Wayanad, the Place of Natural Beauty
by Jayasudha Bhaskaran
Wayanad is one of the districts in Kerala (India) which is famous for its green cover. It is a place of tourist attraction with so many beautiful places to visit such as Banasurasagar lake,Lakkidi view point, Pookode lake, peak, Edakkal caves, Phantom rock, Soochipara falls, Meenmutty falls, Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary, Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary and so on. It is the home for several species of birds and wild animals. It is the border which divides Kerala-Tamilnadu and Kerala-Karnataka.
I was born in a rural village in Gudalur in the Nilgiris district of Tamilnadu which is just a stone's throw away from the Wayanad district of Kerala.It shares almost the same geographical features as that of Wayanad.
Being a nature lover, I always wanted to explore nature. Once myself and my husband happened to travel to Thirunelli in Wayanad to meet Manu, a friend of my husband who resides there. It is at a distance of around 100 Km from Sulthan Bathery which is also in Wayanad. My husband was born and brought up in Sulthan Bathery.
Manu called my husband over the phone on the day before our journey and warned us to be careful for there are chances of wild animals roaming about at daytime as it is a rural area with dense forest.
We started our journey at 1.30 in the afternoon after having our lunch. We stopped in between the journey to take rest and to take snaps of the beautiful sceneries witnessed on our way. We took as many selfies and photographs as possible until my phone was running out of storage. We resumed our journey.
Green lush grass and trees everywhere with the chirp of birds and the aroma of wild flowers filled the air. We were lucky enough to spot a herd of deer grazing on both the sides of the road.We stopped for a while to enjoy the beautiful scene.
As we drove further,we came across a board by the side of the road which says "ELEPHANT CROSSING ZONE". Even though elephants are not new to the people born and brought up in Gudalur and Sulthan Bathery as they are a part and parcel of their life, horror filled our eyes. My husband slowed down the car whereas my eyes rotated through 180 degrees to spot elephants,if any.
As the car moved through a hair pin bend, there was elephant dung at the centre of the road, which smelled fresh. We looked around and we could see a large rock like structure, few feet away from the road, at a distance. We stopped our car to verify if it was a rock or an elephant. By then, we could see a car stopped few meters away from it and taking photographs of it. Our doubt was clarified and it was not a rock,but an elephant. We observed it for a while and after making sure that it was not a dangerous one,we slowly drove towards it. It was grazing sleepily and suddenly its eyes met ours. Shivers ran down our spines on seeing its fierce look.But we felt excited at the same time for we had never encountered with an elephant before. We somehow managed to take photographs once we reached near to it.But we did not dare to stop the car for a long time and we rushed away. We then came to know that it was a permanent resident of that area and is harmless.
We reached at Manu's house around 4 in the
evening. Manu offered to take us for sight seeing at night for it was during that time that most of the wild animals would show up as there would be no vehicles on the road.
Three of us started at 8.30 P.M. after having our sumptuous dinner and Manu drove the car through a dense forest which was on the way to Thirunelli temple. There was no sign of habitation anywhere. All I could feel was the cool breeze. The cool breeze along with the light music played on my phone soothed our minds. Suddenly Manu switched off the lights of the car and drove as such, for he was used to it. He then showed us a herd of deer. Then he switched on the lights and on moving further,we could see some spots of light gleaming which was brighter than that of a firefly. Manu slowed down the car and signalled us to remain quiet for a while as it was a herd of bisons. It was their eyes which was gleaming in the light reflected from the vehicle. They were spending their leisure time by sitting in groups along the sides of the road. One large bison happened to cross the road just few feet away from us. It stood at the centre of the road and stared at us for a while. Manu asked us not to panic and to shut the windows. Our hearts began to beat faster. Thank God!It went away without harming us.
As we drove further,we came across rabits,hedgehogs,and many other wild animals. Once we were done with sight seeing, we decided to go back home.
The next day morning, Manu took us to Thirunelli temple,a temple in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains and forests. We drove through the same route through which we travelled on the previous night. But this time,there were no bisons,deer or any other animals. The road was empty. We reached the temple and offered prayers.
Then we set out to Tholpetty wildlife sanctuary. We went for trekking through the dense forest in a jeep which was a wonderful experience and we came across a herd of elephants and many other animals.
Once the trekking session was over, decided to have lunch for three of us were starving. There were only a few hotels and shops nearby. We had our mouth watering "Naadan oonu"which is a blend of dishes, from a hotel run by the women of self help groups.
We then set off to Iruppu falls in Karnataka which is few kilometers away from Tholpetty. It was drizzling. We drove through a coffee estate with a muddy road having gutters and potholes.We somehow managed to reach the foot of the hill.
The rain intensified as we reached the foothill. We did not even have an umbrella with us but we decided to proceed further and to have fun. We got out of the car and was fully drenched. We bought the entry tickets and started to climb up the hill. After climbing up the concrete steps for a while, we stood still panting for breath. On climbing up further,we heard the sound of the rushing water and we relaxed for we were almost there. It w as indeed a beautiful sight to witness the water rushing down the hills. After spending an hour there, we decided to return.
In the evening, we bade good bye to Manu's family and started our journey back to home. It was a memorable moment to cherish and a beautiful place to visit for those nature lovers.