There aren’t many places in the world where a scenic drive offers a great opportunity to encounter wildlife, thankfully, the district of Wayanad in Kerala, India offers just that! Blissfully resting on the southern tip of the gorgeous Deccan plateau, Wayanad blends verdant teak forest, dreamy hill stations, interesting spice plantations, sub-tropical savannas, towering mountains, pristine lakes, mesmeric sunset and sapphire sky.
(Spotted Elephants at Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary Safari in Wayanad)
One of my most unforgettable experiences here is visiting Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, the second largest of its kind in Kerala. Typically, to encounter wild animals in its natural habitat, hiking the trails provide the best experiences, but here, we spotted herds of Indian elephants (sub-species of Asian elephants) and deer just by driving through the highway. We took photos of its attention-grabbing wildlife through the windows while inside the bus. If you’re lucky enough, you might also meet tigers, leopards, sambars and gaurs here!
Along the way, we stopped by at an unassuming Hindu temple with gates heavily damaged by elephant attacks. Elephants in Kerala are State Elephants and featured on the emblem of the Government of Kerala State, they are deeply venerated as the “sons of the sahya”.
While admiring the temple, we met some humble locals constructing the road nearby who were very friendly and willingly posed for photos without asking for money. Made me wish I have a portable printer with me so I can hand them hard copies of their photos. The area is actually the original homeland of tribal clans such as the Adivasis, sadly, many of them have been reportedly displaced when the area was turned into an elephant sanctuary eventually forcing them to set up subsistence agriculture. Fortunately, in recent years, the management of the reserve now takes into consideration the lifestyle of the indigenous people when implementing scientific conservation.
(Eddakal Caves Wayanad photo)
Another interesting destination in Wayanad is the Edakkal Caves in Western Ghats, it’s actually a gap caused by a piece of rock that were ripped apart, crowning a portion of the fissure. But what really makes this cave special is – it is draped by petroglyphs some as old as 3,000 years old and the youngest ones are believed to have been created during the Indus Valley Civilization, one of the three civilizations of the Old World. These Stone Age carvings (which are mostly humans and animals figures) are the only known examples in Southern India, suggesting prehistoric civilization that existed in this region.
(A stunning Cricket Field in Wayanad)
Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary Resorts- Where to Stay in Wayanad, Kerala:
The lovely Vythiri Resort nestled in the midst of a lush jungle has spacious villas with Jacuzzis, balcony and living room, perfect for honeymooners! Check out my detailed post about it!
You may also consider Tranquil Resort, a private coffee and spice plantation also located in a remote forest and boast of a posh tree house. Experience dining with your bare hands here when you’re served with Sadya, a traditional vegetarian Kerala dish served on banana leaf.
But if you’re looking for an old world accommodation, head to Parisons Plantations Experiences. They have two colonial bungalows (Cherakaya and Talapoya) with 10 bedrooms open to guests from around the world.
I also met the amiable owner of Greenex Farm , they offer affordable eco-friendly rooms to stay in the midst of a verdant jungle.
For Kerala Group Tours, contact Manoj Ettan at +91 9447379121
If your’e looking for a Wayanad Tourist Guide/Driver, you may contact: Sabu at mobile: +91 9961284874 or email him at [email protected]
Disclosure: This trip was made possible by Kerala Tourism through Kerala Blog Express where 27 bloggers, writers and photographers from 14 countries explored the state ( from Trivandrum to Cochin) last March 9-26, 2014 .
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