We are back folks...guys?...anybody out there?...anyhow no time for all that, even 2b's mom seems to have ditched me after the tag fiasco! Well have to record the absolutely fabulous time we had at Madikeri so on I plod or spring should I say? We took the KSTC volvo bus Thursday afternoon and after a pleasant ride, through Mysore (which is half way between Bangalore and our destination) We caught a glipmse of the grand Mysore palace from the bus.We reached Madikeri at 8.45 pm. It was raining. The hotel Kauvery was walking distance from the bus stop.We had a light dinner and turned in early so that we could explore the place as early as possible.
The mite was the first to get up the next morning and he and I went off in search of breakfast. Thankfully the rain had stopped by then. We set off for Thalakauvery the birth place of the Kauvery river. It took us an hour and a half on a bus to get to Bhagamandala which is the confluence of the Kauvery and two other rivers. This spot has a temple complex and a small ghat. The view of the surrounding hills from the temple is breathtaking. A grand gateway is being constructed in front of the pristine temple, I wish they didn't make such a grand gateway to attract the tourists, doubtless, it robs the temple of its simplicity and hence its charm. When we enquired about the sangam we were told in an off hand manner-"waha toh pani hi nahin hai"-it is commonly held, and it is the truth to some extent that tourists are only interested in grand shows from nature. if it is the sangam they expect swirling waters and dancing rapids, why can't they give nature a break. Anyhow the sangam area was a quaint stream in which a family was splashing about in knee deep water. My children and I immediately lowered our feet into the cool waters and proceeded to splash a lot of water about. We spotted a fish swim calmly by on the other bank. It felt good.
We took an auto from Bhagamandala to Thalakauvery. A grand gateway was being built there too but the temple here was also quite grand all marble flooring and a huge terrece with benches to watch the sprawling mountains and picturesque valley below. They have constructed a tank at the source. We also walked up the four hundred steps to the top of Brahmagiri to another astounding view. I found people panting more at the foot of the stairs in anticipation of the 400 steps but slowly ones breathing became normal as one got used to the climbing. After the exercise we had a wholesome Kodagu meal at Bhagamandala before taking the bus back to Madikeri. rains spoilt our chance of enjoying the sunset at Raja's Seat a view point at Madikeri town.
On Saturday the heavens opened up. The Mr bought two umbrellas and we set off for Dubare Elephant Camp in a Kushal Nagar bus. It is an hour's bus ride from Madikeri via Sunti koppa where a shop was selling something called 'Gopi Manjooran' (gobi manchurian anyone?) and I have noticed this all over India there is nothing called cold drinks all the roadside eateries and paan shops serve 'cool drinks'. The elephants at Dubare had taken shelter because of the rains but the Kauvery was flowing in all its glory. We crossed the river in a ferry boat only to learn that the elephants had taken cover and it was just a joyride across the river, we sat for sometime at the bank and headed towards the 'Golden Temple' or the Tibetan monastry undeterred by the incessant rains. We reached the grand monastery soggy feet and wet backs to be greeted by a majestic Buddha. The mite generally sreams in terror to see huge figures (he made a hilarious spectacle at the Bull Temple at Bangalore), however the serene expression on Gautama Buddha's face calmed him down and he pulled a cushion and sat on it gazing at the three enormous idols of Gautama, and two other Llamas. We had an excellent lunch of noodles and thupka. Interestingly only beef was available other than eggs in the non-veg platter. In the time of the Buddha the cow was not as sacred among Hindus as it later came to be. Gautama preached non-violence and urged his disciples not to harm the cow and irony of ironies a grand temple of the Buddha with an eatery that sertves nothing but beef. It is the cheapest of meats and easily available so it figures. I am no advocate for vegetarianism after all we destroy forests to farm the land we harvest crops to produce grains, we are killing to eat all the time unless you do not consider plants as living beings whose lives are worth living. In this scenario one must opt for the stuff that is more easily found and easy on the pocket, that is practical and reasonable as long as one is not eating moniter lizards and rare birds and animals on the verge of extinction! Then we headed for hotel Kauvery, however we had to give the sun set a miss yet again as both the children were soaking wet and had to be given a warm bath.
In the evening we went for a walk in the nearby market and had a scrumptious dinner at 'Bangalore Tiffins' nearby. We could have a filling meal for as little as 39Rs in the towns of South India, in Bangalore too the 20Rs thali still exists and a filling set dosa is only Rs 10. Thalis are unlimited so we piled on the rasam and sambar. In other hill stations we have spent upwards of 200Rs for a meal for two-so I am talking really cheap here and the meals elsewhere are of dubious quality whereas in the south standards are high, if you can withstand the chillies you are through, for idli and dosas even that consideration is not there.
On Sunday we thought of devoting ourselves only to Madikeri town. The day dawned bright and shining and we heaved a sigh of relief. First stop was Onkareshwara temple, the unique feature of which is that it can be passed off as a mosque complete with small mineret like structures, however the bull sitting on the top gives it away. The fishes in the tank in this temple enthralled the kids and us. Then on to the Government museum in the Madikeri fort. The small but interesting museum houses statues of Mahavira, Shiva and other deities along witha striking stuffed leapard. It also had a small etching of Rabindranath Tagore. Next was Raja's Seat an beautiful park cum mountain view. Then the awe inspiring Abbi falls and the coffee plantation through which we walked to it. Lastly the tombs of the Wodeyar kings. All covered before lunchtime. After lunch we set off towards Kushal Nagar yet again to catch Nisargadhama, a picnic spot we had missed the other day. Here we found the river Kauvery again and this time in all her swirling glory. The park had sprawling bamboo groves, tree houses, swings, rabbits and deer (in captivity) and a hanging bridge from which to enter. We spent a joyful afternoon exploring nisargadhama. We returned to Madekeri satiated and content. We caught the night bus back and a bumpy ride brought us back home at five in the morning( we could not get the volvo in the return journey). Well it was a weekend well spent!