Coorg: Day 2

We spent 3 days in Coorg. The first day we all trekked to Thadiyandamol. On the second day, we were not very sure of what to do. So, we asked our hosts and they suggested visiting Mandalpetti to us. Since that place is accessible only by Jeep we hired one. We set off for the place by about 10. The ride was very interesting. The road was horrible and unsuitable for anything except heavy vehicles and jeeps.

After the tiring trek of the day before, just sitting and watching everything from inside the jeep was very pleasant. Eventually we got to the place.

It is a series of hillocks and you can enjoy nice views from atop them.

Frankly speaking, we thought it was a bit underwhelming after Thadiyandamol. But, still, there were strong winds and we just walked around, clicked a few photos and had a cup of tea from a shack there.

It was then that they mentioned the real attraction of the place. If required the guys there can arrange for camping there overnight. Now, that would be very cool. I bet that the sunrise would look awesome from there. Anyway, after tea, we set off.

We then went to the Jesthu river. After the sun at Mandalpetti, the clean beautiful stream really helped us cool off.

After playing around in the water, we then left for Coorg. We had initially planned to go straight to Raja’s Seat to see the sunset from there. But, we had arrived earlier than we had planned to. So, after grabbing a quick lunch we decided to go to the Omakareshwara Temple which is in the heart of the town.

We all went inside and walked a couple of times around the sanctum sanctorum. That night was Shivarathri and the temple was abuzz with activity. We could see priests chanting, musicians playing their instruments, workmen putting up tents etc.. It was all very interesting to watch. But, unfortunately they did not allow us to take the camera inside the temple.

As I was walking around the temple pond, I saw that diyas were being placed around it on the steps.

I thought that they would look pretty cool when lit in the night. So, we decided that we would come back after sunset to see the celebrations. After that we went to Raja’s Seat which was close by.

Raja’s seat was, as its name implies built for a king to witness the sunset from. And, it really is a place fit for a king!

There was a garden, a fountain, benches and stadium like seats on which people could sit and comfortably enjoy the sunset every evening.

There were a lot of people there . But, it was not very crowded and the atmosphere was very peaceful and relaxed.

After the sun touched the outline of the mountain in the distance it started sinking fast and within the space of a few minutes it disappeared.

After sunset we hung around for a while as it was still light.

After the sunset, the place took on a different air. I really enjoyed walking around the garden and taking in the sights and sounds.

Then, they turned on the musical fountain. We watched it for a while with the kid who accompanied us.

After that we went back to the temple as we had planned to. The celebrations were just starting there when we arrived and some pooja was going on. Once, when I had gone to Agumbe, I visited a temple there. The atmosphere inside was electric and the sights and sounds mesmerizing. But, sadly, I did not have my camera with me then and it was quite a loss!

Soon, the chanting stopped and the priests walked in procession around the pond.

After the procession got over, there was a brief period of silence…

Then, what I had come for happened! They turned off the big lights and started lighting the diyas.

Soon, the whole place was ablaze with the flickering light of the tiny lamps.

I think that people and objects look more beautiful in the soft light of oil lamps.

Suddenly all the sounds and bells stopped and a pall of silence fell over the place. All the lamps had been lit. Wherever I looked there was a riot of color and lustrous beauty shining in the yellow light of the dancing flames.

It was quite a sight to see!

After hanging around the place for a while more we set off for our homestay and to a phenomenal dinner of Coorgi, Pork, Chicken, Chappathis, Rice and some veg dishes that I didn’t even bother about. Again, there was a big whiskey fueled discussion. But I can’t remember the subjects now. All I can recollect is that Veliyettan kept asking for the meaning of the work “hypocrisy”!

The full collection of photos is here.

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Trek to Thadiyandamol

I have read a lot about Coorg(Kodagu) and it was always there on my list of places to visit. So, one weekend we(Me, Valiyettan and Nipun) decided to go there and relax for a couple of days. I did a bit of research and found a couple of home-stays. We booked ourselves a room at Reena Devaiah’s home-stay. We set off for Coorg on Friday night and arrived there by about 5 in the morning. We took an auto to get to the home-stay which was around 7 kms from the town.

