Fort Kochi to Wayanad
Wayanad Tea and Coffee Estates,
Kalpetta, Places to see Wayanad
Horticulture Research Center (HRC) Ambalavayal
South India Road Trip Day 16-17: Chennai to Kochi and back via Pondy, Kumbakonam, Tanjavur, Karaikudi, Madurai, Periyar, Gavi, Vagamon, Kumarakom, Wayanad, Coorg, Mysore and Yelagiri.
It was at least a 6:30 Hr. drive and the plan was to start early, and maybe stop somewhere on the way for the night if required. As it happened we started late, by about 8:00 AM after breakfast. We may have also taken the longer route as we headed on NH-66 and went all the way till Calicut on NH-66 and then NH-766 from Calicut to Wayanad. We didn’t realize that Wayanad is not a town (we thought it to be a town in the district by the same name), luckily we went all the way till Kalpetta, actually half way across and away on Kalpetta Bypass, when we stopped for a tea break at 5:00 PM close to sunset. We had driven without any breaks except for a quick lunch at 12:30 just ahead of Guruvayur (temple town) and just past the very attractive beach and backwaters and Lake Town of Chettuva with Chavakkad Beach next to it. The road crosses a bridge on the Chettuva Lake and Karuvannur River with a picturesque Mangrove Forest on an island on the lake, and then the lake running along the road for a few miles. As you leave the lake behind the exit to Chavakkad Beach comes up and you get a glimpse of the sea. Next time we must stop there and explore, it was a beautiful place but we were determined to make it to Wayanad as I had made good progress and driving well. The tea shop on our break directed us to a guest house just 100 meters up the slope with great views promised, Green Peace seemed a good name. We had been halted just in time at the largest town in Wayanad, Kalpetta. We drove up and were surprised by the extraordinary build quality of the guest house, high roof, maybe 14 feet with one full wall of glass with lovely valley views, Scandinavian architecture. However we were disappointed with the poor furniture, furnishing and upkeep, and for that reason we got it @Rs.2,000/- per night x 2 nights. A good deal for the place. It was 340 meters walk down to the middle of the Kalpetta market walking opposite to the Bypass road, with many restaurant options there. Recommend this place for the build quality of the building and the views, if not for the poor maintenance, a value deal. We checked in, and then after an hour of rest went down into town, had dinner, and came back and crashed.
Day 17: Wayanad
Horticulture Research Center (HRC) Ambalavayal
Places to see Wayanad
It was a joy getting up early to extraordinary views over the valley and tea estates. I went up to the roof of the hotel to see the sunrise, a great view point. Then walked down to the town for a short walk and get a cup of tea. Once back we got breakfast from the owner’s home. Interesting stew of vegetables and Appams. Something different and tasty. Next day they gave the same stew with Pooris this time and also a banana and coconut sweet (Mithai), interesting new food, and fresh pineapple juice and tea. Excellent breakfast on both days.
In Kalpetta we got a list of things to do, and places to visit with a map from a travel agent. We had met a couple of Scots who had recommended the ‘flower show’ about 15 Km away near the caves in Ambalavayal, at the Kerala Agricultural University, Horticulture Research Center (HRC). So we headed to the caves and bought forest honey and then coffee at the shop there, the honey tasted real good and the coffee smelled heavenly. Later we discovered that Wayanad coffee is entirely Robusta but the smell was so good and strong that we did not regret the purchase. We decided not to climb all the way up to the caves, and went only about half way, as the wife had swollen feet. We pressed on to the flower show. On the way and already in Ambalavayal town we visited the Tribal Museum which has a great collection. Next, the flower show and the range and variety of plants including fruit trees was amazing. The Dahlias were just breathtaking as were the plants on offer for sale at the festival (Mela) at the center. We were there all the way from 12:00 noon until 4:30 PM. We took a lot of photos, quite a few shots of the stunning flowers.
Finally out of the Horticulture Center we had a good late lunch in town and then headed back to our hotel. We left behind a long list of attractions with no time left to see them, maybe 3 ticks on a map with 40 points to visit! Next time we stay for at least 5 days. Once home we were in the hotel a couple of hours till we built up an appetite and headed for dinner at 9 PM. We got an excellent vegetarian meal at Udupi restaurant in town, a really clean and neat place, and filter coffee available once more, though not quite as good as the Kumbakonam Degree Coffee. Nothing is a patch on the degree coffee! Then walked back up to the hotel and crashed.