It all happened rather impromptu, when I was determined to get away somewhere for the weekend and didn’t have too much money to spare. I and my much like minded friend thought over this, and decided to take a road trip. And sometime recently, we had a recommendation for a homestay in Coorg. That was it. No more time to waste!
After having done the basic necessary checks for the car and booking the stay, we started quite early on a Saturday morning, without kind of any itinerary. 7 am in the morning and we had already hit Mysore road from Bangalore, and by 9 am we were driving across the ORR Mysore. Having stopped for a breakfast, and driven on the wrong route and back for about 12 kms, we were back on the road to Kushalnagar.
By 11.30, we reached the Namdroling Monastery at Kushalnagar, and found the place surprisingly less crowded for a Saturday. We spent our time in peace, relaxing in the majestic hall of the monastery, and the additional temples. We also took a walk around the premises, spent some time watching little monk in robes playing football in the overgrown grassfields just outside the monastery walls. I have always wondered, what the lives of these little monks would be. And just as much as I would’ve loved to pull one for a chat, I resisted the temptation as I was aware it wouldn’t be very easy to communicate as they are taught very little English or Hindi, and they might find the episode rather intimidating.
Whilst leaving the monastery, we indulged in a little shopping, wherein I embarrassed myself having confused chopsticks with hair bun sticks (they looked so ornamental!). We got onto the main road Kushalnagar, and stopped for a hearty South Indian meal, before setting off for Nisargadhama.
Now, at Nisargadhama, we missed the main entrance and instead, took our car in to the adjacent car park, from where it is very difficult to figure out what lies inside, or whether at all the place led to somewhere. However, I would suggest this spot for every tourist. It is very well kept, untainted. Across the pedestrian walk route through the vegetation, we saw a spotted deer enclosure, a tree house which swung precariously with a strong bout of wind, a spot where tourists were zip-lining in between trees. The little island is surrounded by the Cauvery and all the time you can hear the gurgling sound of the river waters. We spent some time walking around the little island, and the hanging bridge at the entrance, before making our way out.
I had wanted to visit the Dubare elephant camp for a long time, but prior to this trip I had read some horrific Google reviews on how the elephants in captivity are treated, and I realised I didn’t have the heart to witness the horror. So we skipped the part and made our way straight to the village of Hoskeri, off the route to Madikeri and on the highway to Siddapura. We had to reach Chilli Pili Homestay, and in to time we realised that we were deep into the coffee plantations amidst thick vegetation, with no mobile reception, and muted by the overwhelming buzzing of the crickets. This was, our abode for the night, and so welcome it looked. Amidst a coffee estate with a pretty manicured garden, the homestay owners welcomed us to our cottage which was adequately furnished with a kingsize bed, and an additional single bed to rest our foot on! We were promised a true Kodava style dinner, that included the traditional Pandhi Curry (Coorg style Pork).
It was still early evening, and we took a walk across the road, where the only sound were from the crickets, and an occasional vehicle passing by. The purity of the air, the peace and tranquility were almost tangible. A little deserted bus shelter somewhere down the road, an old rustic building with its doors closed, it all looked to so aged and alone. As we strolled through the deserted road we took some pictures, spent sometime talking and not-talking. It was all so serene, so absorbing.
As the dark fell, we got back to our cottage and were served home-made non-alcohol wine (I know, non-alcoholic was a turn off, but the stuff was surprisingly tasteful). And then came along the dinner, and what a serving it was. The caretaker brought in containers after containers – vegetables, sambar, chicken, pork, chappati, rice, nool puttu, custard! At first we were a little shocked at the quantity (it could feed an army) and then sent back everything expect the non veg (oh we couldn’t give up on that!).
We let the night set in, having our drinks, munching on the delectable food. And later into the night when most lights were out, and us pretty tipsy, we walked into the estate, and stood soaking in the moonlight under the outlines of the tall trees, in the chilly air. The end of a day well lived.
Next morning, a huge serving of breakfast that included dosa, paputtu, sambar, chutney, toast and fruits, with the pet geese of the estate walking around us right outside the cottage balcony. A delightful sight, and a delightful breakfast, and we set off for Madikeri after exchange of thank you’s and acknowledgments with the owners.
Madikeri was about an hour’s drive from Hoskeri, and much thankfully, even this day we had less traffic on the roads. Throughout the uphill climb on the meandering roads leading to Madikeri, it would be difficult for one to figure out the ascent as the slope is quite gentle. But I could tell, as my ears would block every now and then! It was a very short visit to the city, as we spent sometime in the Raja’s seat gardens, took a toy train ride adjacent to the park (my friend was a first time-er on a toy train), and stopped by the mall to buy some spices, coffee and honey. We then lunched at restaurant which was miserable on service but the food was authentic kodava..Chicken curry in a cocunut gravy, fried pork with tender bamboo shoots cooked in fiery spices, and nool puttu, which watching it pour outside.
By the time the rain stopped, the roads were deserted and wet, and reflected the dark blue of the skies. We left the place, setting off for our return to Bangalore. And as I bid goodbye to the mountain roads, I already knew I would be back soon.