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WAYANAD വയനാട്

Wayanad (Malayalam വയനാട്) District, 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. The region was known as Mayakshetra (Maya's land) in the earliest records. Mayakshetra evolved into Mayanad and finally to Wayanad. But the Folk etymology of the word says it is a combination of Vayal (paddy) 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.


According to archaelogical evidence, the Wayanad forests were inhabitant more than 3 milleniums. In ancient times the land was ruled by the Vedar Rajas. Kurumbranadu Royal Dynasty of Kannur held rights to the land in early 18th century. It briefly came under the rule of the Kingdom of Mysore as it campaigned in the Malabar coast. Pazhassi Raja of Kurumbranadu helped the British in their fight against Tipu Sultan. Following Mysore's withdrawal the Raja and the British parted their ways. And in 1799, after the fall of Tipu, the British took over Wayanad. Pazhassi Rajah engaged in a prolonged guerrilla war with the British until he was killed in 1805. When the state of Kerala came into being in 1956, Wayanad was a part of Kannur district; later in 1957 south Wayanad was added to Kozhikode district and north Wayanad remained with Kannur district. By amalgamating the north Wayanad and south Wayanad, the present Wayanad district came into being on the 1st November 1980 comprising of three taluks; Vythiry, Mananthavady, and Sulthan Bathery.

Country: India
Area:2,131 km2 (823 sq mi)
Population:780,619 (2001 update)
Density:369/km2 (956/sq mi)
Sulthan Bathery · Mananthavady · Kalpetta · Kidanganad · Kaniyambetta


Wayanad district stands on the southern top of the Deccan plateau and its chief glory is the majestic Western ghats with lofty ridges interspersed with dense forest, tangled jungles and deep valleys, the terrain is rugged. 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.
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.
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.
The distance from the mean sea level and forest cover creates a salubrious 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 10 °C (50 °F). The more perceived 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.


Wayanad is 3.79% urbanised. Agriculture, is the main stay of the economy. Coffee, tea, cocoa, pepper, plantain and vanilla are the main crops. Besides these cash crops, the most important crop in the district is rice. Dams and aqueducts have been constructed to take water to the otherwise dry areas in the district.Price of land is going up even though Agrarian crisis. The district is prone to an agrarian crisis, due to the high dependence of the population on agricultural income. Between 1997 and 2005, more than 150,000 farmers across India have committed suicide, of which nearly 8% were from Kerala (11,516). 90% of this was in Wayanad and the reasons contributing to farmer suicide were mainly due to a crash in prices of locally-grown crops such as coffee, pepper, ginger, arecanut, etc. as well as plant epidemics. The NREGS (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) enacted by the current UPA government has helped and Wayanad and Palakkad were the only districts selected to receive the benefits under this scheme, the need being most acute in these districts. The daily wage under NREGS at Rs. 125, regardless of gender, in Kerala is the highest among all the states. Work under NREGS includes building elephant trenches (crop-raiding by wild elephants is another problem in Wayanad), waterbodies, roads, etc. Due to a combination of the NREGS and measures undertaken by the state government, in 2007, the state reported 10 farmer suicides as opposed to 131 in 2004.


No. of Taluks: 3 (Mananthavady, Sulthan Bathery, and Vythiri)
No. of state Assembly Legislators: 3 (North Wayanad, Sulthan Bathery, and Kalpetta)
Lok Sabha Representation: 1 (Wayanad constituency).
Other Important Towns: Sulthan Bathery and Mananthavady.

At present, the area is still occupied by tribal populations who still practice age-old customs and rituals and live a nomadic life. Some of the tribal populations include Paniyas, Adiyas, Kattunayakan and Kurichiyans. It is the district with the highest share in the adivasi population (about 36%) of Kerala. Wayanad also has a large settler population. The jains from Karnataka came in the 13th century. The Hindu Nairs from Kottayam-Kurumbranadu, in Kannur district, made an entry in the 14th century and established their feudal system. They were followed by Muslims. There was large scale migrations from southern Kerala in the early 1940s. Their hard work helped them to build prosperous lives.Christians who came in the 1950s from Travancore, were well established as plantation owners until the crash in the price of plantation crops. On the other hand, the last few decades have seen the complete marginalisation of the indigenous people. Alienated from their land, exploited by the settlers and neglected by the state, their struggle for rights to the land has so far been unsuccessful.


