Coorgi Tales- Dubare and Beyond


The Pachyderm Connection
15th April 2010: Karnataka Hinterland, India

Today we decided to go to Dubare, the elephant club. It is situated abt 35-40 kms away from the Club Mahindra resort and is a good drive. This venture is promoted by the Karnataka State Tourism Development Board and thus draws in a lot of tourist. It is a good thing that the elephants are being taken care of like this. These elephants are from the adjoining forests and here they are bathed everyday and fed. People can also ride them. It ensures that the elephants are not mercilessly massacred for their ivory.
We had an option to use our own Civic (=nicknamed Civi by us)
The trip timing was 9:00 in the morning and we had breakfast at ‘Arabica’. The timing was such that you could get a good morning drive and spend adequate time there without the sun being too much of a problem. There were 3 families who opted for the Dubare elephant club activity that day so we went in a Tata Sumo and the other 2 families came in a van.
The early morning drive was so refreshing. The weather was pleasant, and the air was filled with the scent of different flowers especially the smell of the Robusta flower (=robusta is a coffee variety, the picture of the flower id down there). The roads were winding and not maintained well so the ride was bumpy. Also a lot of trucks come along that way because the Govt is repairing another main road so this is like a detour.
But the sights of the hills was just awesome. Madikeri or Coorg is also called ‘Scotland of the East’ and we could see that this was true. Having been to Scotland I can really say that Coorg was prettier!!!
The approach road to Dubare is a small bumpy road. before i forget, we passed a lot of estates with home stay option available. If you wanted some time by yourself, this would be the best option. We also passed the Tata Coffee estate. I forgot to mention in my previous note that the trees planted in and around coffee estates are usually Silver Oaks, tall trees with silvery, white barks look stunning.Finally, Dubare!!!
The club is situated at the edge of a river. The river when in full flow has a lot of white water rafting but since it was summer, there was hardly any water
.
So we sat in that boat and then crossed over to the Club. When we arrived, there was only 1 elephant, the others were yet to come. so we waded into the water and then made our way towards the elephant but the club mahindra holiday activities guy who had come along with us told us to wait till the other elephants came along.
The mahindra connection We had an option of taking our own car but then we were advised that because club mahindra has a lot of people coming to Dubare, that’s why they got tickets to the boat and the elephant ride in the club. The mahindra pampering here too!!!

Back to the elephants sorry!!!
Then later we saw a few elephants coming. this bathing the elephants is another way for the locals to earn money and respect wildlife. there are twin objectives of conserving bio-diversity and making the locals earn in the process. When the elephants came into the water, first there were their droppings and then their pee to deal with. Yes people, the water u wade in is filled with disintegrated elephant poop and pee. But to scrub them, you got to let go of your inhibitions, after all there is always soap and antiseptic in the hotel!!
The elephants are scrubbed with hard metal brush or the one you would use to clean toilets. Although their skin seems rough, its smooth at some places and feels very nice when you touch it,.
Scrubbing the elephants is fun coz they are lying sideways in the water and its total pampering for them.
There was also a naughty one who sprayed everyone with water, i guess they are trained to do that so that the tourists are happy.
After that we went to see the elephants eating. They are fed this big ball of some mixture made of a lot of cereals and jaggery. Each elephant ate about 5-10 balls and each ball weighed about 2.5 kgs. wow that’s a lot to eat!!

There were times when you could pose with the elephant, that after they finished their share. There were some elephants throwing tantrums because they were hungry. It was amusing.
After that, to cool off we had some tender coconut water. And guess what, there were dogs there who ate the malai from the tender coconut. I guess necessity and hunger are the root of that.
After that we rested for a while and the Club Mahindra guy bought tickets for us to take rides on the elephant. There is a home stay for people in the Dubare elephant club so those people were given preference for the elephant rides. The elephant taking the rides was making a meal of the tender coconut waste nearby so it got a few raps from the Mahut. The gulmohar trees were filled with flowers and it really was ‘flaming’ it was so red.
After the ride, we made our way to the boats and then back to the Sumo and then to the resort. By this time the sun was burning so we couldn’t smell any of those flowers that we smelt in the morning.Coming Up Next: Madikeri Mysteries!!!! and the Famous Fountains!!The naughty elephant, he sprayed every1 with water!!!me scrubbing the elephantsthe elephant being fed!!The flowers of ‘Robusta’ They smell so amazing, it’s unbelievable.

