Per my dreams and wishes, I was planning for a Singapore trip during May end. When that was dropped, I hoped for a Andaman tour. And when that too could not happen, to compensate, a Madikeri tour was planned.
But this tour, I did not think would be go so un-smooth. The start itself was an omen of sorts. When I started from Chennai to Bangalore, I and my colleague(RP) reached railway station, after a leisurely dinner at around 11:45, station was like never before. Almost empty station and we had tickets for 9:45 train. As if that was not enough, we didn’t have enough money. The CorpBank ATM had communication failure. ICICI Atm was nowhere to be seen. I was ready to go back, sleep and catch next day morning’s train. RP had other plans. We took an auto to Koyambedu, searched for ATM, went to private bus station which too was empty, took a bus to Vellore, and then to Chittor. Twas 6:30 in Chittor via another bus to Blore and were at home by 11.Huh!
If one thing that made the journey endurable, other than the wind blowing through window less buses, was the talk about Kajol. RP, who was once a big fan, remembered his old days.
Detailed plan about the places to be covered, route to be taken, distance and duration details, alternate routes, alternate options were all thought out. We decided to cover the places in a normal 3 day Madikeri tour and then proceed with our own plan. Some additional places were kept in mind if we had time.
A day before starting, we heard that it is raining heavily in Kundapur. If we face problem, we decided to change the plan but however start with the tour. So early morning, we started after the usual delay by driver. Confirmed with him that there is a MP3 player, I took my CDs and started to Srirangapattana.
Visited Nimishamba temple, Ranganatha Temple (which IMO was very good), Mini Golgumbaz, Sangama and proceeded towards Ranganatittu. (Except for Ranganatittu rest were driver’s choices. If we didnt object he could have gone to Mysore and then proceeded to Kodaikanal, his favorite route apparently) Just before we could start boating, it started to rain. We decided to wait and after around half an hour we went on boat and saw birds and crocodiles from a closer proximity. This was the first time rain decided to play with us, trying to discourage us and the game continued through out the tour.
Off we went to Bylakuppe and visited Golden Temple/Buddhist monastery. Huge statues are seen to be believed. Prayer hall was serene.
Went to Nisargadhama. 958 It is a forest department run rest house. It is kind of natural island formed due to the splitting of river. The NDhama has lot of trees chiefly Bamboo. There are cottages available and is a good place for a quiet weekend getaway. It has a small canteen, deer park, boating and children play area. The it-might-rain-now climate was a wonderful feeling. The colour of river water was dark brown indicating the heavy rainfall that was happening in the area we were next supposed to go.
Halted at Kushalnagar.
Morning first stop was Harangi Dam. As the water has not yet raised, it was no special attraction. But I must recall, this dam is much better visit than we did during Waynad.
Dubbare forest is an elephant camp. It is a habitat for 14 elephants. And in normal days, one can feed the elephants, bathe them, ride on them. But during rains, no activity is allowed and we just ‘saw’ an elephant.
By now we were hearing that it is not possible to go to Talacauvery and to Bhagamandala due to blocked roads due to heavy rainfall. These were the two places that were in our list.
A customary visit to Fort and Raja seat(which is a neat relaxation place during evening I guess.) happened and we proceeded towards Bhagamandala. After we enquired from the bus returning from Bhagamandala, we felt there was no point in trying. I suddenly remembered that we can plan to Padi Iguttappa temple which is as far as BM. While going towards it we found many Iguttappas(later came to know that there are 3 Igguttappas. Main one is Padi Iguttappa. Iguttappa means one who gives food. He is a form of Shiva and he is considered to be father for Kodagu and Kaveramma is mother of Kodagu). When we reached there, the temple was not yet open. But the priest stays nearby and we requested him to open the door and perform the pooja (explaining we have come from far and as we might have to return and we were running out of time). He was more than happy to oblize and he was more happier than us that we were visting the temple. He said only those with good fortune can make it and narrated several instances of people making to it accidently and people not making to the temple even though they wanted to. He also said, that if we had tried to come in the morning, it would not have been possible due to heavy rains and we were just at the right time. He performed pooja very well and even took us to his tome and served us with delicious Obbattu and coffee. He was even more delighted to know that we came to know of this temple from internet. All in all, it was a good part, unplanned surprise of our tour.
Then we returned to Madikeri and visited a Ranganatha Swamy temple. By this time it was raining too much. We halted to give us a chance to see if we could visit Tala cauvery and Bhagamandala in the morning, if the rain has stopped in the night and cleared the roads. But, in the night it rained so much again that this had to be dropped from the plan.
In the morning we set out to Abhey falls(which is wrong usage as “Abhey” itself means “Falls” in Coorg language)…as usual, while we were in car, there was no rain and it re-appeared as soon as we started walking towards the falls. Though we protected with the help of umbrellas, the breeze carried water in front of falls soaked us readily. The Abhey falls too was very brown and was jumping in such fury that I didnt like that much. It ruled out my wish to bathe in the falls too. However it was a sight to behold – the water, the colour.
