What does one do when the destination is a pretty hill station called Wayanad but all one has is a little over 24hours to explore it?
A tad tough but absolutely doable… just grab those trainers, your rucksack and head out already!
Magic on the misty mountains
Driving through the verdant landscape of Bandipur, it’s hard to notice when the road seamlessly blends into the greens that define Wayanad district. In this small district in Kerala known for its exotic natural beauty, the landscape quickly changes from flat lands to winding roads that are surrounded by majestic mountains swathed in gossamery mist. Gurgling waterfalls, historic religious sites, exquisite caves, emerald green swathes of tea plantations…it’s a treat for the soul and the eyes.
Around the hill town in 24hours
Chembra peak: Get your dose of adrenaline for the day by kick-starting your tour at Chembra peak. Walking through the woods, where each bend rewards you with breath-taking views, can be an exhilarating experience. Getting to the top could be saved for another day when time isn’t a constraint. But even an hour or two of hiking on this trail should do the mind, body and soul a whole lot of good.
Banasura Sagar Dam: Legend has it that the Banasura Dam was named after the demon king Banasura, the son of king Mahabali. But the sights it offers is absolutely divine. Built on the Karamanathodu River, a tributary of Kabini, it is the largest earth dam in India and the second largest in Asia. Located on the foothills of the Banasura Hill, the dam offers a sweeping expanse of glinting silver waters that are fringed by mighty hills, thus offering the thirsty traveller a most soothing and riveting sight. Zip around it in speed boats or sit back and relax in a good old pedal boat; whatever your mode of relaxation may be, good times are guaranteed.
Sanctuary: Wildlife enthusiasts, here’s news you can use. An absolute must is a visit to the famous Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary. Spread over an area of 344sq.kms, it is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and links to Bandipur in Karnataka and Mudumalai in Tamil Nadu. Elephant and deer sightings are common, and don’t be surprised if you happen to sight tigers and panthers or an exotic bevy of peacocks. Want more thrill? Jump on the bus that takes you off the beaten track on a jungle safari.
Edakkal caves: Want a peek into the ways and life of the prehistoric man? Then head to Edakkal caves. Nestled at a height of 1,200meters on the Ambukuthi Hill, this cave features some of the oldest prehistoric inscriptions. The site is made of boulders that are precariously wedged between two massive stones that give you the impression of a cave. If ancient art and history interests you, Edakkal caves will clearly leave you mesmerised.
Ripon tea estate: A hark back to the by-gone era, Ripon is among the best known tea estates in Wayanad. Spread over 443hectares, the property also has an 18th century tea factory built by the Brits that offers visitors a glimpse into the days of the Raj. From watching the workers pluck tea leaves fresh off the shrubs to the packaging of tea, visitors get a masterclass of the whole process. Tea tasting is another engaging experience. Buy a few packets of fresh garden tea while you’re at it!
Towards tranquillity and sublime pleasures
Wayanad offers a host of options for the discerning traveller. From luxury resorts, to boutique hotels and homestays, the hill town has it all. The Tranquil Resorts, true to its name, is a judicious blend of the above. Luxurious, yet homely; comfortable, yet classy. Located amidst a 400acre fully functional coffee and spice plantation that sits pretty within the lush rainforest of Wayanad, you know you’ve made the right pick when a motley crew of dogs (Tranquil’s in-house pets) welcomes you on the driveway.
The friendliness is established right away: from the managers personally greeting guests, to the staff that promptly provide a warm glass of milk at night for the baby in the family — it’s all about warmth and thoughtfulness that lends Tranquil such a personal touch. With well-appointed rooms, suites and tree house villas that open out to private gardens (where the resort’s pets Duke and Happy loll on the lawns outside your window…such a happy sight!), with a view of the mountains and enchanting streams, Tranquil makes one feel instantly at home. Of course, for those who find it hard to disconnect from the outside world even on a holiday, there’s Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs and the works. The property has taken much care in protecting the delicate ecology around it; this is the reason why your welcome drink is made from the passion fruit straight off the trees on the estate. The bathrooms have soap trays made of the fallen trees in the estate and your bath water is heated in ancient brass containers, thus saving precious electricity. The bath and body products are all organic too and smell so good, it makes you want to literally eat them!
After a refreshing swim in the large pool, you can head to the cosy dining area where fragrant food, made from veggies naturally grown on the property, awaits you. A wonderful mix of Indian and Continental fare — the food is another highlight at Tranquil. Accompanied by other guests and surrounded by tropical foliage, ferns and flowers, it is a truly delightful experience when you tuck into your delicious fare.
Evenings are all about estate walks (Duke will faithfully follow you), private cooking lessons, or watching the last of the coffee beans being plucked for the day. From the moment one arrives right until you drive out of the gates, Tranquil resorts is all about heart-touching hospitality, friendly and warm service and more importantly, offering you a stay that you won’t forget in a hurry.
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