Wayanad Trip Report - on a shoestring budget

#1 Dec 23rd, 2017, 13:29
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#1
It’s been some time since our last trip and had a week’s time off at work. Running low on budget but not wanting to miss the fun, decided to travel on a shoestring budget. Decided to go to Wayanad but the trains were full at such short notice. Next morning after concurrence to go ‘wherever’ from ‘High Command’ checked Tatkal and YES! Pondered over hotel accommodation, places to see etc and an hour later still tickets available! Booked sleeper class tickets to Kozhikode at Rs.900 for two. Return was available at Rs 770 for two in normal booking.
Hunt for a proper hotel started. Resorts were ruled out for budget and accessibility reasons. Wayanad is a district and all tourist attractions are scattered. Every place is 20+ km away in different directions. Clustering them was a problem. Checking out Vythri, Kalpetta & Sultan Batheri, finally decided on Kalpetta as the base from which to explore.
Pouring through reviews settled on Icon residency in Kalpetta as it appeared to be closer to bus stands (old bus stand and new bus stand) and Pure Vegetarian restaurant(s). Reviews highlighted the hotel’s cleanliness and hygiene. Checked out rates offered by various portals and the hotel’s website. Weather at Kalpetta did not require air-conditioning, but still decided that comfort is key for a 5 night stay and an air-conditioned room is something I can afford. The best rates this time were offered by Makemytrip. Total cost for 5 nights was Rs 6800. Could have got another 10% cash back if I had a particular bank’s credit card! The hotel turned out to be good enough – hygienic, clean, good location, calm and peaceful.
Went through multiple websites and drew up a list of places to visit and referred to some tourist maps as well but could not make a schedule as there was scant information on exploring places by local buses.
Hectic day followed, packing light and securing our house before we left. Wife had a tighter schedule as the plan was sudden and all perishables had to be taken care of. So much for the preliminaries! Reached Chennai Central and located our sleeper coach and berths. Surprisingly whatever our Railway minister and his predecessor are doing has some effect. Though not perfect, the sleeper coach was cleaner and the bio-toilets less smelly. Homemade packed food in hand (to use up what was at home!), had great difficulty resisting the temptation to eat cutlet, vada, chai, coffee and more that the vendors were coming up with every few minutes. A very comfortable journey and the alarm went off at 0345. Woke up and was just freshening up as the train pulled into a station – Kozhikode. A good 20 minutes earlier than schedule. Wife meanwhile had moved our bags to near the door and had asked someone if we are in Kozhikode. Someone replied “Calicut reached”, leaving her totally confused as the name board reads Kozhikode! I explained that Kozhikode and Calicut are one and the same place and the former is the real name. Went to the prepaid auto booth to get to the bus stand. A policeman was there and he arranged an auto at Rs50 explaining that night rates still apply and the day time rate would be around Rs30. This is Kerala for you!
(to be continued)
#2 Dec 23rd, 2017, 13:34
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#2
Fantastic ! Following
#3 Dec 23rd, 2017, 17:33
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Day1 - 2nd part

