Part 2 – Things to do
This part speaks of how you can entertain yourself with the various options that Sterling has provided on the premises and also of the surrounding sight seeing possibilities that they have carefully curated, some of them actually unique to their brand, for example the exclusive visit to the nearby tribal village.
About Wayanad and things to do in its verdant and hilly surroundings –
Wayanad is one of Kerala’s 14 districts and is perched high in the Western ghats at over 1000 meters above Mean Sea Level(msl) and shares a border with the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It derives its name from Wayal Naad which means the land of fields (mostly paddy). Green from end to end, swathed in forests and fields, this tropical rain forest region bears a permanent freshly washed look and is a sight for sore eyes.
The jungles and hilly terrain make for safaris, treks, bird watching etc and the near by town of Sulthan Bathery offers tidbits of heritage via old monuments. A few locations of interest are –
The Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary which is the second largest in Kerala and offers possibilities of wildlife sightings like Indian bison, elephant, deer and if Miss Fortune (with the space) is in a great mood, a tiger 😀
Chembra Peak is the highest peak in Wayanad at 2100 meters above mean sea level and this is a popular trekking/climbing trail. This is quite a tough exercise and would be recommended only for those who are fit enough. However, the view is said to be worth the effort and in season there are plenty of takers. These activities are not to be undertaken during the rains though.
The Seetha Devi temple is located at Pulpally and is of interest, considering that it is the only temple to have installed idols of Luv and Khush, the children of Seetha and Lord Rama. The temple festival held annually in January draws a large number of devotees from different castes and creeds.
Edakkal caves are located at Edakkal 25 km from Kalpetta which is the capital of Wayanad district. Translating to ‘a stone in between’ it gets its name from a boulder that lies wedged between 2 stones, creating a cave like structure.
Kuruvadweep or Kuruva islands – which are a group of islands about 60 km from Sulthan Bathery. Rafting is one of the popular activities here. This is closed to the public during the monsoon months of June – September.
Pookot lake – a natural fresh water lake near the town of Vythiri, whose aerial view is said to resemble the map of India. Boating facilities are available here.
The town of Sulthan Bathery with its Jain temple, Assumption Forane church and local markets, is also a place of interest to the tourist. The Jain temple is a protected monument under the Ancient monuments and Archaeological sites and remains Act. The town gets its name ‘Sulthan’s Battery’ from the ammunition that Tipu Sulthan was supposed to have stashed in this very temple. This name has now been localized into its present form.
The Assumption Forane church is a Syro Malabar church is one of the major churches here. Large and imposing, its spires reach for the sky and its elaborate altar occupies the entire wall on the far end.
What to do at Sterling Wayanad –
While at the resort, one can indulge in a host of activities right from lying still 😀 to flying through the air.
The road facing rooms are conducive to just chilling out in the balcony and watching the wild animals stroll through the forest, in the early mornings and late evenings.
The lake facing rooms have balconies where one can sit and watch the still waters and birds that inhabit the lake.
There is an outdoor play area where children can work off their energy.
They can also use the games room and avail of the various activities like getting (fake) tattoos and glass and pot painting.
There are indoor games like Fusball, Table tennis, Air hockey, snooker and more.
Outdoor entertainment includes pottery making, Zip Line, Paintball target shooting, Archery etc.
Our Entertainment within the resort –
On Day 1 we reached at lunch time and after a heavy lunch and a quick briefing session, we tried our hands (or rather wings 😀 ) at flying through the air as we Zip Lined, of course ensconced in the safety of our harnesses. Not being of the overly adventurous kind, I was nevertheless persuaded by the person in charge and for a few seconds there Caro-Line was Zipping on the Zip-Line 😀 Initial fears tend to dissipate very soon and this can get quite addictive.
On the next day we tried our aim at Paint ball target shooting and Archery. One does not have to know where our shots landed or whether the arrows even left the bows … our real Target was to have fun and that we had in large doses 😀
Some of us also spun the wheel, not of fortune but of Pottery and a few alien looking earthen ware receptacles were born out of the (un)skill of our hands 😀
The intermittent heavy showers also prompted some of our group members to jump into the pool because they were getting wet in any case and decided to make the most of it 😀
The spa has a few ayurvedic treatments and massages listed but we did not avail of any due to lack of time.
The gym is small and has basic equipment. Of course considering the way we were fed by the chef and team, the only way I could have utilized the treadmill, would have been to curl up and sleep on it 😀
The resort itself is a beautifully landscaped space and one can just stroll around the property, taking in the beauty of the place or wander near the water body, drinking in (not literally) the beauty of its calm waters and surrounding multi hued plant life and if one is lucky, spotting an exotic bird or two.
