Sunrise admired by twins from Kurumbalakotta hill top

Wayanad-Top 15 Must Visit Places You Shouldn’t Miss

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Kerala – God’s Own Country

We often stumbled upon this phrase and wondered why it was called so. To quench our curiosity we packed our bags and set out to explore what this state had to offer. As we entered Kerala in the blink of an eye we were surrounded by lush green landscapes, and crystal clear waters and thought to ourselves that this was indeed a green paradise.

The beauty of Wayanad coffee plantaions

Our first stop was in the hills of Wayanad. The name “Wayanad” has its origins in “Vayal Naatu” (Malayalam) which translates to “The land of paddy fields”. An eco-tourism destination nestled amidst the Western Ghats, situated on the borders between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, has altitudes ranging from 700 to 2100 m. Its vast expanse is covered with untouched landscapes, waterfalls, lakes, wildlife sanctuaries, tea and coffee plantations, and an abundance of serenity.

A Visitor’s Guide To Wayanad

Best Time To Visit

At a height of 6,890 feet above sea level, it is cold throughout the year, with the temperature often dipping even during summer nights. The weather is quite pleasant between early September and April and that’s the best time to experience the scenery.

Languages Spoken

Malayalam is spoken throughout the district. Since Wayanad shares borders with the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, a few people speak Kannada and Tamil. You can still communicate with the locals if you speak Hindi/English.

Network Availability

Kalpetta and Sulthan Bathery, located at the center of the district, have good network connectivity. Other tourist places have moderate to good network availability.

ATM Availability

There are many ATMs available across Wayanad. As digital payments are not popular in the region, have enough cash with you at all times.

How To Reach?

By Air

The nearest airports to Wayanad are Calicut International Airport (99 Km, Airport Code- CCJ) and Kannur International Airport (94 Km, Airport Code- CCN). From here, a two-hour drive via public transport or a cab will take you to your destination.

By Train

Kozhikode Railway Station (110 Km, Station code- CLT) is the nearest railway station. This station is well-connected with major Indian cities like Chennai, Goa, Mumbai, Mangalore, Ernakulam, and more.

By Road

Wayanad is well-connected with the roadways. The government bus systems, KRTC and KSRTC, offer services from various cities. This is the cheapest and easiest way to reach Wayanad.

Note: Any route that crosses the Bandipur tiger reserve is closed from 9 PM to 6 AM.

To Roam Around Wayanad

Wayanad is a district with no coastal areas or railway lines. You can visit all the places only by the road. Buses are not frequent, but auto rickshaws are available to hop on and off to nearby places. The best way to explore the place is to rent a car or a bike. A car would be comfortable, but to absorb the scenic views and cool breeze we suggest you travel by, a two-wheeler. Not many local two-wheeler rentals are available in Wayanad though. Royal Brothers is a reliable rental service which is situated in Kalpetta and Sulthan Bathery.

Note: OLA/ UBER is not available in the Wayanad district.

Where To Stay?

Choose your stay either in Sulthan Bathery or Kalpetta.

Kalpetta town, being the headquarters of Wayanad is the heart of the place. Almost all the sightseeing places are in proximity to Kalpetta. From homestays that are easy on your pockets to luxurious resorts, you can find it all here. Sulthan Bathery on the other hand is 25 Km away from Kalpetta town and is also an ideal place to stay.

Little on the pricier side, if you’re a nature lover who wants to experience it in all its glory, you can stay in Vythri amidst the coffee plantations. Stay in a treehouse at the height of 70 feet in Vythri village resort which offers a variety of pleasures. Here are a few recommendations.

 

Where To Eat?

Kerala Sadhya - cuisine to eat in Wayanad
Kerala Sadhya at 1980’s Nostalgic Restaurant

If you want to try authentic Kerala Sadhya, visit the 1980s A Nostalgic Restaurant, located near Kalpetta. For budget options, we recommend the Kalpana Hotel in Kalpetta.

Note: Start your morning with a heavy breakfast from the place you’re staying, as the eateries open only in the late morning/afternoon. Online food delivery chains like Swiggy and Zomato are not available in the region.

Places To Visit In Wayanad

Here are 15 destinations handpicked by us.

1. Chembra Peak

Popular for its heart-shaped crystal lake that never dries even in the peak of summer, Chembra is the highest peak in Wayanad at 6890 ft. above sea level. It remains the prime spot for trekking in the Nilgiris mountain ranges. However, for any trekking expeditions, prior permission from the Meppady forest department is a must. The mesmerizing heart-shaped lake located en route uphill is known as “Hridhayathadakam”. A trip to Wayanad is incomplete without visiting the Chembra Peak.

