A Travellerspoint blog

Coorg

.... The land of my forefathers .... an insight and tour-guide to the local attractions

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Every time anyone meets me and then it is revealed to them that i hail from Coorg, invariably the conversation shifts to discussing the land of my forefathers. Though i was born and raised in Bangalore, the calling that this place holds is undeniable. People always seem to have so many questions regarding Coorg , the people , what activities they can pursue when they visit the place,etc that I decided to catalogue some helpful things about Coorg.

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Coorgs are a martial race inhabiting Karnataka’s picturesque hill district Kodagu, in the Southern part of India about 250 kilometers from Bangalore, the IT Capital of India. It was nicknamed as "The Scotland Of the East" by some of the officials in the East India Company most notably by Sir Erskine Perry. The history of this race has always been shrouded in mystery and no Coorg is not just about coffee.

Coorgs or Kodavas as we are known in some parts are a different kind of people as compared to others in the country. Unlike other Hindu communities, Brahmins have no role in any of our ceremonies: be it marriage, death or festivals. The birth of a male child is announced by a single gunshot fired in the air, but the death of a family member is made known by firing gun shots in the air. Drawing a parallel between the character of Greeks and Coorgs it is noted that, “Like the Greeks, the Coorgs have an instinctive hatred for servility or being obsequious. A Coorg will never show more than the obligatory respect to a man in the higher orders of officialdom unless he positively respects that man.”

There’s plenty to do and see in this stunning part of the country, but after careful thought I've finally come up with seven particularly interesting or different things to do in Coorg that will add more to your trip.

1. Help an elephant take his daily bath

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Near Kushalnagar there is a natural island with 11 acres of land, covered in trees and surrounded by a wonderful wreath of water. The Dubare Forest is maintained by the forest department, who also run an ‘Elephant Training Camp’. The island is reached by a 20 rupees motorboat ride. Tourists visit to witness the daily routines of tamed elephants. These huge mammals are used to the attention, moving through the river water and lying down while visitors pat and clean them. Tourists enjoy scrubbing the ears and backs as the elephants throw water on themselves through their trunks, if you are in the vicinity you are definitively getting soaked :) Once they are given a bath visitors can serve ‘raagi balls’ made especially for them by the forest department. The cool and gurgling waters of the Cauvery River create a pleasant and refreshing atmosphere.
You can get back to the mainland either by the same motorboat or by following a natural stone path through the river.

2. Visit the biggest Tibetan settlement in southern India

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Did you know there is an 18,000-strong community of Tibetans living in southern India? Bylakuppe, situated 90 kms away from Mysore city on the Mysore-Madikeri highway, is the largest Tibetan refugee camp, housing thousands of Tibetans in exile. Over 45 years ago Tibetans settled here, creating a ‘mini-Tibet’ in one village.

As you get close, you’ll see Buddhist monks – ‘Lamas’- overtaking you on their speeding motor bikes, their maroon robes flapping in the air. In the market they can be seen wearing Raybans and listening to their i-Pods! ;)
The sense of sudden change as you enter this Tibetan enclave is surreal, with its colorful flags, monasteries and modernised Tibetan culture.More than 7000 monks pursue their monastic education in Bylakuppe’s monasteries, with dedicated veneration to his holiness The Dalai Lama, their supreme master. The Golden Temple, with a 60 ft gold plated Buddha statue, and the recent addition of ‘copper colored mountain’ Zandong Palri it’s an attractive tourist destination.

3. Trek the hills

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From easy to arduous treks, Coorg has varying trails for all kinds of adventure seeker. The best season to plan treks in Coorg is between October and February. The three main mountain peaks in Coorg for trekking are Brahmagiri, Pushpagiri and Tadiandamol. You can trek alone or with a guide. Organisations like Coorg Adventure Club (CAC) organise trekking expeditions from time to time and can arrange the necessary facilities for the interested trekkers. The experience has it all: thick forests, sloping hills, waterfalls, incredible views of this area dubbed ‘Scotland of the East’.