We reached the bus stand and a bus to Kalpetta was just leaving! Rs 65 per person and the bus driver must have trained under Schumacher! Driving at breakneck speed but still safe, he got us to Kalpetta which is at a distance of 73km in under two hours. We were going uphill and there were some hairpin bends. Could not see much scenery as it was dark outside and fellow passengers (almost all local people!) objected to keeping the window shade open though the temperature must have been just about 20°c! Erroneously we got down at KSRTC bus stand – which was actually a bus depot and was almost at the outskirt of the town. People going to Kalpetta should be clear on the bus stands – one is called old bus stand and the other is the new bus stand. Almost all buses pass through both at present.
The air was noticeably different. Clean, fresh smell of mountain air, carrying in it a whiff of unknown plants, drove away all the tiredness of journey. Green vegetation everywhere was a treat for sore eyes. Wished the climate was a bit chillier!
Kalpetta is at an elevation of 780m (Bangalore is at 920m). Don’t expect chilly weather here. The night time temperatures go rarely below 15C. Still the pace of life is laid back – none of the restaurants would open before 7AM though tea was available!
Early check in was not feasible but the front desk arranged for a quick refresh. We left our bags there. They provided me a b/w printout of the tourist map that had some good info.
There are only two pure vegetarian restaurants in Kalpetta – Swamy’s Udupi, close to the old bus stand, looks a little run down, limited menu, reasonable rates, good for typical south Indian food, opens by about 0730. We ended up having breakfast here every day and dinner on most days. No parking facility.
The other is Affa’s Udupi, located opposite the new bus stand inside a ‘shopping complex’. It is better laid out, cleaner washrooms and more presentable, but the morning timings were a bit erratic – we were there at 0730 but they said it would take another 45 minutes for the items to be ready. We tried it another day but found that chutneys were heavily reeking of garlic. We had dinner there thrice but there was no consistency in quality, the size of the portions and taste. But this restaurant serves north Indian vegetarian food as well. Not all items listed in the menu are available. Kerala specialties like Puttu, kadalacurry are available only during weekends. Ample parking.
Just as we were about to leave for our first sightseeing my branded shoe front sole split open from the upper! A lot of walking has to be done even if you are hiring cabs and this shoe was the comfortable one reserved for such activity. But thank God there was a shoe repairer right at the entrance to the old bus stand. He did such a thorough job of sewing it up that his handiwork saved me the discomfort of buying & breaking in a new shoe, time & money and withstood the rigours of hard climbing through some difficult terrain too. I was so thankful and my token of appreciation may have been unexpected and every morning he will pop out of nowhere as soon as we reach the bus stand, ask us about our plan for the day and guide us on the routes. Such simple and noble souls are the reason the world still spins.
First place on our list was Pookode lake. No direct buses. Buses going the Kalpetta – Kozhikode route take you here. There are very frequent buses in this route – at least one every 15 minutes. Ask for a bus stopping at Thalipuzha. The colourful private buses stop here. The lake is about 700 metres from the stop and the road to the lake is scenic and good for a relaxed walk. On the other hand many KSRTC (Kerala State Road Transport Corporation) Buses to Kozhikode have lesser stops and they may not stop at Thalipuzha. You have to get down at Veterinary college stop from where the lake is about 1.3 km. Bus ticket would cost less than Rs20 per person. Lakkidi view point is still another 3 km down the same route. Ideally you should cover these two places in the same trip. We did not go to Lakkidi view point this way, so unable to provide specific information about bus stop, distance to view point etc.
Pookode is a 13 acre 40 feet depth, freshwater lake. It is compact, beautiful, romantic and serene place. There is a nominal entry charge – worth it for the way they are maintaining this place. Evergreen forests and hills surround the lake making it very scenic. The shape of the lake is said to resemble India map but we could not see it! Paved path is available all around the lake and it is a very romantic setting for a slow walk holding hands and chitchatting. It is not a long tiring walk and if tired, benches are provided for sitting. Reach there early (opens at 9am) before the hordes arrive – go during weekdays if possible! Beware of monkeys though they did not seem to be aggressive, it is still safer not to carry any food in your hand. Boating facilities are available. Safety jackets are provided and mandatory for the boat ride (not just this lake, but in every lake/dam we visited). There was an aquarium (we did not visit that) and a small children’s park with the mandatory slides and swings. There was a shop selling handicraft and spices. Some refreshments were also available here.

Pookode lake
Last edited by Ravichandar; Dec 24th, 2017 at 11:22..
#4 Dec 24th, 2017, 11:09
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Day1 -3rd part

Our next spot was Banasurasagar dam. This time we walked up to the Thalipuzha stop from Pookode lake and got a private bus with some nice Malayalam film music in the inimitable KJ Yesudas’s voice. Bus crossed Vythri and reached Kalpetta. We got down at the new bus stand and were guided to a bus going to Padinjarathara for reaching Banasurasagar. The bus ticket was about Rs 15 per person. Took us about 45 minutes and we got down at Padinjarathara bus stand (the last stop). We asked for an auto – Rs 40 for the ride to Banasurasagar.

