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Explore the Art & Cultural Heritage of Wayanad

The Western Ghats serving as a huge barrier shielding Kerala from the rest of peninsular India, there have always been a small trickle of visitors transgressing this mountainous terrain. Relics and edicts found in various parts of Wayanad speak of an important pre historic era. Isolation further enhanced development of unique ways of life; traces of which survive intact amongst Wayanad’s tribe to this day. Passing through a period of Jain dominance, we come to the modern era wherein there are marked influences from prominent historic figures like Tipu Sulthan and the Pazhassi Raja. The eventual colonisation of the area by the British paved the way for organised agriculture which in turn led to large scale migration into the district. Each of these events, as well as several less known ones, have left their mark on the heritage of Wayanad. Come, retrace this fascinating Cultural Heritage!

Wayanad has the largest population of aborigine people in Kerala. They belong to different distinctive tribes, of which the principal ones are Adiyar, Kurichyar, Paniyar, Kurumar and Kattunaikar.

Many of the tribes are traditionally forest dwellers, and as such have perfected ways of living in harmony with nature. Some tribes are also proficient in techniques of organised farming. Of particular mention are their indigenous streams of holistic herbal medicine which is getting increasing attention in recent years. The Adivasis also have a rich legacy of arts and crafts. This includes music, dances, ornamentation and handicraft that draw inspiration from natural themes, motifs and material.

Arts

The major tribal arts performed in the district are Vattakali and Koodiyattam using thudi and kuzhal by Paniyas, Gadhika by Adiyas, Kolkali by Kurumas and Nellukuthu pattu by kurichias.

Wayanad Cultural Heritage

This temple is one of the most important amongst a series of Jain ruins spread across the state of Kerala, testify to a period of a strong Jain presence in this region. Believed to have been built in the 13th century, it served as a Hindu shrine, an important for centre for commercial activity and eventually as a battery (ammunition store) for Tipu Sultan’s marching armies.

Distance: Kalpetta: 24 kms. Sulthan Bathery: 12 km. Mananthavady: 41 kms.

Edakkal Caves

An interesting trek up the Ambukuthi Hill near Ambalavayal town takes you to the fascinating neolithic cave site of Edakkal. Etchings found on the walls of these caves have drawn the serious attention of archaeologists and historians worldwide. With at least three distinct sets of petroglyphs, the earliest thought to date back over 5000 years, it is assumed that the Edakkal caves had been inhabited at various stages in history.

An interesting attraction close by is a telescope installed by the DTPC a few feet from the caves that offers a panoramic view of the surrounding country.

Distance: Kalpetta: 28 kms. Sulthan Bathery: 12 kms. Mananthavady: 45 kms.

Wayanad Heritage Museum

Located in the town of Ambalavayal, this museum is home to an interesting collection of artifacts that shed light on the history, culture and heritage of the Wayanad region. These include headgear, weapons pottery, and objects associated with tribal life. A series of pictorial rock edicts referred to as Hero Stones, memorialise a bygone age of valiant warriors.Adjoining the museum is a small theatre where you can watch a multimedia presentation on Wayanad.

Distance: Kalpetta: 25 kms. Sulthan Bathery: 10 kms. Mananthavady: 42 kms

Muniyara

Excavations at various points around the foot of the Ambukuthi Hill have unearthed a distinctive series of ancient burial vaults commonly called Muniyaras. Remnants of Stone Age tools and pottery found within these cellars are now displayed at the Wayanad Heritage Museum.

Distance: Kalpetta: 27 kms. Sulthan Bathery: 11 kms. Mananthavady: 44 kms.

Uravu

Uravu is an NGO that works in the area of indigenous sciences and technology. They run a successful bamboo crafts design and production centre along with a bamboo nursery. Uravu has a whole range of functional and decorative products created out of this wonderful material found so abundantly in Wayanad. You can view and shop for products at their sales outlets, one at Thrikkaipetta and another at Pookote Lake.

Distance: Kalpetta: 12 kms. Sulthan Bathery: 23 km. Mananthavady: 45 kms

Chain Tree

This large Ficus tree, bound by a prominent chain is the source of a dramatic local legend. As the tale goes, an Adivasi youth named Karinthandan was instrumental in guiding a British Engineer through the difficult mountain terrain into Wayanad. Eager to take credit for the discovery, the engineer conveniently killed his guide, whose soul according to the legend constantly haunted subsequent travellers. It is further believed that a priest chained the troublesome spirit onto this tree.