4. Watch the hockey festival

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Hockey is a traditional game of the Kodava community, the ethnic group of this region. The Kodava Hockey festival in Coorg has run since 1997. The principal rule of the festival is that a particular team is represented by members of a specific family. Each year, the festival is organised by a different family who give their name to the tournament. It’s for both men and women and is considered to be of great importance. The festival was initiated to bring the people of Kodava community closer. The opening and closing ceremonies are held with spectacle of various dances and a demonstration of the martial arts of the Kodavas.

5. Tuck into Coorg cuisine

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Even though the people of Coorg are mostly non-vegetarian, they are influenced by the South Indian ways of cooking food. The rich cuisine of dishes use pork, chicken or fish but are cooked with coconut, curry leaves, ginger, chilli and spices like pepper and cardamom.
You have to try it to believe it - try some Pandi Curry with Kadambittu, which is Pork Curry with Rice dumplings.
Yummmmmmm!!!!

6. Attend a Coorg wedding

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A Coorg wedding is very different from other South Indian weddings, with the customs followed more familiar to those of North India. The bride wears a red sari, draped in an unusual manner that involves tying pleats in the rear, taking around the back and pinning of small portion of the pallu (end of the sari) securely over the right shoulder.
Men and women of Coorg are known for their beauty, bravery and intelligence. The men look handsome in
their long overcoats, with a silken sash around the waist. They carry a customary dagger called
‘pechekathi’ tucked on to the right side of the sash. And YES alcohol is served as a customary ritual, and its usually on the house with the food ;)

7. Walk the plantations

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Coorg is densely covered with coffee, pepper and cardamom estates. These estates on the lush and steep hills of Coorg make an interesting walk. You can even stay in one of the plantation properties and learn from the estate owner all about the growth of coffee and important local spices. Not to mention enjoy a piping hot coffee made wish fresh beans as you relax and enjoy the wonderful views.

I leave u with the image of perfect serenity, of misty mountains, lush paddy fields, roaring rivers, gurglings streams, beautiful people and the aroma of arabica coffee tickling your nostrils and the songs of the valley long forgotten.

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Until next time
CJ:)

Posted by Ceej 01:22 Archived in India Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Kulu Airport (HIMACHAL PRADESH)

Cutest Airport in the world

semi-overcast 18 °C

Situated at an altitude of about 1200 meters above sea level, Kulu is situated at the foothills of the Himalayan mountain range. The size of the mountains surrounding the airport is awe inspiring. The airport true to the Himalayan theme has a very cozy Log-Cabinish (somehow felt like thats the right word to describe the atmosphere) ….

Trust me I’ve seen a lot of Airports … Chicago is way too busy….. Atlanta is just a crazy rush …. Charles de’Gaulle is huuuuge …. Miami is super hip and very stylish. But this would be the CUTEST airport in the world.

Took this picture from the lounge area when I was collecting my baggage …and that’s the 8 seater plane I traveled on from New Delhi.

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PS: Photography is now banned in the airport.

Till next time
CJ

Posted by Ceej 23:08 Archived in India Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

2Trips2Goa - Completely Different

2004 - 2009

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OCTOBER 2004 – CLASS EXCURSION TO MANGALORE AND GOA
ARCHIVED ON 12th OCTOBER 2004.

- Final Year Engineering students

About 30 of us in a bus ...the whole class has never come together like this before ...it was a great bonding experience ...
Lets say I divide the trip in 2 phases ….