Coorgi Tales-The Spice Plantation and Adventure Vallley part 1


14th April 2010: Karnataka Hinterland, India
Today we decided to go in for the Adventure Activity. They have 17 different types of activities which are clubbed into 2 different groups , Easy and Advanced, 5 activities each. You could opt for the clubbed activities or do any of the activities individually. So today we tried the elementary ones.
I was strapped first. Sachi decided to watch me first and then try her hand at them. I had a bengali fellow who was my instructor. The first activity was the ‘Shaking Bridge’ where the distance between 2 planks on 2 ropes keeps increasing. This was fairly easy. The second one was climbing across a big criss cross maze of ropes, the difficult part was climbing on the rope, the easy one was walking on the iron rope.
The third activity was walking through the tyres. the easy part was walking on the rope and the difficult one was walking thru the tyres. Trust me it is difficult when you have to walk suspended with a harness. The fourth activity was the easiest, you had to walk on one iron rope holding a rope above your head, i did that pretty fast. The next and last activity was climbing on a rope. There were knots at regular intervals and you had to hold the knots using your thumbs and then hoist yourself up (which is NOT a piece of cake) and finally the trainer would lower you down. Tiring job really. My hands were really paining. shows how us city folk fare when we meet with adventure sports 🙂
After i was done, it was Sachi’s turn. She had it fairly easy coz she’s thinner than i am. It was fun watching her do it.
we were really exhausted after the activity because holding on to the ropes and harness really asks a lot from your pampered and never been used muscles!!! After a lunch in ‘Arabica’ we rested in the room for a while.

Naya Plan The next plan was the Spice Plantation Tour. Club Mahindra takes you to a place which is 35 kms from the main resort and shows you around the spice plantation. The time for the spice plantation tour was 3:00 and we came a little late and my explanation was “For fashion show u have show stoppers, here in Coorg, we’re the BUS STOPPERS” (lol) The Club Mahindra Holiday Activities Co-ordinator coming with us was Punit and we teased him endlessly calling him ‘uncle’ and ‘grand-uncle’ and forced him to give us lessons in kannada. that was fun but i dont know how much of the kannada i remembered!!
We were delayed in reaching the spice plantation because there was a jeep stuck on the approach road. most of tese coffee estates have home sta facilities so one can enjoy the estate and stay there in the calm and fragrant atmosphere (estates smell soooo good!!)

We met the person who took care of the estates. It seems the estate has been passed down in his family for 150 yrs!! thats a long time!! This fellow it seems is a commerce graduate who stayed in bangalore but shifted here to madikeri to take care of the estate. The estate was a huge one, 225 acres!!! The first plant we saw was the Vanilla plant. It seems because of artificial substitutes for vanilla, the prices for vanilla had crashed so drastically it was not feasible to cultivate it anymore. The estate just cultivated vanilla on a small scale to show the people who visted the estate.
Then we proceeded to see the coffee plants. Coffee plants require so much of attention and labour, not to mention regular sprays of insecticide to protect them form the white stump borad. Also coffee plants especially ‘Arabica’ has to be cut in a special way so that the branches grow sideways and not straight ahead. We learnt a lot abt coffee in that tour. Arabica it seems is more labour intensive and its prices are sky high in international markets. Its also a more fragrant variety and makes better coffee. But because of high maintenance costs, ‘Robusta’ variety is preferred although it brews inferior coffee. There is one tree which is preferably grown with coffee because during summer when the sun rays are very strong, it spreads its canopy over the coffee plants and then during the rains when the sunlight does not reach the plants below due to the canopy, it sheds its leaves. We also saw a rosewood tree. it seems a rosewood tree matures in 150-200 years. It means the tree must have been planted when the estate was started and its still not grown fully. Thats what i call a ‘Late Bloomer’

We also saw cardamon plants from kerala and Karnataka. We also saw a pod of karnatak cardamon (=elaichi) and tasted it..it tasted sooo good, much better than the dried ones we get in the market and fresher. We also saw the silk cotton tree. The silk cotton pods burst out when the cotton is ready and the pod falls off. The cotton is so soft. Bu the owner said that harvesting these on a commercial basis was not feasible so the pods just wasted on the ground. I think the locals took them and used them to make blankets or some clothes.
It seems that the estate was facing a sever labour shortage, although the wages were higher than other estates. Coffee especially Arabica required a lot of attention, coz the branches had to be splintered and all the plants manually checked for attacks of the white borad. Very few skilled men knew the job which made it expensive.

Discovery: Coorg was very famous for its oranges upto 40 yrs ago when a deadly virus came and wiped out all the orange trees in Coorg. There are still resorts with the name ‘Orange County’. The resurrection of oranges here had been started recently. It seems Coorgi oranges are much bigger than the Nagpur oranges and much juicier.

