Wayanad 

Wayanad is often called the Green Paradise of God’s own country-Kerala. It’s a hill station district in the northern part of Kerala; with mist cladded peaks and green paddy fields. The place is famous for its scenic beauty, wildlife and traditional folk. The name “Wayanad” is derived from “Vayal nadu” which means the country of paddy fields. This land nestled among the mountains of Western Ghats is one of the few districts in Kerala that has been able to retain its pristine nature.

The very first pre-historic engravings in Kerala were discovered here leaving the evidence of new stone age civilization. Its prime glory is the majestic Western Ghats with magnificent forest and plantations. This north eastern part of the state lies at the height of 900 to 1200m above sea level. Misty hills, lush forest and pleasant atmosphere make Wayanad an unforgettable holiday destination.

History

Wayanad, One of the fourteen districts in Kerala, India, is situated in an elevated picturesque mountainous plateau in Western Ghats. Comprising an area of 2126 square kilometers, Wayanad has a powerful history. Historians are of the view that organized human life existed in these parts, at least ten centuries before Christ. Countless evidences about New Stone Age civilization can be seen on the hills of Wayanad. The two caves of Ampukuthimala located between Sulthan Bathery and Ambalavayal, with pictures painted on their walls and pictorial writings, speak volumes of the bygone era and civilization.
Recorded history of this district is available from the 18th century. In ancient times, this land was ruled by the Rajas of the Veda tribe. In later days, Wayanad came under the rule of the Pazhassi Rajas of Kottayam royal dynasty. When Hyder Ali became the ruler of Mysore, he invaded Wayanad and brought it under his sway. In the days of Tipu Sulthan, Wayanad was restored to the Kottayam royal dynasty. But Tipu handed over the entire Malabar region to the British, after the Sreerangapattanam truce, he made with them. This was followed by fierce encounters between the British and Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja of Kottayam. When the Raja was driven to the wilderness of Wayanad, he organized the war like, people’s militia with the help of Kurichya tribals and engaged the British in several guerrilla type encounters. In the end, the British could get only the dead body of the Raja, who killed himself somewhere in the interior of the forest.

Thus Wayanad fell into the hands of the British and with it came a new turn in the history of this area. The British authorities opened up the plateau for cultivation of tea and other cash crops. Roads were laid across the dangerous slopes of Wayanad, from Kozhikode and Thalassery. These roads were extended to the cities of Mysore and Ooty. Through the roads poured in settlers from all parts of Kerala and the virgin forestlands proved a veritable goldmine with incredible yields of cash crops.

When the state of Kerala came into being in November 1956, Wayanad was part of Kannur district. Later, south Wayanad was added to Kozhikode district. In order to fulfill the aspirations of the people of Wayanad for development, north Wayanad and south Wayanad were carved out and joined together to form the present district of Wayanad.

SALIENT FEATURES

A visitor may be impressed by the extensive paddy fields of the district. Agriculture in Wayanad is equally divided between paddy and plantation crops, except coconut. The hills, which are deep blue in bright sunlight and lie mist-covered most of the time, juxtaposes with the green of these paddy fields. This, in fact, is a splendid spectacle.

Wayanad has the highest concentration of tribal population in Kerala. They form 17.1 per cent of the total population of the district. The aborigines of Wayanad have a great political tradition. This area was originally reigned by the Rajas of the Veda tribe. Later, political authority came to the Pazhassi Rajahs of Kottayam royal dynasty. The Kurichyas of Wayanad have a great martial tradition. They constituted the army of Pazhassi Veera Kerala Varma Rajah who engaged the British forces in several battles. The descendants of those warriors are still expert archers. The excellence of Kurichya archery has been exhibited recently, at various centers.

TOPOGRAPHY

Wayanad lies between north latitude 110 27′ and 150 58′ and east longitude 750 47 ‘ and 700 27’. It is bounded on the east by Nilgiris and Mysore districts of Tamilnadu and Karnataka respectively, on the north by Coorg district of Karnataka, on the south by Malappuram and on the west by Kozhikode and Kannur.

The altitude of Wayanad varies from 700 to 2300 meters from sea level. The hill ranges of Vythiri taluk, through which the road from Kozhikode ascends the Wayanad plateau over mind-boggling bends and ridges are the highest locations. From the highest altitude of the Western Ghats on the western boarder of the district, the plateau of Wayanad gradually slopes down eastward. Further from Mananthavady, it becomes a common plain of paddy fields with the swift flowing Kabani coursing through it.

CLIMATE 

Wayanad has a salubrious climate. The mean average rainfall in this district is 2322 m.m. Lakkidi, Vythiri and Meppadi are the high rainfall areas in Wayanad. Annual rain falls in these high rainfall areas ranges from 3000 to 4000 m.m. High velocity winds are common during the southwest monsoon and dry winds blow in March-April. High altitude regions experience severe cold. In Wayanad (Ambalavayal) the mean maximum and minimum temperature for the last five years were 29°Cand 18°C respectively. This place experiences a high relative humidity, which goes even up to 95 per cent during the Southwest monsoon period. Generally the year is classified in four seasons, namely, cold weather (December-February),hot weather(March-May),Southwest monsoon (June-September)and Northeast monsoon (October-November) .The dale,  Lakkidi, nestled among the hills of Vythiri taluk has the highest average rainfall in Kerala. There is a decreasing trend in rainfall in this area. The average rainfall data shows that the lowest rainfall received from northeast monsoon is in Wayanad district.

