Rain Country in God’s Own Country!!
Long weekends are always welcome. After celebrating Onam (festival celebrated annually at Kerala) with our kin, we decided to spend rest of the weekend at a quaint hill station where beauty came alive through pristine greenery – Lakkidi, the gateway of Wayanad district in the north-east of Kerala.
This district being the meeting place of the southern states of India viz. Kerala, Tamilnadu and Karnataka, attracts many tourists, who look at getting away from the clamour and clatter of their busy city lives.
Towering mist clad peaks, tea plantations and verdant green forests would best describe Lakkidi, situated 700 m above mean sea level, at the crest of the Thamaraserri ghat pass. It is also one of the highest locations in Wayanad. Our stop was at Rain Country resorts, who describe themselves as haven of solitude and peace.
Journey up the winding roads leading to this tranquil place amidst the forest gets more enjoyable with the tiny waterfalls, gushing streams and floating mists which vanishes as fast as they approach as if they were just there to welcome you.
For the art & craft lover a visit to Lakkidi will never be over without a visit to Killikkurissimangalam the birthplace of Kunjan Nambiar, Kerala’s famous satirist poet, who is regarded as the progenitor of Ottanthullal, the traditional solo dance narration. His songs combine satirical barbs with rib tickling laughter. Some of the famous lines are still quoted to lampoon contemporary social injustices. The poet’s house is preserved as a monument by the Government of Kerala.
Traditional Nalukettu cottages, a pond, soaring trees, cobbled pathways and Chinnu – Munnu – a goose and a gander were there to offer a warm welcome as we entered the Rain Country resorts. A name, well kept we decided, since in the 2 days that we stayed there we witnessed rains almost every 10 minutes. It comes as no surprise that Lakkidi is recorded to register the second highest degree of rainfall in the world!
Both semi and fully wooden cottages, some in Nalukettu style are clean and cost you anything between 3000 to 4900 rupees depending on the cottage type as well as the meal plan you take up (you can check there website for more details – www.raincountryresort.com). We settled for a single cottage, one which had an excellent view - the misty mountains, the pond, the swimming goose and gander, the tall trees, we had it all.
None of the cottages have TV but one can stay connected to the world as the mobiles still worked. Another novelty is also that none of the rooms have intercom facility!! So for any requirement you either shout loud or walk in the rain to the cafeteria!! If you are of the type who keeps to yourselves then you can just pray that the staff visit to ask you for just anything! The ever smiling and courteous staffs though do respond very speedily to your requests. But the serenity of the place makes up for whatever shortcomings there are. They have a large recreation room with a mini library (nothing worth writing about though) and games such as table tennis, carom, badminton, etc.
The first thing that will strike you as you settle down is the sheer silence. No known noises which normally we have adjusted to and we filter out – the honks, the zooms & the traffic. The noise of the brook running along merrily broken by the occasional shrill cry of the Bulbuls, Blue jays & Babblers adds to the charm of the place.
Since we arrived late in the evening of Onam, there weren’t any guests besides us. So we were kind of pampered for one night with serious from attention from all. We demanded a campfire and though it was drizzling every 15 minutes – they did set up a grand one, just for us.
On the flip side there wasn’t a menu for us to select, rather we had to eat what was available, even the breakfast the next day was a simple – Puttu (a simple rice powder preparation) & Kadala (channa)! Later the cook was kind enough to both note and pander to our request for fish curry during lunchtime.
Weekend got them almost a full occupancy hence thus expanding one dish meal to a buffet. Food is not extra ordinary by any means but nothing to complain about also.
The campfire lovers will almost always have to settle with just the silence of the jungles broken by the noise of the insects in the darkness and birds, for the rains never stop. It’s a sight not to miss which we got from our cottage. As you sip your evening coffee or late evening soup, one minute you have a clear view of the place and then suddenly the misty mountain drops off the mist which falls just like a curtain on a closed performance. Slow vertical movement of the mist is just too beautiful.
During our sit outs, we couldn’t help but get awed with the depth of the beauty around. Also about the constructional challenges the owner might have undertaken to build the resort for there is no grid power which reaches this place and bigger vehicles like trucks cannot reach here which means there would have been logistical challenges as well. But as they say – all is well that ends well – for it’s a gorgeous property.
In the evening, we did a short trek (within the property) to a hilltop with a bird’s eye view to the valley and the other hills below. The view from there must be quite scenic from what the staff told us!! For by the time we reached the top in seconds the whole view including us got engulfed in the mist!
The wet grass houses many blood sucking leeches that one needs to be wary of. Best would be to wear shoes and long pants and always carry a small packet of salt (Spraying salt is the easiest way to dislodge the unwanted leech stuck on your leg!!). Also it would be a good idea to keep warm clothing (at least a jacket) to protect yourself from the strong cold breeze that blows forever.
We checked out on the 3rd day post breakfast and headed towards Pookkot Lake nearly a 5 km drive from the resort. Pookkot Lake, a fresh water lake is lined by dense forest and forms a centre of attraction for all tourists interested in boating. There is a nominal fee that one needs to pay for enjoying the boat ride. However, if like us, you are interested only in shopping at the handicraft shop, then you don’t have to pay the entrance fee.
The shop had something for everyone. Key chains, wind chimes and necklaces made of bamboo, bags, coasters, curios,… et al. We purchased honey, eucalyptus oil and bamboo items – 2 huge bamboo holder logs, plainly for aesthetic sense and few “rain sticks”. The reason why its called ‘rain sticks’ is because when you shake or roll it makes a unique sound of raindrops! (they are bamboo rolls filled with dried pulses). The tribal society which runs this shop is the source of livelihood for many a family as they bring their collection of natural produces here for the tourists. The honey collected from the wild is available in plenty and is highly recommended.
Then there chain tree, which we missed to check out. According to the story narrated by the locals, a tribal youth had helped a British engineer in locating a proper route in the dense jungle, when the former had failed to do so. Later, the Britisher killed the youth so that he could enjoy the credit all by himself. The spirit of the youth is said to have haunted the area and cause nuisance to the passerby. A priest was then called who chained the tree and hence the nuisance came to an end. People visit the tree with its huge strong chains.
All put together it was a relaxed weekend enough to pump you with energy to go about with your city life till the adrenaline rush slows and another such a trip becomes a necessity.
How to reach Lakkidi – The Kozhikode – Mysore National Highway, NH 212 passes through Wayanad district. The nearest railway station is at Kozhikode, 75 km from Kalpetta. Kozhikode airport at Karipur is the nearest airport. Lakkidi is 130 km from Ooty & 155 km from Mysore by road. Wayanad is well connected by road to various parts of Kerala and other neighbouring states. Buses go frequently between important centres. While travelling from Mysore on NH 212, at a place called Gundlupet the road forks, one goes to Ooty and the other goes to Sultan Batheri, which is a prominent town of Wayanad. (Source: Wikipedia)