2018. We had just got done with our final exams, and everyone was going back to their own cities and towns. But two of my friends and I had different plans. Wayanad is a beautiful district in Kerala that’s known for its natural beauty, historic sites, several lakes and dams. Now, although I am originally from Wayanad, I had never explored much because I had never actually lived there. This seemed like the perfect plan for me to explore my own hometown as well as for my friends to experience the vision that is Wayanad.
Boarding the 5 o’clock Mangalore Express from Chennai Central, we set off on our long but eventful journey. This train journey was incredibly unique – at least to me – because it was the first time I had company, always having travelled alone. There were only the two of us, and the third friend was to meet us at Wayanad. Talking late into the night, we finally dozed off only to awake at 4 in the early morning to get off at the Calicut Railway Station. Yawning the sleep away, we tried to come to our senses. Lugging several bags once we got down, we went in search of an auto that would take us to the Kozhikode KSRTC bus stand. Getting on the dark bus, we patiently waited for dawn to break so that we could enjoy the scenery as we looked out. We soon approached the Thamarassery Churam, a mountain pass in the Western Ghats that would transport us from the district of Kozhikode to Wayanad. Taking in the fantastic views that I never tire of, we breathed in the cold fresh breeze that was blowing onto our faces.
When we finally made our way to the top, we got off the bus at the Meenangadi bus stop. We took the closest auto and made our way to my paternal grandmother’s house for some tasty breakfast – ‘puttu’ and ‘kadala curry’. We spent quite some time exploring my ancestral home and the surrounding area, until after noon. Our uncle dropped us off at my own house, where my mother and brother greeted us. After having lunch, both of us found ourselves asleep after the long, tiring journey. As the evening rolled in, we freshened up to go pick up our friend from the bus stop. After she had freshened up as well, my friends, my brother and I set off on a walk to the main town to buy dinner. Returning home, we made a new itinerary of the places we would visit the next day and the day after.
We aren’t exactly people who wake up early in the morning. After breakfast, we had planned on going to Meenmutty Falls. However, we soon realised we had picked the worst time of the year to explore Wayanad – almost all tourist spots were closed and entirely off-limits. Getting all the way to Meenmutty on auto, we were told that the area was closed off. Thankfully, the forest officers directed us to another waterfall some distance away. Getting on the same auto we had come on, we made our way to Soochipara Waterfalls.
Walking the long paved road leading to the falls, we found ourselves surrounded by trees and trees and more trees. Gasping for air, we finally reached the most breath-taking waterfall. It was worth losing our way and the extremely long walk. Resting our tired selves on the boulders peeking from the water, we clicked endless photos and generously took pleasure in the cool water. We were quite reluctant to walk back and leave the beautiful waterfall.
By the time we had left Soochipara, all four of us were drenched in sweat and tired. But we had planned to go to Banasura Dam that same day, and we weren’t going to give up on our plans. However, we found ourselves truly stuck. There was no way we could leave this secluded area, and there were no vehicles in the vicinity. Enquiring with the forest officials there, we were given directions to follow that would get us to the main road. We were literally in the middle of nowhere, and we walked through densely forested areas, completely clueless, with no idea if we would ever get out of this mess. Hope washed over us as we neared an almost-secluded junction. Asking around, we were told that we could hitch a ride on a jeep that would take us to the National Highway, from where we could obviously make sense of where we were. And like that, we were packed like sardines, along with numerous other elder folks, in a congested jeep, with a creepy driver who took us to the nearest bus stop. Tired with the adventures, we just hoped for a less eventful journey to Banasura Dam, and we were not disappointed.
Marvelling at the Banasura Sagar Dam as we climbed to the top, we were told that this particular dam was India’s largest earthen dam and also India’s largest solar power project with huge solar panels floating over the waters. Unfortunately for us, we did not get to witness the Flower Show that was exhibited at the bottom of the dam every year. Tired, we got the next bus that would take us back home to our comfortable beds.
Entirely relying on buses and autos again, we made our way to Kuruvadweep the next day after breakfast. Kuruva Island is an uninhabited, densely forested delta. Securing tickets to enter the premises, we got on a tiny raft made of bamboo that would take us across the river to the island.
We walked around the mushy ground with open mouths and shuttering lenses. We had gone there on a busy day, and we found people of all ages swimming and playing around in the water on the island. Although we joined the crowd for a while initially, we soon decided to get away to a more secluded and private area of the island, away from all the cries and cheers. In the clear waters, we found tiny black fish, the size of tadpoles, nibbling on our feet. Unsure of what these were, we tried to get away from them and fell in the water a couple of times, to our dismay. Spending almost two hours at the island, we then got on the next raft that would land us back on safe land. Getting back, we had a delicious lunch at the nearby food stall.
Maybe we were tired from the walk the previous day and the long hours under the sun, but our plans to go to the Edekkal Caves – a historical site known for early cave paintings – was thwarted. So we went back home, freshened up, and went out to visit my friends’ relatives, who also lived in Wayanad.
We had made big plans the day we first arrived, but as the days went by, we felt growingly tired and exhausted at the prospect of walking long distances to get to our desired destinations. We might have packed in too much for too little days. Or maybe we were just lazy. Anyway, we decided to see a new movie that would probably encourage us to visit a less adventurous tourist spot. After the movie, we had lunch, and we went to the nearby ancient Jain Temple in Sulthan Bathery. Walking around the temple, one of my friends soon discovered that she had lost her purse. After frantically searching for the purse, and even checking back at the mall where we had seen the movie (which we found, don’t worry), we decided to make our way to The Walnut Cakes in Kalpetta, which was owned by my friend’s uncle. However, my brother decided to abandon us without telling us and got off at the next stop, and we did not realise until much later. At Walnut, we were offered cakes and other delicacies that filled our stomachs and our hearts. Taking a piece back for my brother, we had almost come to an end with our almost-over journey.
Early the next morning, we returned to my ancestral home where we had our breakfast and chatted away with cousins. A while later, we dropped one of our friends at the bus stop, and we ourselves boarded a bus to Calicut. Dropping off the second friend at the Kozhikode Railway Station, my brother and I got on the next bus back to Wayanad.
Although we had not been to many places, we made the most of those three days in Wayanad. Exploiting public transport and asking around everywhere we went, we sure ended up making many memories.