The Kozhikode - Mysore National Highway 212 (NH 212) passes through Wayanad district. The nearest railway station is at Kozhikode, 75 km from Kalpetta. Kozhikode airport at Karipur is the nearest airport. Wayanad is well connected by road to various parts of Kerala and other neighbouring states. Buses go frequently between important centres. 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 Batheri, which is a prominent town of Wayanad. NH 212 passes through Bandipur National Park and then through the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary which is the Kerala state border. The roads are good except for some sections inside the Bandipur Forest.


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. Edakkal Caves, 32 km from Kalpetta near Ambalavayal, is famous for its pre-historic carvings and paintings. Muthanga is a 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. 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. Mazhuvannur Siva Temple 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 chieftain Pazhassi Raja, who fought the British with the help of Kurichiya warriors, is in Mananthavady. Valliyoorkav is a temple of historic and social significance. Lakkidi, the entry-point to Wayanad on the road from Kozhikode, receives one of the highest rainfalls in India. Pookode lake is a famous tourist centre near Lakkidi. For the adventurous the Chembra peak and Banasura, both over 2000 m high, provide tough challenges. 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.


The flora of Wayanad are characteristic of the Western Ghats and the plantation crops grown in the cool climate. A major portion of the district is covered by coffee. Trees of the wild type like rose-wood, anjili (Artocarpus), mullumurikku (Erthrina), several species of caussia and many other non-descrip varieties are still preserved here and there, to give shade to the coffee plants. These trees give a dembalance of wilderness to the landscape of Wayanad. In a majority of coffee plantations, the age-old species are replaced by the silver-oak which is suited to the cold climate. This tree grows quickly and its cultivation is widespread among coffee plantations for shade and for giving support to pepper. It is used for the plywood industry and thus is economical to the farmers. Eucalyptus grandis, a shorter variety of eucalyptus, whose fragrant smell suffuses the very air around it, is cultivated on a large scale in centain parts of the district. Eucalyptus oil is extracted on commercial basis from its leaves. Of the 20,864 hectares of reserve forest, the major portion is teak plantation. Arecanut palms and jack trees are also grown here. Tea is grown as an industry in large estates. The soil and climate of Wayanad are suitable for horiculture on commercial basis. For promoting the cultivation of vegetables and raising of orchards, the Kerala Agricultural University is running a Regional Agricultural Research Station at Ambalavayal. With the clearing of forests, the diverse and buzzling animal life, characteristic of the forests of Western Ghats, has vanished from Wayanad. One can still see the bonnet monkeys, loris, mongooses, jungle cats, squirrels, jackals, hares, etc, in the limited forest areas. The World's longest venomous snake, King Cobra is also found here. Elephant, bear and other wild animals from the neighbouring wild life sanctuaries of Karnadaka and Tamil Nadu, stray into the Begur forest range and the forests around Muthanga, which is 20 kilometres away from the town of Sulthan Bathery.


