Archive for the ‘Coorg’ Category

Coorg – The Scotland of India

August 26, 2010

This post is neither related to movies nor to music, though it has few references to them. This is my first attempt at writing a  travelogue, detailing my  trip to Coorg.

Before I start the post, let me introduce you all to my friends – a brief history behind how we all first met and how this journey of friendship began. We were a group of 7 who set out from Hyderabad and 2 more joined us from Bangalore.
All of us (except for Shailaja and Savitha) used to work together, for the same company (Oracle India) till last year. Now majority of us have left the organization but our friendship continues.
We used to have an Annual Party in Oracle. And in Feb 2008, we decided to dance for the event – we as in Shrinivas, my teammate, and me.  He checked with few of his friends at the Gym and we circulated mails asking if anybody was interested. We got few responses and we scheduled a meeting.
Archana Singh : I had first met her in the cab (used to have home drop in the night. And her house was on my way. So we used to be clubbed together occasionally). So I was pleasantly surprised to find her at the meeting.
Dhaval : Met him at the meeting for the first time.
Sailaja & Savitha (Non-Oracle-ites) : Archana’s flatmates and I met them during one of our get-togethers.
Shallu : I had seen her too a couple of times in the cab but had never spoken to her. One weekend we had gone for a movie and she had came along with Dhaval : the-then secret girlfriend of Dhaval and his wife now.
Shrinivas : He was my teammate, so have known him ever since he joined Oracle.
Shyam : He was Dhaval’s teammate and that’s how I first got to know him.

After getting acquainted, we all started going for lunch together. And those post-lunch fun sessions were the beginning of our relationship. Archana, Dhaval, Shrini and I among us were in the dance group. There were 3 more and we named ours group  “Indian Khichdi”. The rest of them from Indian Khichdi couldn’t make it for the trip. More about them sometime later.
We danced for the Annual Party in 2008 and in 2009 as well but we lost out to another group named Bachelors both the years. So we decided to take away their main player – that was the easiest way to stop them from remaining Bachelors and winners forever 😛
 

Chinmaya (from the Bachelors) – Knew him as a rival first and then later as Archana’s boyfriend.

Archana, Savitha, Shailaja, Me, Shallu, Dhaval, Shrini, Chinmaya, Shyam

Day 1 – 19th Aug 2010 :

Seven of us (excluding Dhaval and Shallu) left  Hyderabad on 19th Aug for Bangalore (I am not yet used to spelling it Bengaluru).  19th being a weekday (Thursday) we had gone to the station directly from work. So the first thing we did after we boarded the train was to attack the food – yummy Biryani from Paradise. Thanks to Shyam for it. It was he who picked up dinner for us.

Post dinner we played Dumb-Charade and sang a lot of songs. For a change I sat discussing the songs of  late 80’s and early 90’s – songs that were a part of our childhood.

2 major highlights of the journey were :

  • Savitha got locked in the washroom. Luckily she had her cell phone with her. So she called us and all of us went to bang the door open! We managed to make our presence felt in the train 😀
  • While playing Dumb-Charades, Shyam gave a movie to Shrini and Shrini had to enactit. The movie was Chor Mandali. He made us guess the freedom fighters and we guessed Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. He wanted us to guide to Mandale Jail. We reached till the jail in Andaman but none of us could think of the name of the jail. Somehow we managed to guess the movie after over 5 mins.

Me : Phew!!!! You took us through a history class to explain Mandali??? You should have somehow conveyed Nelson                       Mandela instead! 😛 And he danced to Waka-waka to enact Africa and hence Nelson Mandela. That was hilarious!

We reached Bangalore at 7:30 the following morning. We had booked a cab and it was already waiting for us at the station. We first went to Dhaval’s place. The last time we saw Dhaval and Shallu was for their wedding last December. It was such a pleasure seeing them again!!!  How we had missed them all these months.

