Apologies to my readers for not posting the Wayanad series of the story earlier this week. Post vacations, change in climate led to a series of throat infections and fever. Recovery was slow but thankfully am back in good health and excited to continue the holiday series.
I am sure you must have read and found the Coorg series – Part 1 & a separate post on the visit to Coffee plantation equally interesting and informative. Tried my best to collate as much information as possible to benefit anyone who plans to visit these lovely places. Don’t forget to share your views and feedback, if you travel to these places. Would love to hear how helpful this blog post was, in any which way possible.
Coming back to the topic, Wayanad is approximately a 3 hour drive from Coorg. We had heard good reviews about the location describing it as a small hill station where the weather is very cool and pleasant but I guess global warming has caught its grip and how. The place, as described by locals, is no more pleasant (even during winters) except for the early mornings when there is slight nip in the air. Otherwise, it was extremely hot during the day time (almost leading to dehydration). But air quality is better and you certainly feel the difference, especially for people like us who have lived our whole lives in Mumbai, staying away from the pollution and breathing fresh air is a great experience.
For this part of our stay, we decided to book a serviced apartment. Honestly, we needed a break from the hotel buffet spread and wanted to stick to our basic food options – home style food. At the end of the trip, we were quite satisfied with the service and the food and were glad we booked the place. There are many home stays available both in Coorg and Wayanad. You cannot expect lavish service but the food is decent, rooms are clean and the experience is a welcome change.
So day 1, we basically chilled out, read, watched movies, took a very long walk in the evening to burn the calories and just lazed out. Next morning, after a breakfast of puttu and kadala kari (the best Kerala breakfast ever), we began our one day trip to explore Wayanad.
Our first stop – Harrisons Plantation, a Tea Plantation cum Factory visit (they have 5 factories in total, we chose the one closest to our route to Banasura Dam) to experience how tea is processed right from the picking stage to the further steps of processing. It was a guided tour where photography was strictly restricted. I must say, visits to such places help you realize the effort involved in your basic ingredients. A cup of tea may be as simple as it sounds, but a lot of research goes behind the quality of the product delivered to us. In case you plan a visit – The timings for visit are 10am to 5pm.
After an hour long walk in the factory and purchasing our share of fresh CTC blend tea powder, we headed over to Banasura Sagar Dam. It is the largest earth dam in India and the 2nd largest in Asia. This dam is on the foothills of Banasura Hills and the name Banasura is derived from the son of Mahabali, the famous ruler of Kerala. He had taken penance on the foothills and hence, the name “Banasura” was given to the dam. The dam supports the Kakkayam Hydroelectric power project to meet the water supply demands for irrigation and drinking purposes.
Like I mentioned earlier, the temperatures during day time is just crazy with a need to either hold an umbrella over your head or a scarf. Though reaching the top of the dam is just a 1.5 km walk, since the heat was unbearable, we decided to take a traveler trip. Its like a mini bus that takes you to the top of the dam and brings you back with say Rs. 10/- per person (one way). The Dam is beautifully constructed with solar power in place. Thankfully, it is no where close to our Bushi Dam etc near Lonavala, where people go crazy near the water. Here, entry near the water is restricted. Boating is only allowed for a minimum duration during the day.
Few photographs and a traveler ride later, we headed on our way to the Meenmutty Falls. The falls are beautiful with a height of 300 metres. The climb is steep but there are railings and ropes for support. However, the place would not be advised for people with leg / knee issues and also senior citizens. Bathing under the waterfalls at the top is not allowed. There is a small pond like structure which is at the bottom where people can indulge in a swim / bath. Not advised to visit during monsoons as the intensity of the water is high. There is an entry fee and parking is also available. It is always better to check before visiting these falls as sometimes it is closed, when the intensity of water is high.
In Wayanad or Kalpetta, if you are a non-vegetarian, you have various options for lunch whereas vegetarians might find it difficult to find a decent restaurant. Always better to carry some snacks and have a heavy breakfast like us. Tea is really good in most hotels, so always better to refresh yourself with a cup of tea and some medu wadas (always available on the menu).
Our next pit stop was the beautiful Karalad lake. It was almost 4pm when we reached there and was a perfect time to do some boating. It is the 2nd largest freshwater lake in Kerala and the place is very peaceful, something I really look forward to. The place is surrounded by bamboo trees and even had a zip line earlier along with few adventure activities, but is now discontinued. We enjoyed the 30 minute boat ride and beautiful water lilies, lotus floating in the water was an amazing sight to watch.
On our way back, our driver suggested we see the famous Lakkidi view point, considering it is only 5km from Vythiri town where we were staying, this was an ideal way to end our day. It is one of the highest locations in Wayanad. It provides a bird’s eye view of the deep valley and the winding roads. Heavy traffic on the roads makes it slightly difficult for tourists to stop and click photographs but somehow we managed to take few images. If you are a Mumbaite and have ever been to Pune via the Mumbai Pune Expressway, you can imagine a similar view at the Khandala Ghats (when I say similar, I also mean, the monkeys that try to snatch the eatables from you on the ghats too).
