Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Kodagu, the coffee-land.


Kodagu, once known as Coorg is an administrative district in Karnataka state of India.  It was under the direct governance of British till the Indian Independence in 1947 and became an independent state in 1950. In the year 1956, during the re-organization of the states, it was merged with Karnataka and today it is the smallest district of Karnataka with Madikeri, formerly known as Mercara, as the district headquarters.  Kodagu, situated in the Western Ghats of southwestern Karnataka is famous for its evergreen forests, lush green valleys, sprawling coffee plantations, and fast flowing streams and is termed as the Kashmir of Karnataka.  To this Madikeri, myself and Rajam travelled from Bangalore in the air-conditioned luxury of Airavat, the Karnataka State Transport Corporation’s de-luxe service.

We stayed in Hotel Cauvery Residency, which is opposite to the bus depot, which we misread as bus stand while reserving on-line. So when we found that the hotel is a bit away from the town centre where all the shops and vegetarian restaurants are located and as we did not fancy the walk in the hilly town with all the ups and downs, we felt initially a tinge of disappointment over the choice.  But as the hotel was comfortable and the staff very courteous, our stay for two nights and three days became quite enjoyable though hectic.

As we landed in Madikeri  in the afternoon, we went round the local and nearby attractions the first day after lunch and brief rest. Our first visit was to the local fort, which is in the heart of the town.  The fort was originally built by Muddurajah and later re-built by Tipu Sultan, and now houses government offices.  There is a museum with ancient antiques like weapons, idols, canon etc.  Our next visit was to Abbey falls, which is about 8 kilometres from city centre. The winding drive on the mountain path to the falls is through the forests and coffee plantations,  You have to walk down another kilometre in the rugged path to reach the hanging bridge, from which you have a good view of the gushing waters of Cauvery that cascades down a mountain face.  We were told that this beautiful falls will present an awesome sight in monsoon.


From Abbey falls we retraced our steps to the city, to view other attractions there.  Our first stop was at Rajah’s tomb or the tombs of Dodda Virarajendra & Lingarajendra II.  The royal tombs provide a commanding view of the entire town. The tombs are of Muhammadan style with central domes and turrets. Even the bars of the windows are made of fine brass and adorned with beautiful engravings.  From Rajah’s tomb we made our way to Omkareshwar temple. This temple where the main deity is Lord Siva is also built in Muhammadan style with a central dome and turrets in four corners.  Our last stop for the day was at Rajah’s seat. This is the spot from where the kings watched the sunsets with their consorts and is a beautiful scenic spot.  From here you can have a fascinating view of not only the green valley but also of the curved road to Mangalore down the valley.   We sat here for sometime giving rest to our tiring legs watching the sun go down


Next day morning we started early for Talacauvery, the birthplace of Cauvery river.  It is 42 kilometres uphill from Madikeri.  On the way we spent some time in a coffee plantation. The source of the river is a small pond at the foot of the Brahmagiri hills.  The river originates as a spring supplying water to this tank. The water then flows underground to emerge as the Cauvery river at some distance and travels down the states of Karnataka and Tamilnadu before entering the sea at Poompuhar in Tamilnadu. Though it is considered  sacred to have a dip in the pond, we did not attempt it but only had the water sprinkled on our head. Nor did we venture to climb up the Bramagiri hills, as we were happy with the scenic view from the base of the hill and as we did not want to tire ourselves before the afternoon program.  Though there was a toilet facility here unlike some of the tourist spots, they were charging higher rates for the use of toilet by ladies(Rs. 5), as compared to the use of toilet by men(Rs. 2).

On our way back from Talacauvery we made a halt at Bhagamandala, where River Cauvery is joined by two other rivers, Kannika and Sujyothi. There is a temple built in Kerala style at this place of confluence dedicated to Lord Siva. The rivers Kannika and Sujyothi look like little streams at the point of confluence.  In the afternoon we proceeded to Bylakuppe, near Kushal Nagar to visit the the Tibetan temple, which is called the Golden temple in view of the big gold coated statues of  Buddha,  Padmasambhava and  Amitayus.  Bylakuppe is the second largest Tibetan settlement in India.

From Bylakuppe we proceeded to Nisargadhama, which is on our way of return to Madikeri, 3 Kilometres from Kushalnagar.  Nisagadhama is a picnic spot where Cauvery river splits forming an island, with a bamboo forest. A hanging bridge, deer park, elephant ride, tree-top shelters, boating facilities, dwelling cottages etc., all add to the charm of forest  scenery.  From Nisargadhama we made our way back to Madikeri

Next day after going round the shops in the city and getting the feel of the town through roaming round,  we made our way back to Bangalore, the same way we left, by Airavat service of KSRTC.   Photos of this trip can be viewed in my Picassa album “Coorg, the coffee-land” at https://plus.google.com/photos/102997826156729709715/albums/6110477543818351681?banner=pwa&authkey=CMbbifDhyr6kaQ
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