Monday, October 20, 2008

Wayanad-Part III

Day 2 : Thirunelli temple, Kuruva Island and Banasura Sagar dam

That day being Id, Naushad had arranged for another cab. So that day's driver was Prakasan. He was an elderly gentleman, born and brought up in Wayanad. He entertained us with the history of Wayanad and showed us various adivasi colonies and told us about the habits of adivasis etc. We were to start at 8 today. Since we got the information the previous day that Thirnuelli temple will be closed by 10:30 A.M due to the ongoing construction work inside the temple, prepone the time to 6:30. The temple is 60 kms drive from Kalpetta. Most of the travel is through the forest area. Since it was morning, the driver said we could spot some elephants or deer. But we were not lucky. Reached the temple by 8:30. After the prayer, Satish had to offer Tharpanam to his father. So got the customary materials from the counter and had to walk to the Papanasini which is flowing behind the temple. Its another 300 metres walk through rocks. He performed the rituals and went to the temple to complete the pooja. Had breakfast at a small hotel near the temple. The food is okay. Not much of choice either.

The driver informed earlier that we will reach Kuruva for lunch and he will arrange for some home food, since we wanted vegetarian food. He called up Umesh and ordered lunch for two of us. We reached the banks of Kabini river by 11:30. Took a boat to reach the island. Prakash had told us to take a guide who will show around the island. We both did not have much idea of what to expect in the island. We took the entry tickets and one for guide service. An adivasi/tribal, Subramanian was ready to guide us through the island.

There was the changadam (raft made of bamboo) taking the tourists across to another island. The Kuruva island is in fact a collection of around 90 islands in the Kabini river. These islands are not inhabited by humans now. Some islands are just big enough to accommodate the lone huge tree in it. The trees are huge with spread out branches and the roots running through the island. Even in afternoon, not much sunlight was coming through. The guide told us we had to go take a different route. But just for the experience of going in a changadam, asked us to take a round trip.
I had a small bag with me. The guide said he will carry it and also asked us to remove our footwear. Our mission was to visit 11 islands by walking/trekking across the river. At some places, the water was knee deep. There were slippery rock underneath. It was wonderful experience. Had we known before , we might have opted out. For this kind of trekking, a guide is essential. He knows where to cross according the water current. There was considerable water and good flow in the river. It took around 3 hrs for us to get back to the starting point. From the last island visited , had to walk 2 km to reach the entry point.

Then we took the boat back where our car was parked. Headed to lunch. Sumesh served us with a very homely lunch. After lunch treated us with cooked tapioca and chammanthi.

We then proceeded to Banasura sagar dam. A great sight from the top. Walked the nearly 1 km stretch till the end of the dam. There is a boat ride. Did not go for that because of the long wait. There is a small garden near the dam. Sat there for half an hour and drove back to the hotel.

Day - 3

Checked out of the hotel at 8 in the morning. Went to Satish's friend's house. Went around their estate for 2 hrs. Covered only 25%. Had a sumptuous lunch and headed back home with a promise to return . There is a lot more to be explored in Wayanad.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wayanad - Part II

Day 1

The cab , a blue Tata Indica, came on dot 11 A.M. It was comfortable for two of us. Naushad was to drive us the whole day. He told us, we will be visiting Edakkal Caves, Soochipara Falls and Pookot Lake for the day. Our first stop was Edakkal caves. Having heard a lot about Edakkal caves and I was very much thrilled with the thought of going there. Noushad left us at a point beyond which tourist vehicles are not allowed. You will have to walk more than a kilometre to reach the foot of the hill where the cave is situated. There is a jeep service which charge Rs.50 for 2 and parking charge of 20 for to and fro trip. We took the jeep since we had started late. Otherwise also, unless you have good stamina, taking the jeep service is good. Since there is more to climb. There are steps carved out of rock. The cave is almost on top of the hill. From the cave, by another 1/2 hr climb you will reach the top. Only till the cave, steps are there. Rest you have will to go trekking.

It was a spectacular sight from the top. The cave was awesome. The huge rocks and the slight gap between them were a sight you cannot miss.

