Monday, January 19, 2009
In the hills of Wayanad
Unlike the visit to Rameswaram, the trip to Wayanad was planned two months in advance. And our group was larger as well – about 20 of us, cousins and their husbands and wives and parents.
Wayanad, in the northeast of Kerala, is only 28 years old as a district, carved out of Kozhikode and Kannur. When Kerala was formed in 1956, Wayanad was part of Cannanore district. Situated in the Western Ghats, we were based in Vythiri initially, moving on to Mananthavady and Tirunelly. Bound on the east by the Niligiris and Mysore, and on the north by Coorg, you can hardly find a better place for a getaway.
Historians say that there was human life in Wayanad even ten centuries before Christ. Whether it is true, we will never know. However, the Ekaddal caves we visited (look out for later entries) had pictorial writings on their walls that nobody has been able to decipher. Wayanad was once under the rule of Pazhassi Raja belonging to the Kottayam royal dynasty. The British ruled for about two centuries here. The battle between the British and Pazhassi Raja is famous. It is said that the Raja organised tribals to fight the British and he himself, when driven to the forest, preferred to take his own life. So, the British never caught him alive. Wayanad has a large adivasi population but we did not see many adivasis during our trip.
More than anything else, Wayanad is known for its wildlife – mainly its elephants. The Wayanad wildlife sanctuary is contiguous to Nagerhole and Bandipur, as well Mudumalai; it is an integral part of the Niligiri biosphere reserve.
Pictures show my first camera shot of the train – of a jack fruit ripe for plucking - and a couple of shots of Tushara Motel in Vythiri where we were based. Pushparajan, the GM at the hotel, is all smiles as his staff are busy serving breakfast; later, he and his deputy pose for the camera and a part of the hotel comes into view.