A chapter in the book of memories
By Sharadha Kalyanam - BANGALORE
16th August 2012 09:39 AM
Coorg was where we decided to get away together and it happened wonderfully and yet another chapter has been written in the book of memories.
Zipping up my black wind-cheater I got into my friend’s grey car and we drove down to Deve Gowda Petrol Bunk to join my Coorg team. We drove our way out of the sleeping city into the arms of Madikeri: The Scotland of India.
We steered through the sleeping city at 1 am on the Kanakapura Road. To kill sleep, we pulled over next to a highway petty shop to have tea. The shop was obscured along the highway by lack of proper lighting and a group of men already taking a break. We slept in turns and reached the hilly expanses of Madikeri as the little city slumbered in its most peaceful hours.
The weather was pleasant and we did not need warm clothing. We directly headed to our home stay.Our caretaker Christopher Amanna (Uncle Chris)was standing outside the cottage, smiling. We quickly freshened up and fell into peaceful slumber.
Vacations are when you choose to forget the existence of watches, clocks and alarms. After a good night's sleep, we got ready for the day.
Breakfast was served in the form of oily puris that had hardened in the cold and a yellow dish with boiled potatoes sautéed in oil, turmeric, and seasoned with mustard. We downed plenty of coffee, every sip of which spelt ‘salvation’ in that cottage portico where we all leaned against the wall and just stared at the sky and foliage and spoke of random things.
Our first destination that morning after a bumpy drive full of hair-pin bends was Talacauvery, the point of origin of the much disputed river Cauvery. Located atop the Brahmagiri Hill, we got there on passing the Bhagamandala temple and decided to pay ode to the latter on our way back. We walked up to the main shrines, one of each built for Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha. Then, we halted at the Bhagamandala temple for quick darshan and returned after sitting in the huge empty corridors typical of our temples where a group Shabarimala devotees clad in black mundus broke coconuts one after the other.
We browsed shops around the place and picked up toys and bead necklaces for loved ones back home, and had masala cucumber and masala soda from a loud, lanky and persuasive vendor by the side of the road.
We visited another pond which had a relatively smaller shrine and stood on the first step leading into the water. It felt heavenly as we stood there looking at the crowds around us either bathing in the river, or standing by and watching or taking a dip just like us, and thanked the day for being so pleasant.
Our next stop was Abbey Falls. On reaching there, we had to climb down a path surrounded by trees and what you would call, a staircase made from the roots of trees which have been existing for we don’t know how long.
Without much ado, we reached the yellow and green bridge that hung across the falls, and stood there along with at least 50 others and felt the weight make the bridge dangle, and the sounds were eliminated by the gushing water. A snake was spotted along the banks of the stream and we could see it from top.
In the evening the caretaker set up a bonfire for us by his garden. We sat around the dancing flames and sang songs.
Sunday dawned shining like a newlywed bride. We packed up and bid goodbye to Amanna, his dogs, his blue house, blue well and unconditionally warm personality and drove to Dubare which is an elephant camp.
Separated from the main town by the River Cauvery, we breakfasted on Dosas, Idli and vadas before buying our passes to cross the river by boat to reach the camp.
The reserve did not have too many elephants at the time. We walked around the place and decided to cross back on foot as the water levels were really low owing to the weather that had turned the river way too dry.
We could see the rocks on the surface and so we started walking down and realized how priceless the experience was compared to the pittance we had paid to come by boat! After a long walk, we all reached the bank .
We wanted to visit the Harangi Dam but found that it was unmanned, sealed and dried up as well. So we decided to visit the Namdroling monastery at Kushalnagar. The landscape around here was markedly different.
Large, round eyes had become narrow slits, noses had become flat, the skin colour lightened and the largest part of this population was in maroon-yellow monk robes; with little shops selling colorful Tibetian goods.
We walked into the temple which was golden, the shine and beauty of it accentuated by the sun’s powerful light and the colours on the temple building with various figures moulded on to it looking fabulous against the light blue sky.
We walked into the main shrine which had three gigantic, meditating figures with Siddhartha in the centre, flanked by two other kings-turned-into-monks, with lips curled in unruffled smiles which brought out and made you feel the inner peace which lay within the monks who existed thousands of years ago.
Pillars with dragons wrapped around them, seamless murals painted all over, showing the war between the good and the evil painted the scenes around as and we walked into a smaller shrine with 5 lamas in the middle of a prayer ritual.
It was the most crowded place we had visited in the trip. We were unsure of halting here, but decided to atleast have something to eat before proceeding.
Walking a little down to avoid the Balmuri Falls, we enquired how far the Yedumuri Falls were, but decided against the visit for we had to head back home.
With its lush greenery and picturesque landscape, Coorg never fails to impress.
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