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Old 28th December 2010, 00:54   #1
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Default The highway to God's own Country : Wayanad

Having heard a lot about Wayanad from friends, reading so many travelogues on it on T-BHP and then checking it out online, I was itching to visit the place. Finally, as a long weekend arrived, the plan fell into place and Wayanad was on our radar. 5 of us were to travel in my Corsa on the 24th . Since one friend was arriving at 7am, we had decided to leave for Wayanad at about 9am. So, on a crisp friday morning, the odometer was set to zero, seat belts fastened and the wheels got rolling at 9am; 5 wanderers set off on the highway to God's own country.

We started from BTM, took a right at Jayadeva flyover and got on Banerghetta Rd. It being a holiday for most companies, there was hardly any traffic on the road. We soon touched NICE road and continued till the Mysore rd. exit. NICE road was a bliss to drive on, the air had some freshness left and there was slight mist on the horizon. Once on the Mysore rd, we travelled on, accelerating and then rapidly decelerating before the "humps". We took a halt at the McDonalds (about 70km from BTM). Had some breakfast and were back on the highway. We reached Mysore around 1115. We had to tend to some urgent work so it took until noon to leave Mysore.

We got onto NH 212. The stretch from Mysore for about 20km is terrible. There are small potholes which are "neither here not there" when it comes to size but they ensure you cannot travel more than 40-60 km/hr. What makes it worse is, vehicles on both sides of the road keep zigzagging hoping to avoid the potholes and in the process endanger the oncoming vehicle (hereon, there is no divider on the highway). Once we were about 20km away and were approaching Bandipur, the roads bettered. We soon entered the forest limits and then dropped our speed to 40 km/hr, hoping to catch some wild life. Just near a bridge over a small stream, we spotted a herd of antlers. Since we decided against getting down from the car, they were happy to pose from snaps. Everyone got even more alert in the hope of spotting more wild life and we had partial luck in finding a bison far inside the woods. After that, we saw nothing.

The roads throughout Bandipur aren't exceptional but it works out good, because since you drive slow, you might just spot some animal. While travelling through Bandipur, we saw a yellow i10 which had gone off-road (5 ft lower than the road) and smashed against a tree. We stopped to see if we could help but apparently it happened quite some time back, no one was hurt and help was on the way. We got back to our drive and soon entered Kerala. There was a long queue of trucks waiting to clear octroi formalities. I strongly believe movement of trucks through the forest adversely affects the wild life, but doubt anything can be done about it.

One very irritating part of this highway is the hay villagers lay on the highway to let the vehicles drive on them and separate the grain from the stalk. They arrange heaps of hay (about half a feet high and 20 ft). There were around 20 such instances. Almost every vehicle got off the road to avoid these patches. One particular Ford Ikon decided to do the villagers a favour and found the front 2 tyres locked in deep hay.

Soon, we stopped for fuel. Reloaded and into Kerala, we started seeing boards describing Wayanad district and various homestays, cottages etc. We got to Sultan Bathery around 3pm and then Kalpetta at 4pm. We had a cottage booked at Rainbow Cottages and Holiday Homes. Kalpetta as such is a small town, it must be having a 5km radius. Rainbow was about 200m off the main road but there was steep climb to it. It was situated in the middle of a small hill. A beautiful place nested with coffee plantations on one side, hill on one, tea on the third and a valley on the fourth. We were terribly hungry so checked in and head off back to the main road for food. Being vegetarian, our choices were very scarce. We found a Udupi restaurant and had sumptous lunch-snacks-dinner comprising of Ghee dosa, masala dosa, plain dosa, tomato uttapa, gobi manchurian, vada sambar and paneer manchurian. We took a stroll of the town, bought some chips, biscuits and plum cake and retreated to our cottage. It was getting pleasantly cold by 8pm. We sat around outside, chatted, sang songs, played some Uno. Finally, at midnight, we called it a day.

The next day began early for me and lazily for others. I was up at 7am and found myself in thick fog. I had some refreshing tea and set off for a walk in the tea and coffee plantations. The hill-valley-plantations were a visual treat. After tons of pictures, I returned back. We set off for sightseeing at 1030 am. First on our list was Pokkot lake, about 20km from Kalpetta. It is on NH 212 so the roads are nice. The lake is a mini version of Ooty lake. It being a holiday, the place was flooded, it took us 1 hr to get boats. After a nice boating session, we headed for our next destination : Chain tree. It is around 10km from Pokkot lake. We were on the highway when suddenly a ghat section started and on 2 long bends, it was a picnic spot. We realized we had overshoot and took a U-turn. The Chain tree was 200m just before the ghat. The legend of the "Chain Tree" is as follows : "There was a British Engineer who found the way to Wayanad with the help of a tribal from Wayanad. To take the credit of discovering wayanad, he killed the tribal who showed him the way. The ghost of the tribal haunted travellers who travelled by the way. After some time the ghost was reportedly chained by a priest to a tree. The Chain tree is the place where the ghost was chained; you can still find the chain tied to the tree there."

