This weekend I traveled to the picturesque district of Wayanad in the north of Kerala and, as you can see from my previous posts, I like to try different things so this time around, on the suggestion of a friend I logged the entire trip as small notes (Yes, it was on my phone! If you have a problem with that, get with the times you cave-person 😛 ) which I’ve compiled to make this post.
8 26 pm
Slowly walking toward the bus stop with the familiar feeling of having forgotten something behind. Oh well, it’s just two days.
From the wisdom of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – towel? Check! Practical and psychological importance 😀 I’m good to go.
What with assignments, research papers, projects and labs it’s been a pretty lousy week, here’s hoping this is a good distraction before the shit hits the ceiling again on Monday
8 49 pm
Customary making fun of people with lots of luggage done.
9 12 pm
The bus is filling up and the restlessness is starting to set in. Everyone is engaging in small talk with no one saying what’s on everyone’s minds… Can this bus start already!!
9 38 pm
Counts in progress and, surprise surprise, we’ve overshot the limit on one bus so someone is going to end up on the floor. Everyone is locked and loaded so it’s time to get this show on the road. One bus of 55 seats carrying 64, sounds like a college trip alright 😛
10 36 pm
We’ve just hit Thallapady on the border of Karnataka and Kerala and we’re switching over to a Kerala registered vehicle. There are 3-4 check posts going forward and you save cash with this and we’re both Indians and students so we were all sold on that
10 45 pm
It’s nice to see how everyone works together so that there’s enough space for all. Sitting on the floor and sleeping on luggage, I suppose there will come a time when we laugh about this but today is not that day.
11 57 pm
What began with not even enough space people to stand ended up as a dance floor #justcollegethings
12 34 pm
Things just quieting down and we’re trying to get some shut eye. Cramped up like molecules in a solid in the back seat but at least I’ve got the window on my side. Literally can’t move an inch in any direction
6 36 am
Just Reached the quaint little town of Kalpetta in Wayanad where we’ll be staying at the Kallat hotel. Reminds me of Ooty, it’s cold but not too cold also. Just enough to get that tingling sensation when a breeze blows past. Pretty perfect in my book.
While the responsible people settle the rooms and all, the rest of us are just lazing around with people trying to figure out what the Malayalam a.k.a “random squiggles” on the board are. If only they knew it just says Police Co-op Society.
6 56 am
Just checked into a suite which has 3 rooms to accommodate 12 of us. Solid facilities with nice hot water for a steaming shower to balance the chilly weather and a flat screen TV because, well, humans like TV 😀 Oh and then there’s this view from the balcony 😀
Just here for maybe a short nap and freshening up though, lots to see today.
9 06 am
Breakfast at the Wynd Valley Garden Resort.
It’s an odd mix of south Indian dosa, continental toast and puris with curry. It’s pretty decent though, can’t really complain about anything except the service time. And anyone would struggle feeding a 60-strong crowd of people ready to hog like they’ve never seen food before.
Following food, there was a kid’s play area in the resort itself so naturally we annexed that as well. Tyre swing, slides and rope climbing!! Let your inner child run wild
9 54 am
Back in the bus heading out for sightseeing. In the meantime let’s make fun of teachers 😛 Next spot, Pazhassi Raja’s tomb in Mananthavady
11 04 am
That was funny, I was expecting a mausoleum similar to the Taj Mahal and it ended up being a small shrine to celebrate his life. Ok now that I read that back it sounds kinda stupid 😛
You feel a sense of respect for the man who was one of the few kings, like Tipu Sultan, who rebelled against the East India Company and stood up for his subjects against all odds.
Alongside the tomb there is a museum of sorts containing mural paintings and antique coins and weapons from the time. Ideally it’s better to visit with someone who knows Malayalam though as most of the descriptions don’t have English translations.
11 36 am
Just left the tomb behind but not before hearing all about the travels of our tour guide who has gone as far as Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, Darjeeling and Gujarat aside from all over the South.
