Tarun and Simrita were visiting from Delhi and we decided to do a little road-trip and show them the Coorg countryside. It was our first trip to Coorg as well and everyone was looking forward to the holiday. Peeyush, one my very good friends from b-school turned out to be in Bangalore and we had the 5th member of our contingent.
After a last minute ‘tyre-change required’ diagnosis for our own car and frantic late night phone calls we headed out of Bangalore at 5.30 am in a rented Innova.
At Kamat’s over steaming cups of filter coffee and breakfast, we decided to visit the Namdroling Monastery at Bylakuppe before heading to our homestay in Virajpet. I had been to Namdroling before but rain drenched, green and very quiet, it felt like a completely different place. Peeyush, who was recently back from a month long stay at a Buddhist monastery in Nepal was our guide and gave us some quick gyan about Buddhism, its philosophies and some very interesting anecdotes.
Buddhist monasteries are usually very beautiful with rich decorations and vibrant colors and the Namdroling monastery is my all time favorite. Each pillar is a work of art with such fine detailing that takes your breath away.
Gorgeous thangka paintings adorn the walls everywhere depicting scenes from the Jataka Tales or from the lives of the various Bodhisattvas.
And the detailing on the clothes and accessories is just mind boggling.
And then the final reveal when you enter the main hall – Gigantic statues of Buddha and two Bodhisattvas. The hall itself is huge and extremely quiet and the overall feeling of awe and grandeur is inescapable.
After a quick snack of momos and thugpa at Bylakuppe we headed to our homestay in Virajpet – Coffee Trails. We had planned a trip to Coorg with a stay at Coffee Trails last year as well which we had to cancel due to floods along the way. The owner, Ms. Ragini was very understanding. So this time we decided to book with her again. The place was breathtaking. It was a cross between a homestay and a resort with 4 rooms constructed on a little hill with a view of the valley.
Huge balconies with lovely chairs and a view of the hills covered in clouds. We spent a lot of our time sitting here watching the rain and downing warm rum and hot pakodas. The clouds actually enter the balconies and the rooms and it was a surreally beautiful experience.
The home cooked food was finger-lickingly good with the cook feeding us all the local specialties in every meal and then some more.
Because of the heavy rain forecast we had not planned to get out much. But we heard that because of the rains the waterfalls were in full glory and we decided that was something worth getting drenched for. So after a quick stop in Madikeri for buying spices, coffee and what not we headed to Abbi falls.
You could hear the roar of the water long before even seeing it and what a sight – A white curtain of water cascading down the rocks. The mist from the falls was all around us and the view of the falls from the little bridge in front of it was something else. The rains, Abbi falls and hot coffee made for some wonderful memories.
On the way back from Abbi we decided to make a quick stop at the Taj Vivanta in Madikerit for coffee. I had heard a lot of good things about the place and wanted to find out whether all the hype was true. The hotel has an open lobby with an infinity pool and a panaromic view of the valley below. The clouds were actually inside the lobby and had completely obscured the view. We stood with our mouths open and stared at the cloud covered infinity pool for a while. But finally we had to head back to Virajpet without the coffee because the Taj here had a very strange rule of a minimum 1500/- per head cover charge for ordering anything.
The road to Taj Vivanta passes right through the heart of one of the most beautiful golf courses I have laid eyes on. Even though not immaculately manicured, the Mercara Golf Course was gorgeous with rolling landscape cloaked in mist and fogs and it made us forget about the coffee experience at the Taj.
We set out from Virajpet for Bangalore on Day 3 with a plan to stop at the Dubare Elephant Camp. But we soon found out from the locals that the entire place was flooded and the Cauvery was flowing too fast and angry to make the boat crossing to the elephant camp. The expressions and the hand movements by the locals suggested that near certain death was involved. So we made a quick detour and decided to see the Irupu falls and head back to Bangalore through the Nagarhole national park.
We had been warned that the road to Irupu was quite bad and it was a 20 minute trek through a forest full of leeches to get to the falls. But when we finally got there it was nowhere as bad as what we were expecting. The 20 minute trek was on a very clearly laid out paved path through the forest and none of us got leeched or even spotted one.
The Irupu falls come down from a much greater height than Abbi and the water flows through the forest along the path of the trek.
After witnessing and getting completely drenched in the glory of the Malnad monsoon we headed back to the madness of Bangalore with a heavy heart.
Coorg, you beauty! You shall see me again soon!