Wayanad is undoubtedly one of India’s best-kept secrets. This underexplored traveller’s paradise in Kerala is replete with forested hills, waterfalls, trekking routes and truly ancient, historic trails.
During the floods, one of the sectors which was massively hit in Kerala was the tourism industry—an area that rakes in much of the state’s internal revenue. However, with travellers visiting the state to fulfil their wanderlust goals once again, things are looking up for God’s Own Country.
Consequently, Wayanad is seeing quite an influx of tourists, and we’ve done some research so that you folks have a fantastic travel experience.
From the 7,000-year-old petroglyph ruins of Edakkal to the heart-shaped lake on the way to the top of Chembra peak, we have listed a collection of places that include both famous and lesser-known gems of Wayanad.
Here are eight places that you must definitely consider visiting for the sheer joy of travel and to experience Wayanad in its full glory:
1. Chembra Mala and the heart-shaped lake, Meppadi
One of the most sought-after places of Wayanad, Chembra Mala (peak) is the highest mountain peak in the district, standing tall at 2,100 metres above the main sea level.
Devote an entire day to climbing this picturesque peak and along the way, you will stumble upon this heart-shaped lake that will blow your mind. Locally known as Hridaya Saras or Heart of Chembra, you will find birds chirping and clouds passing by here, making it for a perfect halt for those who wish to not go further with the trek to its summit.
Home to rare endemic species of birds, orchids and herbal plants, Kuruvadweep or Kuruva Islands is a protected river delta comprising a group of three islands situated in the middle of one of the tributaries of the Kabini river.
Densely wooded and uninhabited, these islands offer a peaceful retreat in the calming silence of nature. One can reach Kuruvadweep using bamboo rafts or fibre boats run by the state Tourism Department.
3. Edakkal Caves, Ambukuthi Hills
The only place in India where one can see Stone Age carvings dating all the way back to the Mesolithic and Neolithic Age in South India, this is the ultimate place to visit if you are obsessed with prehistoric sites and ancient human carvings.
Comprising three different sets of ancient carvings, these petroglyphs are believed to be more than 7,000 years old and to this date, haven’t been deciphered and continue to baffle both field experts and tourists.
Also, there’s a naturally formed fissure at the site that will astound you with its near-perfect symmetry. To reach these caves, one needs to trek through coffee plantations for about 45 minutes and trust us; it is entirely worth the effort.
4. Banasura Sagar Dam, Padinjarathara
Entirely made of massive stacks of rocks and stones, the Banasura Sagar dam is India’s largest earthen dam and has been built across Karamanathodu tributary of the Kabini river. The locale is named after king Banasura, the son of the legendary king Mahabali who is believed to have observed a severe penance in the surrounding hills.
An extraordinarily serene and beautiful location, there are places in and around the dam where you can stay and calmly retreat into the lap of nature. Besides speed boating and other adventurous activities, you can also trek around the surrounding hills for spectacular views.
5. Phantom Rock, Ambalavayal
A lesser-known location in most travel itineraries for Wayanad, the towering Phantom Rock, locally known as Cheengeri Mala, is a brilliant example of nature’s artistry.
Resembling a skull, from which it gets its name, the rock formation is a bit of an unusual destination, but it offers a rare vantage point to relax and reflect on the surreal surrounding landscapes.
6. Ancient Hindu Temple, Thirunelly
A visit to Wayanad would be incomplete without heading to this ancient Vishnu temple in Thirunelly that is believed to be over 1,000 years old. Locally known as Dakshin Kashi, the temple is an architectural marvel with 30 granite pillars and an aqueduct that sits in a picturesque valley, surrounded by dense forests and mountains.
Located close to the temple is the holy mountain stream of Papanasini, which is said to wash away the sins of a lifetime. Intrinsically linked with Thirunelly, is the Shiva Temple at Thrissilery—according to local beliefs, an offering made at one temple is considered to be incomplete without doing the same at the other.
7. Kanthanpara Waterfalls, Meppadi
Wayanad is replete with waterfalls, and it was tough for us to select one, for every single one is as mesmerising as the next. So we picked one that is not very popular but at the same time, wouldn’t disappoint you at all!
With picture perfect and calming environs, this 30m high waterfall is at its visual best during the monsoons, and you can visit it with your loved ones by road.
8. Ancient Jain temple ruins, Panamaram
Wayanad was once known to house a thriving Jain population, which mysteriously vanished without a trace few hundred years ago. A few, scattered temple ruins across the district are all that remain to prove that the Jains lived in the region at one point.
One such location is the Jain temple ruins at Panamaram which gives travellers a mystical glimpse into the ancient culture of the now untraceable community. Even though the structure has been weathered by time, it still showcases exceptional examples of ancient rock sculpturing tradition, and you must definitely visit it for the love of history.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)