2 54 pm
Next stop just done. Kuruvadweep Island and forest reserve which is pretty cool in that it is an island surrounded on all sides by the Kabini river. I guess with it’s calm flow and massive breadth an island was bound to form. A curious raft ride with around 50 people on a huge raft that just travels the short 50 ft distance to reach the island is followed by a 2km trek through the forest. (While the regulations imposed by the Forest Department seemed tedious at the time, I hear it is a protected reserve so I guess that’s justified) It’s funny because we didn’t quite know what to expect at the end of the trek with all the locals just insisting that we follow it to the end, that it was a “beautiful place” and we were told repeatedly that it was “just half a kilometer ahead” at intervals of 15 minutes of walking. When we finally did reach the end, it was a rivulet that flowed through the island that had created a pool of sorts at the center. Naturally we did what all stupid college kids do, WATER FIGHT!!! It was a pretty long walk but at the end it was a swim day so that’s totally worth it. The area is also a hotbed for exotic flora and fauna if that’s your thing so it has a little something for everyone but, personally, nothing topped the crocodile we saw basking on top of a rock in the middle of the river. Just lazing around all day long doing nothing, that’s the life 😀
3 21 pm
Lunch time at the Wayanad Gate Resort in Kattikulam
3 47 pm
That was a little bit underwhelming -_-
Thank God we were starving otherwise it might have been a struggle. Slightly burnt fish and gravy for the non-vegetarians and a solitary sambar for vegetarians, rice for all. At least the payasam was top-notch. One point to note is the water that was the standard red coloured “chukku vellam” which caused quite a stir with people first thinking it was a juice, then being underwhelmed that it was just water then immediately questioning if the water was clean on account of the colour. With herbs, cumin and a slight amount ginger the tastelessness of water is retained despite the colour that even managed to leave the Tamilians stumped 😛 Pretty sure there are some health benefits to it as well.
6 42 pm
Just chilled out at the Banasura Earth Dam for a couple of hours. Aside from the ordinary functions of hydroelectricity and providing water for irrigation it also provides solar power with panels covering a part of the edifice – India’s First Solar Atop Dam. It is also a fully fledged tourist spot with a crazy view of the mountains around the Kabini river and adventure sports like speed boating as well. (Go early for this, it closes by 5). This, of course, became picture central with way too many selfies, just a little dabbing and endless boomerangs.
8 30 pm
When we pulled up to the Pepper Wayanad Gate for dinner we were awe struck. With a swanky exterior coupled with it’s remote surroundings, safe to say we were expecting a lot from dinner.
Oh what a debacle it ended up though :O Apparently they had assumed that everyonee was a non-vegetarian so there was literally not a single vegetarian item on the menu. Last minute arrangements were made and paneer fried rice did make an appearance but not before a mini-riot ensued from the vegetarians.
8 45 pm
Unlimited ice cream!! Seems like they took the whole riot thing seriously and are hoping this would make do. Just when you’re all worked up and mad hotels can just play this ace in their hand and all is well 😛
What am I even doing! I want more!! Brb
10 36 pm
Campfire scenes at Pepper Wayanad Gate itself. Man I’m tired now though. A flaming bonfire, solid speakers and the aforementioned retarded college group seems to make a good combination. From Babydoll to the Macarena, whatever came our way, we smashed it out the park. This isn’t even my kind of music but there’s something surreal of forming a massive circle around the fire that feels surreal and detached from the world as a whole. Strongly recommend 😀 Just heading out
10 47 pm
SWEET MOTHER OF GOD!! THAT VIEW!! This is something that can’t really be captured on a camera but it’s something that’ll stick to your memory for a long time. We were atop a ghat in such a way that the town was in the valley down below and on the side of the opposite ghat. But because of the dark you can only make out the small white lights in people’s houses. And because it’s dark out this entire scene blends out into the night sky where you can actually see the stars above. So for one small moment you can fool yourself into thinking that you’re both above and below the star belt. Words can’t do it justice at all.
11 07 pm
This is turning out to be an eventful night trip. For some reason our driver thought it would be a good idea to take a reverse turn on the ghat road itself so we had to try and move a massive rock by hand. Though we did manage to upturn it, it was taking way too much time so we had to take the long route heading all the way to the bottom of the valley before coming back up again and over to the other side.
