On the Western Ghats in southern India is a little green heaven called Wayanad. Cut out of the Northeastern part of Kerala, this district is one of the new hot-spots for travellers to South India. Of the many far flung attractions here, there is one thing you should not miss if you like scenic drives. I’m talking about what you could call the ‘gateway’ into this hilly district — that is when you are coming in from Kozhikode side — the Wayanad Ghat Section.
Locally known as the Thamarassery Churam (meaning ghats in Malayalam*), the roads through this ghat section stretches upto a good 15 kilometres and is made up of 9 hair-pin-bends through what used to be rugged terrain. All the way through, you will see nothing but greenery and some exposed patches of the rocky Western Ghats.
The scene only gets better with the altitude. As you get into the ghat section you pass through some rubber and areca plantations and then before you know it, you will be surrounded by wilderness.
You will get better views of the surrounding hills and the valleys in between them as you work your way up. By the time you get to hair-pin-bend 9, you get to see the mountain tops. And if it is a little foggy, there’s nothing like it: you will see the mountains in different shades of green till they turn blue in distance, thanks to the fog settling down in the valleys.
If it is just after the rainy season that you are driving this way, the road may not be in the best condition. But I promise you, the uphill drive will be totally worth it.
When you reach the top of the ghats, stop, get out of your cars and set your eyes on the breathtaking view. The best part of it all — try to get a glimpse of the roads in the lower levels. Check out how tiny the cars down there look. Oh! and those huge KSRTC* buses will look like match boxes. That is quite a sight.
A word of caution: before you enter the Ghat Section, just make sure your fuel tank has enough gas to take you up the 15 kilometres; remember that it is an uphill drive that you are about to go on. There are no fuel stations within the ghat section, as such. However, there are cooling stations for you: places where you can pick up some cool drinks or even cool your vehicle’s engines. There are a couple small waterfalls by the roadside where you will see some vehicles stop for some cold refreshments for their fuming radiators (it is an uphill climb, afterall).
If you are driving through the Wayanad Ghat Section during the monsoons or the winter months, you might be in for some thick fog and some really cold weather. But worry not, there’s hot tea available at the chaya kadas (tea stalls) in 2-3 places on the way. Hey, and look out for the monkeys too. You’ll find plenty of them.
Whether you are going up the hill or down — I repeat — don’t forget to stop at the top and look down the ghat section. The scenery will take your breath away.
Have a great drive!
PS: Be good. Yield to uphill traffic and don’t forget to honk when you get to the blind curves; there are way too many of them.
PS: When you are driving through the Wayanad Ghat Section, make sure to also make a stop at the Chain Tree or Changala Maram. It is located just after the Ghat Section if you are coming up the hills, or just before the Ghats if you are going from Wayanad to Kozhikode/ Calicut.
Read about the story behind the Chain Tree HERE
You might also want to read ‘Growing up in nature’s backgroud’ (What it is like to grow up in a plantation in Wayanad)