hit in Wayand. Defying all our expectations, this place was flocking with throngs of hooting Mallus, who are capable of weaving their way through a lung crushing crowd - even wearing a lungi or otherwise! The 6 of us buying tickets and getting in was an accomplishment in itself!

You must go to the Edakkal caves for two things. One, the supposedly pre-historic engravings on the cave walls and two, for a short trek. The caves are located some place between the base and the peak of this mountain and getting there is a short climb from the entrance of the cave.
The best time to go would be anytime other than noon. Check the visitng hours before making your plans though.

We stayed in a sleepy little town called Ambalavayal, which is comfortably placed with respect to many a places of interest and is a 10minute drive from the Edakkal caves. It was a decent, clean place with cheap food available (at just one hotel) nearby and so, boarding and lodging wasn't an issue.




Meenamutty Falls

This is a wonderful place to visit with ample place to take a dip and relax. Its prudent to reach the place before 4 as it gives one ample time to trek to the falls, bum about at the falls and return before dark. We happened to reach a bit late and hence had to cut short our fun. The route to the falls is circuitous but you will not need a guide unless you are mentally challenged or emotionally paranoid or just a bunch of girls [No offence meant ladies]









Karapuzha Dam

Karapuzha Dam is a surreal and mystifying place; provided that you are there at the break of dawn, before the harsh sunlight kills it all. Placid tranquility with a light mist gracefully kissing the delicate ripples on the surface of the water, as fishermen patiently cast their hook time and again breaking the water surface in silent anticipation.

The dam is a short 15min drive from Ambalavayal and the Sunshine Valley is located nearby too.


Thirunelli Temple

Located nearly 70kms from our stay and 32 kms from Mananthavady, the renowned Thirunelli temple is also known as the Sahyamala Kshetram. It is believed to be more than 3000 years old. Legend has it that this temple dedicated to lord Vishnu was built by lord Brahma (The Creator) himself - an architectural marvel with 30 granite pieces supporting the shrine and the floor paved with huge square granite blocks. [Source:http://www.naturemagics.com/kerala-ethnic-traditional/thirunelli-temple.shtm]. We hit a rough patch when we made a visit to this renowned temple. The temple was closed for renovation and we had to quell our disappointment by spending time by the stream that flows nearby. Present in the temple premises is a'Uduppi Hotel' that serves quintessential Kerala meals.



Kuruva Island
Kuruva is a small island that has been now been commercialized. My mental picture of a peaceful island with lush green trees and wet grass underneath full of chirping birds turned out to be a long shot from the reality. The island is mostly comprised of bamboo groves with ample places to swim and bath at numerous places along the banks of the island. Hand rowed boats connect the island to the mainland.

The time that we visited was atrocious in terms of the crowds present. However, if one were to visit it during any other time however, it would be a nice place to sit and relax.



Pookot Lake
Pookot lake is yet another place that you can visit in the evening. Its just about 3kms south of Vythiri. There are boats to leisurely paddle around. Again, be forewarned that the place is fairly commercialized (quite contrary to what the official website of Wayanad claims) and if you want to spend some lonely time in peace with nature, this is definitely not the place to go.
The lake is closed by 6pm and hence, make sure you get there on time. We turned up at 6 at the lake and hence had to return disappointed. Not to be undone, we headed off to nearby tea estate located beside the highway and waited for the sun to set. This is something that you have to do if you're visiting Wayanad.




Chembra Peak
This was clearly our main course and we had no plans of any compromise on this. So we made enquiries a day in advance and found out that to trek, one needs to get a permission from the Vana Samrakshana Samithi / Forest department office located within Chembra Estate - which is where the Chembra Peak (and not the Meppadi Forest department office as mentioned in most pages across the web). The estate itself very close to Meppadi town, but the base of the peak is a good 3km drive from the estate entrance. The pass office is located enroute and opens as early as 6 to accomodate the heavy flow of trekkers.
A pass costs a min of Rs.500, and is issued for 10 or less people. You are offered the services of a guide; free with the pass, so to say. The advantage of having a guide is severly handicapped, if not nullified, but the fact that our guide spoke (not surprisingly) only malayalam and some scant tamil. For that matter knowing malayalam or having someone onboard who speaks malayalam is almost a necessity when travelling through Kyarala. Despite the fact that Kyarala brags of being the most literate state in India, both the lingua franca and the 'lingua comprehendo' are limited to malayalam.
If you are to scale Chembra peak, start at the break of dawn. Or else you have another option. Just don't do it.Heart Shaped Lake - Chembra Peak
The peak is a 3 hour trek from the base. A heart shaped lake is located midway and the path from the lake to the peak is steep. So, the trek is moderately difficlut from the lake onwards, but definitely not something to fear if you are in decent shape (Remember, we are engineers working for MNCs and the most exercise we get other than tapping on our keyboard all day is at most a 10min walk). Near the heart shaped lake enroute the Chembra PeakThe climb to the top is definitely worth the effort with brilliant sceneries flanking you, right from the word go. Be sure to pack some breakfast. Cool spring water is available enroute, providing a refreshing pitting area to pause, refill and resume.Resting on the way to Chembra PeakThe trek to the peak is, in short, a challenging (not a punishing) and enjoyable trek - a great sensuous treat for trekking enthusiasts!

You can find all the pictures of Chembra here.


Mysore Dussera and back

It being dussera time, we did not miss the grandeur of Mysore dussera during our return journey. The entire city was brimming with energy and the air was thick with the celebration mood. You could feel it in the air. The excitement was tangible! The mysore palace was looking glorious as ever, drowned in a bath of a million incadescent lamps, reminding one of Mysore's glorious history and heritage. The entire crowd went "Ooo..." as the palace lighting was thrown on, on Abhinav Bindra's arrival.



We were back home by 11pm the same day - delighted, exhausted yet gratified, with a tinge of annoyance for the want of having chosen a better time of visit.

5 comments:

Dha said...

excavator & loader said...
rotf

vk said...

@ dha
Yeah some spammer.. And he's also managed to spoof IPs and make it seem as if the hits came from Germany, Singapore, US, etc etc!!

Nithin "Kitta" Shenoy said...

Nicely documented. I especially liked the Karapuzha dam image. It reminded me of Half Life 2, where there is a similar dam!

And, in future, please let me know if you guys happen to plan any of these outings. :)

vk said...

@ Kitta

You bet we will.. I'm sorry that you got left out this one time..

evilsense said...

I have few things to add:

Places to AVOID:

*Edakkal Caves* : I have no clue why there were LOT of people here. Just like us maybe. Try to avoid this place in your itinerary.

*Kuruva Island* : A picnic spot for grown people, a no-no for trekkers.

Places WORTH visiting:

*Meenmutti falls* when there are less people.

*Chembra peak* early in the morning.

Except for chembra peak, I feel the tourist places are not for trekkers.