Chembra Peak:
The hills, rocks and valleys which contribute to the very unique character of Wayanad provide a lot for adventure tourism. Trekking to the Chembra peak is a risky mountaineering endeavour. Chembra peak, the highest hill in Wayanad, is near Meppady town. Trekking to the top of this peak takes almost a day. Tourists can also stay one or two days at the top of the peak in temporary camps. District Tourism Promotion Council provides guides, sleeping bags, canvases, huts and trekking implements on hire. The scenic beauty of Wayanad, which is visible from the top of Chambra, is very exhilerating.
Edakkal Cave:
This location of breathtaking beauty is three kilometres from Ambalavayal which is 25 kilometres from Kalpetta. The Edakkal cave in the Ambukuthy mountain, is not a cave in the real sense. As stated in the India Antiquary and quoted in the District Gazette, Kozhikode, it is only'a cleft about 96ft. long and 22ft wide in the rock'. It is a fissure made by a corner of rock splitting off from the main body due to some natural causes. The depth of both the cleft and the fissure is 30 ft. What makes it a cave to the ordinary observer is the fact that in the other portion of the large cleft, an enormous rock, weighing several tonnes, has fallen forming a roof over a large part of it. The rock wall contains some interesting carvings, which represent human and animal figures and objects of human use and symbols. These carvings speak of a highly civilized people of pre-historic age and inspires the archaeologists and historians to rewrite the history of Wayanad and Kerala as a whole.
Kuruva Island:
The Kuruva island, 950 acres of ever green forest on the tributaries of east flowing river Kabani, is an ideal picnic spot, far away from the disturbances of city life. The island is uninhabited. Rare species of birds, orchids and herbs are the sovereigns of this supernal kingdom. It is 17 Kms. east of Mananthavady and 40 kms. north west of Sulthan Bathery.
One of the highest locations in Wayanad, Lakkidi also commands a picturesque scenery. It is about 58 kms. north east of Kozhikode and five kms. south of Vythiri. Lakkidi, the gate way of Wayanad, lies atop Thamarassery, a ghat pass at an elevation of 700 m. above mean sea level.The lofty mountain peaks, the gurging stream, luxuriant vegetation and the bird's eye view of the deep valley on the south, with its winding roads, are breath taking. The 12 kms.long journey from Adivaram to Lakkidi through ghat road with nine hairpin bends amidst thick forests, is a fascinating experience.
Muthanga Wild Life Sanctuary:
Muthanga, Which is 16 kms. east of Sulthan Bathery, is located very near to the Karnadaka border. Wild forests covering an area of 345 sq.kms form the Muthanga wild life sanctuary; the biggest abode of wild animals in Malabar. Elephant, spotted deer, bison, tiger, cheeta, wild bear, etc. are found in this sanctuary. The forest Department has facilities for providing elephant rides to tourists, here.
Pakshipathalam in the Brahmagiri hills at Thirunelli, is a challenging tourist spot for any adventure seeking tourist. To reach Pakshipathalam seventeen kilometres have to be covered through wild forest. The deep rock caves, formed among the thick blocks of rocks at the northern top end of the Brahmagiri, are the abode of various birds and wild beasts. Special permission has to be obtained from Forest Department to go to Pakshipathalam. District Tourism Promotion Council arranges vehicle, guides, camping equipments, etc. to the tourists, on hire.
Pazhassi Raja Tomb:
Pazhassi Tourist Resort at Mananthavady is a good picnic centre in north Wayanad. There is a good aquarium here. Coin-operated toys for children and boating facilities for tourists are available here. Pazhassi Raja, the Lion of Kerala, who organised guerilla type warfare against British East India Company, was cremated here in 1805.
Pookot Lake:
It is a natural fresh water lake, brimmed with ever green mountains. The weather here is salacious; the scenic beauty, hypnotising and the nature, unspoiled. Pookot lake tourist resort in Vythiri is the most sought after tourist spot of Wayanad. There is an aquarium and a green house here. Boating facilities are also available. Spices and handicraft items are also arranged for sale at Pookot. The lake has an area of 8.5ha. and the maximum water depth is 6.5mtrs. This lake is three kms.south of Vythiri.
Sentinel Rock Waterfalls:
This waterfall is at Vellarimala village near Chooralmala in Meppadi panchayat. It is a picnic spot as well as a trekking centre. The sentinel rock, a rock of more than 200 height, is ideal for rock climbing.
Kanthanpara Waterfalls:
Relatively smaller than Sentinal Rock Waterfall and rather less frequented, Kanthanpara and its surroundings are nonetheless very pleasant. An easy hike away from the main road, it is perfect for picnic
Soochippara Waterfalls:
The waterfalls at Soochippara near Meppadi is really a treasure of nature, yet to be discovered. The stretches of waterfalls ranging at places from 100 to 300 feet height is a treat to the eyes. The pool below, provides for water rafting, swimming, bathing,etc. The tree top huts at Soochippara give an unique view of the valleys of the Western Ghats and the glimmering shallow waters of the surrounding springs.
Banasura sagar Dam:
This is the largest earth dam in India. The topography here is such that many islands will be formed in the upstream of the dam when the dam is full. These islands with the background of the Banasura hill will provide a hypnotising sight to tourists.