Every time I visit Kerala, I realise a new facet about God’s partiality to this beautiful Southern India state. At every nook and corner of the place he has lavished his indulgence and left us to wonder at his creation.
Wayanad, lying snuggled in the Northern part of Kerala, probably took up most of his time. Adorned with dense forests, gurgling lakes, lush tea estates, mysterious caves and frothy waterfalls Wayanad was the perfect choice for our summer vacations. Nuzzling the Western Ghats, the rocky terrain of the region added an almost unique characteristic to the place.
It started casting its spell on us right from the moment we drove up the narrow dirt track which led us to our resort. Coffee Acres, our resort, tucked away in the midst of a coffee plantation seemed to charm us from the moment we reached its cobbled doorway after a long drive from Bangalore. We were exhausted and longing to stretch our tired backs on clean cool sheets. We got that and more at the resort. Refreshed and energized, we set off early next day with our rendezvous with God’s beloved creation.
The boulevard of tall greenery which welcomed us throughout our journey in Wayanad was indeed a refreshing change for our tired and frayed urban nerves. Our first stop was at Kuruva island. The lush green group of three islands stretching across the Kabini river is spread over a handsome area of 950 acres. The low hanging branches of the trees of the surrounding islands as they swooped down to kiss the meandering river made a pretty picture for many a camera to go click-click. The Kuruvadweep, as it is also known, houses a rich habitation of flora and fauna of the rarest kind. We spotted a beautiful blue breasted bird which unfortunately we couldn’t click. It was so tiny that we nearly missed seeing it. As the Kabini River rippled over the boulders lying strewn across it, we made our way to the other side on huge rafts pulled by boatmen with the unique method using ropes tied from one island to the other to move, instead of ours. It was quite an experience, especially when we were told that the Kabini is a favourite with crocodiles. However, they were unlucky enough not to get to meet us. We made a safe journey across the river savoring the wilderness as we did so. Our journey to the new island was drenched in the refreshing waters of the gurgling waterfall that danced its way down the surrounding hills in its eagerness to meet us. Soaked in the breathlessness of a day well-spent and having tasted the rustic flavours of authentic Kerala cuisine for lunch we made our way out of Kuruvadweep.
Wayanad is however more popularly known for the huge stretches of forest areas that it straddles. Moreover, as the way to Wayanad is mostly through the buffer zone of the forest area, tourists are often welcomed by a herd of elephants or bisons that are on their way to or from work. We were lucky enough to be greeted by an elephant and her calf on their way home. The forests are famous for their healthy population of bisons, elephants, Malabar squirrels, monkey, deer, sambar and leopards. As we made our way into the Tholpetty reserve, we were given friendly company by a young male Bull elephant who strolled by our jeep for a good half a kilometer. My husband, a wildlife enthusiast, was absolutely mesmerised and kept recounting that incident to so many of our bored relatives back home. However, we saw and we enjoyed. Feeling satiated and blessed we left for the next destination on our itinerary.
The mystique of the Edakkal caves enticed us to scale its heights. Known to mean a “stone in between” it is actually formed from a huge boulder straddling a fissure in the rock. Located along an ancient trade route, the caves were discovered by Englishman Fred- Fawcett, who was the then superintendent of Malabar Police. The caves have history etched out in each boulder it houses. It is one of the greatest evidence of Neolithic civilization (late Stone Age) and displays interesting Stone Age drawings within its ramparts. The steep climb up, though arduous, is no doubt well-worth the effort.
As we packed for our return, we realized that we had already left our hearts behind in the Wayanad wilderness. There was no choice but to come back again to look for it. The question was how long we can wait to reclaim it. Not too long I am sure.