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Among the hill stations of India, Coorg has a special significance, Army Generals – Kariappa, Thimmaiah. Air Marshal KC Nanda, and Defense Minister V.K. Krishna Menon are among the well-known natives of Coorg(or Kodagu as the natives would call it).

I was in Mysore, last in 2012 for my training in Infosys and missed visiting Coorg before I moved to Chennai. This time around, with due diligence, to cater to my parents holiday request we planned a short three-day trip.

Coorg is famous for its home-stays. It is a way to commercialise your private house on a beautiful estate of coffee plants). It gives an opportunity to a city dweller like me to enjoy nature. While staying in its midst, clean environment, fresh air and homely food can be experienced all at a single place.

I belong from Konkan in Maharashtra and hence I am well aware of all these benefits, hence, if I get an opportunity to stay in a cottage, I always prefer that over a resort. We booked our arrangements from Coorg Home Stays,   which seemed to me as an association of estate owners registering their properties for the general public to use.

THE COTTAGE

Wildwoods cottage is owned by Mr Mukul Apaiaha, a 2nd generation plantation owner, and his estate spans a humbling 40 acres. Like the Thimaiaha‘s and Kariappa‘s of Coorg,

Mr Apaiaha also has a proud military history associated with his estate. His father was in the Indian Army and invested in the estates early on. There were 2 cottages on the property both fifty plus years old.

They had the traditional monsoon house style of architecture. My father explained to me the terms, Khidki and Phadki which a Darwaja is divided, the more common among them being khidki (window) while phadki meant the lower section of a door.

The wood would have the best variety available locally. His dining table chairs were super heavy which made the quality evident.

There was an observation deck on the upper floor with a small Porch and central table, chairs. His cottage is managed by Shantu (called with a Bengali pronunciation), and Gopal. On the night we reached the cottage, shantu guided us from the Kemalekad Estate gates to there abode.

He has been given a jeep to pick-up and drops tourists and for other purposes. We had a good dinner, simple food, and Rasgulla for dessert. We were already getting a feel of the weather change from Bangalore to Coorg. It had rained so it was quite cool and could see Fire Flies in the dark of the jungle.

That day in the morning, we had taken the Srirangapatna route from Bangalore. On the way we visited, Sri Ranganath Swamy Temple, and few places connected with Tipu Sultan, like the Daulat Baug on the banks of Cauvery. Been completed my quota of Temples, which I have also  posted in Colors of Southern India

TIPU SULTAN

NAMDROLING MONASTERY

which is the largest teaching centre of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in the world. The entire town of Bylakuppe is established to refuge the many thousands of Tibetan monks and lamas who fled during the Chinese aggression.

The monastery has multiple temples with huge statues of the Buddha. It has vivid colourful murals depicting his life at Lumbini, where he was born, Bodhi tree where he attained enlightenment and further years of his life.

Earlier I used to believe that Tibet had a single spiritual leadership, under the Dalai Lama, Tenzing Gyatso, the famous monk who we granted refuge at Dharmashala in Uttarakhand. Turns out there are four sects within Tibetan Buddhism. Nyingma sect or school being the oldest among it. The other three are Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug.

In contrast to the other three main Tibetan schools, the Nyingma tradition has never been the dominant political power in Tibet. The Dalai Lama belongs to the Gelug school and has been political and stronger in terms of its followers.

SIGHTSEEING

On the way, is a small catchment dam over Cauvery, Balmuri Falls. It’s a good weekend getaway for a group to enjoy a free water park experience. The next day was leisure time for us at the cottage. I explored the area around. Plenty of ponds and domesticated animals, ducks, cows, dogs. There is an internal trail around the entire forty-acre estate.

Shantu promised to show us around on the third day before we checked out. We had breakfast and set out for remaining site seeing. We could witness the beauty of Coorg in daylight which we missed while arriving due to rains. Also by the time, we reached it was already dark. Surrounded by coffee plantations and paddy fields, my father explained the resemblance to Tea plantations in Assam.

Atop the hill will be the plantations and downhill paddy fields which helps in proper water management. We visited Abbey falls, which seemed to be a perennial waterfall. It would be definitely great to visit it post-monsoon when it would be flowing at full capacity. Raja seat and Madikeri Fort were near Madikeri Town. The fort is now a converted court and government office but still has some essence of the British occupancy.

Thalakaveri is a religious site where the Kaveri river originates. My parents especially liked the temple and kund, from where the river water flows downhill. We purchased spices from the local society shop and some ginger wine. Coorg also specializes in homemade wines, from ginger, gooseberry, pomegranate, beetle leaf and paddy. We had tea back at the cottage and relaxed listening to jungle sounds, birds calling and insects screeching.

LAND OF GENERALS

Coorg, the “Land of generals” hasn’t had a peaceful history pre-independence. Before the British, the kodavas (natives of kodagu) had to fight back Tipu sultan. In a bid to overthrow Tipu sultan the Kodavas sided by the British which allowed them to access certain privileges till date (more about that can be read here: Outlook India

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By Abhishek Saraswat

Abhishek (@himalayan_gypsy) is a travel photographer and blogger known as Himalayan Gypsy over the internet. Academically from an engineering background and born the Himalayan valley of Dehradun, he found himself in love with nature and ever since he has been on a journey to travel India and showcase the beauty of the country through his pictures, motivating and encouraging people on the go to feel the same and also take responsibilities to conserve our rich heritage, culture and environment. He is a Certified Digital Marketer and a Travel Influencer who is efficient to create visually appealing content for Travel Brands, Property Owners, Cafes and other Product Shoots. He also specializes in running Facebook & Instagram Ad Campaigns for Brand Awareness, Brand Promotion and Online Reputation Management.

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