Finally reached back at the hotel, dinner done and finalized our plan to visit the Pookode Lake for the next day. A funny story to share with you here. When we were asking for directions to this place, we were told that it is approximately 3 kms from our service apartment in Vythiri. So, we thought of walking up to the place instead of hiring an auto. As, we started walking towards the direction with google for company and after walking for almost 30 minutes, we realized there is something wrong and the distance cannot be 3kms. After talking to few locals, we realized that the place was atleast 40 minutes far from where we were standing. Since we were already drenched in sweat, we thought of walking ahead to our destination. 40 minutes later, we were at the lake and it was a beautiful place for sure. The sad part was all the walking made us miss the boat ride option. It stops at 5pm, so ensure you reach early.
The lake is nestled between the forest and is 40 m deep. One of the most loved spots with tourists and the locals who come there to relax in the evenings or kids who come there to play at the small park with swings and slides etc. Not to forget, the place is filled with monkeys who are funny but literally don’t allow you to sit in peace and try to snatch your tea and snacks. They literally snatch anything in plain sight – right from bottles, eatables, shoes, purses etc while you want to have your peace and quiet time. So, a good idea is to enjoy the boat ride here. There is a minimum entry fee. You can purchase some small items for gifting that are made of wood, baskets, bamboo vessels etc from the shop. The price range is pretty decent. On the way back, we decided to opt for an auto ride to the hotel.
On day 3, we planned a visit Kalpetta town since we wanted to have a good Kerala style lunch on the banana leaf. Hotel Woodlands at Kalpetta is a decent vegetarian restaurant that serves Kerala style meals. After overeating a bit, we decided to walk it off and headed towards Lala Sweets (that’s our idea of walking off the calories by heading to a sweet shop). If you love puffs, sweets, cakes etc, Wayanad is a place for you. They have some of the best bakeries selling variety of cakes and sweets, snacks like puffs (both veg and nonveg varieties) and not to forget, the famous Calicut Halwa. Lala Sweets are famous for their Banana Halwa and we decided to pack some for us and for our friends back home. Highly recommend trying their tender coconut and Banana halwa.
The next day, we headed over to our last pit stop before taking our flight back home i.e. Calicut. Wayanad or Vythiri to Calicut by road, takes around 3 hours so we were just in time for our check in. After keeping our bags in the hotel room, we took an auto and headed for the spice markets. Since it was Sunday, majority of the spice markets were closed. However, we found some more of the Calicut Halwa selling shops in the vicinity in some different flavours and decided to pack some more for distributing and yes, for us too. No visit to Kerala is complete without the famous banana chips that are deep fried in coconut oil. Thinly sliced chips that are nicely salted and the aroma of coconut oil in every bite, is just irresistible. For someone who belongs to Kerala, these are just small joys that brings fond memories of your native land.
Those of you planning to buy spices at Calicut, head to the Big Bazaar Market Road at Calicut where there are small shops on both sides of the road that sells spices of different varieties. Try not to go on a Sunday. Since we had done quite a lot of spices purchase in Coorg, we just bought few of them from Calicut.
Another must buy are the bakery stuff like cakes etc that are moist and comes in a variety of flavours. Is a good gifting option considering they stay fresh for a couple of days.
There are varieties of stores selling brass vessels (ideal for food bloggers as part of their prop stash), iron vessels, cast iron vessels etc too. The only issue is the weight. A cast iron pan was weighing 3 kgs so I didn’t have the heart to buy and get it as our luggage was already over the prescribed limits. They also don’t courier just one vessel.
We only had a day to explore Calicut as the next day we drove to Guruvayoor Temple. It is approximately 3.5 hours drive with absolutely good quality roads. On the way, you find good pit stops to refresh like Bombay Coffee House that serve fresh breakfast and a great cup of filter coffee.
This temple is pretty close to my heart as this was where I had my Annaprasham or Chorunnal (the first rice eating ceremony for a child at the age of 6 months). The temple serves lovely pal payasam prasadam (Milk kheer) along with pansarai (sugar) and nei (ghee). All these are favourites of Lord Krishna. After waiting in the queue for over 4 hours, the darshan was just overwhelming.
This was the perfect end to our 10 day trip. Seeking the Lord’s blessings to begin the new year with new challenges and success.
The next day, we headed to the airport with fairly loaded baggage all set to welcome the new year and the surprises that it holds.
Hope you find this helpful in planning your trip. The idea behind these write-ups are with a simple intention of providing information which eases the process of travelling, having an idea of what is in store for you.
Thank you for your patience in reading the long blog post and also for all the love and kind words I receive through various social media handles.
PS – If you need specific details on anything related to this post – Stay, shopping etc, please feel free to email at email@example.com. Shall be happy to answer your queries.