Thursday, July 20, 2017

Coorg Diaries

Coorg historically known as Kodagu is a place to be definitely placed in the “To travel” list. It is a beautiful place with magical setting situated on top of the hills. The view is breathtaking at all levels. This is one of the alluring place and I am sure it will leave you speechless with its cool climes, historical significance such as ancient monasteries (Tibetan and Buddhist) and the fetching views of valleys. Coorg is 3 hour drive from Mangalore, Print capital of India. It is approximately 145 kms from Mangalore whereas 100 kms from Mysore. Mysore is the closest railway station and you can club the trip visiting most popular Mysore palace and Ooty. While it is run of the mill for the local folks out there, it was exotic for us. One cannot bring the view and experience in one’s camera but one has to truly be in that situation to embrace the magical delight that a place offers. Definitely a no frill village reveling in the basics, but it offered us an exquisite artistic beauty to our thirsty eyes.

Our Stay – Hotel Le Coorg in Madikeri ( Mercara in English)

Hotel Le Coorg nestles in the foothills of Coorg and stands tall with its modern setting amidst the blanket of nature. The rooms are very well maintained. The building is well planned and serves as a delight to stay with your family. The breakfast here is well thought and prepared with keeping everyone’s interest in mind. To say the menu and the spread is diverse and suitable for north and south food lovers as it is designed keeping both the tastes in mind. The staff is very courteous and goes out of the way to bring you the best. The welcome kit has fruits mainly bananas and pear. You are offered a cup of hot coffee once you land there. The level of hospitality offered by each and everyone here is truly a customer delight in every sense.

Places we saw

1.       Raja Seat

This is located near our Hotel and served as a delight for the days we stayed there. The name Raja seat comes from a story which dates back to centuries and centuries ago. The kings used to take their queens out to this significant place to relax and spend their time with each other. The monsoon adds to the already delicious flavor as the valley is shrouded by fine mists and the rolling clouds take over the green hills. The heaven itself is descended and place its shine on the valley it seems. The lovely sunset view is the most promising view and crowds throng in the evening to get a taste of it. The garden overlooking the valley, huge lawns, the places to click pictures and pose are some ingredients which make this recipe of Raja Seat worth grabbing a bite.

2.       Thalacauvery

Thalacauvery or the birth place of river Cauvery was some 35 kms odd from our hotel. We hired a rickshaw to take us to this place which is 8 kms from Bhagmandala. The small pond which has the Cauvery river water is eneveloped by huge building structure with flight of stairs taking us to the temple. The small temple is placed right in front of the pond and worshippers offer flowers, take blessings, do some puja and sprinkle the holy water on their heads. The weather was lovely. Sun was slighted by the wintry climate but the rays were making their presence felt on us.

3.       Bhagamandala

Bhagamdala is the place where Triveni Sangam( the unison of three rivers namely Kannike, Cauvery and Sujoti) is. The point of confluence is magical and as per the information from local folks, one of the river water is underground and the mouth of that source is unknown. It is called as Gupt Gamini due to its mysterious presence. The temple situated in front of this sangam is Bhagandeshwara. The lord shiva is celebrated and worshipped and the place looks like its dates back to eons ago as the structure of the buildinh, setting and the atmosphere looked very traditional.

4.       Abbeys Falls
      Abbeys falls is the major waterfall and stands tall in the list of important places to see in Coorg. It was raining cats and dogs when we reached this place. It was beautiful and a great deal of excitement surged among us when we had to take a flight of stairs (Huge block of stairs to say) to get close to the falls. It was flooded with people clicking selfies, pictures and videos of the falls. Local folks told that the water from the falls are not conducive to get drenched or wet or bathe as there were many fatal incidents occurred earlier. In William Wordsworth’s words “When water rolls out from the mountain springs, there comes a sweet inland murmur.”  He adds, landscape gets connected with the quiet of the sky. This will not be termed as meddling or an interference but a synergy of two things that multiplies the natural effect in a bigger scale.