12 34 am
Back at the Kallat, it’s time to crash
7 15 am
Why did humans ever come up with this ugly getting up in the morning concept 😥
8 27 am
Authentic south Indian breakfast of dosa, idli, vada and idiyappam. It’s funny how this food is familiar to home for me but others find it weird. Must be the coconut oil or something.
10 23 am
Start of trek to the Edakkal caves
10 44 am
At an altitude 1200 meters you get a spectacular view as far as the eyes can see. Beside an ancient trade route connecting the high mountains of Mysore to the ports of the Malabar coast, inside the caves are pictorial writings believed to date to at least 6,000 BCE, from the Neolithic man, indicating the presence of a prehistoric civilization or settlement in this region. The Stone Age carvings of Edakkal, in the old Brahmi script, are rare and are the only known examples from south India. It’s a steep trek but it’s very well maintained with metal railings and water pumps to aid travelers.
11 33 am
On the way down we were waylaid on multiple occasions by shopkeepers.
But what sets them apart is that they’re so friendly. For instance, they’ll invite you into the shop and very often not even give you the choice to say no but once inside they don’t push you to buy anything. They just want to showcase their wares. Plus they’re very open with “samples” so free food for all! One sweet lady offered to give us a whole glass of her buttermilk to share, just to see if they liked it. Needless to say my friends loved it and each got a whole glass for themselves. Handicrafts, ginger sweets and homemade chocolates- and hundreds of shopkeepers competing too make a sale.
At the foot of the hill again there are more shops selling more wares with plenty of ice cream and hotchips shops dominating the area. While waiting for the rest of the group to reach down we devoured coffee-flavoured ice cream and other tasty snacks like jackfruit and tapioca chips local to the region.
2 20 pm
A couple of classmates had bought slinkies on the trip and for some reason they totally took over this leg of the journey. From trying to coordinate it to the music and using them as a dance prop to having an allout war for control of the goods, it’s really hard to believe that such madness would arise from simple plastic toys.
2 54 pm
Currently en route to Soochipara waterfalls, we are neatly nestled in the valleys between the ghats so it’s a set of spectacular views in all directions. Tea plantations dominate the region but some hills are too unwieldy for cultivation so remain under the forest canopy. The layered hills of varying distance and height make for a wonderful sight, akin to the “paradise” drawings we used to make as kids.
3 12 pm
Reached the waterfall entrance and had a lunch of biryani and fried vegetables. Time to head in. A 50-rupee entry fee seems a little high, here’s hoping it’s worth it.
7 00 pm
Ok wow, that was epic!! Slimy Rocks, deep pools and way too many college students…. just another day in the western ghats. Aside from us, there were at least two other groups of students there. You have to take a steep path down from the entrance heading down like 50 feet to reach the pool at a foot of the falls. With about just 5 feet of water depth you can walk all the way until you are just under the waterfall. Here the force of water falling from such a great height, approximately 200m, is crazy and you feel like Atlas holding up the weight of the sky. And just behind the rocks, there was a small Hobbit sized hole that you could crawl into and walk all the way across the falls underneath the cliff face. Shades of Tintin and the Prisoners of the Sun 😛
The icy cold water is like a shot in the arm and you feel instantly rejuvenated, like you can do anything almost.
That was followed by a steaming cup of coffee and the familiar taste of hot Maggi from a small shack just near the entrance to warm back up after the exertions of the afternoon.
7 53 pm
Sitting and chilling in the bus as we check out all the embarrassing images from across the trip
10 04 pm
Back at the Wynd Valley for dinner and our trip is seems to have come a full circle. A short DJ night dance session followed by hot channa-batura and fried rice to cap off a long day. Again unlimited ice cream!! The one thing you can never get wrong and can never have enough of 😀
10 22 pm
We’re sitting on the top of the slide again, this time looking up at the stars. That’s the best thing about hill stations. Just like in Coorg and Ooty, maybe it’s the altitude or something but it feels like you’re on a whole other plane where you are free of all your troubles. A safe bubble.
10 53 pm
Just heading back now, the last leg of our trip. By now everyone is exhausted and just trying to get some sleep. Ugh first hour class in the morning 😦 Reality starting to set in
6 45 am
Just back in my room now.
Time to sign off
Hope you liked it 🙂
P.C. again to my man Nayaka 😀