The land of paddy fields, Wayanad is essentially an elevated plateau thrust against the Western Ghats with lofty ridges that are interspersed with dense forest, dense forests and deep valleys with spice plantations all together forming stunningly beautiful landscapes.
Even though the recorded history of Wayanad begins only from the 10th century, archaeological evidence points to human inhabitation of the Wayanad forest from more than 3,000 years ago. Archaeologists have also unearthed evidences of New Stone Age civilization – the two caves of Edakkal in Sulthan Bathery with cuneiforms and hieroglyphics on the walls. Well worth a visit.
Located beside an ancient trade route to ports of the Malabar Coast, the walls of these caves display pictographs of human and animal figures, tools and yet-to-be-deciphered symbols that date back to over 8,000 years ago. They are the only such known examples in South India and indicate the presence of a prehistoric settlement in this region.
The Edakkal caves are not technically caves. Rather, they were formed when a large piece of rock splitting away from the main body caused clefts or fissures on the cliff face. A rock weighing several tons covers the cleft to form the ‘roof’ of the cave. The caves were discovered by Fred Fawcett, a police official of the erstwhile Malabar state in 1890.
Located beside a tributary of the Kabani River on the border between Kerala and Karnataka, Kuruvadweep consists of a group of islets along with their tree cover comprise 950 acres of evergreen forest. The forests on the islets are home to a delightful variety of vegetation – rare orchids and wild flowers and butterflies. They are also a haven for a host of migratory birds – hornbills and parrots among others, who lend voice to break the primal silence that reigns here. An ideal destination for trekkers and nature lovers.
THOLPETTY AND MUTHANGA WILDLIFE SANCTUARIES
Situated along the northern edge of Wayanad bordering Coorg, Tholpetty and Muthanga sanctuaries together form the Wayand wildlife sanctuary which in turn is contiguous to the Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka, forming an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Surrounded by towering mountains of the Western Ghats, Tholpetty covers an area of 345 sq km. and the sanctuary’s deciduous forest cover, rich in bio-diversity, is home to 900-odd wild elephants besides numerous other species of animals.
The tallest peak in southern Wayanad at over 2000m, Chembra Peak offers a many daunting challenges to trekkers. Climbing the peak is an exhilarating experience, even though the ascent and descent takes a full day. Each stage of the climb unveils ever larger vistas of the Wayanad landscape and ends with the breathtaking view from the crest of the peak.
BANASURA SAGAR DAM
The largest rammed earth dam in India, the Banasura Sagar Dam lies in the southwestern part of Wayanad , beside the Karalad Lake that was formed with the construction of the dam. The dam site is also the starting point for treks to the Banasura Peak. An interesting feature here is a set of islands that were formed when the reservoir submerged the surrounding areas. A row of kiosks here sell spices, coffee, tea, bamboo products, honey and herbal plants