The gap between the two giant rocks inside the cave

The small rock balancing on the edges of the two big rocks inside the cave

Our next stop was Soochipara water falls. The picnic spots in Wayanad is spread over the district. The distance between each spot must on an average 30 kms. The waterfalls is inside the forest and it is a protected area. So no vehicles allowed inside. During tourist season, permits are given for 2 or 3 jeeps to take the tourists to the water fall. The jeep guys charge Rs 25/person for one side trip. We reached there at about 2. And to walk one km in the sun was not favorable. So took the jeep. He dropped us near the steps which ascend to the waterfall. The way to the falls is narrow path, wide enough for a person to walk. As you walk down, you will have doubt if you are in the right direction since the water fall is not seen unless you reach near it. Since these spots are not heavily crowded, chances are less to spot any tourist coming on our way.

Waterfall is spectacular. You cannot go much near to it. You can bathe in the fall. No changing rooms for ladies though. You will have to adjust behind the huge rocks there.

The last spot for the day was Pookot lake, one of the biggest fresh water lake. Took a boat ride. Since i had a fall while climbing down the Edakkal caves, did not go for a pedal boat. Felt the decision was good, since the boatman Rajeev had so much to say about the lake and Wayanad. He showed us that the shape of the lake resembles the map of India. The lake is surrounded by forest and there is a pathway around the lake. Rajeev said the place is well guarded against pollution by tourists. Its safe for a lady to take a walk around the lake all alone. Tourism police is always on the watch.

Then proceeded to the View point .5 kms away from Pookot lake. You can have a breathtaking view of the valley from that point.
On return, he showed us the Muneeswaran temple, where a god is worshipped in chains. The story according to our drive Noushad, goes thus - Many hundred years ago, those areas were inhabited by tribals. One tribal has showed the way to British to Wayanad. The British beheaded the guide after reaching Wayanad so that he doesn't bring others the same way. It is believed, after that many accidents took place at that particular spot. That adivasi's ghost is believed to have been chained there so as not disturb the travellers passing by that point.

Reached the hotel around 6:00 PM. Had a shower. Went down to the vegetarian restaurant for dinner at 8 PM. The main point in choosing Woodlands was it had a separate veg restaurant, knowing well that Wayanad is predominantly Muslim area and finding veg food might be difficult.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wayanad - Part 1

We both were planning for a break for sometime. Finally decided to go during the Ed-Gandhi Jayanthi holidays. Satish agreed to take an additional day off on 30th Sept. So dates decided. The major part was where to go? My first preferred destination was Coorg/Madikkeri. Browsed net for info and found many travelogues and tips on Coorg. And I found many mentioning about Wayanad too. Wayanad is in my must-see list for a long time. So focus shifted to Wayanad. Did some googling and found hotel info. Selected Woodlands hotel. Confirmed booking for two days. Decided the time of journey. Which all places we are going to see was not decided. Thought we will chart that after reaching Wayanad and having a word with the cab people. But wanted to see Edakkal caves, pookot lake and Soochipara. Rather these were places I have heard of at Wayanad. Apart from that all that I know it is more of Coffee plantations and 90% of the inhabitants are tribals/adivasis and its more of a forest with many hills.

We left early On 30th ie 3:50 A.M to be precise from our home on bike to the railway station. While Satish was busy bargaining the parking area guy of charges for 3 days parking, I heard the announcement for Yaswantpur train arrival. We had planned to take the Chennai Mail towards Mangalore which was at 4:30. Earlier the better. Rushed to the platform. Train arrived and got comfortably seated in the general compartment. Was very fresh that we didn't feel sleepy at all. At 7:30 reached Kozhikode station. Had a light breakfast at the VRR. Food was just average. Took an auto to the K.S.R.T.C stand. Bus was already waiting to Mananthavady. We had to get down at Kalpetta some 20 kms before that. Checked if it will go to Kalpetta and got seated in the bus. The route from Kozhikode to Kalpetta is a treat to the eyes, full of scenic beauty. There are f 9 hairpin bends. You can enjoy the travel as the bus goes up.

Reached Kalpetta town at 9:45 A.M. Took an auto to the hotel. Actually it was just 5 minutes walk. Checked in and booked a cab for sight seeing. Hotel people arranged the cab and it was to arrive at 11. We went to the room which was in second floor (No lifts). Room had two double cot beds neatly arranged, a small table and 2 chairs, TV, telephone and wall cupboard. There was just enough space to walk around the cot in the room. The bathroom is too small. It has 24 hrs hot water facility. Refreshed and had a cup of coffee along with the bread-butter-jam sandwich I had taken from home.