Weekend At Kodagu

The boys and moi. Stop for some very important calls of the techy kind. It seemed like it had been ages since we got away from the buzz at Bangalore. We set that right this weekend. Anshul, our friend, the husband and I took ourselves to Coorg. Madikeri, in the Kodagu district is the seat of the Kodavas. We stayed at a home stay called Coorg Dreams at Gonikappal which is about an hour’s drive from Madikeri or Mercara. Coorg Dreams is run by an amiable giant and his wife.

A view of the estate swathed in morning mist.

The lily pond in the estate.

Their home is seated amidst 25 acres of coffee plantations, jackfruit and pepper trees and even has a spot of a lily pond running through it. The bungalow is large and well lit, with a view of the plantation all around, three large bedrooms that they let out to guests, a tiny basketball court with one hoop; which has mounds of coffee beans drying on it and an air of comfort and friendliness. The lady of the house conjured up sumptuous spreads every day and we stuffed ourselves for until Christmas. We spent the first evening walking around the estate and then lolling about nursing some chilled beers. The next day after a big breakfast of akki roti and jackfruit curry and (the only bleak spot) some tepid filter coffee (can you imagine? In a coffee estate?! Sulk!) we drove to Madikeri. The drive is beautiful and looks like unused footage from a Mani Ratnam film song.

We visited the Abbi Falls (which is also misspelled as Abby, no references to the star intended I should hope), the Kaveri trips down with some force here and the recent rains has swelled it to nice rush. We made a rather hurried exit; the place unfortunately has a very touristy ring and teemed with people. An entire ladies college from someplace in Kerala was making a visit, and flocks of young women with well oiled and carefully plaited hair scrambled all over the place. The walk down to the falls is just a tad a strain and I heard the refrain, “Ende daivame (my God)” repeated several times in different octaves as the young women puffed along.

We also stopped at the Nyingmapa Tibetan Monastery at Bylakuppe near Kushalnagar.

After the Chinese took over Tibet, several refugees settled here and it houses more than 250 monks today. The Golden Temple is beautiful, with towering figures of the Buddha, Guru Padmasambhava and Buddha Amitayus and lovely murals.

As we walked into the monastery, a stream of young monks rushed out after their prayers. I was rather taken aback by their demeanor. I probably expected a scene out of a Shaolin movie or something, but these were just young boys, who walked with a jaunty stagger, sang hindi songs and generally seemed happy to be let out! Like recess time in any school!

We then had lunch at the Coorg International, which did not quite stand up to its lofty title. I fussed about the dirty seats and the tablecloth until the husband shot me one of his ‘stop-it-you-obsessive-compulsive-madwoman’ look. If you are visiting Madikeri, the hotel Atithi for vegetarians or for non-vegetarians, the East End Hotel is the place you should be lunching at. Give Coorg International a miss. Once we got back and gulped some more tepid coffee, the husband and I tried some slam dunking with the basketball, while Anshul lolled about with his nose buried into a tome of Sherlock Holmes. The husband stands about a head and an arm taller than me and managed to beat me hollow. Then we borrowed rackets and a shuttle and tried some badminton as well. I pulled a hamstring and the husband huffed and puffed but put up a good game. Dinner was an interesting dish called kadabu, kadabus look like rasgullas, but they are salty and essentially are steamed rice balls. This is eaten with curry. And the gracious hostess had made us pork curry, three veggie curries, some salad and rotis and rice! Needless to say we packed in bucketfuls of everything and then gave remarkable imitations of sloppy, dozy hippos on a summer afternoon. We left the next morning. A lovely weekend after eons. A visit to Coorg is highly recommended. Its makes a nice salve for the soul.

The pics have been taken by Anshul, the shutterbug!