En route we saw a board indicating Meenmutty water falls and asked the driver to take us there. We paid Rs 100 for the trip of about 7 km total. Moderate entrance fee Rs 30 per head, but camera fee was Rs100. After a certain point it is a very steep climb over rocky boulders using a rope as a guide to get to the top. This very steep climb would definitely be taxing and ideal only for the fit and able! There is a barricaded platform on top, closer to the falls on which you can stand – must have been spectacular if you could get to it. We saw that some people had climbed all the way. But we wanted a relaxing vacation and not an adventure so we stopped where most people do! We got to see the waterfall albeit from a distance. Where we stopped had a shallow smaller fall and a pool. Dense forests surround the path and the falls. Guards were there to guide people and prevent them from getting into trouble. Some school children were on a fun trip and they were enjoying themselves with no care in the world. Sighing with jealousy, we watched them enjoy splashing in the pool. We filled our water bottles from clean points. The water was naturally chilled and tasted so nice. After spending some time enjoying the view, listening to the music created by water splashing on rocks, chirping of birds and the clean fresh air filled with a myriad of scents left the place for our trip to Banasurasagar dam.

We started walking enjoying the tall trees (betel / areca nut & coconut among others). An auto came that way and he agreed to drop us at the Banasurasagar dam for the princely sum of Rs 30! Nice thing about Kerala – even in the most remote places, auto fares were extremely reasonable. Took us to the dam in no time. Reasonable entry (30) / camera (40) tickets. To reach the top of the dam you can either trek or there is a minivan that drops you there for Rs 10 per head. Suggest that you take the van on the uphill trip so that on your return you can easily walk down enjoying the valley view. Though this was mid-November, it was quite warm.

Banasurasagar is the largest earth dam in India and the second largest of its kind in Asia. The dam is made up of massive stacks of stones and boulders and was constructed in 1979. The dam holds a large expanse of water of the Karamanathodu, a tributary of the Kabini river and its picturesque beauty is enhanced by the chain of mountains seen on the backdrop. It is constructed in the Banasura Lake and the nearby mountains are known as Banasura Hills. Legends say that the Asura king of Banasura, (the son of King Mahabali, who is believed to visit Kerala during every Onam festival) undertook a severe penance on the top of these hills and thus it was named after him.
It is said that the dam site is an ideal starting point for trekking up the Banasura hill. Since we did not plan on the trek, we did not explore this. There are a number of tiny islands in the reservoir area. We are not permitted to walk on the actual dam top, but there is a long walk along the banks of the reservoir. A part of this road towards the dam end are covered by solar panels. Walking along this road was nice – the blue grey water expanse to your right and a nice green valley and trees on your left.







On the opposite end there is a small park with a number of swings for children (which were occupied by children at heart but not by age!). There is a boat jetty from where speedboats and paddle boats operate. When we reached there around 5pm they said the speed boat service is not available any more (probably there was a long waitlist). Suggest that you visit this place in the evenings as during day it would be warm / hot.

We came out but no autos were available. We started walking towards Padinjarathara. Lonely road, but quiet (but for the occasional vehicle), scenic and cooling down a bit. A few hundred metres and an auto going in the opposite direction agreed to take us back to the bus stand for Rs 40. Took a bus back to Kalpetta for dinner and rest.

Kalpetta market has what you need for regular life. Lively at around 7 – 8 pm. We finished dinner at Swamy’s Udupi. I liked their fluffy Malabar parotta (not parantha!) and chana masala. Wife preferred dosas. Tasty and nice – did not damage stomach or purse! When we returned it was quietening down – fewer people on the road. There was a “margin-free” supermarket open till 9 and even probably later. Some medical shops were also open in the area. Having woken up at 0330, a long day of travel and sightseeing, but still not feeling down / out, thanks to the clean air and refreshing sights. Thought of drawing up a plan for the next day after reaching the room. Completed the check-in procedure and had to sort out a few housekeeping issues. Hit the bed and was asleep in no time.
#5 Dec 30th, 2017, 17:02
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#5

Day 2

Day 2:

Woke up by 6, totally refreshed. Hot water was available only 0630 to 0800. Got ready, finished breakfast and meanwhile decided on Kuruvadweep island. Except for a very few private buses going to tourist places – almost all other buses have their destination / route boards only in Malayalam! Those who do not know the language have to ask for help from people around and they are all helpful. As there is some similarity between Tamil and Malayalam scripts, we learnt to read some of the destination boards!

