The name Wayanad is derived from Wayalnadu which means ‘land of paddy fields’. This undulating land is covered with thick forests that vary between 700 and 2,100m, above sea level. It is bounded on the east by the Nilgiris and Mysore district of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka respectively and on the north by Color district of Karnataka. On the south is Malappuram district and on the west by Kozhikode and Kannur districts. The district took form in 1980. Parts of Kannur and Kozhikode were carved out to form Wayanad.
Wayanad is situated at the lower end of the Deccan Plateau. The land can be divided into sub-tropical savannah, evergreen forests and a stretch of paddy fields. There are vast areas under tea, coffee and spices cultivation. Wayanad can be said as the spice centre of Kerala. You can get any spice here. Besides that, there are vanilla and cocoa cultivation in the district. People visiting the district usually take back spices, coffee and tea with them.
Communities like Kurumas, Paniyars, Adiyar, Kattunaickans and Kurichias are plenty here. Tribal feasts, dances and conventions still exist in Wayanad. Many rock-cut caves relating to the Stone Age era, ancient temples, churches, mosques and antique monuments give Wayanad a rich history. After the Veda tribe, Wayanad was ruled by the Pazhassi Rajas of Kottayam. It was in the hands of Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan until Tipu ceded it to the British. After that, the British built plantations and roads there.
There is evidence that humans inhabited these areas about 10 centuries before Christ. There are pictographs and paintings on the walls of the Edakkal caves near Ambalavayal that suggest to early human settlements. The caves are a good option for rock climbing and trekking. Waterfalls at Soochipara and Meenmutty are spectacular. Do not forget to visit the Banasura Dam, Vythiri, the ruined Jain temple near Panamaram and the Kuruvadweep. Kuruvadweep is a riverine island in the Kabini. It is just below 1,000 acres and offers a stunning experience-bamboo rafting, animal-spotting and birdwatching.
The Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary which was established in 1973 covers more than 340sq.km. It is separated as the Tholpetty Sanctuary, which is contiguous with the Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka and Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary which is contiguous with Bandipur National Park in Karnataka and Mudumalai in Tamil Nadu. The Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is an important part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
It is reachable by buses and taxis. The nearest airports are at Cochin and Karipur. Trains can be caught from Calicut, 60km away.
Rivers of Wayanad
The sacred Kabini is the major river flowing through Wayanad. Its tributaries like Panamaram stream and smaller rivers like Noolpuzha, too, irrigate the land.
- “With acres of cardamom, ginger and pepper, Wayanad is truly the spice capital of Kerala. The spice tour we went on taught us a lot about Kerala’s history of spice trade with the world.”Hancy Culton and Yves Lue
- “Kuruvadweep has some of the most beautiful birds and butterflies recorded across India.”Mansi Bhatt
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