PHASE1: MANGALORE
We left on the 6th evening , earlier on in the day our group had assembled at Goutam’s place. We boarded the bus from there. We traveled overnight and reached DHARMASTALA in the morning at about 5:30. We dumped our luggage , got freshened up and went to visit the temple. We were in time to see the Thulabhara ritual taking place in the temple premises and then got an early morning darshan of Lord Manjunath. Feeling happy and peaceful, we left the temple and had a wonderful breakfast standing in the morning sun. :) :)
We traveled a couple of hours from there and reached UDUPI. We had to visit the Krishna Temple. The temple is exceptionally beautiful and yes we did get to see Lord Krishna through the famous KANAKANA KINDI. Having heard the story so many times, it was a wonderful to see it in reality. It felt like it was right out of the story book. Bought a beautiful Krishna-in-a-cradle idol .. (Out of all the Gods, Lord Krishna in the child form is my favorite God… I start the day only by looking at His picture ..) ... :)
From there we went to MALPE … (The entire place smells like fish .) … We boarded a ferry which took us to a beautiful island called the QUEEN MARY ISLAND which is about a half hour away …. We played in the beach for quite a while ….(Its truly one of the most beautiful places in Mangalore…)
On our ferry ride back we saw the sun set.
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Was absolutely breathtaking… Awesome sight … We left Malpe at about 8… by now we were all stinking like the sea … yuggh :( … we started our journey towards the beach temple town of MURUDESHWAR …(stayed at the worst place possible … Sushma-Abhi and me tried everything we could to make our room livable ..) …. First things first ….we had to take a shower and get the sand off ourselves …in 3 hours it had stuck to us ..and now we were smelling like dried fish …. :( :( Yugghh :( :( !!! anyways after a shower and dinner we were ready to hit the sack …by the looks of it , we knew we had a looooong day planned ahead of us ….
We went around Murudeshwar in the morning … The Shiviji’s statue is huuuge !!! Did not like the beach ..we went on a stroll along the beach …it has the texture of sand mixed with little cement … (Personally would’nt go there again … but again that’s my opinion)
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We left Murudeshwar and reached YANA at about 11:30 … Set up camp ..Had a wonderful lunch and then started walking …. Ohhh Yes …we had to trek the 8 kilometer stretch …. What an experience …a whole bunch of girls trekking …stopping at every opportunity we get … we played in he waterfalls along the way …it had poured the previous evening ..so the trek up the hill was a bit slippery …the river was flowing past at such speed … was great to watch ..we found another small waterfall…played in the water ..we were soo thirsty , we drank directly from the falls… it felt like we were in a TV commercial …advertising for some mineral water brand … water from the hills does taste good … will try that again some day .. we managed to reach the summit …Oh God !! it was breathtaking …. Vertically rising stone columns …. Amazing … it has underground caves …. Superb place ….
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SPOILER: the place is overridden with leeches… be sure you carry limestone(liquified) or salt and matched (helps if u smoke and u carry a lighter with you … ) …trust me those things do really cling on … We got back to camp by 7:30 …completely exhausted …. We left immediately ….

PHASE 2: GOA
We reached Goa shortly after midnight … We checked into this beautiful beach resort in Goa called Santa Monica.. Excellent place .. more than made up for the trouble we took the previous night …. Probably its got some thing to do with being in Goa …Abhi –Sushma and your’s truly lost our marbles …we went banging on our other classmates room doors at 4 in the morning .. went back to the room .. laughed our guts out … caught up on some girl talk … then zzzzzzzz ….. ;) ;)

Woke up fresh and happy … went to the resorts restaurant for coffee ….all the guys in our batch went crashing into the pool …. We ladies ..went to the artifacts shop in the resort …. Bharad bought himself a pipe .. (without the tobacco…) …we then went to the room Bharad-Vinay-Sabrish-Mohne were sharing …had a blast … the usual ..laughing ..teasing…screaming …. We then went down to have breakfast ….
Now it was time to start exploring South Goa …. If u think we had visited enough temples already …nope we had more to go … we visited the Shanti Durga Temple ..Then the Mangeshi temple ( do you know that I this town everyone’s last name is Mangeshkar as in the famous Lata Mangeshkar….the 3 sisters are from this town ..)
Now we had to visit the world famous St. FRANCIS XAVIER CHURCH … Very serene …. Absolutely beautiful ….
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We reached Panjim at 6…and ….SHOPPED!!!!!!! ….then we boarded a cruise liner and got into the party groove… danced the night away ….
Late in the night we checked into the BAMBOO RESORT … Sunils Birthday ….:) We changed and went down to the bar … we had fun …danced till pretty late in the night …. Had dinner and then ……… made a camp fire …. Great experience …. In a way it felt like we had all come together and had found our place within this group …. Got to bed by 3 … :)
Woke up the next morning and went to see Fort Agoda …(Dil Chahta hai effects ..) You can see so far away into the ocean (North Goa ) …some song and dance sequence for some Hindi movie was being shot … we all hated the song …
We then went to CALANGOT BEACH …. It was about 45 degree Celsius… so we girls decided that we wouldn’t go to the beach …. We found something much more interesting to do …… SHOPPING !!! …. :) ...The guys went hopping and skipping towards the beach … and came back with reviews that the girls were hot!!! …. We rolled our eyes and thought “BOYS” ..!!!!! …..We passed through BAGA beach … looks a lot like Calangot …but much more interesting … probably next time ….
We had time to visit one more place …so at about 4 we reached DONA PAULA BEACH … not so much of a beach …coz therez no sand …it’s a rocky beach …. This place stands as a testament for true love ….
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From here we could see the view of Vasco …yes ..the very same place where Vasco-da-Gama arrived in India in 1498. There are so many ships harbored at this place …the size of those ships is something that I hadn’t even imagined …. We boarded the bus and stopped briefly to see the sun set from MIRAMAR … (very peaceful beach) … and started our journey back home …… Not wanting to say Goodbye to Goa …. :(

