A Trip to Coorg, India — with short stories inside
I and my five other friends were planning to go for 5 day trip in monsoon. After a lot of discussion and arguments, we decided to go to Coorg. People say it is Scotland of India. I don’t know if it is true, I never visited Scotland.
I was not quite keen to visit Coorg. Since we stay at Mumbai, visiting Coorg would little expensive and I had also thought that Coorg is like a Honeymoon destination.
But, as the majority of my friends wanted to go to Coorg, we decided to go there. Since we had only 5-day trip. We booked flight tickets for Bengaluru and hotel at Madikeri(town in Coorg). Since, we didn’t wish to go for a planned itinerary kind of thing, so we did some research( cost & time) in this. Finally, we booked a car for 5 days from Bengaluru.
Our flight was scheduled late night, which got delayed for about 2 hours. We had booked Scorpio from Revv — self-drive car(Oh! not autonomous). We started our journey from Bengaluru Airport to Coorg. Bengaluru to Coorg is about 290 km. Road was quite good. My friend almost touched a speed of 150km/hr. On both the sides of the road, there were big tall coconut tress and medium-tall Betel nut trees. Misty clouds and cool weather with the sun about to rise. It was just perfect Start to our trip.
We entered Coorg district at 9ish. Roads of the town were very narrow with ups and down. Although we had two of our friends who knew Kannada(local language) to ask for directions, but both of them are very bad Navigators — compared to me.
Finally, after 40 minutes in the Madikeri town, we reached the hotel. After taking little rest, we went to some nearby Restaurant and had lunch.
To give a gist about Coorg, which is a district. And, all the Places to visit are a bit far away from each other. So, we decided to nearby places for the day. We went to Abbey falls, which was half an hour from Madikeri. Way to the falls is through some private coffee plantation. The sound of water falling down was awesome. Although, there was a lot of clutters from people taking selfies and posing for the photograph (my friends inclusive). I had some existential feeling.
Little Info about the Place:
I read it somewhere, Abbey in local language means waterfalls. British called it Jessy falls, in memory of some British officer’s daughter.
We had our first Coffee at this place and went back to the town. — Oh, btw, Coorg is one of the largest producer of coffee.
We also wanted to visit Raja’s seat, which is in the town itself. We went there before sunset in a hope to see the sunset. But it was complete misty and cloudy. Nothing was visible at the sunset spot. Not a great experience, but we had some fun in a toy train ride. :P
We went for dinner to Raintree Restaurant, since, I had googled for an authentic place to eat in the town. But, to my disappoint, there was no authentic food available.
As we reached our hotel, and the hotel guy told us that, whole Coorg district is on strike (closed/bandh) to demand justice towards suicide of Coorg’s DySP( Deputy Superintendent of Police).
Although we had condolences towards the sad demise of their DySP, but we had a wrong timing to visit the place, since our one day of the trip would be wasted. So, the hotel guy suggested us to leave Coorg before 8 am or else we won’t be be allowed to go out and have to stay at the hotel.
So, in the rooms, all of us started looking for places to visit outside Coorg. We had 2–3 options like Mysore or Mangalore. But, found some place in Kerala called Bekal. We chose to go there mainly due to two reasons. First, we had never heard of the place and wanted to explore. And, Secondly, one my friend wanted to add one more state to his resume of travel.
Next morning, we all got up at 4.15 sharp and without wasting time for tea or breakfast we left the hotel at 5.30 a.m. It was quite dark and I don’t remember the highway number. But for first one hour, the road was great. Since we were moving down the hill, the highway had a good amount of reflectors and direction signs — mesmerizing to see just the reflectors in dark.We left Coorg town in some time. It was an almost 3-hour journey to Bekal. We reached there at around 10 am. We had breakfast at one small hotel — pure authentic south Indian breakfast. Idli, Medu wada and something made of potato with Kerala parotha(flat-bread made from Maida flour). I had this parotha before in Mumbai also. But, the taste of the certain dish is authentic only at their place of origin.
We moved towards the beach, so this location called Bekal Resorts Development Corporation maintained by Kerala government was very good. Big space for parking, children’s park, walkway and changing room( not very great). There was a fewer crowd at the place, maybe because of monsoons. We headed towards seashore. We spent almost 2–3 hours there. Current seemed to little violent since it was high tide time.
Over the lunch at one restaurant, we were discussing the next place. There was Bekal fort nearby and we also thought to visit Talacauvery temple on our way back to Coorg, since the strike was only till 6 pm.
Bekal fort is quite a big fort along the coastline. I actually liked the coastline view. But, one unusual thing about the fort was that there was no palace, where the king would stay. We assumed that this fort was built for defence at the coastline and the main palace would be somewhere in the middle of the district. Also, I found the fort had a good strategic importance for defensive purposes.
