Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bangalore-Wayanad-Calicut

Wayanad has always been my dream tourist destination and it happened last weekend (Feb 12,13 and 14 -  2010).

Myself and my IIITB batchmates Bala, Jithu, Sid and Vikram had a wonderful time in the most interesting tourist spot of Kerala.

There are good number of web pages having details about the tourist places of Wayanad. So my post is not intended to repeat the same stuffs. I would like to share our own experiences in this trip and some information like entrance charge, transport facilities within Wayanad etc. which is not available in many web pages.

Few things to be known if you are planning for a Wayanad tour.

1. Wayanad is a district and Kalpetta is its Headquarters
2. At least 1 week is needed to cover all the tourist spots of Wayanad. So don't be very optimistic to see all places if you are planning for a shorter tour
3. Be ready to have good amount of small and large trekking. Most of the places can be seen only after a  tough walk
4. Don't forget to take your shoes.

    Now let me start our story :)
    Bangalore-Kalpetta

    We booked a Rajahamsa bus which goes from Bangalore to Calicut via Kalpetta. Ticket cost including reservation charges was around Rs.700 (to and fro) per head.The return bus boarding was at Calicut. Hence we planned half a day on Sunday (Feb 14) for Calicut and rest 2 1/2 days for Wayanad.  The bus started from Shanti Nagar (Double Road) bus stand by 8.15PM (Thursday, Feb 11). Myself, Jithu and Bala boarded at Shanti Nagar while Sid and Vikram boarded at Satellite Bus station (Mysore Road). The bus stopped for around 3 hrs early morning since Bandhipur forest roads are closed during night (usually 6PM to 6AM). We reached Kalpetta by 7AM on Friday (Feb 12). 

    Day 1: Friday, Feb 12

    We 5 like to plan on the go. So, with a little googled knowledge about Wayanad and a map on hand, we landed Kalpetta. First task was to book a room. After making enquiries in 3 hotels near Kalpetta bus stand, we booked a single room (which can accommodate 5) for Rs.925/- per day in Prince Hotel. We booked room for 2 days only.
    Next task was to hire a vehicle to go for sightseeing. Though the hotel person suggested few travels, we decided to find a taxi on our own. There was a taxi stand near the hotel. After some bargaining, we booked an Omni for Rs.1200/-  per day. We started our sightseeing at 10AM after having a good breakfast at Udipi restaurant. (It is hard to find a Pure Veg hotel in that area). 


    First spot was Soochipara Falls. (Entrance Charge: Rs.20/- per head) We reached there by 11AM. It was very hot. We need to walk for more than a km from road to reach the water falls. Sid started feeling tired from then and it continued till Sunday :). The place was not crowded. Tourist can actually plan here for their morning bath. It is very good with not much risks (unlike Meenmutty falls).  
    We had lunch in some nearby hotel. After seeing the kind of rice served, we decided not take rice food anywhere in Wayanad. It was so horrible. After having so many fruit juices, we kind of got back the energy lost in Soochipara climbing.


    The next place for the day was Edakkal Caves. (Entrance charge: Rs.10/- per head and Rs.25/- for camera). We reached there by 3PM. Cars will stop at a place and we can take a jeep (Rs. 16/- per head for jeep) will leave us near (not very near) Edakkal caves. We have to do some adventurous narrow climbing to reach the place where ten thousand years old inscriptions are present. While climbing, there was a place where stream water was leaking out. It was so pure and tasty.



    The next spot was Meenmutty falls. We reached there by 5PM. But we were informed that entrance is closed after 4:30PM. While we were thinking what to do next, a person came and asked whether we needed guide for Neelimala view point (which was not in our plan at all). He said that it will take 2 hrs to go up and come down. The guide charge was Rs.150/- which we realised as worth after climbing the hills. What a beautiful place! Meenmutty falls on the other hill, sun set, cool breeze, mist starting to cover,alternating bright and dark places in forest!!! Wow, this place is a must see in Wayanad. One has to be careful while climbing up. There are few risky places, a slip will take you 1000 feet down.


    We came down by 7:30PM and went to a nearby Shiva temple since it was Shivrathiri on Feb 12. Could see lot of typical Kerala girls there ;)
     After a day full of tiresome walks, we realised that the omni was standing idle most of the times since all the spots took long hours to see. So we decided not to hire a vehicle for a whole day for the next 2 days. 
    We decided to wake up early next morning since we have to start climbing Chembra peak ASAP. All had a sound sleep.