  • Distance: 8 Km from Kalpetta
  • Trekking distance: 9 Km
  • Trek time: 3-4 hours
  • Timing: 7 AM and 2 PM on all days
  • Best time to trek: Post-monsoon (September- February)
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Tent stay/ camping: Available. For 5 members: Rs. 4375 for Indians, Rs. 8750 for Foreigners. (Banned now)
  •  Fees: Entry fee for students- Rs.15, Adults- Rs.20, Foreigners- Rs.30. For a group of 10 people: Rs.750 for Indians, Rs. 1500 for foreigners. Charges for the camera- Rs. 40 for Indians, Rs.80 for foreigners. Additional charges: Rs. 75 for Indians and Rs. 300 for foreigners. (This includes the mandatory guide fees)

Note: You cannot touch the Heart-shaped lake or take a dip in it. Chembra Peak is a plastic-free zone. However, you can pay Rs.20 as a deposit at the ticket counter for carrying a water bottle throughout the trek which can be redeemed once you show the bottle, after completing the trek.

Chembra Peak is reopened for tourists after 3 years by the forest department. Please contact the range officer to check before planning one.

Range Forest Office, Meppady: 04936-282001

Chembra peak sunrise view

Don’t lose heart yet. Start early and go to the trek start point to watch the sunrise above tea estates with a view of mountains peeping above the clouds.

2. Pookode Lake

Pookode lake - the largest lake in Wayanad

Straight out of a holiday postcard, this beautiful natural freshwater lake surrounded by evergreen mountains spans an area of 8.5 hectares. At the entrance, you will find handicrafts and the spices emporium. For all the tourists who like to collect souvenirs as a remembrance of your trip here’s your chance. There are several boating options ranging from 2-person pedal boats to 8-seater rowboats (at an additional cost). Take a stroll on the beautiful pathway that surrounds the lake.

  • Timing: 9 AM – 5 PM
  • Entry Fee: Rs 10 for adults and Rs 5 for children
  • Parking facilities: Not available.
  • Other Activities and Attractions: Cycling, horse riding, freshwater aquarium, fish spa, children’s park, and magic mirror shows at an additional cost.

3. Kurumbalakotta

Sunrise from Kurumbalakotta hill top

At 3249 feet above sea level, this monolithic hill is the hotspot for sunrise and sunset views. As you stand there above a dense layer of clouds you’ll witness the first rays of orange light piercing the clouds and the sky will be splashed with orange hues. A site that will quench the wanderlust in you. Camping and tent stay options are available for adrenaline junkies who’d want to get high on the breathtaking 360° view of the Wayanad district.

There are two routes to reach the summit of Kurumbalakotta. The shortest route, recommended by Google Maps, is damp and slippery during the monsoon making the path very difficult to climb even for the locals. The other route is ideal for kids and families, filled with tourists during the golden hours. When you reach the top, there are tiny food stalls for quick snacks to restore your energy.

  • Distance: 20 Km from Kalpetta
  • Timing: Open throughout the year
  •  Best time to visit: post-monsoon (September-February)
  •  Difficulty: easy
  •  Entry Fee: Free
  • Trek time: 30-60 mins
  • Tent stay/ Camping: Available
  • Parking facilities: Available at the foothills of Kurumbalakotta

4. Phantom Rock

The Phanthom or skull shaped rock

Locally known as Cheengeri Mala or Thalappara, this naturally formed rock resembles a skull, hence the name Phantom. This archaeological wonder stands tall at an elevation of 2600 m above sea level and is surrounded by greenery. Though it is not possible to climb the Phantom rock, there are other rock formations in the surroundings that you can try climbing.

  • Distance from Kalpetta: 13 Km
  • Timing: Recommended to visit during the daytime
  • Entry Fee:  Free
  • Parking facilities: Not available
  • Activity: Rock climbing

 5. Hidden Gem of Wayanad

The hidden gem of Wayanad near Phanthom rock

Near the Phantom rock, is the hidden gem of Wayanad. We stumbled upon this place while exploring. You’d lose yourself in the reflections of surrounding rocks on the pond as a chill breeze brushes against your cheeks. The wind creates ripples on the still water forming patterns that are pleasing to your eyes. It’s surely a sight that’ll leave you spellbound. Not shown on Google Maps, this place isn’t popular among tourists.