We reached Bangalore at 11 in the morning on the 11th went home and slept for the rest of the day …Had to get back to college in the morning … :(
Still very tired but the smile hasn’t faded ….I saw soob many smiles over the past few days that its impossible to believe that the world has sorrows too ….
Overall a trip that I will always remember ….. :)

2009 JANUARY

It all started in the end of 2008. The group of friends from engineering were all set to attend the wedding of Sunil and Jenny. It almost was a reunion of the group after a 4 year long hiatus ... it was great to see half of the friends group that was out of the country for a long time make it back to India in time to be there at the wedding ... the icing on the cake was that the entire event was taking place in GOA.

After a whole lot of calls, emails and meetings the entire travel schedule was complted ...12 of us boarded the train from Bangalore...the rest of them were flying in directly to Goa so that we would meet them the next day when we reached Goa ... The train journey was awesome fun ...loads of laughs ...reminded us of the great times we had in college together ... this journey set the mood for the rest of the trip ..now we were gearing up for a great blast at Goa !! We reached the Madgaon station and boarded the bus to go to Baga Beach ... We finally reached Goa ..tired ..hungry ...but extremely excited ... :) :) :) we went to find our room which was exactly behind BRITTOs ... met up with friends who had already checked in ....u should have heard the noise... We checked in and then ran to the beach .. the view was awesome ....

All of us sat in Britto eating a wonderful lunch and spoke spoke and spoke some more over a couple of drinks ;) ..there was quite a bit of catching up to do ... we lazed around for some more time and then walked back to our rooms .. changed and went down to the beach ...

Baga is famous for watersports ..Parasailing, WaterScooter and Scary banana ride ( Scary becoz they take you on a banana shaped boat, in the middle of the sea, and then the boat will be turned upside down). Parasailing was sooper fun ... watched the sun set when i was high above the ocean ... felt soo much at peace ... :)
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Went back to our rooms ...showered , changed and went out for dinner on the beach ... what a setting .... Baga beach looks great at night. It was full moon night and the view of sea was simply superb ...went for a walk along the beach after dinner ...
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Bharad, Ajay and me were listening to Floyd , lying on the beach and watching the sky ..... what a moment ...it was very very peaceful ... then we realised it was about 2 in the morning ...so decided to catch up on some much needed sleep ... :D

Woke up bright and happy the next morning at about 8 ... (thankfully no hangover.. ;) ) ...went out of the room ..and looked at the bright blue sea... felt good ....real good ... Went over to Brittos for breakfast .... wanted to stay there forever ... the egg sandwich and coffee tastes heavenly ..... baga_beach_goa.jpg
The same routine followed the next day too .... started getting ready by early noon .....we had to attend Sunil and Jennys wedding ... All of us managed to get ready by 2:30PM and reached the church by 4PM.... the church was absolutely beautiful and the entire service literally brought tears to my eyes....
Then we went to the venue of the reception ...Wonderful setting ....it truly was one of the most enjoyable weddings ...kuddoos to the happy couple ...got back to the room by way past midnight .... We were sooo excited that no one was in the mood to go to sleep..... so changed and went down to the beach at 2 in the morning ... It was lovely ...walking along the beach with a couple of breezers in hand ...talking .... The sound of waves at night is awesome ...started feeling very sleepy at around 4 ...so we went back to our rooms ....
By now the routine was set ...woke up at 8:30 ...went to Britto for coffee and sandwiches ...
Then played snooker and lazed around for the rest of the day ...overall sooper relaxed day ...
Then remembered that we had to leave Goa ... so got ready ....and said our goodbyes .....
Reached Bangalore by 8:30 in the morning .... and had to rush to office .....

