Bytes were being churned, products were being released, books were being digested and Life continued monotonously. It was time to go off the beaten track again and this time our journey took us to that majestic corner of Kerala called Wyanad.
Bachu, Kurian and I started off from Bangalore towards Kozhikode on a rainy night. There we were joined by Ranjith, Hazer, Anand bhai and Bose from such far away lands as Chennai, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram ;) The plan was to rent a car and drive into Wyanad and as usual do what we do best – go where the roads take us. Using the deep rooted network of Bachu (the king of Kozhikode) we managed to rent a Toyota Innova without driver at a very cheap rate.
First day we started off with the goal set to Kuruva islands, but on the way after some typical spontaneous (in)decision making, we shifted target to Chembra peak. The route to Chembra is through a private estate and you need to pay a 20 rupee gate pass to take your vehicle through. We could travel only up to the end of tea estate and from there began the long 5Km (estimated) trek. It was incidentally Bose’s birthday that day and we gave him a grand celebration he will not forget, atop a small forest guards’ watch tower on the way to the peak. Half way through the path to the peak, yours truly lost all his stamina and decided to wait, while others tried for glory. It was a big miss though, and from the photos they took the peak was an amazing place with a small reservoir on top of it! Anyway Chembra is definitely in the must-visit list for Wyanad.
By evening we left Chembra for Thirunelly. The drive through the forest in the night was fun. The major attraction in Thirunelly was an ancient Vishnu temple there, and in another first for our trips, this was the first spiritual destination in all of the 16 trips we have had. We only just had time to have a quick darshan just before the temple closed at 8PM. That night we stayed at a decent government owned lodge there costing us merely 40 bucks per head.
After visiting Lord Vishnu again the next morning, we headed down towards the Kuruva islands. En route, I managed to put the car into a small gutter resulting in some annoyed looks from the co-passengers. Shrugging off their looks I continued on and 100 metres ahead as I looked into my rear view mirror, I could see a tyre lying on the road behind us! And yeah you guessed right, it was one of ours! Shocked, my first reaction was “Oh my god! Am I driving on 3 wheels?” Well that couldn’t be.. it was only our spare tyre that somehow slipped from under the chassis. Hazer the master took to the task and in no time we had the tyre back up. It was an experience especially since all this happened right in the middle of the forest and we had seen 2 or 3 boards saying ‘Do not stop your vehicle’ and ‘Do not leave your vehicle’. ;)
We did’nt find Kuruva island that interesting, but probably because we expected more because of a lot of hype surrounding it. Anyway crossing the river by walking across it to reach the island was not that bad. We left the place by afternoon in search of a lesser known destination Meenmutty waterfalls near the Tamil Nadu border. This is one thing you should not miss! I do not know how to explain the adrenalin, the nature, the greenery in words. You have to be there to believe it. The place requires a 5KM walk of which 4KM is a treacherous climb down through non-existent paths. It was the most thrilling experience I have ever had. For every small step you take, you need to convince your brain that you are not going to die. Seriously!
It was an early start to Sunday as we headed towards the Muthanga wild life reserve. Though we were early, we were unlucky and couldn’t see too many animals except for some deers, foxes and peacocks. Hard luck! But anyway the forest experience was enjoyable indeed. By afternoon after a brief stop over at Banasurasagar dam, it was time to head back home. The journey back again was another adventure. We had to stand all the way from Kalpetta to Mysore in a KSRTC FP and just about got seats in the last non-stop bus from Mysore to B’lore, reaching home somewhere around 2AM.
It was tiring but brilliant fun! So glad that these trips keep on going.. on and on… Lesson for the day? When you need a break, go back to nature, its well worth the effort :)
Kozhikode – Kalpetta – Meppadi – Chembra
Chembra – Meppadi – Panamaram – Thirunelly
Thirunelly – Kattikulam – Kuruvadweep
Kuruwadweep – Meenangadi – towards TN Border – Meenmutti
Meenmutti – Sultan’s Battery – Muthanga
Muthanga – Sultan’s Battery – Ambalavayal – Banasurasagar Dam
Banasurasagar Dam – Kalpatta – Sultan’s Battery – Gundalpet – Nanjancode – Mysore – Bangalore
- Petrol pumps are few and far between, so ensure that your tanks are filled at the major towns.
- Keep your base as Kalpetta or Sulthan Bathery and then plan as it is difficult to get acco. at other places, unless you are looking at expensive resorts.
- Have some salt handy as leech attacks are possible in the forest.
- When going into the forest, do visit the nearest forest department office as they might have important information and some places do require a written permission from the department to travel into (which is free of cost).
- English is more or less understood but don’t always bet on it especially in the more remote areas, so it is always better to do your homework and plan if you do not have someone with knowledge of Malayalam with you.
- Enjoy the forest and don’t complain too much about inconveniences, because the whole point of going to the forest is that it is a Forest… away from civilization! :)