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Saturday, August 2, 2014

My Coorg Chronicles (Part 2)

Continued from Here..........

The next morning, I woke up to the sounds of chirping sparrows and gushing water. It had been raining heavily throughout the night and small stream were running down the hillside. Though the downpour had reduced to a light drizzle, there were hardly any folks to be seen on the lone road visible from the hotel window. The sparrows were happily playing in the small pools of water that had formed in the hotel courtyard. A mild sense of nostalgia started to grip me while I was watching them. Once an integral part of my growing years in Rourkela, one hardly encounters these winged friends in Bangalore. I sat by the window side for almost an hour lapping up the sights and sounds of nature. Coorg during the monsoon can only be described as virgin nature at its' pristine best.

As I walked into the hotel dining hall for breakfast, a lone waiter greeted me and took my order. As the guests were few, they had not served buffet. Within 10 mins, the soft idlis and crisp vada had arrived at my table, accompanied by tea and warm water (a nice thing given the cold conditions). The food was delicious. After ordering for breakfast to be brought into the room for my husband and son, I retreated to our room and settled down by the window once again. Somehow hill stations give me that idyllic feeling of time having stopped in its tracks and make me reluctant to allow any kind of intervention into my blissful state. So, no newspaper and no TV is my rule during such vacations.

It was almost 10:30 by the time all of us had freshened up and had eaten breakfast. We then proceeded towards our first tourist destination of the day, the much famed Abby falls. It was around 9 kms from the hotel and it did not take us long to reach there. The drive was short but beautiful with mist covered hills and valleys keeping us engrossed throughout. But due to the light drizzle we were reluctant to step out of the car for clicking pics. At one point we came to a forked road, the left one leading to Abby falls and the right one taking off to the picturesque Mandarpatti hills. As we had decided to skip the latter ( our Innova would not travel on the narrow roads leading to the spot ), we proceeded on the left road and reached the point leading to the falls. As expected it was thronging with visitors who had come to watch the falls in its full glory. A long descend on the broken stone steps took us to the place. The fall does not have a great height but still it is spectacular. A hanging bridge is built across the water and this was the most preferred stop for amateur photographers. Spending a few minutes near the gushing waters, we started back on the steep climb. This is the tough part and can be quite painful for elder folks.

Back into the comfort of our vehicle, we decided to wind up with a visit to the Madikeri fort and Raja's seat. Though Talakaveri (the birth place of Cauvery river) is considered one of the most important places to visit while in Coorg, we decided to give it a miss as there was a minor landslide 2 days back. Also, it had rained heavily in the intervening night which made it still riskier. The adventure bug in me kept nagging on but I silenced it with some stern reasoning.

The Madikeri fort is located very near to the center of the town. A Ganesh temple, a Church turned museum, and two life size elephants were all we could see. The main building (palace) was closed. Sadly, it is not well maintained and I was kind of disappointed. Next stop was Raja's seat, a garden that offers a spectacular view of vast green lands and mist clad mountains. It is said that the kings of Kodagu used to frequent this spot with their consorts to watch the sunrise/sunset. Quite a nice spot but the best time to come here is the winters when the gardens are in full bloom. The toy train ride ( at Rs 10/- per person ) is an added attraction for the kids and other people who refuse to grow up.

It was almost lunchtime and we wanted to grab a table at good restaurant before it became too crowded, Our driver (who was well acquainted with the place) suggested a place called 'East End Hotel' which is located very near to the Thimmiaih Circle. It was almost 1 as we walked in and the place had just started to fill up. The service was good and they also gave some complimentary curry with the white rice. But it is the 'chilli'-fied items and the 'Coorg Chicken curry' that one needs to try at this place. Mind-blowing good. Another attraction of this place is the awesome selection of wine/hard drinks they have. Though both of us do not drink, the crowd at the bar bore testimony to the fact that this place was a huge hit with people who love their poison.

After the nice lunch, we retired to our room and took a short nap. Feeling refreshed after a late afternoon shower and some tea, we proceeded to the Omkareshwara temple . Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this is a unique temple built in the Islamic style. It has a small mandap surrounded by a sparse corridor. In front of the main shrine/temple, there is a small fish pond with a smaller shrine in the middle. There were a few ducks too but as it was almost dark, they had started to doze off.

By the time we started from the temple, it had started raining heavily. But we could not return to our hotel without completing the sacred ritual of shopping for spices, home made chocolate and the other exotic stuff that one usually finds at hill stations. Our very knowledgeable driver duly guided us to a shop call Coorg Greens which was stocked with all kinds of spices and nuts. Though one finds a plethora of spice shops in Madikeri market, this one was crowded than usual. I picked up some biryani spices , saffron, honey, coorg cofffee, raisins and nuts. There was the dry fruit jam that caught my fancy and I took one of those too. Another item which caught my attention was the hand made soap in different flavours. I loved the smell of the one with 'Goat milk' and bought half a dozen of those too.

It was then time for the home-made chocolates and we did not have to look far for those. There was a very good chocolate boutique called 'Choci Coorg' upstairs. Though a little on the expensive side, they had a good collection and I must say that these chocolate tasted even better than the ones we have had from Ooty or Munnar.

The shopping had made us a little tired and we wanted some coffee to refresh ourselves. Our driver took us to this small place called 'Hotel Neel Sagar' which is located on the Madikeri Main Road.  We ordered for the Coorg special coffee (which was priced at Rs 25) along with a butter masala dosa. The coffee turned out to be delicious but the dosa was pretty average. But service was quick even with a good number of tables being occupied.

We decided to laze about in our hotel room for the rest of the evening as it was raining quite heavily. But the rains had stopped by 9 pm and we decided to head towards 'East End Hotel' once again for dinner. However it was a disappointment this time around. With so much liquor flowing , the place resembled and smelled like a bar rather than a restaurant. Deciding against having dinner there itself, we got a parcel and returned to the hotel room. The 'Chili chicken' was quite good. Watching TV after dinner, it was almost 11:30 by the time we hit the sack.

We woke up to a bright and sunny morning the next day. After a quick shower, we went for the breakfast. The hotel staff had prepared a buffet and everything was as delicious as the previous day. Although they had revised the menu and I missed those crispy vadas, the delectable set dosa more than made up for it. It was almost 9:45 when we started from the hotel. We lapped up the sights of this beautiful place for the last time as we raced towards Bangalore. A no-break journey ensured that we had reached the outskirts of Bangalore by 1:30 pm but the traffic ( thanks to Ramzan shopping being in full swing ) ensured that we could not reach home before almost 4 pm. A sense of relief washed over me as I unlocked the door. After all, don't they say 'Home is where the heart is'.


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    1. Hi, I am using a blogger template.........it is free. You will find many templates and you can choose any one which gels with the content/theme of your blog

  2. Wow. I love Coorg. We too had a great time in Polybetta, driving down from Mumbai.


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