Day 2 started on a relaxed note. I was assured that Edakkal Caves isn’t going to be as strenuous on my breathing as was the trip to Chembara, because there is a jeep ride which will take us from the car parking to the entrance of the Edakkal Caves, which is a steep path. So I had a very sumptuous breakfast (complimentary from the Hotel and they had quite a variety) and was all set to go. First stop was to the Edakkal Caves. I started on the drive, but if I remember correctly, I had to handover once steep curves came into picture. I still get a little panicky on driving the curves and a little scary atop the hilly areas. C took over from me once he noticed my discomfort.
Once we were near the caves, there was written in huge block letters Parking Lot and the guys there were forcing us to park. We weren’t even sure if that was the parking lot because GPS was showing us a little further ahead for the stop. But then we paid the parking and got down and then found that it was the first parking lot and there were two other which are little above and closer to the starting point. God, this path to the starting point to the entrance itself was so steep. I was literally fuming and was cursing the guy in the parking lot. We could have parked it much closer to the entrance 😦 . Then came the next surprise. They have stopped the Jeep ride, ever since they had laid the roads. So we have to walk. It was so steep and I had to walk on a full stomach. If I had known that, I would have at least have had a light breakfast. I can never do any heavy or strenuous stuff with heavy stomach. But now we do not have a choice do we. Seeing my panting ‘C’ took my bag from me and I held on to my camera. First stop was to the Edakkal Amma shrine.
There are some nice carvings in this shrine. Right from the Adam and Eve thing to the Water to Wine (if I understood A correctly) event. It looked old and offered a sort of a peaceful sight. After that walk on the steep path which has stores on either side offering omelette, bamboo payasam, water, crafts etc all the way to the entrance. Since this is a plastic free zone, you need to take a sticker if you are carrying a water bottle and pay for it (if I remember correctly Rs 100 for each bottle you carry) and on return show the sticker and get back the money. Just making sure you are not throwing the plastic over up there. The up going stairs in stone is wide enough for a relaxed climb except for in some places where it is slightly narrower and steeper. But definitely climbable. Since I was still recovering from a severe body pain of the previous day trek, it was more tiresome for me. There was a family where the dad and mom were carrying kids and walking up. There is a different route to get down, which is good. After climbing for a few minutes you will reach a small cave, which you have to climb on rocks. And once you are inside that, you will have a small steel stairs to reach the next landing. From here to go to the upper cave, you will have stairs which is shared for climbing up and down and its quite narrower. There are people who are there who regulate the people up and down so that there is no blocks. Once you are up there, you will realize how high up you are. Till then it looks like a small climb. But then you are actually around 1000+ mtrs high. Almost half of what we did the previous day, except that most of the way was done driving and around 20-30 mins of it (if you are a slow climber) will be done in the climbing (right from the parking lot). And then the final landing leads you to the 2nd cave, which is more of a hidden sanctuary for the people in those days. You see the carvings which depict some tribal chief (along with inscriptions in Tamil and Malayalam, even though I couldn’t read either of those languages in those inscriptions) seeking sanctuary in that place. All the carvings are done using straight lines as was done in Stone Ages. There is also a rock which is held by the two huge rocks forming the cave. And there is a small gap which is closed, which actually shows how the two huge rocks are separated by a small gap. From there you can actually fall down to the small cave where we climbed. So they have closed it. Here the pictures. There is nothing much to see except for these inside those caves. There used to be a trek from this place to above, which is obviously closed now. After that all you have to do is climb down using the steel stairs. The whole trip will not take more than 45 mins to 1 hour max if you want to stop in between for eating something on the way down. We stopped for a Bamboo payasam. The strenuous part for me was the steep road climb from the parking lot till the entrance where we get the tickets. The stairs I was OK with. The previous day trek’s did a number on me so it took more effort than what I had expected and the heavy breakfast did not help me either. But I was happy to do it finally :). Seeing new places always brings me pleasure. And it definitely is worth a visit.
Just make sure to keep it a plastic free zone and it is something people of all age can try, albeit with a slow climb.
After that we drove our way to Karapuzha Dam. The drive was all rosy until we reached one end of the Dam from where the entrance was closed. So we have to wind up all the way to the other side and that road is so pathetic with a huge hole on the way, it is just scary. You need to do a full circle to the other side of the entrance.
If you see the left picture, we were on the left hand side of the dam and then drove all the way to the right hand side. But then again once you are at the entrance of the dam, you don’t any entrance fee, but you have to register it with the local person there with the head count. And then walk all the way again to the dam :). But at least this time it is on a flat surface and trust me, I was never so happy. The other side of the walk is the water body and this side is the dam and its outlet. There are three gates and since the monsoon was good this year in Kerala, it was almost full. The place also had enough people coming and going but never can be fully crowded. There is not much there except for the water and a good view and may be some relaxing time. It does make for some good photographs with all the green and blue. The path is not a fully laid out one. You can get down to the see the water gushing too. Only ‘A’ went down for a photograph. I was not keen on exercising my legs any more. After spending around 20-30 mins there we headed back to Kalpetta for our lunch.