Kuruva Dweep or Kuruva Island is a protected river delta, comprising a cluster of islands over the middle of Kabini. Spread over 950 acres of land, Kuruva Island is densely populated with rich flora and fauna. There are many attractive things like bridges made up of bamboo trees and other rare species of trees. The uninhabited island is home to rare species of birds, orchids, herbal plants etc. The island is surrounded by streams and you can have a boat ride or bamboo raft ride. It is also possible to have a calm and lazy nature walk through some thick forest, natural trails. This was the summary of the research and the reason for deciding to visit this place and spend much time.

We did not know that today is going to be a disappointing day. We first took a bus to Mananthavadi (Rs 25 - 30 per head). The boarding point was the bus shelter just opposite Swamy’s Udupi hotel. Very scenic route, misty in the morning and as usual the driver was going at breakneck speed even through curves and turns! From there another bus going to Palvelicham dropped us off at Kuruva junction. The buses in this route to Kuruva are very few and only once in about 2.5-3 hours! You can get to Kartikulam from Mananthavadi and take an auto from there. Autos would charge you around Rs120 and drop you off right at the island entry. But for us, the island was a good 2 km away from the bus stop.

We walked – many houses, greenery all around and shaded for the most part. Sun was not yet harsh. After reaching Kuruva, we were looking for the crossover to the island and kept walking straight, but learnt to our dismay that we had crossed the bamboo raft boarding point. Our disappointment reached its peak when we learnt that the island is likely to open only in December. Had we decided to take a cab, the tourist cab operators would have had this info and would have saved us some time!

The tourism department person at the island was very helpful and he called an auto for us to go back to Kartikulam. We found the same helpfulness in every Wayanad tourist place – as these places are located a good 3-5 km away from the bus stops. Reach out to the ticket counter / security / parking lot people to get you an auto from the nearest village/town. The island looked dense and inviting, but it will remain in our list of places to see in future. These are a group of 22 river islands formed between tributaries of river Kabini. Only one of the 22 is open to public.
#6 Dec 31st, 2017, 09:59
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Day 2 - 2nd part

We got back to Kartikulam – the nearest town mulling over what to do next. Our next stop was to be Tholpetty wild life sanctuary for a jungle ride. It was not yet 12 and we had 3 hours on our hands! The tourist department person had suggested visiting Iruppu falls in Karnataka. We learnt that it is 18km to Kutta (a town in Karnataka) and the falls is about 8 km away from the bus stand. We took the bus to Kutta (which crossed Tholpetty wildlife sanctuary). A fellow traveller in the bus guided us to an auto driver. He charged Rs 200 for the one-way trip (reminded us that we are no longer in Kerala!). Took us a good 40 minutes to get there – as the road is terrible. You are now in Kodagu district of Karnataka and the route has the nice coffee & orange plantations.

Iruppu falls, also known as Lakshmana tirtha falls plunges 170 feet in two stages. From the entry ticket point where Rameshwara temple is located, the falls is nearly a kilometre away. You also need to climb about 150 or so steps. Though not too difficult to reach, it would be very hard for old / unfit people as some of the rocks are slippery. The ceaseless music of the falls, the hush of the densely wooded forest and the majestic Brahmagiri Mountain surrounding them make this a great spot to visit and be with nature. As it falls from a significant height it may not be possible to bathe directly under the falls unless the flow is down to a trickle, but there is a pool where the water spray will make you wet. Saw changing rooms for women in a couple of places though someone said they are not up to the mark. It was refreshing out here, found an unpolluted (by humans) spot to fill our water bottles and started our trek back. No public transport to this falls. They say sometimes jeeps ferry travellers, but we did not find any. We called the auto driver who dropped us here. He took us to Kutta just to learn that our bus to Tholpetty had already left. For an addition Rs100 he took us to Tholpetty (State border crossing Karnataka to Kerala involved!).

For those of you who would like to go to Nagarahole instead of Tholpetty, it is just about 15km from Kutta. This is the beauty of Wayanad – every next tourist attraction is just 15, 20, 30 km away from where you are! Too tempting to resist visiting all these places. No wonder it is preferable to go by your own car (tourist cabs require a permit to cross state borders and the permit for Karnataka is expensive!). I would rather not drive to some of these places as the road is terribly terrible!