Distance: Kalpetta: 16 kms. Sulthan Bathery: 41 kms. Mananthavady: 51 kms

Pallikunnu Church

Dedicated to the Lourdes Matha, Pallikkunnu Church was established in 1905 at the initiative of a French missionary Fr. Jeffrine. An interesting aspect of this church is that it has several rituals and practices similar to those prevalent in Hindu temples. The annual 2 week Perunnal festival in early February draws large throngs of devotees from other parts of Kerala, as well as outside.

Distance: Kalpetta: 19 kms. Sulthan Bathery: 38 kms. Mananthavady: 23 kms.

Korome Mosque

This nearly 300 year old mosque is built in traditional Kerala style with extensive wood carvings. Originally built by local Nair gentry, Korome Mosque to this day is seen as a sterling example of communal amity. The annual Uroos festivities draws participants from all religions.

Distance: Kalpetta: 47 kms. Sulthan Bathery: 52 kms. Mananthavady: 23 kms.

Paingatteri Agraharam

This is a settlement of Tamil Brahmins organised in the classic architectural typology of row houses. Their ancestors are believed to have come from Thanjavur in Tamilnadu principally as cooks to the royal household of the Kottayam dynasty.

Distance: Kalpetta: 28 kms. Sulthan Bathery: 23 kms. Mananthavady: 07 kms

Pazhassi Raja’s Tomb

Pazhassi Raja, a scion of the Kottayam royal family was one of the earliest to strike the banner of revolt against British overlordship in this part of India. Taking refuge in the Wayanad hills, he resorted to classic techniques of guerrilla warfare against superior British forces. He remained successful for a remarkably long period until finally the English brought in heavy reinforcements from Madras and Bombay.

This Lion of Kerala was downed in a ferocious encounter that took place at Mavilanthode in the last days of 1805. Pazhassi’s tomb marks the point where he was cremated.

Distance: Kalpetta: 35 kms. Sulthan Bathery: 42 km. Mananthavady: 01 kms.

Valliyoor Temple

This temple dedicated to the Mother Goddess, manifest in the 3 principal forms of Vana Durga, Bhadrakali and Jala Durga is an important place of worship for various tribal communities in Wayanad. Every year a 15 day festival is held in March/April.

Distance: Kalpetta: 24 kms. Sulthan Bathery: 31 kms. Mananthavady: 5 kms.

SeethaLavaKusha Temple

This is the only known temple dedicated to Lava and Kusha, the sons of Lord Rama. Local legends connect this region with many important episodes from the Ramayana. As the favoured shrine of the Pazhassi Raja, this temple has traditionally permitted entry to devotees from all faiths.

Distance: Kalpetta: 50 kms. Sulthan Bathery: 25 kms. Mananthavady: 41 kms

Thrissilery Shiva Temple

This stunning temple of rather perfect architectural proportions, is inextricably linked with the Vishnu temple at Thirunelli. It is believed that the performance of ancestral rites at Thirunelli remain unfinished unless followed by offerings at this temple. Within the premises there is also a shrine devoted to Jala Durga, believed to have been installed by no less a person than the legendary warrior Parasurama. There are many myths connected with the temple tank here, which curiously enough never dries up!

Distance: Kalpetta: 50 kms. Sulthan Bathery: 25 kms. Mananthavady: 41 kms

Thirunelli Temple

Nestled amidst mountains and forests, the ancient riverside temple of Thirunelli is a fine specimen of classical Kerala temple architecture. Legend has it that this temple was dedicated by the Creator, Lord Brahma to propitiate the Preserver, Lord Vishnu. The idol is in the form of Chathurbhuja. Often referred to as Dakshina Kasi (the Kasi of the south), this temple draws pilgrims from all over, primarily for ancestral rites. The two main festivals here are in April and August/September.

Distance: Kalpetta: 64 kms. Sulthan Bathery: 71 kms. Mananthavady: 29 kms.

Papanasini, Thirunelli

A short walk from Thirunelli temple is the clear mountain spring known as Papanasini. A ritual dip here is believed to wash one away of all worldly sins.

Distance: Kalpetta: 64 kms. Sulthan Bathery: 71 kms. Mananthavady: 29 kms.

Jain Temples (Ruined)

Apart from the Sultan Bathery temple, there are other significant Jain remnants in Wayanad. The temples at Punchavayal and Puthenangadi are the best known of these. With their beautifully carved pillars now partly ruined, and the area rather derelict, these sites exude a peculiar aura of mystery

Distance: Kalpetta: 20 kms. Sulthan Bathery: 18 kms. Mananthavady: 21 kms.

 

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