A Weekend at the Scotland of India
On January 26th when the nation was celebrating its 68th Republic, I set out on a family trip to the Scotland of India – Coorg.
Being a family trip I was not on my RE. Since it was a car ride, I slept for the initial part of the Journey. Then we sopped over at ‘Stop Over’ in Bidadi for breakfast. Looks like the staff there was not ready to accommodate the Long weekend rush. We had to wait for almost an hour to get our breakfast, and it was an even tougher struggle to finish that breakfast.
We resumed our journey and we crossed some beautiful countryside roads. The beauty of the Karnataka country side is always a welcoming sight. Cattles, farmers, farm lands small puddles of water.
We crossed Srirangapatna. Since we had already been there in the past we decided not to halt. The roads were really smooth and I dozed off a couple of time during the journey.
We reached ‘Athithi Comforts’ in Kushalnagar around 12:30 PM.
Checked in and rushed in for lunch. Over lunch we decided to visit the the famous Namdroling Monastery and Harangi dam. As these seemed to be close by to our hotel.
The first stop was the Namdroling Monastery. I have been to this monastery before during my schooldays. The picture I had of this place from my memories was of a colorful and serene place with lots of paintings. Like everything else the colors of the monastery had faded with time. It was dull but the place still had its serene and peaceful environment. We roamed around, occasionally glancing at the display boards that had descriptions about the various paintings and about the Buddha Idols that were the main attractions of the monastery.
The monastery was established by the 11th throne-holder of the Palyul lineage, His Holiness Drubwang Padma Norbu Rinpoche in 1963, following his 1959 exit from Tibet as the second seat of the Palyul Monastery.
It was prayer time and we could hear drum and trumpets accompanied by chanting, adding vibe to the whole monastery.
Our next stop was Harangi dam. The road to the dam was really interesting, lonely roads with greenery on both sides. I really missed not being on my bullet. We reached the dam, but unfortunately the dam was closed and was not accessible for the public. We stopped our car and decided to make the most of what we had. I tried clicking a few cormorants and parakeets that were around.
We still had time to kill and then we decided to make it to Raja’s Seat before sunset to enjoy the view. Being a cloudy evening it got dark soon and we just made it to the place.
I was still excited about the few birds that I was able to identify that day and the photos that I clicked.
The Second day plan was to cover Tala Cauvery. We were all excited to see the birth place of one of the largest rivers in South India. Again the road from Madikeri to Tala Cauvery was full of curves and steep slopes and filled with beautiful picturesque backgrounds. All the way I was dreaming of a beautiful stream of water flowing through the mountains, may be a small water fall- Ah what a perfect spot to see some birds. But to my utter dismay all that was there was a regular temple with a small pond of water, there were some people, taking dips in that pond. This pond signified the origin of the river. We all were wondering whether we had missed something, the origin of a river cannot be a Pond for sure, was this a hoax or maybe we really missed something. From the temple there was a small flight of steps that led to a hill top that had some pretty decent views. The disappointment created by what we expected Vs what we saw at Tala Cauvery over shadowed everything else, even those beautiful spots seemed dull to us and we decided to head back to Madikere to get some lunch and maybe visit a couple more places and finish off the day.
After lunch, we visited the Madikere fort. It had a small museum with some relics and old artifacts. The museum building itself seems to be an old church and there were memorial stones all over the place. A small typewriter kept on display caught my attention and I stood gazing at that ancient piece of technology for sometime, imagining how many letters and documents that machine would have punched out in its years of service. We then took a stroll around the fort looking at the view and wondering how soldiers would have used those vantage points to spot enemies. There were some sparrows and a coucal on the walls of that fort, but since it had started drizzling, I had left my camera in the car. We also visited the Omkareshwara temple. The temple has a design that is quite similar to the ones seen in Muslim dargahs. It was almost getting dark and we decided to get to Abbi falls as it was nearby. By the time we reached there it was already dark. I don’t know if it was the dim lighting or the gloom cast upon us by Tala Cauvery, but Abbi falls looked beautiful.
Next day morning I woke up early and decided to go for a walk. I had recently picked up the hobby of birding. I picked up my camera and started walking. The sun was just rising and i could hear the birds singing on the tree tops, but I just couldn’t make out where they were. Finally I managed to see a brown shrike, a spotted dove, a red whiskered bulbul. This got my spirits high for the day. This was the last day of our trip and Nisargadhama and Dubare Elephant camp was left on our list. After breakfast we first went to the elephant camp. The camp was closed due to some strike but we had a good view of the cauvery river and people enjoying rafting. I was still on the look out for birds.
Nisargadhama was again a typical picnic spots with tourists littering the place, there was a deer park. Its a pity to see these beautiful creatures in captivity. On the final leg of this trip I was able to ‘shoot’ a Ashy Drongo, a yellow wagtail and a magpie robin.
Three days had gone by in this beautiful place and now it was time for us to return. With a bunch of photos and memories we bid farewell to the paradise called Coorg.