History of Wayanad
Kerala - God's own country
Kerala , the southern most state of India is called to be God's own country. The rich greenery and backwaters are the main reason for this nickname. Many hill stations with moderate climate is another peculiarity of the state. All these hill stations are part of the Western Ghats that is now listed in world heritage chart. Wayanad is one of those loveliest hill stations.
Wayanad lies about 700 to 2200 m above the sea level. This is the main reason for the moderate climate of the place. It is in the north eastern side of Kerala. The historic place Kozhikkode (Calicut) is the neighbour district of Wayanad. Next neighbour is Karnataka state.
Story behind the name Wayanad
It is interesting to explore the story behind the place names. The specialty of Kerala is that Arabians were resided here. Also Portuguese people and English were here. French people were also here. So the culture , custom and language is a mix of all these. The various place names were originally in Malayalam . But later they were shortened according to the convenience of these people.
The story behind the name ‘Wayanad’ is very interesting. It says that once it was a land of paddy fields. The mainland were filled with only paddy cultivation. In Malayalam ( the language of Kerala) paddy fields are called “vayal” and the land of paddy fields as “vayal nadu”. When British people invaded to Wayanad they couldn't pronounce "vayal nadu". Like many other place names in Kerala the shortened the name "vayal nadu" as "vayanad". They spelled it as Wayanad as they didn't know the meaning of the name.
There is no single place called Wayanad. A whole area is collectively called Wayanad. Now , It is the name of a district in Kerala which came into existence on November 12 , 1980. Being a high range area ,it is the land of a number of cash crops. Various spices , tea, coffee, pepper and cardamom are the main crops cultivated in Wayanad.
A large population of Wayanad district belongs to tribal community. They include Paniyas , Kurichyars, Kattunaikkans and Kurumas. Kerala is almost rich with forests. The lion part of the reserve forest of state lies in Wayanad. Most of the tribal community reside inside forest. Hence tribes has suitable habitat in Wayanad.
Wayanad is told to be a land of ancient civilization. According to historians human life existed in an organized manner at least ten centuries before Christ !!! As a proof they point out the carvings in various caves. Such carvings are found in Wayanad also!! The important among them is the carvings in Edakkal Caves near Ambalavayal. When I visited there years ago it was told that the in-scripts seen in Edakkal caves is found in one and only one place in the world . It is in Iran !!! That means some relation existed between the people of these far separated areas Wayanad and Iran!! And when we realize that this relation existed ten centuries before Christ where there was no means of communication and transport our surprise increase and increase.
Rulers of Wayanad
The Rajas (means kings) of Veda tribe were the rulers of this land. But later it came under Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja belonging to Kottayam Dynasty. Later the Mysore king Hyderali invaded Wayanad and his son Tippu Sulthan continued as the king of this region also. But when Tippu defeated by British and signed the Srirangapattanam treaty whole Malabar including Wayanad came under Britishers.
So Pazhassi Raja has to fight to Britishers for retaining his rule. He cleverly used the tribal people especially Kurichiyars for fight against British. He adopted the guerilla war strategy which was unfamiliar to British. In guerilla war strategy , the soldiers will be hiding some where and when the enemy passes he will be attacked by arrow or something like that. But Pazhassi couldn't sustain before the strength and new war strategies of British for more. So he lost most of his people in wars. When he realised that he will be conquered by Britishers soon he killed himself.
Actually the British rule changed the history of Wayanad. They realized the fertility of soil of Wayanad and began the cultivation of tea and other crops. Also they built roads to connect this remote land to sea port in Kozhikkode and Thalassery. They also built roads to Mysore and Ootty , the nearest tourist places. Thus people began to flow from all these places for cultivation of crops and to settle in Wayanad. Thus Wayanad became a land of humans.
The rule of different kings , rich biodiversity with tribal population and the fertile soil had changed the story of Wayanad. Once it was an area of dense forest were people were afraid to go. Now people compete to get a place or villa or house in this hill station. As the climate change continues people are seeking for such hill stations and definitely the place of Wayanad in tourism map will be very high in coming years.