Kozhikode, Kerala 673001, India
A mountain pass with views of Western Ghat mountains covered in mists.
Location of Wayanad Churam
More about Wayanad Churam
Wayanad Churam (Wayanad Ghat Pass), popularly known as Thamarassery Churam connects Kozhikode and Wayanad districts of Kerala State in Southern India through national highway 212. The pass begins from Adivaram at the bottom in Kozhikode District and ends at Lakkidi at the top in Wayanad District.
There are 9 hairpin bends in the pass, numbered from 1 to 9 starting at Adivaram. Each bend takes one to a higher altitude offering a better view of the picturesque valleys and plains below. After the 9th hairpin on top, there is a viewpoint called Lakkidi Viewpoint that offers a beautiful view of the Western Ghat Mountains and the zig zagging roads through which the vehicles comes all the way up the hills. Lakkidi, located right after the viewpoint is a small town where the pass ends and Wayanad District starts.
Driving through the Wayanad Pass.
The drive through the pass is a spine chilling experience. The road has extreme bends and every bend has steep drops. The surrounding area of the road is under thick forest. It takes roughly thirty minutes to drive through the pass and maybe an hour more if you stop by to enjoy the view and have some snacks or tea from the small shops that are situated at the roadsides.
The entire length of the pass is about 12 km, there will be plenty of monkeys throughout the stretch. Although they are harmless, the monkeys won't miss an opportunity to snatch food items from the visitors.
The road will be covered in mist especially in the monsoon season (June to October). The mist could unexpectedly start to come down from the hills and cover the area quickly for minutes or sometimes for hours. At times the mists will be so thick that vehicles would have to stop on the road shoulders if they are not equipped with fog lights. It is very dangerous to drive on the sharp bends during heavy fog, although it makes the entire pass area extremely beautiful. The fog is unpredictable and there are more chances to see it in mornings and evenings.
Near to the top of the pass is a Ficus tree with a massive steel chain hanging on it. Called the Chain Tree, it has a story to tell from the colonial eras.
The Chain Tree and the ghost of Karinthandan
The story of the tree begins in Colonial Era when Wayanad was not connected by roads. Due to the heavy rainfall the area receives, Wayanad was blessed with lots of thick rainforest and only the native tribal people were aware of the trails through the forests. To get the area connected by road, British Viceroy in the 18th century announced a reward for anyone who finds a path from Thamarassery in Kozhikode district to Wayanad.
Karinthandan was a local chieftain of Paniyas (tribal community) in the Adivaram Region with knowledge of every nook and corner of the hillocks in the region. A British engineer took the help of Karinthandan to explore the paths in the dense forest and with his help found the route to Wayanad. Once the route was found, the engineer took Karinthandan to a mountain and shot him dead so that the credit of the route's discovery will remain with the engineer.
The British later developed roads through the forests trail and started exploiting the resources in Wayanad. But the road was never kind to the travellers. Many were killed in accidents and there were frequent attacks from the wild animals as well. Finally, a priest was called to study the cause of the problems and he indicated the presence of Karinthandan’s ghost in the area which is causing all the disturbances. After a lot of rituals, the priest managed to chain the ghost to a Ficus tree which is now known as the ‘Chain Tree of Wayanad’.
With time the tree grows and it is said that the chain bound on the tree grows along with it. A small temple named ‘Changala Muneeswaran Kovil’ sits adjacent to the tree and the deity in the temple is none other than Karinthandan, the tribal chieftain who was killed by the British Engineer.
Getting to Wayanad Pass and best time to visit
The pass is located in national highway 212. One will pass through it while heading to Wayanad from the Kozhikode side or vice versa. There are plenty of buses from both the directions that goes through the pass. The nearest railway station is in Kozhikode.
The pass never closes as it is the main road connecting Wayanad and Kozhikode. The best time to visit will be either in the morning or evening so that there are more chances to view it covered in mist. Months from June to December are also a good time to view the beauty created by the fog.