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My friends and I had only two days at our disposal to explore. But with Chandu (link) as our sarathi (charioteer) we saw a few places in and around by traveling in his vahanam (vehicle). Yes folks, we actually went around in a tuk-tuk. The roads are really good, so no problems there, and it was really an experience tuk-tuking along, with the wind in your face and hair. And that brings me to the reason why I look like a Golliwog-on-a-bad-hair day in most pictures that we clicked. But that is another story.

As we were tuk-tuking along, on our way to Edakkal caves, a huge rock hove into view. Curious, we asked Chandu about it. That’s Phantom Rock, he said. It seems the name stuck because of the skull-shape of the rock. Locally it is known as Cheengeri Mala.

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I have already mentioned how Chandu egged me, someone with a pair of bad knees, to take on the one and a quarter kilometer uphill road (and the considerable number of steps towards the end of it, to boot) to reach Edakkal caves (link). The place itself was worth all the pain I endured later on. Apart from the breathtaking view from up there, and the opportunity to see the cave itself was the feeling of ‘OMG I survived this! Bring on the next climb!’ feeling of euphoria, though of course I must check with my doctor if it had been wise to push myself in such a manner. I have found it the hard way that it never pays in the long run to overdo things.

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Anyway, coming back to the cave in question, I learnt it is not a cave technically speaking,  but a natural formation. It is ….a cleft or rift approximately 96 feet (29 m) by 22 feet (6.7 m), a 30-foot-deep (9.1 m) fissure caused by a piece of rock splitting away from the main body. (from Wiki) On one side of it is a rock weighing several tons that covers this cleft to form the ‘roof’ of the cave. What is interesting is the yet-to-be-deciphered carvings on the walls. These consist of human and animal figures, some symbols and alos tools used by humans that supposedlly suggest a prehistoric settlement. Interesting, eh? It definitely fascinates me.

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Our next destination was Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary (established 1973). Soon after entering the forest area, to our left we could see an area clear of trees, with only stubs visible here and there. The forest guide accompanying us reminded us that this was the spot of Muthanga agitation (link), where forces tried to foment trouble by setting fire to the forest area ‘encroached’ by Adivasi activists as part of their agitation against the Government to fulfill its promises. It is really sad how people who are not vote-banks are sidelined by governments everywhere.

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One thing about wildlife sanctuaries is that, you can either be lucky enough to spot animals or not see any at all. There are no guarantees. We managed to see deer, monkeys and Indian wolves.

The drive through the forest well and truly churned our insides and rattled our bones that we were surprised to find ourselves in one piece when we exited and found ourselves on the highway.

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The next day found as the Banasura dam. A beautiful place. It was a bright and sunny day and having left our hats and sunglasses in the tuk-tuk, we got ourselves nicely toasted in the merciless sun as we went boating. The park and the garden had a neglected air, and the plants looked as if they were not tended enough. But there were plenty of butterflies around. We did not have enough time for me to spend capturing them.

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Next stop, Soochipara (Soochi means needle and para is rock) Falls also called Sentinel Rock Falls. After walking down a slope for a considerable distance I found that the falls could be reached only by a steep climb down. That and the climb back) was an impossible feat for me. I had already taxed my knees the previous day and had to lose sleep over it in the night. Rather than being foolish, I decided to stay back. So this picture was clicked by my young friend, Rekhita.

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Karapuzha came next. It had closed by the time we reached. But our enterprising young tuk-tuk driver Chandu took us to an even better spot where we got a good view of the place. What’s more we even got to see a rainbow, which was promptly clicked by Rekhita.

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The next morning on our way back we spent some time at the Pookot Lake. We could hear a lot of birds, but we just did not have time to stay and wait to spot them. We did see a group of jungle mynahs high up on the branch of a tree and also egrets in the water. but what really caught your eye on walking around the late are the spider webs and the spiders waiting in them. We even thought that the name of the lake coudl be easily changed to Spider-lake.

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That sums it up. But of course that’s only part of what the place has to offer. There are a lot more places of interest. What we lacked was time. Work schedules and home called us back and though we were in Paradise, we had to heed that call too.

For more pictures from the Wayanad trip, click here

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