Our lunch was at the usual Woodlands and after the lunch we started on our way to Karalad Lake. It is a pretty small lake where you can do boating if you want to do that. But it was quite empty when we were there except for a family and entry is free again, but camera is charged. Fishing is prominent there. You can see on all sides of this small lake, people in the shores carrying on their fishing. They have a garden also but not that well maintained. That is where we saw a snake crossing the path to the garden. It was putting on a show for us. I think it wasn’t scary but I don’t take my risk where snakes are concerned. So clicked a few shots and came on our way. We were there for around 20 mins or so just for relaxing and then started on our way to Banasura Sagar Dam.
It was raining on and off everytime we were driving and sometimes it was heavy. But most of the time the weather calmed down when our destination arrived. When we were nearing the Banasura Sagar Dam entrance road, it was heavily crowded. Because it was a Saturday and evening time, there was so much crowd that we had a tough time to park our vehicle a little away from the entrance. There was a board in the entrance which says that the photography is prohibited and so I was skeptical to take my SLR with me. I don’t want to leave it in a locker room there if it wasn’t allowed. So took my digicam and in the drizzling rain, made our way to the entrance. All the places we have been till then was either empty or there were very very less people. Sort of our private place to enjoy as much as we please. But this was a big exception. There were heads everywhere. And it was drizzling continuously too. When we were about to get our tickets, we saw that the cameras were allowed :(. Too bad they haven’t updated the boards. Now I had to do with the digicam, even though A offered to go back to the car and get the DSLR for me. I didn’t want to risk it due to the slight rains.
Once you get the tickets you have to walk your way up to the entrance of the flat surface of the dam. This is the largest earth dam in India as per the board there. And the view was great from there. It was almost to the brim, thanks to the generous monsoon. Too much crowd inspite of the rains. But still the place was huge enough to hold all of them.
We had to walk all the way to the end to rent a Speed boat which will take you around for 15 mins. But guess what, the ticket counter was opened only till 5 pm and it was already 4.15 or so and there were a huge crowd of 80 people already with tickets. So there goes our chance for a speed boating experience in the rain on the dam which is full. We waited there for some time to try and find out if there will be any gap but even though the rain started pouring, no one was deterred. Everyone was enjoying. And the rate for the speed boat is 500 Rs and I think if I remember correctly it doesn’t matter if you are family of 6 or a single person. All the rain, the greenery, the surrounding hills and the thunderous clouds all give you a kind of peace, if you know what I mean. Its oddly pleasing in a different way. We walked around. There are places for kids to play around. We were there till 4.50 or 5 pm and were on our way back to the car. There is only one parking lot there and the rest are used as parking lot near the curves. And since it was raining, it was very muddy and skidding too. Taking the car to the main road took more effort actually.
That was our last stop for the day and we started on our way back to the hotel. It was a satisfying day just like the previous day. Except for the fact that we did not do the boating in Banasura Sagar Dam. And the rain picked up speed on our way back. We stopped in a Cafe Coffee Day and had a leisure cup of cappuccino and drove back to Kalpetta. The dinner was as usual in a very simple place called Udupi Veg Restaurant, but instead of walking our way we drove there at night. A game of cards, preceded and succeeded the dinner. And I terribly failed in the game. It just wasn’t my day. The previous day, I had won the series. Even though I wasn’t strained as the previous day, it was still tiring and ‘C’ was doing the driving around and I know that he must have been exhausted. I envied both for being so strong and fit :(. I really have to do something about it.
The next day was our final day in Wayanad and ‘A’ already had a few things planned and it was gonna be a late start just as this day.
Edakkal Caves : Opens from 9-4 pm. Better to go early before it gets crowded. Also there are three parking slots available. Park it in the third one, even though people will call you in the first slot itself, unless you are willing to walk the steep roads. You might have to walk a little bit on the steep way (around 20 mins or so if you are a slow walker) even to reach the entrance of the caves to get the tickets. Earlier there used to be a jeep to take people there, but since they have laid the road it isn’t allowed anymore.
Fit for all ages to try it out. There are places which are little steep otherwise good to visit. Except for two caves with one having the oldest carvings and the beautiful view from there, do not expect anything else. Try the Bamboo payasam on the way back down 🙂
Karapuzha Dam: Entry is free and its just a stretch of land with the Dam and the lake on each side. Nothing much to offer except for some good views and relaxed walk.
Karalad Lake: Entry is free, but Camera is charged. Again, nothing much to do and its not quite crowded as is Pookote or Banasura. Fishing is done here and you can rent a boat for 10 people for 100 Rs if you want. Or you can have some peaceful time and enjoy the view, just like we did.
Banasura Sagar Dam: Highly populated during weekends and the boating (Speed boat) is restricted to booking only till 5 pm. And there is always a huge rush to it. The board in the front entrance (even before the gate) says that Photography is not allowed, because this is sort of a private property. Do not get fooled by it just like us. You can use the camera’s, you just need to pay for it inside. You might have to walk a km or less and then again the whole stretch to the right end to go to the speed boating place. In the monsoon season it is quite filled to the brim and is pleasant to see.