    Day 2: Saturday, Feb 13
    We asked the omni wala to give a drop at starting point of Chembra peak trekking. He charged Rs.200/- We went there by 8AM. The guide charges for that is Rs.500/- (max 10 ppl)  collected by Forest department. We got a boy named Jishad who is doing his 10th standard as guide. Sun had already started to fry us and the climbing path was very steep. Paths were eroded at some places due to the heavy rain which troubled western ghats a month back. It is advisable to carry some chocolates, glucose and most importantly at least 2 lit of water per person. While we were taking a stop every 5 mins, the guide boy never felt tired. Not even a single drop of sweat came from his face. 

    Even we will become that tough after 10 such climbs, I think so :) The heart shaped lake is the famous spot to see over the hill. It seems, that lake never got dried up. Climbing down was very risky. It was slippery in many places. Here comes the importance of shoes with good friction. Those who were wearing slippers found it very difficult to cimb down. We came down by 2PM. Meppadi is the nearest town. We went there in a jeep (charge Rs.150/-) After having lunch (of course, not rice food) at Meppadi, we took an auto to Meenmutty falls (charge Rs.150/-). This time, we were very cautious that we should reach Meenmutty on time.


    We reached there by 4PM. From road, we have to walk 1.9Km inside, to reach the Meenmutty falls entrance ticket counter. (Entrance Charge:  Rs.300/- max 10 ppl). From there, another 1 km tough walk. This is one of the most adventurous spot in Wayanad. We have to first climb down (almost -90degree slope) to reach the falls and then climb up (almost +90 degrees slope) back. Good that there were ropes tied to trees in slippery places. People will surely fall down if they walk without holding the rope. All the hardships vanish when we see the gigantic falls. 

    Letting our body get hit for few secs in that rapidly flowing falls is a great experience which can't be explained by words. All were looking reddish after having bath in that wonderful place.From meenmuty falls, we hired an auto to Vaduvancha (Rs.30/-). From Vaduvancha, we boarded a bus to Kalpetta (Ticket Rs.12/- per head). We had the satisfaction of traveling in all kinds of road transport. I would say, a tour is never complete without a bus ride with local crowd. That 1 hr travel gave us a good feel for the place. Since Malayalam is very close to Tamil and all of us knew Tamil, it was not difficult to manage in many places. We could comfortably pretend like a Malayali with frequent ivvade, avvade and cheta :)
    If you had noticed, the total travel charge for saturday was less than Rs.600/- which was half the amount we paid for omni on first day. We took a right decision! (which happens very rarely :P)

    Day 3: Sunday, Feb 14
    It was the last day and we have to board Bangalore bus at Calicut at 9PM. Calicut was around 100kms from Wayanad. We planned to spend half a day in wayanad and then go to calicut by evening, spend some time in beach and catch the bus.
    We vacated the room but we needed some place to keep the luggage and see few other places of Wayanad. We saved Rs. 925/- (which would have costed if  we had extended the room till afternoon) and rented a Omni for half a day (Charge Rs.600/-) so that we can keep luggage in car and go for sight seeing (We should have replaced Pranab for Finance minister post :P). We asked the driver to show Banasura dam, Pookote lake, Chain tree and give a drop at Vythiri (this place is on the Wayanad-Calicut route)

    We reached Banasura Sagar dam by 9:30AM (Entrance Charge:Rs.10/- per head). The place was very pleasant. Mist was still covering. Banasura dam is famous for speed boat ride (Charge: Rs.300/- max 5 people). Speed boat ride in that beautiful climate with birds flying in groups along with us was a beauty. Speed boat ride in Banasura dam during mornings or evenings is an ideal thing every Wayanad tourist should go for. For the first time, I was wearing a life jacket :)


    Next place was Pookote lake. It was crowded with many tourists in big groups. There we have pedal boats. But when we went to buy boating tickets, we were asked to wait for 1 more hour since 65 people made a bulk booking. We were also not much fascinated looking at it after having a great ride in Banasura.So we just had a walk around the lake and went to see Chain tree which was near Pookote lake.
    Chain Tree is a dumb spot which has nothing except for a tree tied up with a chain and a ghost story behind it. Only Jithu liked that spot :P


    After having lunch, the driver dropped us at Vythiri. Calicut buses which start from Kalpetta, Mananthavadi and other places of Wayanad will go through Vythiri. But all the buses which came there were crowded. After leaving few buses, we had no other option but to go standing (Ticket Rs. 34/- per head). This road was climbing down the Western ghats with many hair pin bends. We climbed up the western ghats from Bangalore on first day and climbed down to Calicut on 3rd day. I was wondering looking at the live geography classes and also regretted for not understanding about mountains and other related stuffs during school days. Now, if I look at the terrain view of Western ghats in Google map, it is fascinating. This is the take away from tour (of course every tour is an educational tour).

