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Pradeep Murthy runs Muddyboots, a travel company that offers bespoke vacations in the destinations of Wayanad, Malabar, Nilgiris and Coorg and the many wildlife and biodiversity hotspots in the region. Needless to say, Murthy is bullish about the region, Wayanad being one of his favorite. It only seemed apt, then, to sit down and listen to what he has to say about one of south India’s least explore (and almost waiting-to-be-discovered) travel destination, Wayanad: Also Read - 'We Are Not Allowed to Speak in Parliament', Says Rahul Gandhi After Ruckus in Lok Sabha

1. Wayanad is a district in North-east Kerala, about 300km from Bangalore. The closest ‘big’ town, with an airport and railway station is Calicut, 65km away.

2. Wayanad is where the Western Ghats meets the Deccan Plateau, which makes for dramatic landscapes comprising soaring mountains and deep valleys. It also helps that the average altitude is 2500 feet above sea level, which keeps the climate cool most of the time.

ALSO SEE 47 interesting things you should do in Wayanad

3. The best season to visit Wayanad is between late October and early February. But surprisingly, May is pretty good too. The worst of summer will be over, and the short bursty summer showers get the greenery going.

4. Wayanad is a great place for a traditional holiday: do some sightseeing and just chill. There are resorts to suit every budget and prices range from less than Rs 2500 per night at a homestay, to several thousands at the top five-star resorts. You can get a good selection at wayanad.org, maintained by the Wayanad Tourism Organisation.

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5. Local sights include Asia’s second largest earth dam (the Banasura Sagar dam), Edakkal caves (where you can see the 6000-year-old rock engravings from the Neolithic age), ancient Jain temples and a host of waterfalls (Soochipara Falls, Meenmutty Falls etc) and lakes (Pookode lake, Karalad lake etc.). Thirunelli temple is called the Kashi of the south and its picturesque location and the drive to it through three wildlife sanctuaries make it a lovely day trip. The Kuruva islands, a riverine ecosystem consisting of about 1000 islands on the Kabini River, used to be a great choice. However, access restrictions by the Forest department means that presently, it is probably best avoided.

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6. Wayanad’s topography with hills, jungle, mountain streams, plantations and rivers make it a great spot for trekking, cycling, camping, bamboo rafting and a host of outdoor activities. MuddyBoots offer a great selection. Adventure Zone Pozhuthana, which offers a full day of hiking, cycling and bamboo rafting is an easy, popular choice suitable for all age groups and fitness levels.

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7. Wayanad is ringed on three sides by wildlife sanctuaries, among them legends such as Bandipur, Muthanga and Nagarhole. These contiguous forests sprawl over 11000 sq km and are home to a quarter of India’s tigers, the largest population of Asian elephants and a whole host of endemic flora and fauna. Muthanga and Tholpetty offer jeep safaris, but sightings are rare. Ask the locals (or us) for some insider tips on how and where to spot elephant and bison.

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8. Speaking of sightings, the avian life in these parts is staggering and a nature walk accompanied by an expert birder is an amazing experience.

9. Finding some time for an ayurvedic massage or three is a great idea, whether you are chilling or climbing mountains. Monsoon is reputedly the best season for a massage – the cool, humid air helps the skin absorb medicinal oils better, making the massages especially beneficial.

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10. Wayanad has been known for spices since ancient times. Wayanadan pepper (or Wayanadan BOLT, as it is known) is highly aromatic and extra spicy and is much in demand internationally. A word of warning: if you buy some, make sure it is a trustworthy source and that you are buying more pepper and less dried papaya seeds. Cardamom is another locally-grown spice – ask for 8mm green, the best quality.

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11. While the local cuisine is typically delicious Kerala fare, the little shack at Thettuvazhi on the way to Thirunelli offers the most delicious unniappams, a traditional Kerala sweet made of rice, jaggery and coconut oil.

So there you are — get your bags packed as soon as possible and discover your own secret nook in one of the world’s top 10 spots to be in!!

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