From, this fort, viewing sea and listening to the waves hitting the rocks below was a bliss. I just felt that this moment to stay longer. I could see few birds flying and eagles flying above them. It was peaceful moments.
Later when I googled for the history about the fort. I found some interesting things. Firstly, this fort is largest in Kerala. And, yes this fort was not a centre of administration, it was specially built for defence purpose. Lastly, the song ‘Tu Hi Re’ from the Movie ‘Bombay’ was shot here.:P
We left the fort and started towards Tal Cauvery. After 1 hour or so, as we entered Karnataka, the next two-hour road was just awesome. The road was narrow and we were going up the hill which was in some kind of sanctuary. The journey was very beautiful with greenery on both the sides and small waterfalls on the cliff side.
I don’t know why, but after some time, I had haunted feeling about the road. The same turn was coming again and again..:P
We reached near tala Cauvery temple at around 6 pm. This was the dead-end road. As we got down from the car. We noticed something weird. All the shops near the temple were shut and there were few barricades. The fog was intense and we barely could see things. We headed towards the temple entrance which was like 300–500 m ahead. Along the way, all the shops were closed. Even the police station was shut. We saw a big entrance of the temple and in front of that a long line of barricades. The only way to enter was to climb over barricades and trespass.
All six of us looked at each other. I declared, we aren’t going inside. Three of us wanted to go since we had come this far. and rest two were unsure. I remembered along the road, there were few sign boards about the wild animals too because tala Cauvery is inside a sanctuary. And, I didn’t want to take the risk. I was pretty sure that I am not going inside.
My friends who wanted to go were trying to convince me that this is an adventure and we should try it and blah blah. But, I am kind of a person, who wouldn’t prefer an adventure where I had to go by unethical or illegal ways.
My friends said we will play rock paper scissor (a game) and take the decision. In best of 3 games, the outcome came in my favour. So, we went back into the car. Now, it was already dark, misty and started raining.
We had no signals in any of our mobile phones. We knew that we have to go down the road, but the roads had quite a few sharp turns and no reflectors along the way. There is no single car, bike passing by or in front of us. All six of us were silent and just looking at the road, although only one of us was driving the car. Actually, all of us had little fear in us and wanted to reach a safe place. Finally, in some time we reached a place where we got some signal. We found the route back to our town and reached there. It was quite a tiring day with a good amount of excitement.
Next day we started little late. We had decided few places according to the distance from our hotel. First, we decided to go for river rafting at Barapole river, for which we were all excited. We reached the place of rafting at around 2 pm.
We immediately got ready for rafting with all the safety equipment. Our instructor started giving instruction in a weird English accent which I did not understand at all. Once we got into the boat, he started demonstrating the basic actions and instruction sets in HINDI…:D
Overall experience rafting was good. It had 3 rapids and as per instructor the rafting at this river is more technical in terms of paddling. We left the place and directly headed towards Iruppu falls which is 8 km from the place.
Info about the place:
The falls is located at Brahmagiri peak and we need to trail through forest to reach the peak. It is actually located at the boundary of Kerala. Also, one of the tributaries of Cauvery river starts with this waterfalls.
As we were moving towards the peak, we could see various boards about the animals present in the forest. One of the boards I remember said that “Avoid talking and listen to the sounds of nature”. And, I obliged the instructions. The sound of the birds chirping and air breeze. Water falling sound was intensifying as we were climbing up.
When we reached the place, it was ecstatic to see a huge amount of water falling down. Water was gushing on the rocks. We went near the falls and sat on the rocks in the middle of the flow. I liked the water spray, it was rejuvenating for me. I closed my eyes for a while and the feeling was a bliss.
We left the place in some time. It was already dark and we had to travel 2 hours to reach Madikeri(hotel’s town). Along the way, I googled about some authentic restaurants in Madikeri again for dinner. As we reach the town, we went into the restaurant. It looked like authentic and traditional. We started ordering stuff. Again, there weren’t many options in Veg. I ordered bamboo sabzi(vegetable). I was first to taste it and didn’t liked the taste much. As my other friends started to taste, they hated it. Although, I don’t prefer to waste food, but the taste was actually very bad. One of my friends just called the waiter and immediately asked him to take away that dish. Again, I was disappointed with the authentic food.
We decided to cover few temples in Coorg. One was at a walk-able distance from the hotel. Omkareshwara Temple. The environment was quiet and pleasant.