6. Edakkal Caves

Edakkal caves with inscriptions on the wall

Names can sometimes be misleading. Such is the case with Edakkal Caves which are not actually caves. This naturally formed cave is set high on the hills of Ambukutty Mala at an altitude of 1,200 m above sea level. The view of Wayanad from the entrance of the cave is worth a picture. It is quite famous for its visual archives of paintings and graphic signs on the rocks that are believed to be from the Neolithic and Mesolithic ages which date back to 6000 BC. Due to these intriguing facets, this site has garnered a great deal of attention from archeologists and historians from around the world. 

  • Timing: 9:30 AM- 4:30 PM (closed on Mondays)
  • Trekking distance: 1.5 Km (380 steps approx.)
  • Trek time: 45-60 minutes
  •  Entry Fee: Rs. 30 for adults, Rs. 20 for children, Rs. 40 for foreign tourists, Rs. 50 for a camera, and Rs. 200 for taking videos
  • Tour Guide: Tour guides from the Archaeological Society of India are available to explain everything.
  • Parking facilities: Available
  • Restroom facilities: Available

Note: Edakkal Cave is a plastic-free zone.

7. Banasura Sagar Dam

Reflection of Banasura hills on the water bodies of Banasura Sagar dam

At the foothills of Banasura Hills is the largest earthen dam in India and the second largest in Asia. It is named after the hills as Banasura Sagar Dam. This tourist attraction offers various activities such as horse riding, kayaking, jeep riding, speed boat riding, zip-lining, and a fish spa in the nature park, making it an ideal place for families and kids. Do not miss out on the majestic view of the Banasura hills in the backdrop by opting for the speedboat ride (Rs.950 for 5 persons for 20-30 mins) that gives you a chance to see the magnificent landscape.

Banasura sagar dam speed boat ride
  • Timing: 8:30 AM- 5:45 PM (open on all days)
  •  Best time to visit: November to May
  • Entry Fee: Rs. 30 for adults, Rs. 10 for children. Additional charges of Rs.40 for a still camera and Rs. 200 for a video camera
  • Parking facilities: Available at Rs. 10 per vehicle
  • Restroom facilities: Available near the park

8. Meenmutty Waterfall

Located close to the Banasura Sagar Dam, this three-tiered waterfall, at a height of 300 m is the biggest in Wayanad and the second largest in Kerala. Meenmutty is the combination of two Malayalam words, Meen (fish) and Mutty (blocked) which means the fishes are blocked here. With a short trek of 1 Km through the moist deciduous forest, you can see the white waters of Meenmutty crash into the ground with a deep roar that serenades every single visitor.

Note: Meenmutty waterfall is seasonal and has only little to no water during the summer. It is closed during rainy seasons due to the high inflow of water.

  • Timing: 9 AM to 4 PM
  • Best time to visit: October to May (post-monsoon)
  • Entry Fee:  Rs. 30 for adults, Rs. 15 for children, Rs. 60 for foreigners. Additional charges of Rs. 75 for the camera.
  • Parking facilities: Available

9. Neelimala Viewpoint

The view of Soochipara waterfalls from Neelimala viewpoint
Source: thissumptuouslife.com

This spectacular sight is something no wanderer should ever miss. One gets a pristine panoramic view of the great Meenmutty Waterfall, Chembra Peak, Chaliyar River, Sunrise Valley, and the mountain folds of western ghats, making people throng to this destination in large numbers. The trek starts from Vaduvanchal main road, but due to the damp and uneven pathways, you are not allowed to trek by yourself. 

  • Trek distance: 2 – 3 Km
  • Timing: 9 AM – 5 PM
  • Entry Fee:  Free. Additional charges for hiring a jeep (Rs. 500-Rs. 800 for 6 persons) and a guide (Rs. 200-Rs. 400) which are mandatory.

10. Lakkidi Viewpoint

The view of mountains form Lakkidi view point

Near the Pookode lake resides the Lakkidi viewpoint which is the entrance to the Wayanad district. Tourists usually stop by to capture the mountains and the snake road of nine hairpin bends.

  • Timing: Open on all days
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Parking facilities: Not available. You can park your vehicle on the side road

11. Kanthampara Waterfall

Kamthampara waterfalls during summer

Smaller than the Meenmutty and Soochipara waterfalls, this waterfall is quite easy to access. The water descends from a height of 30 m and cascades over two steps. The upper part has a tiny pool where the kids can have a good time, while the lower is much bigger and surrounded by dense forest. If you’re looking for a few moments of calm under a canopy of greenery, this is the place for you.

