Wayanad in monsoon is mesmerising. We were there in September first week and enjoyed the rains on and off on this hill station. Though we have been to Kerala 6 times earlier; north Kerala was still untouched and we decided to tick that off from our bucket-list this year. Wayanad is approx 300 kms from Bangalore and takes 6 – 8 hrs by car. When planning Wayanad trip, you need to remember that Wayanad is not a city but a district. The attractions in Wayanad are all spread around and unless you have a week long holiday, you cannot cover all of them. Don’t be too ambitious to touch-and-go the attractions. Rather, decide what interests you and discover the place at leisure.
How to reach Wayanad:
By flight: Kozhikode (also called Calicut) is the nearest airport from Wayanad (approx 100 km). Cochin airport is ~250 km and Bangalore is ~300 km. Driving to Wayanad from one of these is the best option since Wayanad does not have a railway station. Nearest railway station is in Nilambur in Kerala which is about 40 km from south Wayanad.
By Public transport: Wayanad has 3 main towns: Kalpetta, Sulthan Bathery and Mananthavady. All of them are well connected by bus from Mysore or Calicut. You will have to use auto/ taxi when travelling from one place to another inside Wayanad.
Drive from Bangalore: We hired a cab from Bangalore to Wayanad for 5 days with a known driver. Venkatesh had been with us on our trip to Mysore/ Coorg 3 years back and he is a very trustworthy and knowledgeable driver. He owns 3 cars and got Etios for this trip. The drive was smooth and picturesque. We started from Bangalore airport at around 9:15 am and reached Pepper Green Village at around 4:30 pm after lunch and some chai breaks.
Accommodation in Wayanad:
Wayanad is a district spread over an area of approximately 2000 Sq ft. The attractions are all spread over. Most of the attractions are in and around Kalpetta and Sulthan Bathery. If attractions are you main motivation, I suggest you stay in one of these places to avoid travel everyday. Vythri district also has some good resorts. If you want to relax and stay in accommodations that are in between farms and forest, choose Mananthavady. Many resorts/ homestays are close to forest here, some have Kabini river running right next to them. We stayed in Pepper Green Village and Pugmarks, both in Mananthavady. Check out my review of Pepper Green Village. The forest roads are closed for public between 6 pm and 6 am; so check with your resort on the best route and time to reach them.
Area wise attractions in Wayanad:
Close to Kalpetta:
- Chembra Peak (closed during peak monsoon and when it rains)
- Karapuzha Dam
- Lakkidi View Point
- Pookode Lake
- Soochipara falls
- Banasura Sagar Dam
- Meenmutty Falls
Close to Sulthan Bathery:
- Edakkal caves
- Phantom rock
- Wayanad Heritage Museum
- Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
Close to Mananthavady:
- Thirunelli Temple
- Banasura Sagar Dam (almost same distance from Kalpetta too!)
- Kuruva Dweep (closed during monsoon)
- Meenmutty Falls (almost same distance from Kalpetta too!)
- Iruppu falls (falls in Karnataka and is accessible from Coorg too)
- Nagarhole Wildlife Safari
Attractions in Wayanad:
This is one of the most popular attractions in Wayanad, though I beg to differ. Some may be disappointed though because there is not much to see. And there is no place to sit on the top and enjoy the view too. Edakkal caves are not caves per se, but rather a rift that was created because of a rock that split from the main part. The name “Edakkal” means “a stone in between” in Malayalam. It was discovered in 1890 by the then Superintendent of Police of the Malabar district. The caves are historically very important because of the rock carving on them, some of them as old as 8000 years! It is believed to have been inhabited many times at different points in history. Only 20% of the rock carvings have been deciphered and some of them depict the story of a king and his kingdom. There are some guides hanging around and I would recommend you hire one to understand the carvings on the rock. They are not very obvious without someone pointing out the king and queen and elephant etc…
Climb up the Edakkal caves: One has to walk a steep climb to reach the ticket counter. There are another 340 steps after buying the ticket. The steps are steep but well made. They are also slippery during rains. I won’t recommend this trek for elderly or for smaller kids who have to be carried. Our almost 7 yr old kid had no problems climbing. The climb down is much easier and is through different set of steps. There are many monkeys around but they are not the annoying types.
