Blog reader and now blogger Divs writes, “Where are more pics, Anita?” So here’s especially for him a travel diary and more pics from my recent trip! And thanks Divs for the pics and your homestay details (check end of post on where to stay). It might be useful for those of you planning trips to Coorg.
A journey through scenic Coorg
Day 1: Sept 30
On the Road
After attempts to start bright and early at 5 am in the morning, we finally left the city around 6 am. Chandra’s Tata Safari was the vehicle for the trip and there were six of us packed in : Chandra, Deepsan, Silvester, Rajiv, Venkatesh and me.
After 2 hours on the road, the hunger pangs began to set in and we sighted a likely breakfast place around 8.30 am where we packed in a fulfilling south Indian breakfast of idlis & dosas.
The roads were relatively okay till around noon after which they deteriorated. The only consolation was that the view outside was great! We were, after all, taking the long scenic route. When we reached the Bisle Forest Reserve, we got a glimpse of the gorgeous peaks of Kukke Subramanya and Pushpagiri from what was called the Beauty Spot. After spending some time wandering around, we continued on our way. We were pretty hungry by the time when we reached K Subramanya and settled for South Indian thalis.
Chandra had to concentrate on the road being in the driver’s seat, but all of us didn’t have any such responsibilities so we had a nice time instead!. Silvester kept everyone entertained with his constant natter and got himself a new name – â€˜chatterbug’.
At about 7 pm, we reached Madikeri in Coorg all decked up and getting ready for the next day’s celebrations. We had another two hours at least to go before we would reach our intended destination of Balele : a small town in remote Coorg. If you look up the map, chances are that you won’t find it. After tea, in a restaurant which did not seem to want to serve us, we finally set off on the final leg of our journey.
It took us a good two and half hours since the roads were bad and the visibility at night on the slopes was low. We found Balele finally but there was another catch. Getting from the main town to the homestay. We no longer had cellphone connectivity. Venky had called earlier and gotten some vague directions like, â€œfollow the road till you get a coconut tree with a board where you take a right and where you see a small mud road, etc. etc.â€ He was obviously confused by the end of it and also managed to confuse us.
We did go down many a mud road and found ourselves on a wild goose chase. We even woke up an old lady at one of the estates and she gave us some kind of vague directions. Back on the road we saw a jeep approach our vehicle. We stalled the vehicle and asked for directions. â€œFollow me,â€ were the only two words the driver said as he executed a quick U-turn and we were left with no choice but to go where he was taking us!
My imaginative mind worked overtime and I began seeing gory visions of us being led into a deserted plantation, where we would be held captive for days without food or water! Thankfully, after about 5 kms we suddenly turned into the gates of an estate, which was apparently our homestay. Relief. I could feel it oozing out of my pores!
As it turned out, the homestay folks thought we were lost and decided to send out a search party. We were so relieved to see hot dinner laid out on the table that we immediately helped ourselves to large portions and had our fill. After 16 hours on the road, it was time to call it a day. A night actually.
Aunty (probably seeing me with five boys) insisted I sleep in her room. â€œSome girls get scared on their own you know,â€ she explained to me. I was only to glad to find somewhere to lie down.
Day 2, Oct 1:
I woke up to the violent chirping of birds, like I had Animal Planet running inside my head. I thought for a moment I had woken up in a bird sanctuary by mistake. Only later I realised that Aunty & Uncle kept birds. And dogs too. There was a labrador, 3 poms & 3 daschunds. They all had to be kept caged though, as Aunty explained later that they get panthers in that area which carries off animals. Hmmm. Not a nice thought as we were wandering around there late at night ourselves!
Breakfast was traditional Coorg fare after which we went and lazed around in the front yard. Aunty had a nice garden filled with beautiful potted plans and there were beautiful big butterflies flitting around everywhere.
It still took us a while to get ready for our excursion for the day. We started off around 11 am and reached the base of Irpu falls around 12.30. The walk to the top is about a kilometer or so. The place was filled with visitors. We reached the top and spent some time roaming around. Silvester, Deepsan, Chandra and Venky climbed onto some rocks in the middle (that were relatively safe) and did some photography from there. Rajiv and I were just content to watch the proceedings from a comfortable view point.
At which point it began drizzling. So we had to run back to the vehicle. It was not until we were on our way back that we all discovered leeches on our legs. I had two fat ones that had finished off guzzling some of my blood and were now on the floor of the Safari. After easing them all off, we started off for the Nagarhole forest. By about 4 pm we had entered the forest just in time for the safari. Since we were in a 4WD, we were allowed to go into the jungle with a forest guard. We drove inside the forest, green and lush in this season. We didn’t sight much in the way of wildlife, except a lot of deer.
The Nagarhole experience
After about 2 hours, as darkness set we had to return. While leaving the forest, on the way, the vehicles had come to a halt because of a wild tusker right on the path. We waited till it went off the road and when we passed it we got a glimpse of the beautiful wild animal. We also heard what alarm calls of what sounded like something being killed, but we had to continue since we couldn’t stall for too long. After an hour or so we realised we had missed a turn somewhere.
As a result we had to take the long way back to our homestay and got back only at around 10 pm. Chicken : coorg style waiting for us. Six hungry people immediately pounced on the food!
Day 3, October 2:
Silvester and Venky went off walking early morning to a field somewhere nearby. I couldn’t raise a muscle, as I was just too comfortable. I barely managed to get up around 9 to catch breakfast and some tea. And sit out in the front. Went for a small walk down the estate. And then came back and lazed around again. We finally left the homestay around noon.
Chandra wanted to take the long route again this time via Kabini. So it was back to Nagarhole forest and then onwards to Kabini. There we headed to the dam where Rajiv, Silvester perched ourselves somewhere and enjoyed watching the sun playing hide and seek. The back waters of the dam shone like jewels where the sun managed to beat the clouds and make an appearance.
Chandra, Deepsan and Venky went off on a long walk to the end of dam and appeared around an hour later. Everyone suddenly got hungry since we hadn’t had lunch, we consumed a few kilos of biscuits. The sun was going down just as we were walking out of the dam enclosure, so we watched as the last rays of the sun kissed the trees and the skies turned into a palette of colours as the sun went down.
We continued on to Mysore from there, around an hour away. I wanted to have really good dosa and Venky’s friend recommended a place called Ramya Drive Inn hotel.
We left Mysore around 8.30 pm, anticipating traffic on the road, but it was relatively okay and after a coffee break, we reached Bangalore a little before midnight.
Route to Coorg (the scenic route!):
Bangalore > Kunigal > Channarayapatna > Hassan > Sakleshpur > Bisle Reserve forest > Kukke Subrahmanya > Mercara > Virajpet > Gonicoppa > Balele
Route to Bangalore
Balele > Nagarhole > Kabini > Mysore
Total Route: Around 900 kms
Home stay: The Hacienda, Balele
Rs 1000 per person per day inclusive of all meals
For more homestay options you can also visit:
Homestay option from Divs:
Viju and Nimi, Biddanda Estate (+91-9845637503)