The Labour Day holiday last Tuesday, combined with a day's leave off work on Monday, offered us a four day long weekend that Anusha and I used for a mini vacation in Wayanad in Kerala.
A couple of Anusha's friends, along with their spouses, also joined us on this trip. We drove from Bangalore to Wayanad via Mysore, Nanjangud, Gundlupet and Sultan Battery, taking SH-17 and NH-212 and passing through the Bandipur wildlife sanctuary. The roads were quite good in general and the road from Bangalore to Mysore was excellent in particular. We covered the distance in about 5.5 hours, including a couple of short breaks. We stayed in Edakkal Hermitage, a resort quite close to the Edakkal Caves.
Kerala is one of the most beautiful states in India. Even for someone from a generally green city like Bangalore, the lush and pervasive greenery of Kerala is an exhilarating change. As with The Tall Trees Resorts in Munnar that we had visited earlier, the cottages of Edakkal Hermitage were located on the quiet slopes of a mountain in a way that allows one to soak in the beauty of nature in relative privacy while affording a fantastic view of the valley below. The two resorts were also very similar in the amazing service provided by the respective staff and the delicious food that were served by them.
On the first day, after having refreshed ourselves and having had lunch at the resort, we drove down to the Pookote Lake. This lake turned out to be a disappointment. It was small, filthy and full of tourists. We didn't stay there long, moving on to a view-point and then returning to our resort. Later in the evening, we had our dinner in a cave in the resort that was beautifully lit by more than a hundred candles.
The next morning, we visited the Edakkal Caves and admired the pre-historic carvings on the walls of the caves. The climb to the caves is a bit difficult and is not everyone's cup of tea. Three of our party, including me, wanted to climb further up the mountain and on to the summit, while the others preferred to stay back on a landing waiting for us to come back. We kept climbing up till we reached a rock-face that was a bit steep. There was a single rope for support and not many footholds. Not being experienced climbers and only having our ordinary shoes for support, we chickened out. We tried to find an alternate route to the summit and turned back on not finding any. I regret this now and wish I had mustered the courage.
Our only consolation was spotting a huge butterfly on the way back. It was the biggest butterfly I had ever seen and must have been about 20 to 25 centimetres (8 to 10 inches) across. We were able to get very close to the butterfly and even touch it - it just moved its wings and continued to sit on its tree.
Tired from our trek, Anusha and I chose to relax in our cottage that afternoon while the rest of the party drove to the Suchipara waterfalls. In the evening we had our dinner in an amphitheatre in the resort.
The next morning we went for a safari through the Muthanga wildlife sanctuary. The safari was utterly disappointing for the most part with not many animals in sight (as has been our luck on all such occasions), when it suddenly turned rather interesting towards the end. Our way was blocked by a herd of at least seven elephants, one of which was a baby elephant. The driver of the Jeep was evidently quite scared and was ready to scoot at the slightest hint of trouble. Retreating was a bit difficult since the path was rather narrow (you had to either retreat in reverse gear or find a clearing large enough to turn the Jeep around) and there were other Jeeps behind us. We had to wait for about half an hour before the herd moved away and we could proceed. Other than the elephants, we were able to spot a Malabar Squirrel, different types of deer, langurs and peacocks.
That afternoon we headed back to Bangalore, regretting that we could not stay longer and dreading the plunge back into the daily grind of our lives.