Wayanad District (Malayalam: വയനാട്) in the north-east of Kerala, India, was formed on November 1, 1980 as the 12th district by carving out areas from Kozhikode and Kannur districts. Kalpetta is the district headquarters as well as the only municipal town in the district. The region was known as Mayakshetra (Maya's land) in the earliest records. Mayakshetra evolved into Mayanad and finally to Wayanad. The Folk etymology of the word says it is a combination of Vayal (paddy field) and Naad (land), making it 'The Land of Paddy Fields'. There are many indigenous tribals in this area. It is set high on the majestic Western Ghats with altitudes ranging from 700 to 2100 m.
It is the least populous district in Kerala (out of 14).

Geography

Wayanad district stands on the southern tip of the Deccan plateau and its chief glory is the majestic rugged terrain of the Western Ghats, with lofty ridges interspersed with dense forest, tangled jungles and deep valleys. Quite a large area of the district is covered by forest but the continued and indiscriminate exploitation of the natural resources point towards an imminent environmental crisis.

Mountains

Chembra Peak (2,100 metres (6,890 ft)), Banasura Peak (2,073 metres (6,801 ft)), Brahmagiri (1,608 metres (5,276 ft)) are some of the important mountains in the district.

Rivers

The Kabini River, one of the three east flowing rivers of Kerala, is an important tributary of the Kaveri River. Almost the entire Wayanad district is drained by Kabini and its three tributaries, the Panamaram, Mananthavady, and Kalindy rivers. The Banasura Sagar Dam is built on one of tributaries of the Kabini River.

Climate

The distance from the mean sea level and the amount of forest cover creates a pleasant climate in the region. Generally the year is divided into four seasons; cold weather (December to February) hot weather (March to May) South West monsoon (June to September) and North East monsoon (October to November). During the hot weather the temperature goes up to a maximum of 35 °C (95 °F) and during the cold weather the temperature goes down to 07 °C (45 °F). The greater temperature variation in the last 5–6 years is in the range of 18 °C (64 °F) to 28 °C (82 °F). The average rainfall is 2,500 millimetres (98 in) per year.

Major Towns

Access

The Kozhikode - Mysore National Highway 212 (NH 212) passes through Wayanad district. Wayanad is well connected by road to various parts of Kerala and other neighbouring states. Buses go frequently between important centres like Mysore, Bangalore, Ootty, etc. While travelling from Mysore on NH 212, at a place called Gundlupet the road forks, one goes to Ooty and the other goes to Sultan Bathery, which is a prominent town of Wayanad. Buses are frequently available to Kozhikode, Kannur, Thalassery, Vadakara, Gonikoppal, etc. More than 50% of the traffic in and out of Wayanad passes through NH 212, mainly from Kozhikkode. The nearest railway station is at Kozhikode, 75 km from Kalpetta. Other railway stations near to Wayanad are Thalassery(80 km from Mananthavadi), Kannur(93 km from Mananthavadi) and Mysore(110 km from Mananthavadi & 115 km from Sultan Bathery). Kozhikode International Airport at Karipur is the nearest airport. Kozhikode International Airport is at a distance of 95 km from Kalpetta. Kannur International Airport, under construction at Mattannur is at a distance of 70 km from Mananthavadi.
NH 212 passes through Bandipur National Park and then through the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary which is the Kerala-Karnataka state border. The roads are good except for some sections inside the Bandipur Forest.

Ghat Roads

Mainly 5 Ghat roads are used for reaching Wayanad from coastal towns & lower hilly towns of Kerala :
1. From Thalassery : Nedumpoil-Periya Ghat road, which connects Kasargod, Kannur, Thalassery & Kuthuparamba with Wayanad
2. From Kozhikkode: Thamarassery-Lakkidi Ghat road, part of NH 212, which connects Kozhikkode and the rest of Kerala, south of Kozhikkode with Wayanad
3. From Vadakara : Kuttiady-Pakramthalam Ghat road, which connects Thalassery, Mahe, Vadakara, Nadapuram, Kuttiady and Thottilpalam with Wayanad
4. From Iritty : Kottiyoor-Ambayathode-Palchuram-Boys Town Ghat road, which connects lower hilly towns and villages of Kannur and Kasargod districts with Wayanad. The towns are : Panathur, Udayagiri, Cherupuzha, Alakode, Sreekandapuram, Payyavoor, Iritty, Peravoor, Kelakam, Kottiyoor, etc.
5. From Nilambur : Vazhikkadavu-Nadukani Ghat road, which connects Nilambur, Palakkad, Thrissur and Perinthalmanna, with Wayanad.