We then headed to Meenmuthy waterfall which was some 20km away. The road leading there was full of curves; after some time, I was bored of constantly turning alternately to the left and right! The waterfall was a huge, huge disappointment. To get there, we parked the car and trekked for about 500m. The "waterfall" is nothing but a jet of water, "10cm" thick, falling over a height of 1m. We paid 10 bucks per person for that! I had quite a feeling this was made a "picnic" spot just so locals could make some quick money. This place also had package treks; for 6/12 hours.

Last on our list, we headed to Bana Sura Sagar dam. We decided to take the internal roads to get there since it was hardly 10km as against 30 through the highway. The internal road wasn't very good but a decent drive. The dam, again was quite a picnic spot. We climbed about 200m to the top. The dam had no entry, to the side was the wall guarding the backwaters and further on the side was the entertainment area with boating and food stalls. It would have a good spot only had the weather been great; something like a drizzle or overcast at least. Not exactly happy with our day, we started back for Kalpetta. We were travelling through the internal roads again to save time; and again, the roads weren't very good.

We got back to Kalpetta around 5pm, had our breakfast-lunch-snacks-dinner at the same restaurant and headed back to Rainbow at 7pm. We asked for bon-fire arrangements (1000 bucks for that!). Freshened up, we lit the bon-fire at 9pm and started a long evening ahead. As logs of wood were fed to the fire, we went on with our dumb-cherades, chats, songs. The fire went on till 2am and day 2 ended.

We had decided to leave Kalpetta at 8am the following day but I got up only at 7.30am. It was only at 9am that we were on the road. We had decided to check Eddkal caves in Sultan Bathery on the way back. Kuruva Island is another spot in Sultan Bathery but since we wanted to reach Bangalore latest by 6 and we were told the roads to the Island aren't that good, we decided to skip it. As it turned out, Eddkal caves is closed for restoration.

One thing I'd like to mention, Kerala is full of bloopers. You'll find tons of funny hoardings like "Beware, Dangerous Dogs on Duty", "Plastics can keep here", distances are mentioned with rare accuracy "Kalpetta 17.625km", "Franch courier" etc. So, we had more than a hearty laugh and captured such instances.
We had a heavy breakfast at a Udupi restaurant (again!) at 11am. By noon, we were on course to Bangalore. We did not really have much hopes of sighting any animals since it was the middle of the afternoon. We passed through quickly and passed very slowly just before Mysore. We were at Mysore at 1430 and hit Mysore rd. to get back home. The journey back was fun, with dumb cherades being played in the car. We touched down at BTM at 5pm.

OVerall, it was one amazing road trip! A wonderful break from routine, in the lap of nature. Wayanad is the perfect weekend getaway from Bangalore. It was hence, a weekend well spent.

Statistics :

Bangalore (BTM) - Kalpetta : 298 km, 6 hours journey time
(BTM - Bangerghetta rd - NICE rd - Mysore rd - NH 212)

Total distance - 672 km (including sightseeing)
Total fuel - 48 l
FE - 14 km/l (30 % A/c)
Total toll - Rs. 76/- (on NICE rd)
Other toll - Rs. 10 per person at Pokkot lake, Meenmuthy waterfall, Banasura dam and Rs. 10 for car park at each place.

Condition of roads :
NICE road : excellent
Mysore road : excellent but sudden speed breakers
NH 212 : terrible upto 20km from Mysore and then bliss!

Kalpetta : 780 m above M.S.L. (Bangalore is 920 m)
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Old 28th December 2010, 02:10   #2
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Default Re: The highway to God's own Country : Wayanad

Halt at McDonalds
Bandipur
Kalpetta, Wayanad
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Old 28th December 2010, 02:16   #3
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Default Re: The highway to God's own Country : Wayanad

Pokkot lake
Chain tree
Bana Sura Sagar Dam
Meenmuthy Waterfall
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Old 28th December 2010, 02:21   #4
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Default Re: The highway to God's own Country : Wayanad

The Wayanad road-trip!
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Old 28th December 2010, 02:29   #5
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Default Re: The highway to God's own Country : Wayanad

Excellent travelogue libranof1987 and thanks for the pictures. Some review about the hotel and its price is much appreciated.

Last December i was there in Wayanad and was staying in Blue Ginger resort, resort was very nice and so was the climate. However approach road towards resort is in bad state and it is not motorable in our cars (need to mention we have to park our car far away from the resort and i was very much skeptical about the security provided). I had to take the resort vehicle for it and ride was close to a off-roading adventure and you would get tired soon due to lot of vibrations to our body. Due to this I stayed back in the resort and opted not to visit any tourist spot in and around Wayanad.

Also all tourist spot in Wayanad are far from one other.
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Old 28th December 2010, 10:10   #6
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Default Re: The highway to God's own Country : Wayanad

Thanks!

