Silent Stories of The Rocks of Edakkal Caves in Wayanad, Kerala, India
The steep trek had left him breathless. He paused to take in huge gulps of oxygen even as he steadied himself by holding on to the stooping branches of a tree. From his looks, it was apparent that the man was dead tired, but his eyes shone with the intensity of a man on a mission.
He knew that he was very near to his goal. It had all started with his finding the axe in the Coffee Estate that he was staying in and now he was so near to the culmination of his quest. The trek up the hill had been tiring but his excitement grew as he entered a natural rock shelter. What he saw stopped him in his tracks and he stared in incredulous awe.
The rock walls of the natural shelter were filled with Stone Age carvings and included stone scripts, ancient weapons, symbols, crude animal and human figures, and much more.
A broad smile lit up the tired face of Fred Fawcett, Superintendent of Police of the Malabar District.
The year was 1895. This was probably how Fred Fawcett discovered the Edakkal caves in the Wayanad District of Kerala.
More than a 100 years later, engulfed in the same excitement that Fred Fawcett had, we drove down to Wayanad District in the southern state of Kerala for our own tryst with the Edakkal Caves. The drive in itself was quite enjoyable as we approached the Wayanad forests. Our road trip to Wayanad definitely looked promising.
So eager were we to see the caves that we drove straight towards them without checking in to our place of stay, which was a delightful little villa nestled amidst sloping tea gardens. The fact that we had driven for almost 6 hours from Bangalore did nothing to dampen our spirits. We looked forward to seeing Edakkal Caves which is known as one of the top Wayanad tourist places.
Arriving at the Edakkal Caves Wayanad
The Edakkal Caves are located in Edakkal in the Wayanad district of the southern state of Kerala, India. The caves are situated about 25 kilometers from Kalpetta which is the headquarters of the Wayanad district. The Edakkal Caves are approximately 280 kilometers from the city of Bangalore and about 127 kilometers from the royal city of Mysore.
After leaving Bangalore in the early hours of the morning we drove straight to the Edakkal Caves and reached there in the afternoon. There is a parking lot where we parked our car. One needs to walk to the caves from here.
The Walk to The Entrance of the Edakkal Caves Wayanad
Leaving the parking area we started walking on a steep road. Our attention was immediately drawn to a fascinating looking open Church by the side of the road.
A board informed us that this was the St. George Malankara Catholic Church, Kuppakkolly. It is a church dedicated to Mother Mary who is known here as Edakkal Amma. The small open church has some beautiful rock carvings of Adam and Eve, Mother Mary, Jesus, and also the Pieta. Interestingly one of the pillars has the sacred Hindu symbol Om, a silent testimony to the secular nature of the place.
We tore ourselves away from this little church and made our way up a road which had a gradual incline initially and then steeped quite steeply. Our backs automatically stooped to keep the center of gravity balanced.
The road was lined with small shops that sold everything from souvenirs to spices and coffee to chocolates. On our way back we bought some homemade chocolates and they turned out really good. They were quite reasonably priced too, considering the fact that they cost almost half of what it had us in Thekkady where we had been a few months ago.
There were some spectacular views of distant hills against the backdrop of an azure sky that seemed to have been dabbed with random strokes of white. As the road was sheltered by the trees on the fringes it was a pleasant walk, barring the fact that the steepness of the road did test your fitness level to a certain extent. But the views and the antics of small monkeys that played all around ensured that spirits were high as we trudged along.
The Walk up to The Edakkal Caves Wayanad
The road which got steeper as we moved forward eventually led us to a ticket counter. A gate nearby was the entry that would lead us to the Edakkal Caves. After buying our tickets which are nominally priced along with a ticket for our cameras too we entered the gate.
The climb to the Edakkal Caves is in itself an adventure of sorts as you negotiate some rocky trails surrounded by lush greenery all around. We had left the road behind and now we had a rocky path to tread on. We enjoyed the walk, though we were slightly out of breath.
We soon reached what looked like a cul de sac at first glance but was actually a narrow passage between the boulders that lead to the first of the caves.
We had to climb a steep rocky stair hewn from the stone and hoist ourselves between the rocks to reach the entrance to the first cave.
Inside The First of the Edakkal Caves Wayanad
After maneuvering ourselves between the rocks with some dexterity, we reached the entrance to the first cave which is enclosed by a steel gate.
There was a small stream inside the cave and apart from the ubiquitous selfie seekers, not much to see. But the importance of this cave is the fact that it is the lower chamber that forms the Edakkal Caves and supports the main cave. Looking around we saw a small flight steel steps leading upwards from the cave. This was the way to the main cave.
Once we climbed out of the first cave we were met with the sight if a steel staircase that wound up the hill.
The views got more and more spectacular as we ascended towards the top. The clear blue skies enhanced the beauty of the surroundings. It looked as if a sea of green was merging with a sea of blue on the horizon.
After a steep climb that took us about 1200 meters above sea level we reached the entrance to the main cave of the Edakkal Caves, only to find that we now needed to descend another flight of steel steps into the caverns of the cave.
Inside The Main Chamber of the Edakkal Caves Wayanad
Once inside the cave, the feeling was one of awe and intrigue. The rock walls were flush with engravings. Symbols, geometric shapes, wheels, faint shapes of animals and humans vied with each other to grab your attention. It actually resembled how a blank sheet of paper would look after giving a kid a free hand to draw whatever they wanted!
The stone carvings indicate the presence of a prehistoric settlement in the cave dating back to 6000 BCE in the Neolithic period.
The carvings and painting inside the cave are from different periods and suggest that the cave was inhabited at different periods in history. A connection to the Indus Valley Civilization is also probable and being explored by experts.
