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When folks living in a place called God's Own Country refer to another piece of land as 'Green Paradise', you know there's something extraordinary about it. And Wayanad, on the southern tip of the Western Ghats, is proof.
Bordering Karnataka on the north and Tamil Nadu towards the south and east, even the drive to Wayanad from the closest airport Calicut (Kozhikode), is an experience that stays with you long after your trip is over and your travel bags packed away. The drive is radically different from those offered by Tekkady or Munnar. It has long winding roads, monkeys lumbering down trees for crumbs and astonishing valley views that jump up every few minutes to surprise you. It's best to drive on a light stomach though, as moving around the Ghats can make a person feel sick.
As for us, we were headed for Kalpetta, the district headquarters of Wayanad, on the Calicut-Bangalore Highway (NH-212). The resort we chose to stay at was comfortable, with efficient staff, and a beautiful view of the Ghats.
What a trip to Wayanad demands is a laidback itinerary. Recommendation number one: The Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (also known as Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary). It's a smooth drive that yields glimpses of elephants, bison, deer and peacocks. We didn't spot any tigers, sadly, but you could always get lucky.
Another must-see is Kuruwa Island, around 40 kilometres from Kalpetta. These 950 acres of uninhabited land on the tributaries of the river Kabani are home to exotic species of birds and orchids. For city dwellers, wading through knee-deep water and climbing trees will be an unnerving � but fabulous � experience. Most hotels and resorts offer packages that include guided tours to the isle. Don't turn this one down!
Between Kalpetta and Wayanad sanctuary lies Sultan Bathery � a name given by locals and derived from the original 'Sultan's Battery.' This one-street town famous for its Jain temple is so named because Tipu Sultan used the temple (now in ruins) to stock ammunition.
Other places to visit in and around Kalpetta include the Edakkal Caves, Pookote Lake, Varambetta Mosque, Kanthanpara waterfalls, Sentinal Rock Waterfalls, Meenmutty Falls, Chembra Peak and the Neelimala View Point. For more information, stop by www.wayanad.nic.in.
Wayanad -- with its mist-clad hills, sprawling spice plantations and evergreen woods -- was a rejuvenating experience for us. It can be one for you too.
How to get there
The closest airport/ railhead is Kozhikode, 72 kilometres away. Kalpetta is well connected by road with Kozhikode, Kannur, Ooty (175 kilometres) and Mysore (140 kilometres).
Airfare for Rs 100 and less!
Where to stay
There are plenty of options available, like Green Gates Hotel, Vythiri Resort, Rain Country Resorts, Pranavam homestay, Stream Valley Cottages etc. For more information, click here.
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