  • Timing: 9 AM to 5 PM
  • Entry Fee: Rs. 40 for Adults, Rs. 20 for children, Rs. 100 for the camera and Rs. 250 for the video camera
  • Parking: Available near the ticket counter

12. Kuruva Dweep

Bamboo boat ride Kuruva Dweep or Kuruva island
Source: deccanchronicle.com

Spread over 950 acres of land, this uninhabited island in the middle of the Kabini River is popular for its peaceful surroundings. The dense forest is the abode of rare species of trees and birds. Here families can take a stroll while being surrounded by nature. On reaching the parking lot, walk to the riverside for around 50m and then cross the lake on a bamboo raft to reach the island.

  • Timing: 9 AM – 4 PM (Only 200 visitors allowed per day), DPTC ticket counter closes at 4:15 PM, Forest Department counter closes at 4:30.
  • Best time to visit: December – May
  • The time required: Exploring the island will take 3-4 hrs.
  • DTPC entry fee: Rs.10
  • Bamboo boat ride: Rs.5 per head
  • Forest Department fee: Rs. 80 for Indians, Rs. 150 for foreigners.
  • Parking facilities:  Rs. 50 for a car/ jeep, Rs. 10 for a two-wheeler
  •  Activities and Attractions: Jungle walk, River safari
  • Restroom facility: Available

Note: You may want to purchase passes well in advance as only 200 visitors are allowed per day. Food and drinks are not allowed on the island. Kuruva is a plastic-free zone that is closed during the rainy and monsoon seasons (May to early December) as the water level rises to a dangerously high level.

13. Nellarachal Viewpoint

Nellarachal viewpoint - the most peaceful lake

This unexplored sunset viewpoint is about 12 Km from Edakkal caves. An offbeat location that offers a panoramic view of the Karapuzha Dam’s water bodies with the mountains in the background. A quiet place where you can just sit by and relax at the edge of the water. 

  • Timings: Open on all days
  • Entry fee: Free
  • Parking: Available
  • Restroom facility: Not Available

14. Soochipara Waterfall

Soochipara waterfalls from height

Soochipara Waterfall, also known as the Sentinel Rock Waterfall is located in the Vellarimala mountain range. Soochippara is derived from the two words – “Soochi” meaning needle and “Para” meaning rock. This three-tiered waterfall is an ideal place for trekking and rock climbing. The water falls from a height of 200 m. You can also take a dip in the waters after walking for about 2 Km.

  • Timing: 9 AM – 5 PM
  • Best time to visit: Monsoon 
  • Time required: 1 – 2hrs
  • Entry Fee: Rs. 65 for adults, Rs. 33 for students, Rs. 133 for foreigners. Additional charges for the camera.
  • Parking: Rs. 10 for two-wheeler, Rs. 15 for three-wheeler, Rs. 40 for card/ jeep, Rs. 50 for a minibus, Rs. 100 for a bus.

15. 900 Kandi

900 Khandi Glass Bridge
Image Credits: Unknown

This last spot gives you the feeling of standing at the edge of the world. From the glass bridge, take a few moments to see and soak in the stupendous Aranamala peak. If you’re a photography enthusiast who likes to flaunt your explorations on Instagram, this one is for you. Since the road to this place isn’t good, hire a jeep or walk to it. You can also visit the cave and the waterfall or do the scenic swing that is situated nearby.

  • The time allowed to stand on the glass bridge: 4-10 minutes depending on the crowd
  • Entry fee for the glass bridge: Rs. 100 for 30 feet, Rs. 200 for 90 feet
  • Swing Price: Rs. 100
  • Jeep charges: Rs. 1700
  • Camping: Allowed
  • Parking facilities: Available

Other tourist attractions in Wayanad include a visit to coffee and spice plantations, Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary, the Pakshipathalam trek for bird lovers, the Thusharagiri trek, and the Brahmagiri trek which you can visit if you have more time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days are required to visit Wayanad?

A minimum of 2 full days are required to cover almost all the places of Wayanad. Several wonderful treks require additional days.

What is Wayanad famous for?

Wayanad is famous for its breathtaking sunrises, coffee plantations, and trekking trails.

Is Wayanad worth visiting?

Yes. Residing in the hills of the Western Ghats, Wayanad is known as a “green paradise”. This hill is an ideal destination for people of all age groups.

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