Highlights at Dhaval & Shallu’s place :

  • We had a first round of breakfast at their place – tea, juice, fruits, idiappam, egg curry, milk etc.
  • Began our photo sessions
  • And none of us will ever forget something that Shallu said – When Dhaval’s phone rings at odd hours, I always know that it’s Shyam calling him! (We need an explanation guys)

Our next stop was at Adiga’s in Bangalore where we had solid breakfast of Rava Idli, Masala Cheese Dosa, Venne Dosa and Onion Dosa. And trust me it was yummmmmm!

Rava Idli

Masala Cheese Dosa

We finally left Bangalore at noon (after breakfast). We played Antakshari for over 2 hours. Then switched to singing songs randomly…we have this set of songs we usually sing when we all get together. So finished singing all those.

We stopped on the way for refreshments –  tea, coconut water, chilli bhajjis and chips.

Then we played Chupke Chupke and laughed all the way. It’s always more fun watching such movies in group. And except for Shrini, all of us had seen this movie so many times that we all were reciting the dialogues along with the actors 😀

The view outside was amazing! Coorg is famous for Coffee Plantation. The wide expanse of Coffee plants bordered by huge trees – tall trees with such thick trunks, pepper crawling upon them, narrow roads and a light drizzle – it was  truly magnificient! We all forgot about the movie and just kept staring outside till we reached Chelavara Falls.

We jumped out of the car the moment it came to a halt and rushed towards the Waterfall. This is approximately 4km from the Cheyyendane village. The waterfall is a wonderful view, situated amidst the coffee plantation.

The predominant entity here in Coorg, is the nature (at its best). Coorg is like the dreamland of the philosopher. I truly adore this place!!! I get to mingle with nature here and it gives me immense pleasure to  walk in the mountains, feel the tingle of the cool and gentle breeze, watch leaves dance with the wind, listen to water gushing down  and hear sounds of birds fill the air. It’s all so heavenly!

Chelavara Falls :

We had to climb down a steep path to reach the bottom of the fall but we could see it from the way. It was such a lovely sight. I actually stopped, took a long breath and then clicked a pic (does that make it a breath-taking sight?).

If this was good, it was even better when we reached the base. The falls ended into a stream at the base and flowed down into the valley. There was a huge rock in between the falls and the stream below, amidst the lush greenery and that’s where we landed.

As we went towards the falls, the light breeze carried the tiny drops of water from the falls towards us. The chilled drops of water hitting my face was so refreshing. I just stood there with my arms spread wide open for a while welcoming the water drops to caress and slide through me. It was an amazing experience. It’s not for the first time I was so close to a waterfall. I was in fact born and brought up in a place full of such falls. But there was something different about this. It was broad,  looked spread out and light. And it still being a weekday (Friday), wasn’t crowded. In fact we were the only ones in the vicinity. Except for us, the only other sounds we could hear were birds singing at a distance and the sound of the water falling, leaves rustling with the gentle breeze and for a moment we all were tongue-tied by the serenity and peace there. It was so calm and peaceful that I didn’t want to leave the place.  If only I could have stopped the time…(I would have been there still ;-P)

Kabbe Holidays :

We then proceeded towards Kabbe Holidays, the resort where we had booked our accommodation. Dilip, the owner met us at the entrance and showed us our rooms – our cottages, to be more precise. We were 5 girls and 4 guys. So we had booked 2 cottages – one for guys and one for girls.

I entered the cottage, it was a single room…a kind of double decker room with attached bath – A huge room, very well lit and aired with a sofa by the door, a huge bed by the French Windows on the opposite wall, a narrow staircase winding up towards the high ceiling on the right and a cozy bed on top. I looked around me, with my eyes and mouth wide open. The location and the architecture of the room was so impressive, when I finally spoke, the first thing I said was : I wonder if Dilip has a son of our age and who’s not married yet! 😉

We all got wet admiring and posing for photos by the falls. So after changing and running through and checking out all the nook and corners of the cottage we went for snacks. Had hot tea, coffee, Chilli Bhajjis and Onion Pakodas waiting for us. We met Vidya, Dilip’s wife and the other guests at the resort over snacks – Mr. Verma, his wife, Neelam and their two sons; Chandran and Ross. By the time we finished snacks,  it was already 8pm. Dilip said Dinner would be served at 10. Chinmaya had gone to US on a project last month and had picked up a bottle of Glenfiddich for us. That meant we had 2 hours of time, a bottle of Glenfiddich, a group of 9 and a few packets of chips in hand before dinner.

