Nestled cozily in the hills of the Western Ghats, Wayanad is a picturesque hill station in Kerala. The dewy land gets its name from two local words, ‘Vayal’ meaning ‘paddy field’ and ‘Naad’ meaning ‘land’ combining to form ‘Wayanad’ or ‘The Land of Paddy Fields’. Set high on the Western Ghats, this popular destination is the only district in Kerala to share its border with Karnataka and Kerala; it is also the least populated district in the state.
This exquisite hill station is home to many attractions. The most frequented tourist places in Wayanad include the ancient ruins, mysterious caves, exotic wilderness and adventurous jungle trails. All of these exquisite treasures have been made even more appealing with the folklores surrounding them.
Here’s a list of the most popular Wayanad tourist places:
1. Chembra Peak
Image credit: Karthik narayana
Wayanad’s tourist places are aplenty and Chembra Peak is a noted one among them. At babove the sea level, it is the highest peak in Wayanad making it a perfect trekking destination surrounded by lush tea plantations. An important fact to note here is that you require permission from the Forest Office in Meppadi if you wish to soar up the peak.
A heart shaped lake called Hridayasarasu close to the summit serves as the perfect viewpoint. It is said that this lake has never dried up. It offers great views of the entire district and the hills outside Wayanad.
2. Edakkal Caves
Image credit: Vinayaraj
Edakkal Caves are two natural caves in the remote location of Edakkal, in Wayanad. It is at 1,200 metres above the sea level on Ambukutty Mala. Archaeologists and historians world over have constantly been drawn to the prehistoric carvings dating back 8000 years that are found on the walls of these caves.
This is a challenging trek up the steep rocky mountains and one of the few tourist places in Wayanad not suitable for kids and elderly people.
[Explore the Prehistoric Edakkal Caves]
3. Neelimala View Point
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The cascading Meenmutty Waterfalls gushing across the verdant greenery of Wayanad is the sight that awaits you at the Neelimala View Point. This is another great venue for trekking with manicured coffee plantations on either side of the trail and patches of ginger and areca nut plantations further ahead.
On reaching the fascinating viewpoint, treat your eyes to the stunning view it offers or even look for butterflies of different colours.
4. Meenmutty waterfalls
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The word Meenmutty, in Malayalam literally means the place where fish get blocked and is regarded as the largest waterfall in Wayanad. A 2km hike from the main Ooty road, this three-tiered waterfall with the height of 300 metres is a rare Wayanad tourist place that still remains untouched.
Comfortable in its natural settings,Meenmutty waterfalls is the 2nd largest in Kerala. A separate hike through the moist dense forests leads one to each of the three tiers. This is a quiet and tiresome route that ends at a point with the most dreamy sights.
5. Banasura Sagar Dam, Kalpetta
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Another gem among the Wayanad tourist places is the Banasura Sagar Dam in Kalpetta. It is the largest dam in India and is the 2nd largest in all of Asia. Constructed at the Banasura Lake, the dam holds huge amount of water and offers the scenic splendour of the mountains as its backdrop.
In the monsoons, the dam submerges all the surrounding areas. The vast expanse is dotted with small patches of land and is a scenic delight for even discerning visitors.
[Click here for best places to stay in Wayanad]
6. Pookode Lake, Kalpetta
Image credit: Rameshng
15 kms away from Kalpetta, Pookode Lake is another must-visit on the list of Wayanad tourist places. It is a fresh water lake settled amidst the evergreen forests of Wayanad. The map of India is what the lake is shaped like. An abundance of blue lotus and fresh water fish inhabit the water body, enhancing its glorious beauty.
Facilities like boating, well maintained children’s park, aquarium and a handicrafts’ emporium is made available here by the District Tourism Promotion Council. This is an ideal picnic spot for families and a great place for a hike.
[Know more about boating in Pookode Lake]
7. Phantom Rock
Image credit: Vinayaraj
A rock shaped like a skull with a phantom-like appearance is what is commonly referred to as the Phantom Rock. It is known as the Cheengeri Mala among the locals. The adventurous can climb up the rock to view the scenic surroundings from this point. Stone quarrying activities in the adjoining areas and slippery slopes on the way make it a rather dangerous destination.
[Check out amazing homestay experiences in Wayanad]
8. Bamboo Forests, Muthanga
Image credit: Dhruvaraj S
A part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Region, Muthanga is spread over a huge area filled with teak forests, bamboo groves and swamps. The bamboo groves offer a richness of bio-diversity. Spotted dear, bison, cheetah, wild bear are some animals you’d spot during your safari here. Begur, Bandipur, Madumalai and Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuaries are nearby and can be easily accessed from here.
