“Somethings never change. Like your mom refusing to believe that you will not forget to eat irrespective of your age” – Life experience
If the journey to Coorg was the thrill of the unknown, the idyllic days in Coorg and the drive through Kerala was about the feeling of being at Home away from home.
Destinations: Coorg , Parassinikadavu , Bekal Fort and Mangalore
Distance: Total distance : 263 . Coorg- Parassinikadavu 125 km. Parassinikadavu -Bekal 71 km and Bekal to mangalore – 68 km
The co-travellers: Mom and Dad. Vicarious travellers in our trips so far . A bit of coaxing was all it took to make them join us for the next 5 days as we meandered through Coorg, Northern Kerala , Mangalore and Udupi. The added carrot was of course figuring out “how these kids drive”.
The travel : When we pulled into Madikeri bus stand a good 4 hours after our expected arrival time the first sight we saw was my dad waiting anxiously. He and mom had arrived 3 hours before after an overnight train journey from Trivandrum to Mangalore and a bumpy bus ride from Mangalore to Madikkeri. A man of extremely few words – “da you guys are really alright”? was the only statement he made which showed a hint of anxiety. Mom on the other hand was her chirpy self after her enforced rest. ” Well, you kids have a stellar track record for being upto no good and hiding it . Eat something . You must be hungry and Saare ( well Mom and Dad call each other “Saar”- the Mallu version of Sir) get these two some coffee and then we will go to the homestay”. And with that statement the baton of the official -in-charge went to Mom.
Our halt in Coorg was to be at Suntikoppa a 10 minute drive away from Madikeri. While planning the trip we had decided that since we had three days to spend in Coorg we would try to absorb the local life as much as possible. The region was dotted with a number of coffee estates some of which operate as homestays and that seemed to fit our idea. Our search for a homestay ended the moment we chanced upon Kedakkal Estate on Tripadvisor (http://www.kedakal.com/about.html ). The bungalow nestled within 25 acres of coffee plantation , owned by Diwakar uncle and Uma aunty had an old world charm of its own.
We drove into the coffee plantation just as dusk was falling and were greeted warmly by our hosts who went out of their way to put us at ease.The bungalow tastefully decorated with curios was a relaxing retreat . We had a delightful evening recounting our travel tales to our hosts and parents till dinner time.
We started our next morning with a lazy breakfast and a walk around the plantation. we also finetuned our plans for the next two days. The Kabini sanctuary was vetoed for safaris were banned during monsoons, a trip to Talacauvery was discussed at length but Mom put her foot down. “Take rest guys- eat, rest and be merry” was her byword. Also to explore stuff on a whim without taking too much effort- and so that was how it was to be. We decided to start by visiting the Iruppu falls- a lovely waterfall which was in full force and a regular tourist spot. From there our destination was Sidhapura – where the Dubare elephant camp was situated by the banks of the Cauvery . The next day was devoted for the Tibetan refugee area of Bylakuppe to see the Golden temple and on cleaning up the car readying up for our next leg of the journey .
The third day morning was what what we called the drive through day- where all our destinations were just brief halts on our way to Mangalore. We started our day at 6 am , bidding adieu to our hosts who had become our friends in such a short span of time . Uma aunty even got up at 5 am to make breakfast for us!!! We drove through interiors of Coorg through the picturesque Virajpet before entering the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary. We drove along the Kabini river through winding Ghat roads into Kerala. It just felt like entering home.
This was a part of Kerala that we had never seen before – its northern corners. We drove through the town of Iritty towards Parassinikadavu , a town near the estuary of the Valapattanam river and known for the Muthappan temple . The temple , built it traditional Kerala architecture is situated on the banks of Valapattanam river. This temple is unique for its god is Muthappan, a hunter who is worshipped along with his faithful companion, the dog. Hence dogs are allowed to wander at will inside the temple . The offering to Muthappan is also unique- fried fish and kallu (toddy).
From Parassinikadavu we headed headed for Bekal Fort through the heart of Malabar.We were in Kerala on Chingam 1st , the traditional new year of kerala- the month of Onam, when Kerala’s natural beauty is at its best. Heralding Onam were lush greenery, flowers and theyyam forms visiting houses and blessing people. We reached Bekal by 3pm. The Bekal Fort ,rebuilt in 1650 AD by Shivappa Nayak of Bednore, is the largest Fort in Kerala. It was originally built for naval defence by the Kolathiri rulers of 12th Cent AD a per a few historians.The Fort has no buildings / remnants of buildings other an observation tower and a magazine . The Fort looked a carpet of green and stood majestically above the beach.
We left Bekkal at 5pm and headed for Mangalore which was to be our pitstop for the night before we started our second innings with the state of Karnataka- this time exploring the coastal regions of the state.