We assembled for dinner. We had Chapatis, rice cakes, chicken curry, Brinjal cooked in Srilankan style and beans for dinner. It was delicious! I love Coorgi food. This is the second time I visited Coorg. But the last time I was there, it rained so heavily that I was locked indoors most of the time. Could hardly go anywhere. But had a huge variety of Coorgi food and totally loved it.

We got acquainted better with everybody during dinner. And sang lots of songs afterwards. Dilip briefed us about the the place and it’s culture. Unfortunately I don’t remember the historical details, would love it if Dilip could share those again. But there are some very interesting facts about the place :

  • Coorg is a very sparsely populated place. Neighbours live kilometers apart
  • Coorg is the only place where people can own a weapon (a gun) without a licence
  • They still fire the gun once to announce a death and twice to announce a birth. That’s how the neighbours get to know the news
  • Coorgis worship their ancestors
  • Though they follow Hinduism, their weddings neither have pandits nor the fire. Wedding is performed by the elders with their blessings. Dowry system is unheard of and so is child marriage
  • Having liquor and meat is a part of their tradition.

This was really very enlightening  – I never knew all these. Thank you, Dilip!

We went to our room and gossiped for a while and everybody retired for the day. Shallu and I were the only ones (two, rather) who were awake and talking till the early hours of the morning!

We finally decided to sleep at 3. Everything was so calm and quiet, all the more at that part of the night. The falls being quite near by, I could hear the waterfall  crashing down into the valley. With crickets singing lullaby against the backdrop of waterfalls and raindrops falling softly on the roof (we were sleeping on the upper berth), much against my wish, I finally fell asleep at around 3:30.

Day 2 – 20th Aug 2010

I got up to the sound of laughter from the adjacent cottage. I still dont know what the joke was, but the guys were laughing so loud that I woke up with a start. I descended down and sat down to fisnish Emma…had just the last chapter remaining.

The guys were going for a walk and they called us. Initially I was quite reluctant. I really wanted to finish the book but changed my mind at the last moment and joined them. And I am so glad that I did! What started as a 10-15 mins morning walk ended up being a 3 hours trek up the hill to Kerala border. It was for the first time I went trekking clad in a skirt with bathroom slippers through the leech-infected area! Luckily I spotted the leeches before they could climb up my feet, and could throw them away just in time.

We all safely reached the top and it felt like heaven (not the Raymond wala). The view from top was mindblowing!!! After feasting our eyes and posing for over an hour, we began descending and met Dilip on our way. When he learnt that we had gone up the hill, he came up all the way to take us to the rocks, a spot he didn’t want us to miss. And it was truly amazing – Serene and pristine!!! And it was really very sweet of him to climb up all the way for us.

Dilip Baba

We finally came back to the cottage but on my way down I got a leech bite.

We had delicious breakfast and met a new couple who had just arrived – Shruti and Nitin. We then left again for some fun activity.They had Pinpoint, Quad Biking and Aerial Assault. We all chose Aerial Assault over the other two.

And trust me it was so much fun! Adventurous and little scary at times but it was an awesome experience, totally thrilling!

Tired and hungry, we went back to the resort at around 4:30 for lunch. Tired we were but exhaustion hadn’t dampened our spirit. After lunch we were recharged and full of energy again. It was past 5 already and it was raining but we still wanted to go to a palace nearby. But Dilip took us to his ancestral home instead and it was so traditionally beautiful!

The main door of the Ancestral Home

And this visit to his Ancestral home helped us understand their culture better. It was pretty dark when we returned back. And this was my favourite drive. Narrow, moist road with trees on both the sides….I found it so seductively alluring that I just couldn’t take my eyes off it. Luckily the lights in the car were switched off. If anybody had to see me staring at the road, they would have thought I was possessed! In the pitch dark cloudy night, we were travelling with just the head lights lighting the way ahead. I never wanted this journey to come to an end.