Places of importance

There are various places of touristic, ecological, religious, and historic importance in the district.
  • Thirunelli Temple is a very old temple on the foothills of Brahmagiri. This temple is dedicated by Brahma to Vishnu in the form of Chatturbhuja. The Thirunelly Temple embodies classical, traditional Kerala architecture. This temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu – the god who maintains life, attracts hordes of devotees especially for performing ancestral rites. The shrine is shielded with 30 granite columns and the ground is paved with huge square pieces of granite. It is believed that a ritual dip in the stream Papanasini, running crystal clear downhill, wash one away of all worldly sins. This temple is often referred to as the Kasi of the south. Puthari (October), Chuttuvilakku (January), Navarathri, Sivarathei and Sree Krishna Jaynthi are the festivals conducted in this temple. Karkidakavavu, offerings to the spirits of the departed are made, in August.
  • Edakkal Caves, 32 km from Kalpetta near Ambalavayal, is famous for its pre-historic carvings and paintings.
  • Muthanga wildlife sanctuary. It is on the way from Mysore to Sulthan Bathery. Wild animals such as bison, elephant, deer, and tiger has been spotted. There are also quite a few wild birds in the sanctuary.
  • The Jain Temple near Koottamunda and the Ananthanatha Swami Temple.
  • Valliyoorkav is a temple of historic and social significance.
  • Pallikunnu Church, 14 km from Kalpetta is a famous Pilgrim centre in north Kerala.
  • Varambatta Mosque is one of the oldest mosque in Wayanad and it's famous for varambata nercha. There are many institutions lead by Varambatta Sunni Jama'ath Committee. A beautiful masjid has been built by Sha'kh Aboobacker Ahmad.
  • Mazhuvannur Maha Siva Kshethram is an ancient Shiva temple near Tharuvana. Karat Siva Temple is a very old temple near Kommayad.
  • Sulthan Bathery is famous for its fort, which was built by Tipu Sultan.
  • The tomb of the king Pazhassi Raja, who fought the British with the help of Kurichiya warriors, is in Mananthavady.
  • Lakkidi, the entry-point to Wayanad on the road from Kozhikode, receives the highest rainfalls in Kerala.
  • Pookode lake is another spot to chill out in Wayanad. You may visit the fresh water aquarium or the children’s park, enjoying boating or even shop for handicraft items and spices at the fresh water Pookat Lake that is wrapped in high hills and gorgeous greens.
  • For the adventurous: Chembra peak, Banasura peak and Brahmagiri peak will provide a tough trek experience.
  • Kuruva Dweep (10 km from Mananthavady) is a unique and fragile delta system on the Kabini River.
  • An important and unusual pilgrim centre for sociologists and educationists is Kanavu a centre for alternative education which help the adivasis (tribals) to adapt to the challenges without losing their cultural moorings.
  • Ananthanatha Swami Temple, (also known as ParswanathaSwamy Jain Temple at Puliyarmala) is a beautiful Jain temple located at Puliyarmala, 6 km from Kalpetta.
    • Pakshipathalam is a very popular trekking spot on the Kerala-Karnataka border.
    • Soochipara, Kanthapara, and Meenmutty are waterfalls in the Meppadi-Ambalavayal region.
    • Thovarimala Ezhuthupara is 5 km from Sulthan Bathery. After a 400 m trekk one can reach Thovarimala Ezhuthupara, where stone age pictorial writing on a rock can be seen.
    • Meenmutty Falls is 29 km from Kalpetta in Wayanad District. It is Kerala's second largest waterfall and the one most unspoiled in its natural setting.
    • HML Tea factory achoor, 10 km from Vythiri.

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Photos: Sutthona Banni Team & Wikipedia
Information Courtesy: Wikipedia

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