After the tour and seeing many such plants which included a wild plant with fruits which looked like lemons, we made our way back to the van. there we were served some of the estate’s home grown coffee which was so tasty. Pure and unadulterated coffee na so it tasted much much better than the ones in metros. There was also a cute dog there in a cage . He was kept in the cage because he got so excited seeing visiotrs and jumped on them (trust me he was huge but very cute, he even licked my fingers)
There was also a huge christmas tree with some cactii growing on it. Sounds hard to believe but i’ve got evidence!! We parted with very good memories and a lot more knowledge of how to run an estate.
wE kept bugging Punit on our way back. he also took us on a tour of the town and showed us a place where we could get authentic Coorgi cuisine. Coorg it seems is very famous for its pork.

After we went to the resort, Sachi, Medha and me went to play while the parents chatted. It was all in all a very fun evening.

Special Note: I really wanna thank Medha,Jayant and Mira Luthra for the amazing time that we spent together in the spice plantations. It was totally out of this world!!!

Agla Sthaan:Dubare Elephant Club and exploring Madikeri. Stay tuned!!!!The 3rd activity, the ‘Tyring one’Sachi with her instructorfresh cardamom, tastes awesome and smells out of this worldCoffee beans being dried!!The christmas tree with cactii

Coorgi Tales-Tranquil in the hills


Madikeri, the small town in the hills is our next destination.

13th April 2010: Karnataka Hinterland, india

Our day begun with a lot of movement because we wanted to change the room we were allotted. The problem was that there was some construction work going on and there were a lot of hammering noises. we reckoned that we get all of these noises in bombay and didnt want the same here. So the morning went in changing rooms from the apartment ‘Masual’ to ‘Carandas’ this one was away from the noise and was tranquil.
After breakfast at ‘Arabica’ we explored the property. Club Mahindra Coorg, is 32 acres and that asks for a lot of walking. we checked out their ayurvedic centre which was very well done up with a nice pond with stones on it to reach the reception. Most of the property is filled with coffee plants of the ‘Robusta’ varietso we could see a lot fo the coffee pods. Also there are lot of trees which makes the property look very lush. There are also a lot of birds in the trees so the air is littered with cries of one or the other bird and as you walk you can catch the fragrance of a flower or two. There were also a few pineapple plants and small creepers with dark green leaves. these leaves had pink spots on it. although it sounds repulsive, the leaves were actually very cute!!

Lunch was also at ‘Arabica’, we had taken the package for 3 meals. Club mahindra spoils you simply with the variety fo their dishes, Here also like at other Club mahindras was a live counter where they made rotis for you. the dessert counter was also amazing!! So many different types!! An indian sweet, some mousse, a pastry. There was also a kids counter where they had a curry, rice and some desserts. did that mean that we couldn’t pick something from there?? Didnt deter us from trying that section out. After all, we’re our parents kids too!! 😉

The afternoon was a quiet affair. we walked around the property and checked out the other apartments and just chilled out. This Club mahindra has different adventure activities which made good entertainment but we decided to do it another day.

In the evening, the holiday activities was having a bonfire and we decided to go there.. i wore a short skirt for the first time and then we made our way to the holiday activities space. There were bonfire games and we had a fun time playing. we got fully involved in the games and as a result made many new friends…Our team eventually won. Here we met Medha who became our fun partner for the rest of our staY IN Coorg and her parents, Jayant and Mira.
After we made our way for dinner, we found out that one small girl was missing so i helped to find her for a while. It would be scary losing your 3 yr old child in a 32 acre property at 9 pm. Eventually they found her in another room with video games. The dinner was tasty as it always is.
I got compliments for the skirt 🙂
We retired soon and slept like logs.

Next Episode: First Adventure Activiy and the Spice Plantation tourthe road ahead…driving thru the forestthe restaurants

Vitthal and the Journey to Coorg-The traveller continues the journey


12th April 2010, Karnatak Hinterland, India
I continue with the journey
Most hotels in South India and also our hotel at Kolhapur give the guests a complimentary breakfast if they stay in the hotel. As we soon discovered that, we helped ourselves to the same yet tasty breakfast of dosas,idli vada and kesaribhat. We checked out after that and made our way to our next destination,
“CLUB MAHINDRA, Kodagu Valley,Coorg”
The road from Mangalore was not a smooth one because the Govt was in the process of expansion so it was a bumpy ride. But we saw a lot of bungalows on the way. Most of the bungalows are painted in bright almost horrifying colours like bright green and baby pink but these ones were painted in stately combinations like white and navy blue, white and gray etc.
We decided to go and see the temple at Vitthal so we took a detour from NH-48 and made our way to Vitthal. The landscape was changing, more like a tropical forest types, wet with very fresh air blowing at our faces. The Vitthal Math was being renovated and the bit of the new Math we saw looked very nice. At almost all the Maths in South India, they give you sandal paste which smells totally out of the world. There was also a temple dedicated to the Naags. As you would know, Naags depict our elders who we pray to so that we have their blessings for the present and future generations.
We met one of our acquaintances and we went to their house where we saw an enormous beehive. i’ve never seen a beehive so closely before and it was mesmerising…so many bees!!!