A rare blue-green butterfly unique to this region

#7 Dec 31st, 2017, 10:09
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Lovely report. Reminds me of my own trip in 04. We drove in a maruti zen ex-bangalore. The drive itself was fascinating. Like you we chose kalpetta as it was central. I still have some photos from an old point and shoot somewhere.

Thanks for posting.
#8 Jan 1st, 2018, 12:11
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Day 2 - 3rd part

Wish you all a great 2018

We joined the queue to buy our entry tickets to Tholpetty wild life sanctuary – which is supposed to have many wild animals, but sightings are seldom reported except for wild elephants, deer and Indian bisons. But the drive through is supposed to be very good. The entrance fee is about Rs 110 per head and you have to pay separately for the jeep which charges around Rs 900 for 6 people. So check with your fellow travellers for jeep sharing. We made such an arrangement, but to our dismay for the second time today, we and many others like us were informed that tickets are over! Though the visiting hours here are 6-8 in the morning and 3-5 in the evening, they allow something like 40 jeeps in the morning and 20 jeeps in the evening. It seems two busloads of tourists had arrived much earlier and they bought all the available tickets. Tragedy has struck twice today and we are down and out. We decided to move on to Thirunelli.

Two of the young people (from Chennai!) with whom we were planning to share a jeep had come by a hired cab and they initially offered to drop us at the fork from where we will take a bus to Thirunelli and they will proceed to Mananthavadi (20km away), but later they decided to go to the temple probably swayed by its history.

At the intersection where the road splits to Tholpetty and Thirunelli, stands the "Jungle View" teashop, considered the birth place of famous Thirunelli 'unniyappams'. Of course, we had to try. The small thatched petty shop manages to sell many Kilos of unniyappam per day during tourist season. We bought a dozen. They were crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside...just perfect! We wanted tea, but to our dismay learnt that the tea would be without milk (kattan chaya in Malayalam). We decided not to have it and drove towards Thirunelli.

The route is absolutely scenic, heavily wooded forest and the driver saw a herd of deer and stopped the car, but before we could take pictures they moved away. Both sides of the road are dense foliage even denser than the other regions of Wayanad. The narrow two lane road winds through the forest that slopes on either side. "Aanathara"-the regular paths used by elephants between Pakshipathalam and Brahmagiri ranges are carefully marked. Road signs proclaim that elephants have the right of way.
#9 Jan 1st, 2018, 13:47
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Day 2 - 4th part

According to a 13th century Malayalam poem, Thirunelli was one of the largest cities in entire south India. The numerous carvings and ruins discovered in these forests agree with that assessment. Once a flourishing city, today a flourishing forest. Cycle of life! At Thirunelli, we were advised to visit Papanashini stream first. This is a trek down from the temple for about a km and takes a good half an hour to 40 minutes for the round trip. The same trail is supposed to take you up to Pakshipathalam – we are not sure, but just heard someone mention this.

Papanashini is a stream that flows down the Brahmagiri Mountain. As the name indicates it is capable of dissolving all your sins (paapam – sin, nashini – destroyer). First we go to the stream and wash ourselves of all our sins and then on the way back we pray at the Gunnika (cave) temple of Lord Shiva. We saw a pond on the way - Panchatheertham – supposedly the meeting point of five rivers in the ancient times.

One notable feature of the temple is the lack of a temple well. Hence water is transported from a perennial mountain stream deep in the valley by impressive stone aqueducts right into the priests' room. Thirunelli is famous as the destination to perform last rites of the deceased at the rock close to Papanasini stream. Papanasini joins river Kalindi which joins river Kabini a tributary of river Kaveri.

According to legends, attracted by the beauty of the hills Brahma descended on the hills to see an idol of Mahavishnu under an Indian Gooseberry (Nelli in Tamil, Malayalam & Kannada) tree and built the temple there. The main deity – Mahavishnu is in the form of Chaturbuja (4 arms).

The beautiful Brahmagiri hills and the surrounding lush green forests have made the temple premises a valley of tranquillity. Though primarily Kerala style temple architecture, certain elements are not typical.

