Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Kerala: Wayanad


I woke up reasonably early and was eager to see the view from my window. I was not disappointed. Mist hovered along the brim of the lush green mountain opposite me and the constant chatter of birds and other wildlife greeted me. I had been told that there was a nearby waterfall, so I headed off to discover it. It was only a 10 minute walk and an impressive waterfall cascaded its way through the rocks and headed further down to the mountain. On the way back I stopped off to see one of the local tribes who lived in thatched huts neighbouring the hotel. A cow and dog were her chief possessions along with her husband’s bow and arrow. He had gone out to the field, so his wife was happy to show off his hunting gear.
After breakfast, I set off for Edakkal Caves. It was about an hour and half by car, a journey which passed through villages with views of plantations and palm trees either side. The approach road to the caves was too bumpy for ordinary cars, so a jeep service took me the last leg of the journey to the entrance. I was unaware that a group of school girls, donned in smart white and purple salwar kameez, were on an outing to the caves, so I waited a while before entering. It was a decent climb to the top, luckily one which did not take too long. En-route there were a number of breathtaking viewpoints with stunning vistas over the Wayanad district. One could even look across into both neighbouring states of Karnataka (to the north) and Tamil Nadu (to the east). However, it was not the views I had come to see, although they were a bonus, it was the petroglyphs dating back anywhere between 3000-4000 BC!
There they were, intricate drawings etched into the rock face. One could clearly make out the figure of a man and a lady both wearing what looked like crowns. The official on duty pointed these out and said that they must have been leaders or king and queen of a tribe or civilisation that once lived here. There was also evidence of an ancient script. The mind starts to question all sorts of things – who were they? How long did they live here? What was life like here thousands of years ago? As I made my way back down, these thoughts continued to occupy my mind.
I jumped into the car, only to stop after 15 minutes as all that hard work had made me hungry. Luckily the kind staff at the hotel had packed a delicious lunch of pillau (rice with mixed vegetables and lightly spiced) and mushroom masala. Unfortunately I was not staying at the Earth hotel tonight, as I wanted to check out other accommodation. This time it was a place called Vythiri Resort, located at the end of what must be one of the bumpiest roads in India! The accommodation was a mixture of small cottages and treehouses, set around a waterfall and amidst tropical forest. It was already dark so I was unable to see the surrounding scenery but I could certainly hear it! The room seemed a little dated but was comfortable with balcony overlooking the stream.
What was most impressive was the long wooden footbridge that crossed the stream to the restaurant. After dinner, I sat out for a while before retiring to my room. I decided to call it an early night, as I had a rendez-vous with the on-site naturalist at 6:30am for a walk around the nearby tea plantations.

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