Wayanad is one of the perfect weekend destinations from Bangalore. For one, it is a mere 300 kms from Bangalore and with good roads, it makes for an easy drive. For another, there are so many destinations in a 50 km radius around Kalpetta that you can plan multiple weekend getaways to this sleepy town nestled in the great wide Western Ghats. Not surprisingly, this is my second visit here. The first time round I covered Pookode Lake, Soochipura Falls and Kuruwa Dweep Islands. Needless to say, this time round I had other destinations in mind.
Unlike last time when we booked a TT, this time we opted to take our own car and that meant a lot of driving shared between 2 of the 6 passengers. Thankfully the well carpeted asphalt lasted all the way till Kerala border. But there ends the good fortune. The moment you step foot on God’s Own Country, it is as if you set foot on Hell! There are no potholes on this road – only craters! Once you cross Sulthan Bathery the craters disappear, only to give you a feeling as if you just landed on Mars. The so-called highway is being re-carpeted and from the looks of it the work has been going on forever. There are no visible signs of any work being done. After gobbling on some Masala Dosas and Puris from Sulthan Battery we headed towards Meenangadi, where we had booked ourselves into RI Residency. To our dismay we found the road to be blocked and traffic not allowed to pass through. Upon enquiry we found that there has been a tiger-spotting here a while ago and the forest officials were trying to capture or drive-away the tiger from the (so-called) human habitation. Apparently the tiger also killed 2 goats and a cow the night before which has the local population angered. And Kerala being Kerala which calls for a hartal at the drop of a hat has started agitation for the capture of the wild beast.
That meant we had to take a detour back to Sulthan Battery and follow a different route to Meenangadi. This detour cost us at least an hour. We checked into our dormitory accommodation at the spanking new RI Residency which to our surprise was very neat and comfortable. And at Rs 150 per head we could not be any happier! A quick bath later we headed to Edakkal Caves.
For the uninitiated, the Edakkal Caves are famous for its prehistoric carvings. Some of these carvings date back to 5000 BC which is attributed to the Neolithic man. These Stone Age carvings are the only one of its kind in South India and points to existence of a pre-historic civilization. Not all carvings are believed to be from the same era. That implies that people from different times have inhabited these caves and left their mark. The oldest of the carvings are believed to be 8000 years old. The existence of Tamil script only adds to the intrigue of the place and the history of this Dravidian language.
Until a few years ago going by the blogs of that time, getting to the caves used to be an arduous trek. All that has changed now with the so-called tourism development. Crass commercialization, well-paved roads, steel staircases, different entry and exit routes has changed the experience for the worst! The hordes and hordes of picnic goers don’t make the situation any better. Coming to the carvings themselves, thankfully they are well-maintained. The guard on duty and the ASI officer ensure that these engravings aren’t vandalized. For a small fee they even explain the history of the place including deciphering some of the markings on display. With that dose of pre-historic life we decided to head to our next destination.
Getting-there: About 25kms from Kalpetta and 13kms from Meenangadi.
Must-Do: Gobble delicious Pineapples on your way back to recharge yourself.
Must-Don't: Vandalism and Littering.
My Rating: 5/10