Temple timings: 0530-1200 and 1730-2000. No dress code for women (the ladies in our group were jeans-clad and one wore a sleeveless top) but still preferable to be ‘properly’ attired. Men have to compulsorily remove their shirts and go bare chested. So better work on reducing the belly fat before you go there! They ask you to switch off your cell phones and not to carry eatables inside. This rule is enforced by a security guard.

After worshipping, we came out to see the sun setting over the Brahmagiri Mountains painting the sky various hues of orange and red. Captured only in eyes and mind and not on camera respecting the divinity of the temple. The temple's old outer structure is simple granite stone stacked without any cementing material.

To know more about the temple http://thirunellitemple.com

We learnt that the bus was still a good hour later. Our friends were kind enough to drop us at Mananthavadi. Caution: we did not see any buses while going towards or returning from Thirunelli. So unable to exactly provide information about bus frequencies and timings in this route.

Our route planning: Kalpetta – Mananthavadi – Kuruva – Iruppu (not in our original plan) – Tholpetty (may be you can do Nagarahole instead) – Thirunelly and back was optimal, but just that things just didn’t work out the way we wanted. End of the day, we made some new friends and Iruppu and Thirunelli salvaged the Kuruva and Tholpetty fiasco!
#10 Jan 3rd, 2018, 10:49
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#10
Awesome writing and subscribed
#11 Jan 3rd, 2018, 11:35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arupratan ghosh View Post Fantastic ! Following
Thank you

Quote:
Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post Lovely report. Reminds me of my own trip in 04. We drove in a maruti zen ex-bangalore. The drive itself was fascinating. Like you we chose kalpetta as it was central. I still have some photos from an old point and shoot somewhere.

Thanks for posting.
Fascinating place. Want to go back to spend time at Kuruwadweep and Thirunelli!

Quote:
Originally Posted by arjunrobert View Post Awesome writing and subscribed
Thank you - I never knew I can write!
#12 Jan 6th, 2018, 09:17
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Day 3

Day Three:

Breakfast at Swamy’s Udupi again and off to old bus stand for a bus going to Padinjarathara again. We were now able to read the Malayalam name board for this place! We were guided to get down at a town – Kavumannam from where we took an auto that charged us about Rs70 to Karlad Lake. (located in a place named Thariyode). Those staying in Vythri can reach it directly through a different route (8km). We reached early to avoid the crowd.
The promotional material for this lake talked about zip line, kayaking and rock climbing. We were interested in zip line! Disappointment for the day – no zip line now as it is under maintenance! Likely to open by first week of December!

Paying a moderate entry and camera fee, we went inside. Serene, calm, peaceful, tranquil atmosphere once again. Lovely, small fresh water lake of about 7 acres, surrounded by bamboo groves but unlike Pookode, you cannot walk around the lake. We found a nice bench to sit and soaked in the ambience. Some youngsters had started kayaking (2 persons in a kayak and short oars for steering). It was fun watching them learning to kayak. One of the teams out of the 4 learnt quickly and they were all over the lake in the allotted time. There was another team where the person at the back was lazy and all the work had to be done by the one in the front (he was blissfully unaware of his partners antic) If zip line was available that would have made our day, but that was not to be! There are some cottage (tent type?) accommodation on the lake shore. Got talking to the tourist office people and told them about our visit to Meenmutty waterfalls. They said the real and magnificent Meenmutty is off limits to tourists now and it is in a different direction (Meppady side)! Seems the dangerous access and a number of deaths in the waterfalls in past due to irresponsible behaviour by a few has lead it to be declared closed for everyone. They guided us (bit wrongly on buses) to Soochipara waterfalls.

Karlad lake




Large Spider



Got our auto back to take us to Kavumannam. From there we took a bus to Kalpetta and then to Meppadi. From Meppadi we took another bus (overcrowded) to Chooralmala. We learnt later that there are direct buses from Kalpetta to Chooralmala that could have got us there more comfortably and faster. It is said that “Something good comes out of everything” – proved to be true. We got talking to a fellow passenger in the bus to Chooralmala and he informed us that he works in Soochipara waterfalls office and he guided us on how to get there. Meppadi region is full of tea estates and you can see endless tea gardens on both sides of the road after a particular point.
#13 Jan 6th, 2018, 20:09
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Day 3 - 2nd part

We were to get down at a fork in the road – the uphill road on the left going to Soochipara and the road going down to the right to Chooralmala.