Our next destination was Kollur. This was the time we realized how bad our driver was. He was careful, thats ok but he was extremely extra careful which beat our cause and rationale of taking a professional driver. Even where normal car users go 55-60kmph, this person never crossed 40kmph average. Add to it the rain and he became extremely sluggish. By 60kmph speed, which should have been possible in a Tata Indica and on good roads, we could have made well before 12Noon. We had to reach Kollur by 1 PM to perform Pooja and we had to constantly nag driver to make him realize that. Even then he still went at 45 avg to reach at Kollur exactly at 1. Luckily entrance has been now extended till 1:30 and we were just in time to get “Darshan” and perform Pooja. We had a relishing lunch at the temple too.
Drivers, I have always had bad time with them, almost all of them. They fail to know their boundaries. Sometimes they try “to sit on head”(a Kannada phrase to say). Those who try to consider the driver one among us should be partly blamed. I always try to maintain a distance and they remain sane. Totally unrelated but related to context, I have noticed that drivers have a very bad taste for music. They love remixes(even on AR Rehman songs) like anything, that is at least acceptable if I think that slow and mellow songs might induce sleep to drivers. But this driver, not only rejected to play whatever I gave him, repeatedly played the same songs over and over again for 5 days. It was unbearable. He rejected good songs I gave as “old” and when I gave “latest” songs he rejected them simply. His choice of songs were Baazigar, QSQT, AHAT etc which were old too. Much much later, while returning to Bangalore finally I was able to disclose the biggest mystery of his repeated playing of the songs. He had watched those movies with his gf it seems!(Now, how we got to know that info is little out of context here!).
He also had another bad habit of praising Tamil nadu places and roads over Karnataka’s. Just because he has travelled TN and Kerala, he feels they are better than Karnataka. He didn’t know the routes/direction nor knows the way to ask for it. I have faced this earlier too that drivers want to take you to place they like rather than the place you want to visit.
From Kollur we went to Murudeshwar. Since it was raining, we could not roam around well. Just a visit to temple, few photo shoots of huge Shiva statue were done with. Of course, due to rain and high tides, it was strictly warned against playing in beach:(
From here again started our race against time with driver, rain and night not helping us at all. We reached Siddapur, from where it was not possible to take Indica to the place we wanted to go. We had little clue about the route too. Our attempt to contact our relative had failed as telephone lines were damaged due to rain. An helpful STD booth owner (luckily he knew our relatives) tried to check if anyone is going our way in a bus. So that they could accompany in our car to show the directions. But we knew that a stream blocks the road in rainy season and we preferred to take anohter vehicle. He arranged for a Trax and told him the alternate route. Past Hosangadi, my father felt we have come little far distance and driver went and asked a person in a nearby house to accompany us, as he knew our relatives.(His being there that day was also co-incidental). The roads were badly damaged due to the heavy transport of red bricks. There were also steep paths. Our co-passenger remembered that this road too has a stream and that day’s rain might make it difficult for us to cross. We went near and waited while driver and co-passenger went out to see the height of water relative to height of our vehicle. They came back and decided it is not possible to cross by vehicle. They then went to our relatives house on foot and decided to get them/ their vehicle.
Rain, slipping time, night time, we were in a area that is known for naxalites. Recently you might have heard the shoot out of naxalite, that happened near this area. We thought of so many ifs and buts that could have changed our approach but now we were stuck in middle and all that mattered was “What next” ?
Meanwhile, driver did not even know our identity and our relatives had no clue that we were visiting them. There have been instances of naxalities kidnapping etc. Since they knew the co-passenger and after a fair guess, my uncle came in his vehicle. We then crossed the stream in rain with our luggages and went to their house at 12 midnight in his vehicle which went through the fields!
Next day around afternoon we left from there and visited Kamalashile temple which is on the way. From Siddapura, we started to Sringeri. After few brief visits to relatives house near by, we visited Sharadamma temple in Sringeri. Later travelled to our grandfather’s place. Next day left to Bhadravathi after a stop at Koppa. One more uncle’s place visit and we returned to Bangalore.
Later we came to know that this rain in these districts have never been so much in last 15 years. Also, their arrival is exactly on my tour planned days! My tour which was thought to be a sight seeing was invariably converted into a semi-pilgrimage(11 temples!). The additional places added were of temples and those that got subtracted were of sight-seeing or beach spots. But nevertheless a memorable tour as usual, for 5 day travel and now I feel the rain was fun afterall 🙂
5 day long tour
First time visit of many places.
Gripped in uncertainity and suspence.
Driver not allowing to listen to our songs