This road was breath-takingly stunning in the night

We all just had enough time for a drink each before dinner. With all the noise we had been making and the singing we were upto, Dilip said we should have an Antakshari competition after dinner. Oh I forgot to mention, I got up on Saturday with a sore throat. It was so bad that I couldn’t even speak properly. So having to sit through Antakshari was a punishment for me  😦

The magic show, however, was the highlight of the day. Shyam and Chinmaya said they will show some magic. This was just before dinner. Shyam spread out 9 cards and asked Shallu to think of a card and tell him which card she has in mind. The game was that Chinmaya would guess the right card. We all saw the card that Shallu pointed out, except for Chinmaya. When Chinmaya rightly guessed the card she said it was wrong. We all were perplexed.
Shyam : But that was the card you told me about!
Shallu : So? Big deal! But now I have a different card in mind. And why should I tell you which one it is? If you you think you are a magician, find it out for yourself!
We didn’t know how to react for a second and the way we all burst out laughing after that, our neighbours must have got scared.

We were all very tired, so went to bed on time.

Day 3 – 21st Aug 2010

We had to get ready and leave before 12. We had a train from Bangalore at 8:15 pm. We had rice rotis with Egg bhurji and Sesame seeds chutney. It was so good that my mouth is watering just at the thought of it!

We had a round of nautanki with the guys getting dressed in Coorgi attire and all of us posing with guns and swords and daggers. It was so much fun! Vidya had to leave the previous night, or else even we would have worn Saaris in Coorgi style. But that was one thing I had done during my last visit, so no complaints.

Inspired by Rajnikath - trying to cut the bullet into two halves 😉

When we finally got into the cab and were leaving Dilip asked us to sing  one song before leaving and we all sang Chalte chalte mere yeh geet yaad rakhna, kabhi alvida na kehna!

Our plan was to go to Dubare Elephant Camp and then to the Namdroling Monastery on our way back to Bangalore. The road to Dubare Elephant goes via Tata Tea Estate and the road is spectacular.

We reached the bank of River Cauvery. We had to cross the river by a boat to go to  Dubare Elephant Camp. But the place was closed for lunch and we didn’t have enough time to wait. So we made a move.

Picked up Coffee, Honey, Tamarind candies and a bottle of home-made grape wine from Kushalnagar and left for Namdroling Monastery. I have a very special regard for monasteries and a soft corner for them. Having been born and brought up for one third of my life in Bhutan, Monasteries have been a very special part of my early life and I get very nostalgic when I visit one. This one was no different. I felt as though I was back home. Monasteries are so colourful and so superior in architecture, I just cant help admiring them. After an hour there, we left.

We just stopped once on our way at a roadside dhaba for lunch. It was past 3:30 and we all were starving. Don’t know if the food was really good but we all were so hungry that we finished it immediately and continued the rest of our journey. We watched Golmaal and Angoor on our way back and it’s needless to say how much we laughed.

We passed through the city of Ramnagar aka Ramgarh of Sholay. We were already getting late so couldn’t stop to take pics 😦  I really wanted to take a pic of Sambha’s reclining rock 😛

We reached Bangalore at 7:30, dropped Dhaval and Shallu and rushed to the station. We couldn’t even bid them farewell properly. The departure time of our train was 8:20 and we reached the platform at 8:13. We were lucky enough and just in time to board it.

Reached Hyderabad the following morning at 7:30 and we all got back to our daily work routine.

It was an a awesome trip!!! Kabbe Holidays was a great place to stay in. The owners, Dilip and Vidya were extremely warm and friendly. So were all the other guests there. Food was simply delicious. We were happy we could burn some calories by indulging ourselves in a trek and Aerial Assault but fortunately or unfortunately the food was so good that we all gained more calories than what we could burn. The hospitality was truly amazing…kind of people and place we would love to go back to. Thank you guys for making our trip so memorable!!!

P.S : I must have missed out so many things, feel free to add them and do share your experiences as well. It would be a pleasure to read your version of the trip. We seem to get better and more adventurous with every trip. Our enthusiasm and energy knows no boundaries! Let’s plan such trips more often. Kudos to us and love you all!

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