Little Info about the place:
This Shiva’s temple was built by some king in 1800s. There is some story that, he had killed some Brahman(caste in Hinduism) and the spirit of the Brahman use to haunt him. So, someone suggested him that to get rid of this, he needs to get a linga(abstract representation of the Hindu deity, Shiva) from Kashi(Varanasi) and built a temple here.
Since we were not able to visit Tala Cauvery temple the other day, next we went there. This time, the place looked like typical pilgrim place. Too many people and all the shops opened. Being a holy place, there is a dress code in this temple which has to be followed by visitors — no sleeveless or 3/4th, or shorts allowed. There is a provision of clothes to cover these at some nominal charges.
Info about the place:
This is the origin of Cauvery river, located at Brahmagiri hill, 1,276 m. above sea level. There is small tank/kund wherein Cauvery river origins.
There are also temples of saint Agasthya and Lord Ganesha.
There are steps which go towards the top of the hill. But, the gate to the hill was locked. One my friends had previously visited this place. And, he had visited the top of the hill. It is said that even Arabian sea is visible from there. We inquired with the temple’s priest about the hill. He said it is a scenic point, but it is closed as of now. He continued, that two days back a wife murdered her husband, and since then it is shut. Police are inquiring about the case. It’s the same day, we had visited the place a day before. Just to verify, we asked a policeman, outside the temple again. Silently we went back to our car. All of us were speechless. What would had happened, if we would had trespassed the temple the other day. Victims or suspects.? In either case, big trouble.
Next temple was Bhagmandala temple, 8 km down the hill from Talacauvery. Near the temple, there is a Triveni Sangam( confluence of three rivers). Cauvery is joined by two of its tributaries Kannike and a mythical Sujyoti river. We just dipped our legs there headed towards the temple.
The temple is made of beautiful wooden carving. There are Bhagandeshwara, Subramanya, Mahavishnu and Ganapati idols installed. During 1785–1790, the area was occupied by Tipu Sultan. He renamed Bhagamandala to Afesalabad. In 1790 King Dodda Vira Rajendra took Bhagamandala back into an independent Kodagu kingdom.( Source: Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org)).
We had a traditional south Indian meal at nearby small hotel. And, I loved it very much. The plate filled with rice and one authentic vegetable, rasam(South Indian soup), another authentic Dal(dried, split pulses), Curd and papad (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papadum). It was just awesome. On our way back, we were thinking about that murder incident.
Since it was last night in Coorg, we went to the market in the town and bought Coffee and few other kinds of stuff.
Our Flight from Bengaluru to Mumbai was at around 10 pm. So, we had the whole day. We decide few other places on our way back to Bengaluru. First, we visited one coffee plantation. Guide of the plantation showed us variants of coffee plants and other various plants. He also explained us the process of making coffee. He even showed us the most expensive coffee which has a cost of INR 10,000 per 250 grammes. It is made from the faeces of a wild cat which eat the coffee berries from the plantations. It is called Kopi luwak.
Next place we went to Nisargadhama. This place is an small island made by the Kaveri river. It had some animals like rabbit, deer and you can feed deer a cucumber. This place was not that great — Semi zoo.
We quickly roamed the island and started towards next place. I was very interested in visiting this place. It was a Tibetan monastery in Bylakuppe. Before this place, I had never visited any monastery.
I liked the ambience. The whole experience was great. The monks in their red robes. Small children playing near their hostel. As we visited the big temple, I saw three huge Statues. The middle one was surely Gautam Buddha. The other two were Padmasambhava and Amitayus. One thing that made me furious, that it was clearly written at the entrance and other places inside the temple about the prohibition of photography. Still, people were clicking photos and selfies. Anyway, I was at a place, where people are known for their peaceful nature. I was discussing Buddhism with one of my friends and we were googling about Buddhism. We came know that next Buddha called Maitreya already has statues in other monasteries,which was surprising to me because the person/god which is yet to come this world has a physical picture. Also, we came to know that he will come to this world when all the teachings of Gautam Buddha are forgotten and people had forgotten about the dharma.
All these things were interesting to me. I would love to explore more about Buddhism and Buddha.
I would say we had a perfect ending to our trip. Quickly we had lunch and headed towards Bengaluru. We were little late to reach the airport thanks to the Bengaluru traffic and rains.
As I said before, I was little hesitant to visit this place. But, the experience I got from this trip is mesmerizing. I believe, if you are a traveler, there is nothing called as a good or bad place. Every place has something to offer. It’s just about your attitude and how much experience you want to take back home. And this is the best learning I got from the trip. For me, travelling is not about relaxing or chilling out rather experiencing a different way of life. To know different places, their people, culture, food. And in this process, you might even go closer to your own inner self.
P.S.- I had visited this place 6 months back — July-2016