Since we also had external sight seeing trips interwoven into our itineray, we could not explore the full potential of the resort. But then, that’s what repeat trips are for !!!
What we did outside the resort –
While there are a host of sight seeing options in Wayanad, as mentioned above, be aware that in the rainy season some of them might be out of bounds or difficult to access.
We were there in August, which is pretty much the height of the monsoon but we were lucky to have at least one dry day where we could manage the Tribal village visit. The second day however, had us largely depending on the large Sterling umbrellas and we could only visit the town of Sulthan Bathery and not attempt anything more adventurous during the daytime.
On Day 1 after our arrival and lunch, we did a bit of Zip lining and in the evening the resort had arranged an exclusive foray into the nearby tribal village. Treading through narrow paths amidst emerald green fields, with the palm trees rimming the horizon, we made our way past charming streams and quaint bamboo bridges to reach the little hamlet where a few of the tribal people have their abodes.
The tribals with their dwindling population are now protected and have been resettled by the government and have been provided with proper benefits like habitation, electricity, food and education, all of which are free of cost.
The first set of homes belonged to the Paniyas who had been agricultural workers and enslaved by the Malabar king in the days of yore. They are now employed as daily wage laborers.
One particular lady caught our attention with her sharp features and bright visage. Said to be 85 years old, she had the mein and ‘mane’ of a supermodel (in my personal opinion) and we were told that she walks 5 km everyday and does her own work. This also included cooking her food over firewood. She was definitely the highlight of my stay and with her kind consent, we made her our model for a few minutes with everyone vying for the perfect shot 😀
Her name was Karpi and I feel the urge the pun and say that she was was a Carbon Karpi of a supermodel !!!
Further down across some more paddy fields, was the cluster of homes belonging to another tribe called the Kattunayakas which literally means Lords of the jungle. As the term suggests, these are forest dwellers who worship all things related to the forest and who survive on forest produce. They are also honey gatherers and make a daily living by selling what they collect.
These tribals also rear some poultry and other domestic animals.
A long walk through the fields brought us back to our waiting bus and we reached the resort well in time for High Tea (more on that in the next section).
Day 2 brought much rain. Rain that began in the morning as a light shower and then pretty much decided to drench the earth through the day. Of course it could not dampen our spirits and we made the most of the itinerary, apart from a few activities that could not be undertaken.
We were to begin our day at 6.30 am for the nature walk and bird watching and despite our long day the previous day, we were bright and chirpy … which was more than what we could say for the birds though because the showers certainly deterred them from showing up 😀 Well a few of us were lucky and managed to spot one pretty, red (with and without the comma 😀 ) specimen.
Even though we failed to spot the little birds, we were rewarded with something much much larger and the outstanding feature of our morning was the majestic tusker who decided to show up and have his breakfast right across the road from us. Ignoring out hushed excitement, he took his time stripping the grasses and bamboo and elegantly shoving them in his mouth. We spent a good half hour watching the show as he nonchalantly played to the gallery. Close up shots were obtained, with the audience emboldened by the comfortingly large trench that separated the pachyderm from the homo sapiens 😀
The bird walk resumed after he had his fill of grass and we had our ‘fill of elephant’. Though we saw no birds, we took pictures of impressive looking anthills and even found a swing in the middle of nowhere. Needless to say we had a swinging time 😀 which was abruptly cut short as the showers increased in intensity and we had to return in haste to the resort.
After breakfast, we made a mid morning trip to the town of Sulthan Bathery and visited the Jain temple and the Assumption Forane church.
The fruit and vegetable markets being closed due to a transport strike, we could not shop for the seasonal fruits like avocado, rambutan, etc which we were told were priced very low in this place.
Back at the resort by lunch, we then proceeded to utilize our time in fruitful activities like pottery making, paintball target shooting and archery. We were also taken for a grand tour of the place, with the buggy and umbrellas helping us deal with the rain.
The Night safari was scheduled after dinner and we were keen to experience it, despite the chances of sighting being slim in that weather. We were reasonably lucky to manage a few deer and the hind quarters of an elephant that slipped away even before we could click. The safari took about a couple of hours in closed jeeps
Day 3 was departure day and we left after breakfast, hence there was not much that we did other than get our stuff together and reluctantly bid goodbye to the place.
For more pictures see My Facebook – Sterling Wayanad – Part 2 – Activities. Also catch me on My Twitter and My Instagram
Aug 6th-8th, 2018
Please Note – I visited Sterling Wayanad on the invitation of Sterling Holidays, which sponsored my entire trip and I thank them for the same. The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.