Sunday, March 9, 2014

Trip to Wayanad from Bangalore

I am quite delayed in posting this. We made this trip in last august i.e. aug-2013. Habitually I do a fair amount of research (or may be a bit more than fair amount :) ) before visiting a place and it helps me plan the itinerary. Blogs and Travelogues are excellent sources of such information which is not readily available otherwise. Hence I intend to return the favor and post a fairly detailed trip report once back.

It was a long weekend in Aug on which we decided to visit Wayanad. I had heard about the scenic beauty of this place a lot and since we'd already been to coorg & kerala, it was a long pending location. We had targeted to start early morning but got delayed and could leave only by 7am from bangalore.

Morning drive on NICE road is always fun for me. This is usually followed by breakfast stop at Kamat lokaruchi (a few Kms after crossing Ramnagara on Mysore Road towards right). We reached kamat at around 8:30am and were ready to leave by 9:15. Thereafter we proceeded non-stop & I vaguely remember crossing mysore at around 11am

From Mysore, we took the Gundlupet road i.e. NH212. The state highway till mysore is in good shape (except for a few mischievous humps). NH212 from Mysore to Sultan Bathery via wyanad forest is also reasonable with not too many potholes. There is one excellent view point on NH212 after Gundlupet & before entering the Forest. We stopped there for a while & took some photos. There was a beautiful Marigold flower field on one side & scenic mountain view on the other. Soon we entered the forest (at around 2pm) & although the scenery was good, we did not spot any animal at all except a few monkeys. This was a disappointment since I had heard so much about this route. Only once we reached the other end of the forest (near checkpoint), we spotted a herd of deer at a distance.

After crossing the forest road, we reached Suntan Bathery and proceeded towards Kalpetta where we had booked accommodation. It was close to 3pm by the time we reached Kalpetta town. We were already behind our schedule for the day. Hence we decided to proceed directly to Pookot lake.

It started drizzling a little bit & the weather became very good. Pookot lake is further down the same road from kalpetta & you have to take a right turn at one point. This curvy stretch of about 2-3 kms takes you to a sea of parked cars (in peak season) and you will have to really struggle to find parking. Somehow i got one spot & did parallel parking. There is boating available on the Lake but it closes by 5pm & there is usually a waiting time of about 30-45mins on long weekends. By the time we reached, they had closed the bookings but took down my name for any last moment consideration.
During the waiting period, we ate from the small lake cafeteria & visited a fish museum in the same compound. Fortunately, we could get a boat ride. Our driver was very nice. He explained that the lake is in the shape of the map of india. He also helped with clicking some nice photographs. There is a small trek around the lake. It would be great to take one or half round while sipping tea/coffee (if you like that kind of thing).

After Pookot, we proceeded to Lakkidi view point. It is further down the same route (kalpetta to kozikode road). Proceed a few hundred meters, after crossing the kozikode check point. It is an amazing view point. I think the weather helped us appreciate all these attractions much more. We managed to reach it before sunset and enjoyed the great view. By the time we finished, it was getting dark & we proceeded back towards Kalpetta. Took a little while to find our accommodation. We checked in & order dinner in the room which was very good.

Hotel was Misty Hills resort (you can find it at It is a beautiful budget stay. The hosts are nice and most importantly they cooperated with our special requirement to use their kitchen for a while, to prepare food for our 1.5yr old. It is within the reach of everything, rooms are newly constructed & spacious. Overall a value for money. We had dinner at the hotel itself. They get it from outside and take their own sweet time. Hence plan to order at least 1 hr in advance.

Next morning, we started for Bansura Sagar dam. It is around 21kms from Kalpetta. The road is not in very good shape but it is scenic. There are not many restaurants on the way (hence better to plan to have BF at kalpetta itself) We decided to have BF at the dam but we were in for a surprise. We left at about 8:30 from hotel & reached in about 45 mins. From the entrance, you can hire a jeep to reach the top. There is a single jeep which does the rounds & you may have to wait for it in peak season.

Bansura Sagar Dam, WayanadThere wasn't much crowd at that time but the person told us to wait for 20 mins for the jeep to return. We decided to walk uphill rather than wait for that much time. It is not very long or tiring walk and rather very pleasant. Dam looks beautiful. Here is a snapshot of view from the Dam above.

Don't miss the speed boating there. It offers some very picturesque views. After boating, we looked for some cafeteria, and to our surprise there is only a very small shop which offers only tea (thank god, at least that was there) & a small sweet. We enjoyed tea and decide to look for a hotel on the way back. The distance from peak & boating
point is about 0.5km. There was an empty jeep going back at that time. We took the opportunity to save time. Jeep changes about rs. 50 per person & boating is about Rs. 150/person (don't remember for sure).

Thereafter we started towards Manathavady. The idea was to visit the Thirunelli temple first. But the temple opens from 11 to 1 in the morning session & closes in the afternoon. We were also frantically searching for a good hotel en route for our Brunch but there are not many. Finally we located a small one where we could get kerala idli vadas. It was past 1pm by the time we touched Mananthavady. Hence the temple could not be visited at this time. Other options on the list were Tholpetti Safari & Irupu falls. Safari opens at 3:30pm and you need to reach by 3 to be able to get a booking.

