One of the must visit places in Wayanad is the Edakkal Caves. These are natural caves found in the Ambukuthi hills which are six kilometres from Ambalavayal and about twenty five kilometres from Kalpetta. To reach the cave, one will have to do an exhausting trek of 4000 feet for nearly an hour. Entry to these caves can be done by purchase of tickets only. The caves though naturally formed cannot take in a huge amount of weight. Hence only small groups are allowed inside the cave at one time. A telescope is placed on top of the hill to have a panoramic view of the city.
The Edakkal caves are not natural caves that are found in mountains but are actually a fissure caused by a piece of rock that split from the main rock. The name “Edakkal” has been given to these caves, as in the local dialect it means “split by a rock”. This rock is a single cleft divided by a boulder. The Edakkal caves has a cave like appearance due to the presence of a rock that acts as a roof to the cave. This may have happened due to the shift in climatic conditions over a number of years.
The earliest myth about Edakkal caves in the Ambukuthi hills is that the rift was formed when the rock was struck by the arrow of Lord Rama. Hence the name “Ambukuthy” which in local dialect means “struck by arrow”. A lot of deities of Lord Rama are found in and around the hills.
The Edakkal caves was discovered in 1895 by Fred Faucett, the then Superintendent of Police in Malabar. It is said that the superintendent found this cave during one of his hunting expeditions in Wayanad. He noticed a stone axe belonging to the Neolithic age on the coffee estate. On further expeditions, he found this cave up the Ambukuthi hills. Inside these caves pictorial drawings and writings dating back to the 6000 B.C have been found which indicated the settlement of human civilization. Edakkal Caves are the only ones in South India to have these pre historic drawings and writings.
The drawings found in these caves are from three different eras and can be dated back to eight thousand years. No wonder has it caught the attention of both historians and archaeologists alike. There are several wall paintings, inscriptions, and engravings found in these caves. These caves are also said to have been occupied several times at different points in history. It is interesting to note that the succeeding civilizations did not destroy the preceding civilization’s engravings or drawings. Certain rock engravings found in the Edakkal caves indicate the presence of the Harappan and Indus Valley civilization which were previously found only in the North. Over four hundred unique symbols integral to Harappa and Mohenjadaro have been found here. The “Man with a jar cup”, a repeated symbol linking the Indus Valley civilization is found in this cave.
This cave is a paradise for history buffs and adventure seekers. Edakkal Caves is open for visit all days between nine in the morning and four in the evening. Iron barricades have been placed near the drawings and writings so as to not damage the artifacts. A minimum of two hours are required to see and analyze the place in its entirety.
Travelers can reach the lower part of the Ambukuthi hills by bus or car. From here on, certain jeeps are operated for a cost of rupees thirty to forty until the middle. A maximum of six persons can be allowed at one time on a jeep. It is said that the most difficult part of the journey is the forty five minute exhaustive trek up the hill and one has to be physically strong to make it up the caves.
The entry fee for adults and children are rupees ten and five respectively. A charge of rupees twenty five is collected for camera and rupees hundred is collected for video cameras.