The Edakkal Caves Wayanad is not actually a cave but is a rock shelter that has been naturally formed by a piece of rock splitting away from the main body. The Edakkal Cave measures approximately 96 Ft. by 22 Ft., and has a depth of about 30 Ft. A cleft between two huge rocks provides a spectacular but narrow view of the outside world.
History and Myths of the Edakkal Caves Wayanad
We now know how the Edakkal Caves Wayanad was discovered in 1895 by Fred Fawcett. But there are many myths associated with the caves. One of the myths is that Lord Rama shot an arrow at the mountain leaving a deep cleft and forming what we now know as the Edakkal Cave. The caves are situated on top of the Ambukuthi Hills and the name itself roughly translates in Malayalam as “Pierced by an arrow”. The name Edakkal itself also translates as, “stone in between”, in Malayalam.
Exiting the Edakkal Caves Wayanad
Once you are inside the main chamber of the Edakkal Caves, there is only one way out and that is the same steel stairs that you use to descend. We heard that the number of visitors allowed at a time inside may be restricted in case of heavy crowds for this very reason.
We waited to allow a huge group of school kids to ascend the steep stairs before making our way down. The exit and entrance are common for part of the way and then separate. The descent down was expectedly faster and we did not have to go through the rocky path or the lower chamber of the cave. Reveling in the fresh and unpolluted air, feasting our eyes on the lovely views we made good time to reach back to the parking lot where our car was parked, but not before feasting on some of the homemade chocolates that we picked up on the way.
It was a very satisfying experience and we rank Edakkal Caves as one of the best places to visit in Wayanad. The stone age carvings at the Edakkal caves were the highlight of the visit to this place. A one day trip to the Edakkal Caves when in Wayanad is a must. We loved it; as on the one hand, it had the thrill of adventure, while on the other the Edakkal Caves fed our curiosity and interest in the origins and evolution of Man.
Edakkal Caves Route Map
Good to Know Information Before Going to the Edakkal Caves Wayanad
- One should earmark at the least 4 hours for exploring the Edakkal Caves inclusive of about two hours of trekking to and fro to the caves
- The Edakkal Caves steps are steep and not for those whose physical fitness levels are not as desired
- The Edakkal Caves are open from 9.30 AM to 4.30 PM and can be visited throughout the year, but it is best to avoid visiting during the rains as the paths would be slippery
- Try to visit the Edakkal Caves on weekdays as it may get a little crowded on weekends, the caves are closed on Mondays
Other Places of Interest near the Edakkal Caves Wayanad, Kerala
Historical tourism in Wayanad is very interesting apart from eco-tourism and nature tourism. Places like the Edakkal caves are of great historical significance. Below are some of the attractions to experience when you are in the Wayanad district.
- Chembra Peak
- Wayanad Heritage Museum
- Soochipara Falls
- Banasura Sagar Dam
- Pookude Lake
- Chain Tree
- Kuruvadweep or Kuruwa Island
- Jain Temple at Sulthan Bathery
Where to Stay when visiting Edakkal Caves
One should plan for a minimum of 3-4 days itinerary for Wayanad as there are many attractions to be experienced apart from the Edakkal Caves. There is no dearth of accommodation options which range from resorts in Wayanad to homestays and hostels. One can stay in Kalpetta or Sulthan Bathery or Vythiri and from there explore the prehistoric Edakkal Caves, Wayanad. We stayed at a quaint villa in Vythiri amidst lush tea gardens.
Voyager FAQ on the Edakkal Caves Wayanad
- Where are the Edakkal Caves located?
The Edakkal Caves are located in a small village by the same name in the district of Wayanad which is located in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
- What are the timings for the Edakkal Caves?
The Edakkal Caves can be visited between 9.30 AM and 4.30 PM.
- What is the Edakkal Caves trekking distance?
The distance from the parking area to the Edakkal Caves is approximately 1.5 kilometers.
- What about the Edakkal Caves entry fee?
There is a nominal ticket charge for entry into the Edakkal Caves as well as a separate charge for a camera.
- What about the Edakkal Caves to Kuruva Island distance?
The Kuruva Island is at a distance of about 45 kilometers from the Edakkal Caves.
- What is the Bangalore to Edakkal Caves distance?
The Edakkal Caves are about 280 kilometers from the city of Bangalore.
- How about Sulthan Bathery to Edakkal caves distance?
Edakkal Caves are about 13.6 kilometers from Sulthan Bathery.
- How about Kalpetta to Edakkal caves distance?
Edakkal Caves are at a distance of about 25 kilometers from Kalpetta.
- Why visit the Edakkal Caves in Wayanad?
The Edakkal Caves are a must visit for its Neolithic stone carvings that date back to 6000 BCE. The trek to the Edakkal caves is also an adventure in itself.
- Are the Edakkal Caves the earliest centers of human habitation in Wayanad?
The Edakkal Caves in Wayanad are proof of the existence of early stone age inhabitants in Wayanad and in fact, are the first archaeological sites pertaining to the Neolithic age to be discovered in South India.
- How far is it from Edakkal Caves to Chembra Peak?
Chembra Peak is at a distance of about 35 kilometers from Edakkal Caves.
- Are Edakkal Caves one of the top attractions in Wayanad?
Yes, indeed we rank the Edakkal Caves as one of the top attractions in Wayanad and a must see in Wayanad.
We love archaeological sites which tell an intriguing story of the evolution of Man and his migration from Africa. That is why we loved the archaeological sites of Mlheia in Sharjah as well as the Edakkal Caves. Are you interested in archaeological sites? Which is your favorite archaeological sites? Do let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
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