(Dejavu!!5 years ago we rushed to college ...now we were rushing to work..some things never change i guess.... :( )

Till next time ... :)

Posted by Ceej 00:11 Archived in India Tagged boating Comments (0)

Belur-Halebeedu (Karnataka)

July 2008

all seasons in one day

This was an extremely hastily planned trip. We got to know that Prav(my best friend) was going to Milwaukee for a year :( ...We decided that we as a complete group had to plan an outing before she left... since we had only a few days notice we decided that it would be best if we could plan a one day trip.
The chain mail that went into this trips planning needs to be framed ... (i tend to read it every time i feel down..) .. We decided that we will get food for lunch ourselves ...
There was big-time requests for Shil's moms Fish Fry and Chicken Biryani ... Shws rasam ... in the middle of all this Seem comes up with the ultimate suggestion ...that she wil cook for us ...and her choice of food item to prepare ...PALAK PANEER ... Prav instantly replies with a soooper doooper reply ...

""Does she know we have to put Palak also…..
And does she know the difference between Palak and tree leaves??????????????? """ ...the battle of words after that ....ufff !!! .... ;)

The decription of the weather this day can be aptly summarised as "All Seasons in a Day"
We started from home at 6:30 in the morning on a Sunday. The drive was soooper fun ...what else do you expect with a van full of happy young people ... singing..screaming..teasing..laughing...and ofcourse eating ...Shws performance ...brought back old memories...we stopped along the way to have breakfast at about 8:30... Dosa - sambar - coffee .. mmmm ...what a combination... :) :) :) we reached our first destination at 10:30...

HALEBEEDU ( Old City )
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The Hoysalas were Hindu kings who ruled over parts of Karnataka for some centuries who were talented enough to grab a place for them in history due to their various contributions to art and architecture .
They perfected a distinct style of temple architecture that is clearly different from anything you would have seen till now.The temples are star shaped and the entire temple itself was placed on a high surface and they are completely carved in stone. It was sooo sunny and hot that it was difficult to set foot on the stone ...though inside the monument the weather was completely contradictory .... it was cold ....
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The Hoysaleshwara temple in Halebeedu is a beautiful monument. Please be sure you engage the services of a tour guide .. At 100 Indian Rupees they give you a detailed tour of the entire temple and show you all the details that go into making this a wonderful and much appreciated Architectural monument.
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we took the detailed tour.... its very sad that the hard work of centuries was mindlessly destroyed by a few fanatics ...since they wanted to plunder the temples for the gold idols ...
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You can buy some miniature versions of those idols carved out of the same stone....
We then travelled to Belur, which is 15 minutes away ...

BELUR

Belur is completely enclosed by a wall on all four sides. It has a humongous arched entrance. The feel to this place is wonderful and you find yourself giving thanks that this place was not plundered like Halebidu.
We took a tour though the place and then it started pouring ..... and guess what we women completely lost our minds and started dancing in the rain ..... WITHIN THE TEMPLE PREMISES ..... oh my God!!! it felt sooo good ...
The Channakeshwara (Krishna) temple closes at 1 PM. So if you want a darshan make sure you get here before time. We were late... :(

The highlight of the Belur temples are the stone idols... each of them carved to perfection...
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After a while we left Belur. As we were travelling we found this low hill overlooking a lake... we decided that it would be the perfect setting for a picnic lunch.... it had just stopped raining and it was pretty windy ... we had a great lunch .... by the time we started clearing away meal ...it started drizzling .... :)

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Got back to Bangalore by 9PM. Exhausted but very very happy.... A memorable day had just ended. Seem and me got into an auto and huddled against each other ...it was cold ....Got back home and crashed into bed ..... :)

We were texting each other the next day as we had all screamed ourselves hoarse .... Shenoy calls up to tell that he is leaving work early as he is in no mood to work .. i had to completely agree....sooper fun trip ... :) :) :)

CJ

Posted by Ceej 02:33 Archived in India Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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