Ticket price: Rs.30 per adult / Rs.20 per child. There is a refundable deposit of Rs.20 for every plastic bottle that you carry up. This is returned when you show the bottle back. Still camera is charged at Rs.50 and video camera Rs.200
Opening hours: 9 am to 4 pm. View from the top is amazing. We could not enjoy much because of the crowd and lack of sitting area. It was also beginning to rain and we didn’t want to get caught on slippery steps.
Tips when visiting Edakkal Caves:
- Budget 2 hrs for the entire visit.
- Take a still/ video camera. Mobile phone photography is prohibited.
- Buy water bottles before buying the tickets. There are no water stalls beyond that point.
- Avoid weekends and public holidays if you can. The place gets very crowded!
- Wear comfortable shoes/ sandals for climbing steps.
- Buy home-made chocolates on your way back. They are pretty good.
- Hire one of the guides to understand the carvings. We paid Rs.100 and he was more than happy.
- Carry mosquito repellent if you plan to stop for snacks after coming down Edakkal caves.
This is a very small attraction but the view here is amazing. This rock resembles a skull and is therefore called phantom (ghost) rock. It is visible from the Edakkal caves too. The path to reach the rock is around 6kms from Edakkal caves. When we reached there, the main gate was closed and we were about to return. However, there is an opening in the side of the gate where we saw people getting in and followed them. There is a path to climb up the rock too, but it was about to rain so we did not go up.
Banasura Sagar Dam:
While Wayanad has many view points, the view from Bansura Sagar dam got to be one of the best. Bansura Sagar dam is the largest earth dam in India and 2nd largest in Asia. The dam was around 40 kms from our resort and we started at around 10am. It took us almost an hour to reach the dam and it was crowded with weekend tourists!! The views were amazing even as we got close to the parking.
Entry ticket to Bansura Sagar Dam: Rs.10 for adults
Fish spa rate: Rs.50 for 30 mins.
Stamp and Coin museum: Rs.20 per adult/ Rs.10 per child
Other activities: Children’s park, zorbing, boating, plant nursery, horse riding
Time to budget: Minimum 1 hr. I could have spent hours looking at that view though 🙂 There is a short walk and then around 150 steps to reach the top. There are jeeps and tempo travellers which charge Rs.10 per trip to take you to the top. However, the steps are not difficult for a physically fit person. The shade at the top is made of solar panels and one can sit on the walls to soak up the view.
There are quite a few activities on top which can make it a perfect day out for families. Booking for boating close early because the boats are limited. Afternoon bookings start at 2pm.
Meenmutty falls is approx 4kms from Banasura Sagar dam so combine the 2 attractions. The falls are open from 10 am to 5 pm. It is a no-plastic zone but we did not see that being implemented so thoroughly.
Ticket price: Rs.30 per person.
There is a tough trek to reach to the top of the fall, but there are viewing areas along the way. They have divided it into 3 levels and made viewing areas on all 3 levels. Its not very difficult to walk till the 2nd level, but to trek till the top one needs to climb the stairs holding a rope. Its not advisable to trek all the way to the top if you have kids / have problems walking. We trekked till the 2nd level.
Tips when visiting Meenmutty falls:
- Carry spare clothes when you visit the falls. There are toilets near the parking area in case you need to change.
- The climb is slippery during monsoon so be careful if it rains.
- Wear comfortable footwear for the climb. Not all parts of the climb have stairs.
We also wanted to visit Chembra peak and Kuruva Dweep, but they were closed because of rains the day we wanted to visit. We however had planned to trek to Chembra peak and got some tips from locals:
- Wear shoe when going to Chembra peak because there are leeches. Also carry some salt for the same reason.
- Chembra peak trek opens at 7 am and only 250 trekkers are allowed per day. The tickets get over by 8:30am on normal day during touristy season.
- Chembra peak is closed on the day it rains because it is dangerous to trek.
Have you been to Wayanad and think I have missed out on some attraction? Do let me know in the comments. If you have any questions about Wayanad, post a comment or post a question on the forum. And last but not the least, if you know someone who is planning a trip to Wayanad, do share the post with them 🙂