5.       Madikeri Fort
The fort is situated on the hills and has a unique structure.  It was founded by Mudduraja in some 17th century as per the local folks. The fort houses a beautiful palace .The Madikeri museum was built right next to it but it was closed that day so we couldn’t get to see the artistic renditions of the artists located in Kodagu.

6.       Omkareshwara Temple

This temple is 2 kms from our hotel. We chose to take a walk to the destination but that was a wrong call. The temple is situated pretty downhill and the path is very steep so you need lot of patience and stamina to engage in the walk. Nonetheless, the temple is very pretty with its presence in the locality close to nature. The pond encircling the river renders a sight that you would want to carry home. The golden doors, the lovely structure of the temple will pull you towards it at least couple of times during your stay. The advantage of walking to this place is you can watch those beautiful houses coming on your way. The huge bungalow sized houses with its quaint feel and setting will serve as an escape from busy urban life.

7.       Raja Tomb

As the name goes, there are three tombs built in this place. A beautiful well planned and maintained garden overlooks the tomb giving it a palatial view. It is some 15 mins from Raja Seat and was very close to our hotel. It is popularly known as Gadhige.

Food stories

We stopped over at BMS on our way to Coorg and on our way back to Mangalore Airport. It is 20 mins from Mangalore airport. The huge building which has a restaurant and lodging is well built and surrounded by palm leaves. The restaurant offers delicious south Indian food. In our stay, the biggest boon came in the form of Swaad Restaurant which is just a stone throw from our hotel.  The food is very child friendly specially if you are travelling with a toddler, it becomes a go to place for lunch and dinner as they offer fully cooked rice, not so spicy sambar, the vegetable( oh they don’t charge for every extra veggie and sambar bowl, at least they did not with us), and a sweet dish. This mentioned menu is for children. For adults, you get a sumptuous thali (full meal plate). There are also other options available but we stuck to this more often. The people here are very nice indeed and go out of the way to bring you the best.

Few delights we came across with while we engaged in our evening walk which became a ritual during our stay.

Colorful flowers adorns every balcony of the rustic houses which are built very strategically. The vibrant blooms peeking out from the window, the climbers flowing out and figuratively blends with the bricks and structure, the plantations of coffee, pepper and rubber, the variety of family run homestays, riverside locales and many more things, all in the lap of nature will push you to believe and wonder if this quaint village is drawn out of a children’s folk tale.

A place generally becomes sought after, for its people, the view, the food and its simplicity. I promise you that these items that I mentioned will definitely be in your plate named as Coorg. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

An Evening at Martin’s Inn Resort

It was a sultry evening. I sat with my cuppa of masala chai in front of the calm view. The nature had painted quite a beautiful view. The flight of birds were heading to their destination and some of the birds were neatly perched themselves in midst of the branches of the tall palm trees. The rustling of leaves of the palm trees added a musical delight to my ears. The sun was hitting my balcony and I was bathing in the warmth of it. The distant sound of waves clashing the edges of the cliffs augmented the existing magic. I strained my neck to see the sun entering the horizon. Like Pablo Neruda says, every evening in the balcony of the sea, a fire is born, wings open. The ball of fire was clearly visible and I could imagine the sweat stewed hours that it put the whole day to shine down on us, to illuminate the dark corners of the world and also acting like a silent admirer of green blanket of nature. Music is the most alive of all forms of art and I heard it through the action of birds, waves, and the tiny tots. The gouged lawn in front of our resort was the eye catching element and I could smell the globe of petals withdrawn from the flowers of the trees even from distance. The local folks were rushing to their own place after finishing their daily chores and duties. The cuckoo sitting on the tree was busy cooing and making a sonorous sound. Such was the atmosphere. Fresh, clean and so virgin ready to lose it all for the mankind. The tryst with nature lasted for few more seconds before I heard a loud cry of my girl. I sat my tea on a chair and went inside to pick her up. Bringing her to the balcony, I showed her the true magic of Mother Nature and her kindness.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The lost art of writing letters

Festive season was here. The city was sparkling and glowing with lights, lamps and candles. Every nook and corner was brimmed with festive atmosphere. The exchange of pleasantries, packing the goody bags for special someone, the sweets and cakes on stores were the highlight. To top it all the events and soirees were pretty much a delight and icing on the cake. The decorations and organizing games took a front seat and not a single life felt isolated and withdrawn. The city was admired for the energy and joie de vivre. 

