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Seeking youth and beauty in Wayanad

The region’s fragrant musk turmeric or kasthuri manjal is supposed to restore skin but finding it isn’t that easy.

Wayanad symbolises all that is romantic about Kerala: brimming lakes, foliage so lush it calms the eyes and mind, birds and butterflies galore, including the rare Banasura Laughingthrush found on the 6,890ft-tall Chembra peak. As a birder, I wish I could tell you that I am in Wayanad to see this bird, but frankly, I hadn’t heard of this beauty till I got here. I am in Wayanad to find youth. This is a story of reclamation. I want to show my octagenarian mother the land of her youth. I also want to buy that miraculous fragrant musk turmeric or kasthuri manjal (Curcurma aromatica) that grows wild in this region. By smearing copious amounts of it as Kerala women do, I hope to gain some of their youthful allure: shiny cheeks and dark curly hair.


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