When the monsoon unleashes its fury from June to October, Kodagu or Coorg is a sight to behold. The mist lends a surreal touch to the scenic charm. When the mist parts, it unfolds the undulating carpet of the coffee and cardamom plantations in the distance, giving way to varying shades of green. The health-affirming climate and the picture postcard views make it a popular getaway throughout the year. It is a wondrous place for a monsoon break with its gushing streams and sparkling waterfalls all around, and a belt of glorious green stretching before you. The various reservoirs and tanks, full to the brim, beckon the adventure and fun-seeking tourists by the hordes for a ‘wet-n-wild holiday’.
Walking through the coffee trails
The best way to savour the magic of the monsoons in Kodagu district, the heartland of coffee in Karnataka, is to go on long invigorating walks across the coffee and spice plantations with an umbrella, or drive up to the sights or explore the whispering woods. One can get soaked to the skin, or sit in the room and watch the rains drench the pretty landscape.
During the monsoon, one can find a torrent of captivating cascades along the bountiful Cauvery and her tributaries. Just a 9km drive away from Madikeri (capital of Kodagu) is the 70-ft Abbey Falls. A descending pathway through coffee bushes and towering trees entwined with pepper vines that seem to form a cocoon around you, leads slowly to the falls. The roar of gushing water leaping down the rocky gorge, the chirping of birds, the rustling sound of the howling wind, all in the midst of sylvan surroundings will enthral all nature lovers. The torrential rush of Chelavara Falls is equally fascinating.
Another exotic locale is the Iruppu Falls, nestling just outside the Rajiv Gandhi National Park (Nagerhole). En route to the falls, stop by the Rameshwara Temple to pay your customary respects. The falls, which originates in the Brahmagiri Range, plunges 170 feet in two distinct stages and creates a picturesque picnic spot. Then it flows as Lakshmana Theertha. A forest trail leads from these falls to the Brahmagiri Peak in Southern Kodagu.
Rafting in the Cauvery
The River Cauvery, the lifeline of Karnataka, offers endless possibilities for water sports. Come monsoon and you can experience the rapids on the azure waters of the Cauvery, along the stretch adjacent to Dubare Elephant Camp, sandwiched between the south bank of the Cauvery and the Dubare Reserve Forest. River rafting begins amidst these scenic surroundings on the frothy, swift currents. The murmur of the Cauvery and the birdsong will keep you company while you navigate the swollen river while avoiding the jutting rocks on the riverbed.
Meet some Gentle Giants
When you have had your fill of rafting, head to Dubare Elephant Camp. Reaching the Camp is almost an adventure in itself but it is worth the effort. In summer, you cross the river Cauvery on a series of boulders – an experience in itself – before spending a delightful morning being nuzzled by a baby elephant or helping to bathe and feed one of them. The camp also offers a gamut of activities like boulder hopping, trekking and jeep-safaris.
A Tryst with heritage
For the compulsive sightseer, Madikeri has a lot to offer. There is the Mercara fort, with a small museum. With its central domes, four turreted minarets, and sacred bulls, the Hindu temple of Omkareshwar is a synthesis of Hindu-Muslim architecture. At Gaddige, the royal tombs of the Lingayat kings stand on a grassy knoll, with a stunning view of the town. Raja’s Seat, the Kodagu kings’ favoured spot to watch the sunset, offers an uninterrupted view of an emerald valley, swathes of lush paddy fields and distant mountain ranges.
For a dash of Kodagu flavour, stay in an impeccably refurbished home-stay scattered around the coffee plantations and savour the traditional hospitality of the Kodavas. Walk through a waterfall, count vanilla beans, and interact with planters, colonels, and charming women. If you do not wish to venture out of your room, you can watch the rain drumming on the green canopy from the comforts of an old colonial estate bungalow.
One can have a glimpse of the huge 40-feet-tall Buddha in the imposing, high-ceilinged halls of the Namdroling Monastery, also known as the Golden Temple. A short drive away is Cauvery Nisarga Dhama: a scenic riverine island with a suspension bridge, shrine to the local deity, Goddess Cauvery, plus elephant rides and boat rides, if you must. For the spiritually inclined, there is the Bhagamandala Temple built in the multi-roofed Kerala style at the confluence of three rivers: Cauvery, Kanika and Sujyothi and the temple at Talacauvery, the source of the mighty river goddess Cauvery. On Tulasankramana day, pilgrims congregate at the river’s birthplace to witness the miraculous rise of the fountainhead and take a dip in the holy waters.
TEXT AND PHOTOS BY SUSHEELA NAIR