In the midst of all this, one tends to feel the height of glory and one always gets charged up.  I too felt the tidal wave of varying mixed emotions in my heart and felt the need to express my gratitude to my set of loved ones. So at the end of the day when the year 2016 was on the verge of getting to the point of shutting down its curtain, I ended up writing letters. In the days of social media, a letter may seem obsolete, trash and outdated to many but I can never get rid of the old charm that only a letter offers.

A letter is like opening the eyes of our heart and showing its true essence and nature with a personalized touch. In a world of communication where technology is a breakthrough and has opened up so many doors that a person doesn’t feel distant to their loved ones anymore, letters take a backseat and often seen as a backward means of channeling your thoughts and ideas to the opposite person. But I felt it is the lost art which is worth bringing back. Therefore I wrote. Firstly, it thrilled me to a great extent.

 The prospect of sharing those ideas by bringing it to the pen gave me a joy that knew no bounds. The ink when touches the paper, those scribbling and overwriting few words, making a subtle nuances to the alphabets was unparalleled to the pressing of alphabets in the keyboard or pressing the send key in the messenger.

Going back to literature, letters hold a significant or rather coveted position in bringing two lovers together. A person’s rejection or acceptance depends on the manner in which the letter has been written. Letters were a common literary vehicle used to correspond. Many of the literary works include letter writing as a personal favorite. For example, In Austen’s Emma, the iconic work of the author, when Harriet smith comes running with a letter from Mr. Martin, Emma Woodhouse quickly asks her how great the letter is, and how is the length of the letter. The relationship formed through letters, it was held together through letters and lasted because of those letters.

I would like to quote the piece in New York times which is written by Catherine Field :
“A good handwritten letter is a creative act, and not just because it is a visual and tactile pleasure. It is a deliberate act of exposure, a form of vulnerability, because handwriting opens a window on the soul in a way that cyber communication can never do. You savor their arrival and later take care to place them in a box for safe keeping.

Following to the above passage, creativity lured in the corners of letters. A good letter was a blue print of an investment of good stationery, pretty piece of paper, and beautiful supplies.

The wait of receiving a letter was always a comfort giving, breathtaking and curiousity driven. There was a rush in our heart and minds when we saw the letters in mailbox. One waited to get back home and read those. The great excitement and thrill were the elements that letters brought out within us. The handwritten words and pictures meant a lot. Often the person’s state of mind was visible through their well- organized words, writings, and striking of a sentence.

In all the BBC period dramas and stories, I have often seen letters prove a great deal. The entire day was spent in answering them with detail, precise, and to the point. There was no way a letter was acceptable when it posed ambiguity, lack of clarity and short in means of length. Women would wait for a proper hour to let themselves alone to read the letters. Also the great power that a well handwritten has is remarkable. Think about the letter of proposal that transpired between Elizabeth and Darcy. It had a power that affected two lives dearly.  When we look back, there was a separate genre for letters in novels. Epistolary indeed! It was wholly engaged in writing a piece of work using letters as a central ideas. To name few of those kind which were exceedingly successful were Bridget Jone’s Diary, Letters to Juliet, The Princess Diaries, The Perks of being a wallflower and Last Days of Summer.

Growing up, I have often seen people write letters in special occasions. We have experienced the joy and anxiety too as our family used to receive letters to the distant cousins and relatives. It talked of happiness, good tidings and good health. Even the marriage preparations were discussed. So ours was an era where letters lived and relished in the comfort of human hands which generation next could hardly get a taste of.

Not only this vintage communication connected war separated lovers, or used for deliver news but every beats of life were unabashedly discussed. Therein, approbation and comfort were sought in one another.

The increasing speed of technology rings a death knell to the sweet sounding literature. They are drifting away slowly from our lives. Today, social media have taken correspondence by storm but not to forget that in this gust of storm, letters serve as a fresh whiff of air coming through a narrow channel called heart.