India - Western Ghats, Wayanad, where we met an angel
Oh yes, it was really hard to say goodbye to our new friends in Kannur and to leave this wonderful piece of land in India. But, of course, we wanted to see much more of this country. So, it was time to move on. This time by bus. It was just a scenic 3 hours bus ride up the Western Ghats to our next destination: Mananthavady, including some steep hairspins with wonderful views.
In Mananthavady we had no idea where our prebooked homestay was (thanks again to Sreeranj for making the reservation!). We had the usual hassle with the Ricksaw drivers and finally found one who took us to the right place. What a peaceful oasis it was! We were greeted by a barking dog, named Bruno - the boss of the homestay. He does not like Ricksaws. Then came Beena, one of the angels in Varnam Homestay and showed us our simple but immaculate room. We had come from one beach paradies and found a real hill retreat. Beena immediately made us some nice Chai. Fresh fruit and biscuits were always
available. So we helped ourselves and decided that we will stay longer than planned. There is a lot to do in the Wayanad region and you can easily spend a week or longer there without being bored. We talked to some fellow travellers from all over the world and enjoyed the silence of the amazing garden. That was the perfect place for our daily meditation (for all those who do not know it, since 1 year we are regularly practising Atma Kriya Yoga, a special form of yoga from Sri Swami Vishwananda. If you want some more information, feel free to contact us). The dinner cooked by Beena and some more kitchen angels was simply wonderful. We had different curries, different kinds of rice and bread and veggies. Well, we definitely gained some weight while staying at Varnam's. Whatever wish you had, Beena made it come true. You wanted a special tea - no problem. You were sick - Beena was making you a healthy herbal cocktail. You had a question to the region, the tribes, or religion - well, just ask Varghese, Beenas husband, he was always more than happy to tell you everything. Sometimes, travelling can be so very easy and comforting!
The following day after breakfast we decided to hike to Kuruva Islands, some islands in a river not far away from the homestay. Bruno, the dog, came with us and showed us the way. We were very lucky as it was quite difficult to chose the right paths in the middle of all the farming fields. For a bit more than 1 hour we hiked past rice fields, banana plantations and coffee plantations. And we saw spiders of a size we had never seen before. They were huge! They were really scary and we were so afraid we even did not take pictures - but, hey, these guys are poisenous! On Kuruva Islands you have to pay the normal tourist entry fee (in India it is about the triple of the regular prize) plus some fees for the camera. Well, still it is not expensive. There were hordes of school classes around. Now, we are famous on a lot of indian Facebook accounts, I think ;-). They were crazily taking pictures of us. But, finally, we could "escape" and had a leisure walk around the islands and even saw one alligator in the water. Just in time we came back to the homestay for lunch. In the afternoon it was time for an indian safari in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. By jeep we drove through really rough streets in the sanctuary. And when we say rough, it is rough. For all ladies one advise: you have to wear your best sports bra! ;-). It was bumpy and very, very dusty. My white shirt was a mixture of red, brown and black afterwards - no chance to get rid of the colour with handwashing. And all this to see one Hanuman langur (which was a beautiful one, we have to admit) and 5 red spotted deer. No elephants, no tigers, no bisons, no wild boars or any kind of wild animal. It was a bit frustrating. When we came back to the homestay, we had a long and hot shower and a relaxed evening. There are also night safaris, but we felt like staying away from the dust for that evening.
The next day we went on a day trip through the Brahmagiri mountain range. With us came an amazing english couple, Laura and Adam. We had a great day together. First our driver took us to the Trissileri Tempel, an old Shiva tempel. We could not enter the tempel (that is normally forbidden for Non-Hindus) but it was nice anyway and had some very good energy. Further we continued through rice fields and the mountain range to the oldest tempel in Kerala. The Thirunelly Tempel is more than 1000 years old and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is a wonderful tempel (we could not take pcitures of it as it was forbidden). Nearby was a small lake full of lotus flowers with the padukas (feet) of Krishna where we stopped for praying. Afterwards we went to the Papanasini River. The river begins as a spring in the Brahmagiri Hills near the Thirunelli Tempel. According to tradition, Vishnu granted the power of the Papanasini river to wash away all sins as a boon to Lord Brahma, after Lord Brahma installed an idol of Vishnu at the Thirunelli Tempel. Well, and this was what we did - we washed away all our sins! :-)
Our last stop were the holy Irupa Falls on the other side of the Brahmagiri mountains surrounded by beautiful landscape. We walked up to the falls and had a lot of fun watching some locals in the water. Of course, all other tourists asked for pictures with us. Our favourite group shot was one with some middle aged pilgrims that spent the weekend together to do some pujas (offerings to the divine) and visit holy places. Back in the homestay we relaxed with some nice tea and another excellent dinner. Then, we were ready for the night safari. And after 1 hour we were very lucky. A big tusker was standing right in front of us on and later on, another elephant crossed the road. We saw many more deers and huge bisons and wild boars. The tiger did not show up - but honestly, we did not expect to see a tiger anyway. I am sorry, we do not have pics ot the night safari - it was too dark to take decent pics with our camera and we did not want to disturb the animals anyway.
Our last day was a lazy day. We hang around the homestay, talked a lot with the amazing hosts, went to the small village of Kartikulam for some shopping and Markus had a much needed stop at the hairdresser's. It was time to move on again. But we will come back one day to Wayanad. There are so many other things we had missed and there are so many great hikes to do - these are good excuses to come back and enjoy the hospitality of Beena and Varghese, our angels.
Our next stop: the city of Mysore.