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Replete with waterfalls, historical caves, comfortable resorts and homestays, Wayanad in Kerala is famous for its spice plantations and wildlife. Walking through the sprawling spice plantations, trekking to the pre-historic caves and experiencing a resort holiday are one of the many things you can do to get a taste of Wayanad.
Wayanad is best known for the wildlife reserves - Wayanad wildlife reserve which is home to an exquisite variety of flora and fauna. Wayanad wildlife reserve is an integral part of the Nilgiri biosphere reserve peacefully located amidst the serene hills of Western Ghats. Wayanad homes a wide variety of wildlife like elephants, leopards, and bears. Wayanad is a perfect weekend idea from the cities of South India. If taking a road trip from Bangalore, you will drive through three national parks: Nagarhole, Bandipur and Mudumalai.
If you haven't seen Wayanad through the eyes of a trekker, then take this, you have missed it all. Wayanad not only houses the wildlife reserve but the jaw-dropping sceneries of the Western Ghats and the lush green forests are equally delightful to watch. The most sought-after trek in Wayanad is the trek to Chembra Peak, which houses a natural heart-shaped lake, 'hridhayathadakam'. Further, treks to Lakkidi viewpoint, also known as Getaway to Wayanad, the ancient Edakkal Caves, and Neelimala viewpoint famous for the Meenmutty falls.
Wayanad antecedes to Paleolithic civilisation which is approximately 800 years old. Also, Edakkal caves in the district constitute 6000 years-old engravings from Neolithic civilisations. In addition to this, there is archaeological evidence which proves that forests of Wayanad are inhabited for more than 3000 years. Wayanad was ruled by rulers of several dynasties like the Kutumbiyas, Kadambas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagara empire etc. Amongst all the important Rajas, Pazhassi Raja of ancient Kottayam was the most powerful ruler of Wayanad. He lost his kingdom to Tipu Sultan. During the rule of Tipu Sultan, the place flourished and grew. However, it did not last long as the British East India Company was mushrooming their control across the country. In the year 1799, the British took over Wayanad and encouraged wealthy crop production. Therefore, over the years, tea, coffee and spices were cultivated on the fertile soils of Wayanad. At the time of colonial rule, a lot of infrastructural development took place in Wayanad. Earlier, Wayanad was a part of both Kerala and Karnataka. Hence, a significant percentage of the population speaks Kannada. However, the principal languages spoken are Malayalam and English. Later in November 1980, it was declared as the 12th district of Kerala formed out of land cravings of Kannur and Kozhikode. From ancient times, the place is famous for its natural beauty, rich flora and fauna and picturesque views.
Wayanad is a place with greenery and favourable climate which facilitates the existence of flora and fauna here. This place is a home to Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary which is also the haven of White-rumped Vultures. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, an integral part of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and the protected areas of Nagarhole and Bandipur is one of the residences of Wayanad’s wildlife. Its rich fauna includes animals like jungle and civet cats, panthers, monitor lizards, peacocks, babblers, cuckoos, woodpeckers, wild dogs, tigers, bears, deer and vultures. The green sheet of thick forests with supporting flora proliferates the growth of fauna in that region. Protecting elephants is one of the principal motives of the forest department of Kerala. White-rumped vultures continue to persist in this area. Although, their number keeps on decreasing over the years.
Blue beard bee-eater found in Wayanad is the largest bird eater in the world. These bee-eaters live in low lying forest areas and open hills. There are a total of 24 species of bee-eaters out of which six are found in India.
Part of a forest reserve, Wayanad is located on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The entire region is entirely green with hilly ranges and wildlife including Tholpetty in the North, Muthanga in the east bordering with Tamil Nadu, Kalpetta in the south, Mananthvadi in the north-west and Sultan Bathery (Sultan Battery) in the east.
A blend of influences from Arab, Brahmin, Zamorin, and Chirakkal food cultures makes Wayanad a flavorsome hot-pot. The North of Wayanad is also popular for its Konkani fares. Some of the must try dishes here are Dum Biryani, Malabar paratha, Pathiri or rice bread, and ghee and saffron rice. You will also find popular items such as Ghee Roast Dosa, Appams and Idlis as well as Toddy, a locally fermented alcohol beverage made from palm tree and coconut palms.