Yes, same was the case with Rainbow. The approach road was the hill!
But although it is a problem taking the car, it works out well because you are right there in the lap of nature!

I brought down the car and took it up just once during the day; nevertheless I bet the suspension doesn't like Rainbow one bit!

The tourist spots are 20km from Kalpetta, all in different directions. And most are not even "tourist spots"!
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Old 28th December 2010, 12:21   #7
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Default Re: The highway to God's own Country : Wayanad

Libran Did you checked eddekal caves
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Old 28th December 2010, 12:25   #8
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Default Re: The highway to God's own Country : Wayanad

Nope, it is closed for restoration. Went 3/4th the distance when someone who went all the way told us.

There is a hoarding which mentions that the caves are closed but the end date is torn out.
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Old 28th December 2010, 19:05   #9
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Thumbs up Re: The highway to God's own Country : Wayanad

That was a nice log Libran, and some beautiful pictures.

The next time you go to Kerala (Wayanad route), please try the Kanakpura road route. There is about 20 kms of bad roads (All put together) all the way till Gundlupet.
This way you skip Mysore-Nanjangud-Gundlupet and you go Kanakpura road - NH 209 all the way till Chamrajnagar and then detour to Gundlupet.
The roads are narrower, but there is hardly any traffic along this route, and its very scenic. Also takes a shorter time to reach Gundlupet than via Mysore-Nanjangud. There are a lot fewer towns along this route and hence a quicker trip. Once you come out of Gundlupet you come to the main junction where you turn right to Kerala or straight to Bandipur.
Another advantage is beautiful sunset on your way back. Try and time your Gundalpet entry on your way back at about 3pm... this way you will be able to see a very picturesque sunset somewhere along the way, next to a lake or something.. That setup is not available on Mysore road.

Google maps link attached:

BTM Layout, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India to Wayanad, Kerala, India - Google Maps
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Old 28th December 2010, 19:54   #10
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Default Re: The highway to God's own Country : Wayanad

Only issue with that is that you dont get anything to eat or clean toilets. Only place you can break is the Gundlupet Coffee Day, but for that you need to get back on the Nanjangud road and come out 1-2Km out of the town.
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Old 28th December 2010, 21:22   #11
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Default Re: The highway to God's own Country : Wayanad

Quote:
Originally Posted by amitwadhwa View Post
That was a nice log Libran, and some beautiful pictures.

The next time you go to Kerala (Wayanad route), please try the Kanakpura road route. There is about 20 kms of bad roads (All put together) all the way till Gundlupet.
This way you skip Mysore-Nanjangud-Gundlupet and you go Kanakpura road - NH 209 all the way till Chamrajnagar and then detour to Gundlupet.
The roads are narrower, but there is hardly any traffic along this route, and its very scenic. Also takes a shorter time to reach Gundlupet than via Mysore-Nanjangud. There are a lot fewer towns along this route and hence a quicker trip. Once you come out of Gundlupet you come to the main junction where you turn right to Kerala or straight to Bandipur.
Another advantage is beautiful sunset on your way back. Try and time your Gundalpet entry on your way back at about 3pm... this way you will be able to see a very picturesque sunset somewhere along the way, next to a lake or something.. That setup is not available on Mysore road.

Google maps link attached:

BTM Layout, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India to Wayanad, Kerala, India - Google Maps
Thank you!

Will keep the route in mind the next time. Although I've been on many road trips in Karnataka (from Manipal), this was my first from Bangalore, so I'm itching to get on the highway again!
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Old 29th December 2010, 09:24   #12
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Default Re: The highway to God's own Country : Wayanad

can you please post some more pics of meenmuthy falls??
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Old 29th December 2010, 10:19   #13
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Default Re: The highway to God's own Country : Wayanad

These 2 are the only ones I have. The place was so disappointing, only 2 of us actually stepped on to the rocks and neither of us bothered to even touch the falls!

Frankly, they are not worth the effort. Either they are always like this or they are in full bloom only during the rains. A tea shop had a calendar which had the photo of the falls; which again wasn't encouraging.
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Old 29th December 2010, 12:24   #14
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Default Re: The highway to God's own Country : Wayanad

Quote:
These 2 are the only ones I have. The place was so disappointing, only 2 of us actually stepped on to the rocks and neither of us bothered to even touch the falls!

Frankly, they are not worth the effort. Either they are always like this or they are in full bloom only during the rains. A tea shop had a calendar which had the photo of the falls; which again wasn't encouraging.
Thanks for the pics ...
Sad to know the place was disappointing. But google pics of meenmuthy are not all that bad. As you said may be its in full bloom during rains.
Did you get a chance to enquire about it with the localites??
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Old 29th December 2010, 12:52   #15
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Default Re: The highway to God's own Country : Wayanad

Yes, the waterfall is pretty much the same even in the rains. If you're planning to go to Wayanad, no point keeping this on the list..
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