GETTING HERE AND AWAY: 

Wayanad is accessible through road, rail and air.

The nearest railway station is at Kozhikode (Calicut) which is 74 kilometers away from Kalpetta, district capital of Wayanad.

Rail distances from major cities to Kozhikode

New Delhi 2851 Kms.

Mumbai 1425 kms.

Kolkata 2331 Kms.

Ahmadabad 1875 Kms.

Hyderabad 1425 Kms.

Bangalore 285 Kms.

Kozhikode is the nearest airport – 104 kilometers away from Kalpetta, district capital of Wayanad.

Places of interest for a tourist

Wayanad lies at an altitude varying from 700 to 2100 meters above sea level. The distinct ecological and geographical features provide a unique charm and an enchanting challenge for nature lovers. The rocks, hills and valleys provide for exceptional adventure experience. Here’s a look at some of the distinctive tourist destinations.

The spectacular CHEMBRA is the highest peak in Wayanad lying at 2300 meters above sea level ideal for trekking. Climbing this peak is a challenging mountaineering endeavor. The scenic beauty of Wayanad, visible from the top is very exhilarating and provides exceptional photo opportunities. Camping on the peak overnight is an unforgettable experience

NEELIMALA VIEWPOINT is an excellent venue for trekking with lots of stimulating trails. The summit of this hill affords a great view of the cascading Meenmutty falls and the beautiful valley in its foreground.

MEENMUTTY FALLS is the largest and most spectacular waterfall in Wayanad.

SENTINEL ROCK WATERFALLS is a very popular leisure destination and an ideal location for rock climbing. This is also known as Soochipara waterfalls.

 KANTHANPARA FALLS and its surroundings are nonetheless very pleasant. An easy hide away.

BANASURA SAGAR DAM is the largest earth dam in India. An interesting feature is a set of islands formed when the reservoir submerged the surrounding areas.

THE GLASS TEMPLE OF KOOTTAMUNDA is located on the slopes of VELLARIMALA and is dedicated to Parshwanatha Swami of the Jain faith. The mirrors inside the temple wall reflect images of the icons in the temple’s sanctum.

EDAKKAL CAVES, a fascinating Neolithic cave site is assumed to be inhabited at various stages of history. Etchings found on the walls of these caves have drawn the serious attention of archeologists and historians worldwide. A telescope installed nearby offers a panoramic view of the surroundings

WAYANAD WILDLIFE SANCTUARY AT MUTHANGA established in 1973 is contiguous to the protected area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur of Karnataka on the northeast and Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu on the southeast. Rich in bio-diversity, the sanctuary is an integral part of the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve, which has been established with the specific objective of conserving the biological heritage of the region. The sanctuary is very rich in flora and fauna. The management lays emphasis on scientific conservation with due consideration for the general lifestyle of the tribal and others who live in and around the forest region. The vegetation is predominantly moist deciduous forest with small stretches of swamps, teak forests, bamboo and tall grass. Amidst such fertile and varied flora, this region hosts several rare herbs and medicinal plants. It has been declared A PROJECT ELEPHANT SITE.

WAYANAD WILDLIFE SANCTUARY AT THOLPETTY is situated along the northern r ridge of Wayanad. The wildlife sanctuary has a bewildering variety of birds, butterflies and insects.

The perennial fresh water POOKOT LAKE, nestled among wooded hills, is a one of its kind in Kerala. Evergreen forests and rolling hills envelope the lake. It has been developed as a recreational center having boating facilities, children’s park, fresh water aquarium etc.

PAKSHIPATHALAM located deep within the forest at an altitude of more than 1700 meters is a formation of large boulders, some as tall as two storied buildings. The deep caves found here are home to a wide variety of birds, animals and distinctive species of plants.

KURUVADWEEP, the calm and peaceful 950 acres of uninhabited, evergreen forest on the tributaries of east bound river Kabani is an ideal picnic spot, far away from the disturbances of city life. The wooded land is a home to rare species of birds, orchids and herbs.

The memorial of ‘THE LION OF KERALA’ – VEERA PAZHASSI RAJAH’S TOMB is situated at Mananthavady. The Pulpally cave where the Rajah took refuge until the British captured him. He was downed in a ferocious encounter that took place at Mavilanthode in the last days of 1805. Pazhassi’s tomb marks the point where he was cremated. PAZHASSI MUSEUM is located nearby where a sword, which is believed to be of Pazhassi’s era, is kept.

WAYANAD HERITAGE MUSEUM AT AMBALAVAYAL is home to an interesting collection of artifacts that shed light on the history, culture and heritage of Wayanad region. This is one of the best-maintained museums of Kerala’s Malabar region. The museum has a fine collection of 14th – 16th century sculptures, tribal artifacts, which include weapons, hunting and fishing equipments, farming implements etc. There are various exhibits on display here, amongst which are sculptures and the figure of Nandi and other deities, which were collected from parts of the region that date back to the 14th to the 16th centuries AD. A series of pictorial rock edicts referred to as Hero Stones, memorialize a bygone age of valiant warriors. There is a fine figure of the Goddess of fertility, Urvara, also displayed here. Remnants of Stone Age tools and pottery found within the cellars of Muniyara are also displayed here.

PHANTOM ROCK named so because of its skull head shape is locally called CHEENGERI MALA. It offers excellent photo opportunities. SUNRISE VALLEY is a great place to watch the rising and setting sun amidst dramatic mountain scenery. It also offers a panoramic view of the valley beneath.