Unfortunately there is no clear road sign and we saw many tourist vehicles taking the wrong road. Our good Samaritan called us an auto at Rs 70 to take us to the waterfalls. He even declined to share the auto with us but we compelled him to join us and dropped him on the way. The auto driver JP is a jack of all trades – pun intended – he trades in Pepper, spices and coffee.

After buying entrance and camera tickets we started walking. They check for plastic and eatables at the entrance and tag your water bottles. There is a penalty if you don’t take them back. Most faces we saw returning were haggard, out of breath – huffing & puffing! From the entry ticket point, it is about two kilometres away, downhill but a tiresome, steep climb while returning. For the most part the path is well paved. Some sections have steel stairs, but some short distances the path is very rough.

Soochipara Waterfalls (also known as Sentinel Rock waterfalls) is a 3 tiered waterfall, dropping from a total height of about 200 meters. You can’t stand directly under the waterfall due to the height from which it falls. The waterfall cascades down into a large pool, which is a good place for swimming and bathing. The name Soochipara given from the words soochi means needle and para means rock. One can see needle-shaped rock here hence the name Soochipara. The water from Soochipara Falls later joins Chaliyar River after Vellarimala Hills near Cherambadi in Tamil Nadu. It is in the midst of dense forest and is the best waterfall in this region. Check in advance if you are planning to go during March to June as there may be no water and the falls would be closed.

Spent a good hour and half watching the falls, the forest and the antics of some people who were kept in check by an ever vigilant security (team but one person stood out) who had a tough job watching out for people putting themselves at risk. Thanked him for saving lives. If you prefer less crowds and tranquillity don’t go there during weekends (we went on a Sunday). There are security guards (men and women) all along the way making you feel safe.

Soochipara Waterfalls


Called our auto driver and was waiting at the entrance when there was fracas in a restaurant over paying bills by a group of people from Bengaluru. Like in films suddenly a van load of local young men came with sticks and the two groups started fighting. This experience was like watching a Bollywood film - 40+ age group people prancing around like children in the waterfalls (song and music by waterfalls), comic relief by young girls twisting themselves for ‘selfies’ and now this fight scene!

Got back to the fork in the road and got a direct bus to Kalpetta, exactly at the time mentioned by JP our auto driver! Setting sun, verdant tea estates, nip in the mountain air were enough to drive away whatever tiredness we felt after the steep climb back from the falls.

Tea estate at the bus stop near the fork to Chooralmala


We wanted some variance – so decided to go to Affa’s Udupi for our dinner. I had Malabar fluffy parotta and wife had butter naan. We chose chana masala as side dish. All items good but the same chana masala on a different day was a more filling larger serving!
#14 Jan 8th, 2018, 11:33
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  • vaibhav_arora is offline
#14
Oh lucky you. We tried to make it to one* of the falls - Meenmutty i think, it was quite dry and the earth crumbled as we walked down in the field. After slipping for a half hour, gave up and were helped up top by a 24 carat malayalam speaking local. Remember it like yesterday.

*other two are Soochipara and Kanthapara from what i recall.
#15 Jan 8th, 2018, 13:00
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post Oh lucky you. We tried to make it to one* of the falls - Meenmutty i think, it was quite dry and the earth crumbled as we walked down in the field. After slipping for a half hour, gave up and were helped up top by a 24 carat malayalam speaking local. Remember it like yesterday.

*other two are Soochipara and Kanthapara from what i recall.
Thank the powers that you are safe! Keralites are quite helpful.

Whenever we see anything remotely treacherous we turn back without any second thoughts! This wisdom came at a cost of broken eyeglasses and a dent to self-pride! I was rinsing a towel downstream of Monkey falls, Valparai, Tamilnadu, slipped and fell a few feet sliding down! Many people around but no one tried to help though it was safe enough!
Last edited by Ravichandar; Jan 8th, 2018 at 13:01.. Reason: repeat words

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