After getting there we freshened up and after break-fast had a discussion on what to do that day. We decided to trek to Thadiyandamol. So, we set off on foot to the main road, and got ourselves a lift to town. On reaching the bus stand we saw the bus that we were supposed to take(yo Kakkabe village) was about to move out. So, we decided that we would have break-fast from somewhere on the way and jumped onto the bus. On the way they stopped at a place and I bought a few packets of biscuits and water. But, we didn’t eat anything proper.

On getting to the base, we realized that there were no places to eat there. I was kind of okay. But the other two guys were throwing me sour looks once in a while as they were really hungry. We also did not have any guide with us. But, we got lucky. There was a Belgian couple(Michael and Florence) who had also come by the same bus and were going to trek to the top. They had a guide with them. So, we went and talked to them and made friends with them. So, we had some one to point us the way at least.

We started on our trek. The initial part of the trail was through some coffee plantations. We could see the coffee trees and smell their fragrant flowers.

The sun was already high up and the heat was considerable. Luckily, I had bought along a lot of electrolyte and we mixed it with the water. I was in a silent mood. But, that was completely okay as Michael and Florence were very interesting company. Veliyettan was discussing the economy of Belgium, growth prospects of the technology industry here and other such very weighty matters. Nipun too was bugging the poor woman with some such talk. I was running ahead as I wanted to spend some time and learn how to use my new camera while they caught up with me.The walk was a long one. On the way the guide made a small detour and we got to a stream where we filled our water bottles and ate some of the biscuits.

After that the grade started increasing and we were gaining altitude. Very soon we started seeing more and more people. They probably had set off in the morning. We had caught up with them. The sky was clear and at every turn I could see the magnificent mountains spread out in all directions.

After a while, just when I thought that the sun was too much the trail plunged into tree cover. The air was cool and the air light and refreshing.

I walked like a machine and sped up like a rocket. As the peak neared and the crowd started to become thinner and thinner my enthusiasm and energy started peaking. Finally, in one surge of energy I got to the very top. I was awestruck by the breathtaking vistas spread out in all directions.

Usually, whenever I go trekking, there is almost always a lot of cloud cover and I never get to see anything worthwhile.This time it was different.

I just let myself fall down and lay there looking up into the sky. Just behind me a bunch of guys from BMC(Bangalore Mountaineering Club) had come up. I talked to them and spent some time discussing about previous trips and stuff with them and exchanging email ids.

With Michael and Florence

After a while Michael, Florence and their guide came up and behind them Veliyettan and Nipun.

Nipun

Renjith aka Veliyettan

We all rested for a while. We did not have any food with us and the strain was starting to show.

After some time we set off on our way down. All of us were really hungry. We had asked a guy at a home stay on the way to prepare lunch for us. By the time we got there we were nearly faint with hunger.

Almost every home we saw had coffee beans spread out in front!

I had managed to nearly starve my friends to death. But, thankfully, the lunch was worthy of our raging hunger! There was salad, rice, sambhar, moru curry, cabbage, pulavu, mulaku bhajji, bananas and more. We dug in and in no time we had decimated all the food on the table.

The home-stay(King’s Cottage) where we had lunch

Satiated we lay back and asked for some coffee.

Veliyettan relaxing after lunch

I don’t know whether this is a psychological thing or for real. But, there is something special about Coorgi coffee. We sipped it and just lay back in the easy chairs and let our eyes roam around the pleasant garden they had.

After a while, we made our way back to the road, caught a bus and got back to Coorg. We bought some “medicine” for our tired bodies and set off for the home stay. Luckily, for me, the other 2 guys were vegetarians. This meant that all that beautiful chicken prepared in the delightful Coorgi style with Pork Masala was for me alone. We ate to our heart’s fill. I, Nipun and Veliyettan had never, up until then, caught up with each other since we left college. It was a wonderful night and all of us slept fitfully after dinner. The next morning I woke up early and walked through some nearby plantation.

After that I just sat back and relaxed with a cup of coffee.

What happened that day is for another post!

The photos are available here.