    Before moving to the last few hours at Calicut, let me list some final observations about Wayanad.

    1. We can't see many honeymoon couples unlike other hill stations. The couples will become extremely tired after a day long trekking is the justification I could think of. (Should I elaborate more? :P)
    2. There are good amount of kids (aging between 8 and 15) climbing all the places with great energy and surprised smile. They were the motivators for their parents to climb and also aged young people like us ;)
    3. The auto/jeep/car walas are not very greedy. There won't be any necessity for a bargain in most of the places.

      We reached Calicut by 3.45PM. We managed to find a cloak room in bus stand. Most of the buses in Calicut were privately owned. We had to some how spend time till 9PM (bus boarding time). We came to know that beach was 3Kms away from bus stand. We saw something strange in Calicut. People were depending a lot on autos. Whenever an auto reaches bus stand to drop some one, there will be another group rushing inside the auto. People were running behind autos even before it stopped so that they get chance to get a place. We people who were used to seeing autos which stand empty in road corners and auto drivers calling us "Sir, Auto beka?" could not compete with the localites in catching an auto.


      So we decided to take a walk (walking was not a big deal after having a Wayanad trip) instead of waiting for autos. To be frank, we had no expectation from Calicut beach. Except for seeing Calicut near Arabian sea in map, we had no clues about the beach. We were little skeptic whether it will be just  a fishermen area. But we were taken by surprise looking at the crowd in beach and the festive mood spread all over that place. It was the last day of 13th Malabar Mahotsav. Sanjeevanam's food festival, Daler Mehndi's show, food stalls, busy beach road.... Calicut visit was a wonderful finishing for the tour. After so many days, I got a chance to fly kites. Not bad, I haven't lost touch.

      I had been to many places in the past 2 years after joining IIITB. I would rate this tour as the best one. The places being the obvious reason, another important factor is our group. All were in same tuning and all of us had 'Simplicity and Sense of humour' as a common character. I wish to go for many more tours with this group!

      I feel like Wayanad welcoming me again to visit the places that were left by us! I will come back soon, my dear! :)










      10 comments:

      Sidharth N.Kashyap said...

      Fantastic blog Karthi .. Kalakare machi ...

      Malabar music and food fest is not covered .. and .. what abt the theory of gals in the hilly areas??

      krishna said...

      Seems you had a great time, its difficult to catch up karthik like this!, IMHO you have changed a lot

      Karthik.R said...

      @Sid

      Thanks maga.

      The blog was growing long. Edited few things.

      Theory of girls??? I never saw a girl in these 3 days :P

      Karthik.R said...

      @Krishna

      Nalla maatram dhana?

      krishna said...

      @karthik

      Yes Indeed its a good change.

      Bindhu Unny said...

      Narrated it well!

      Anonymous said...

      Hey, I am checking this blog using the phone and this appears to be kind of odd. Thought you'd wish to know. This is a great write-up nevertheless, did not mess that up.

      - David

      Anonymous said...

      thank you very much. beautiful narration. very helpful for my visit to wayanad

      deane barlcays said...

      recently, I been to mysore and I heard that the route from mysore towards coorg.. to some extent isn't good and you cannot exceed speed of 20 kms. while the rest of the way was good enough.

      though we did have a hectic journey, but the ambience in wayanad just made us forget all that tiresome we had on our journey.

      nice that, a friend of our's arranged accommodation with this homestay in wayanad which was simply superb.

      you recollected me the mouth watering dishes stop, taco bell. I tried at the same mall.

      on your way to mysore from bangalore, you may also try adiga''s which is near mandya. an equally good restaurant.

      Shivam Kakkar said...

      Very nicely..covering every minute detail..very helpful..thanx a lot..