9. Soochipara Falls, Kalpetta
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This Wayanad tourist place is where you can enjoy natural splendour at its best. If the water levels of these falls are low, you can relax by the cascade and take in the great sights. Sitting and lapping up the Soochipara Falls, in Kalpetta is therapeutic and highly rejuvenating. The ride through the tea plantations to and from the falls is also a beautiful experience. These falls are also known as the Sentinel Rock Waterfalls.
10. Thirunelli Temple, Thirunelli
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Thirunelli Temple is an age-old temple buried in a valley of North Wayanad that is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple is surrounded by mountains and beautiful thickets of the region. Dating epochs back in time, it is said that the temple finds a number of mentions in the Puranas.
Legend has it that Lord Vishnu promised that the water from the nearby spring has the power to wash away sins thus naming it Papanasini, meaning ‘destroyer of sins’. It serves as a popular destination for pilgrims who come here to wash their sins away with an dip in these holy waters.
11. Chain Tree, Vythiri
Popular among the tourist places in Wayanad, is this mysterious fig tree in Vythiri that has a chain hanging from its top. Legend has it that the British engineers who built the roads in Wayanad district had murdered a tribal man by the name of Karinthandan, to claim that they discovered the route on their own without the help from this tribal lad.
His wildly roaming spirit is said to have been chained to the tree by a local priest who bound him through a number of rituals to calm his rage on being murdered. The tree is called Chain Tree for this reason and attracts a lot of tourists.
12. Jain Temple, Sulthan Battery
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Now a ruin, this temple is said to have been built in the 13th century and testifies the strong presence of Jain population in the region. This abandoned temple was taken over by Tipu Sulthan who used it as his battery and eventually the name evolved to “Sulthan Bathery”.
With a carving of Mahavir Jain in the inner chamber, the temple is an exquisite example of Jain Architecture. This place of worship offers insight into the historical timelines in the region thus making it a great tourist spot to bask in the glorious past of the region.
13. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
Image credit: Rameshng
On the way from Mysore to Sulthan Bathery is this animal sanctuary that is a wildlife hotspot. Wayanad is the most beautiful area in the region and the wildlife sanctuary further enhances the magnificence. This sanctuary hosts a number of bird species, peafowls being a very common sight.
You would also find animals such as the Indian Bison, elephant, deer and tiger. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. This place is being considered as a World Heritage site and makes a great day to spend exploring the glorious biodiversity of the region.
14. Lakkidi View Point
Image credit: Abhishek
Lakkidi View Point is one of the highest peaks in Wayanad and receives the 2nd highest rainfall in the whole world. From here, you get a bird’s eye view of the scintillating valleys and mountain ranges of the region. Pookode Lake is barely 3kms from here and is thickly vegetated.
Adorned with all these natural resources, it is also one of the richest biodiversity areas in the region and home to various species of herons as well as rare Indian birds among many other species of flora and fauna. It is a favoured picnic spot in this expanse.
15. Kuruva Island
Image credit: Mrriyad
Kuruva Island or Kuruvadeep is a protected delta on river Kabini in Wayanad. This is an uninhabited area and is a home to a varied species of flora and fauna. Because of the rich biodiversity, the entrance to this island is restricted and monitored by the Department of Forest of Kerala.
This place seemingly attracts the most number of tourists from all around the world who come here to see the rarest of birds, orchids and herbs that are found only in this eco-region.
16. Pakshipathalam Bird Sanctuary
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Pakshipathalam Bird Sanctuary is another tourist place that is near the Thirunelli Temple in Wayanad. If you are into trekking, this landscape dotted with its wild forests and hills is just the place for you.
You require a permit and a guide to set out on this trail, which leads you into the moist dense deciduous forests in the hills with gently flowing streams. Pakshipathalam literally means ‘cave of birds’ and quite obviously is home to varied species of birds.
17. The Bamboo Factory, Uravu
Image credit: Michal dokoupil
This is among the most fascinating Wayanad tourist places. The Bamboo Factory in Uravuis an initiative to bring back the art of making crafts using bamboo. Uravu means ‘the bamboo village’ and quite appropriately the locals here earn their living as bamboo craftsmen.
Here bamboo is used to make various souvenirs and even houses. Wayanad serves the dual purpose of being a source of income for the locals due to its bamboo vegetation and also a responsible tourism spot. One could spend an entire day here learning to make bamboo crafts.
Wayanad with its rich history, abounding folklores, misty mountain ranges and ambitious waterfalls has become an ideal holiday destination over the years. Be it for families, couples, group of friends or corporate teams, very few places in the world offer such appeal and charm that pleases every heart. If you are an adventurous soul or seeking a romantic getaway, searching for history or simply want to relax in the lap of nature…Wayanad will satiate all your needs and desires!
By Atish Last updated Dec 16,2014