I decided to visit Irupu falls in the intermediate time. The way goes through wayanad sanctuary which is a driver's pleasure. The roads are butter smooth and the scenic beauty of this route is amazing. We thoroughly enjoyed this route. Some of the scenes are simply out of the world. The Tholpetti safari starts from somewhere in the middle of this route and the temple road also bifurcates in the middle. After crossing the forest you reach Karnataka border near kutta. The roads here are in very bad condition. The whole 7km journey from kutta to the falls is a torture on your vehicle. You have to leave the vehicle at the base and then there is a trek of about 15-20 mins.

It started raining heavily by the time we reached the base. Hence we waited for some time in a small shed. Trek is not too strenuous and can be managed with a kid. But watch out for the leeches on the way and near the falls. When we reached the falls, some people were screaming due to leech bites. Wifey also got scared and we hurriedly returned. Carry some salt with you for such contingencies. You cross a small bridge overlooking a small stream on the way to the falls. It was very picturesque. Above is a pic of that stream from the bridge. You can also go inside the stream but again be careful of leeches.

We managed to get back to the Tholpetti Safari check point, after again suffering the torturous ride till kutta and scenic beauty of the forest. But after getting in the queue, i realized that I made a goofup of not keeping enough cash. I normally rely on my credit cards and I have suffered in almost all of the trips due to this bad habit. I had enough to made the booking (rs. 75 per person if i remember well). The jeep charges are rs. 500 which you could share with someone. Nearest ATM is in mananthavady around 25km away. We had about 1 hr by the time our turn comes. I decided to drive to & fro to get the cash. Although the drive is a pleasure given the scenary & roads, but it wasted time & was a bit tiring. We got back by 5 & they were waiting on us due to the booking. We hurriedly got into the jeep and started into the jungle. Ride turned out to be more of an adventure. We just saw a peacock & a bison at a distance. Due to rains, the route was very muddy & slippery. Our driver was a young lad probably in his late teens. On return, the jeep almost toppled while negotiating a muddy pothole. We remembered God and calculated our insurance amount. After some time they told us to get down and walk so that they could pass another such muddy stretch. Really, it only had adventure value & if you just want to tick it on your list. Other than that you can avoid it.
After this adventure we drove back to Kalpetta, took dinner at the hotel itself and called it a day.

Next day, we had rough plans for Muthanga safari. But considering the experience of previous day, we scrapped this plan and also because you have to be there around 6 to make a booking for 7am safari. We were too tired to make it that early. Also we had not covered Thirunally temple from the previous day. Hence we started at about 8am and headed towards the temple. I had planned to cross via Nagarhole route on the way back to Mysore to cover both the forest routes. Since it was on the same side, we checked out from the hotel. From yesterday's experience, I made it a point to look for good BF in kalpetta itself. We found Hotel Woodlands on the main road which offers very nice food. You can add it in your itinerary for sure. They also allowed us to use their microwave to heat up kid's food.

To reach the Thirunelli Temple, you take the same forest road and then climb towards a peak. After sometime, mist starts. The whole drive is very beautiful. We reached the temple by 11am & did the darshan. It was a very calming & beautiful experience. There is small stream called papanasini (destroyer of sins) nearby after a small trek of 500mtrs. We visited the river. Some people were doing pooja in the river. The whole visit is a must not miss experience.

Soon afterwards we started our return journey and decided to take the Nagarhole forest route. The road is so bad, that you can hardly go above 10km/hr. But we were in for a pleasant surprise. While we did not see any wildlife in our onward journey (through gudlupet-muthanga route, while the road was pretty decent), here we spotted a lot of it. The first spotting was of a deer herd grazing at a distance of mere few mtrs from our car. It was amazing. We stopped & took pictures and were considering it to be a great chance. But soon we started spotting one herd after the another at short intervals. We spotted deers, spotted deer, barasinghas & monkeys.

It was superb. Although as I mentioned the road was bad. It was getting late and forest was not coming to an end. I was getting a little worried by this time. It was a completely deserted  road. Finally I found a swift coming from behind. I confirmed the route with him and tried to keep pace with him, at the expense of mistreating my treasured ford. After what seemed like an endless drive, we saw the forest gate and were soon on the route to Mysore via Hunsur. On hindsight, I realize this is a less travelled route which explains the bad roads and lot of wildlife.

In mysore, I took the ring road to reach the bangalore road. We took lunch break at one of the highway restaurents on mysore-bangalore road and food was as usual very average. There need to be a couple of good options on this route. I usually stop at cafe day on the way back near bangalore but this time we were pressed for time. Hence we headed straight to home. I think we touched base by 9:30pm or so.

It was a fabulous trip. I can surely visit Wayanad once more. Kerala is indeed very amazing place.

Looking back, I realize that even after the detailed planning & research, I made fair amount of on-the-spot changes & deviations from the plan, which is pretty good.