After Vitthal we made our way to Madikeri,Coorg. Coorg is actually the name of the district. Its very famous for spices so we’ve heard. While leaving Vitthal, we were stuck in a traffic jam and we could only make our way out of it because Vitthal unlike Mumbai, does not have any open drains!!!
Our first halt was at a place called Shuliya and we kept asking for that whenever we met people. The people in South India are generally quite knowledgeable they know routes to explore entire karnatak at the back of their minds!! quite an amazing feat!!

A special encounter:
At Shuliya, we encountered Karnatak’s biggest specialit, “Gobhi Manchurian” which could be found in every Nukkad and gully of Karnatak. The journey to Shuliya was uneventful, except that the road was winding and made veryscenic landscape because it was so lush and green!!
By the time we reached Shuliya, we could feel the heat beat down on us ..it was noon. So we stopped at Hotel Surabhi. Let me tell you, this place looks small but the food is totally awesome and very tasty. Here we tasted the famous ‘Gadbag’ and ‘Gobhi Manchurian’ both extremely delicious.

After lunch, we made our way to Club Mahindra. There were more and more plantations and lots of nurseries selling rubber spalings. A lot of areca nut trees and pepper creepers on them. It was pleasant to watch. Also i notcied right from Shuliya onwards, lot of stalls selling ‘Neera’, a drink from which toddy is derived, and that almost all street lights had solar panels on them, which was very nice to see that atleast our rural counterparts were making an effort to be environment friendly.

As we approached Coorg, the scenery was breathtaking. Lush green forests and the constant chirping of birds and c\insects. It was out of this world.!!
Also we passed a lot of estates with the home stay options available. Small cottages looked very inviting. we even stopped the car for some time to take in the environment. We passed a road which led to the ‘Indian Institute of Spices’ and then made our way to club mahindra. Here also in this small town of Madikeri,all street lights had solar panels and trust me at night, they glowed brighter than the other thermal electricity powered lights.

We made our way slowly, not before we passed a JM Financial (work follows my dad here as well!!!) and then drove into the resort. All Club Mahindra properties are huge and excellently done up. After resting in our room, we made our way to the Conference Room where they had a presentation for us to explain the facilities at the resort and also to explain the tourist sites around. It was followed up with some Coorgi coffee!!

We had a quiet dinner at the Buffet restaurant which was called Arabica (=name of a coffee) and retired for the night

Coming up next-Coorgi Tales

A beehiveMe!! at the hotel at Shuliya

Mangalore Tales-Whew, wait is that travel fatigue??


11th April 2010: Karnataka Hinterland, India
Driving down to Mangalore was not filled with excitement as the other places as the scenery was much like as if we were driving in and around Mumbai, filled with industries. Mangalore is a busy port city of Karnatak so there were a lot of factories and facilities for unloading goods. Mangalore’s port handles 75% of India’s coffee exports and the bulk of the nation’s cashew exports. Sinche Mangalore was just a halt, we didnt explore around much.

Discovery: Karnataka is dotted with bakeries called ‘Iyengar Bakeries’ which have a different letter to the start like’L.V Iyengar Bakery’ or ‘Madhu Iyengar Bakeries’. you get a lot of snacks here as well as sweets but not many confectionery items so its not a usual bakery.

Hotel: Kumar’s International
Location: Close to the market but can be difficult to find unless you know your way around.

After resting for a while and a steaming cup of tea, we left to explore the market. We had an option of taking a rickshaw or an innova so we opted for 2 rickshaws. our first destination was Mangalore Math.

We had to look out for the Math and that took a while but we eventually found it. Its in such a cosy spot, it doesn’t look like a Math. But we found out later, that we had entered through the back gate which is why it didn’t look like a Math. Here also we had a pooja and we prayed at the Samadhi of one of our Swamijis. We found out that the bhatmam here was the elder brother of hemant bhatmam.
The idol of Lord Krishna at the Math is beautiful!!

After the Math, we decided to explore the market. we went to see shops but it being a sunday and Mangalore being a sleepy city, shops were closed on sunday. Most of the stuff was the stuff that you find in Mumbai so we gave all of that a miss. Originally we planned on seeing a few saree shops but all of them were closed. finally we went to a jewellery store called ‘Alukkas’ and looked at the jewellery there. most of it was so fancy and heavy that we were put off. Finally we settled for a pair of bangles ‘which look thin when seen from one angle and thick from the other angle.

After our purchase (we got a bag, 2 complimentary purses, shopping bags etc) we left to have dinner at ‘Taj Mahal’ which Sanjay Mam had recommended to us. There we waited for a while because there was a queue for seats and then had south indian thalis. Thalis are so wholesome, and just right so you can taste everything. The tomato soup we got along with the thali was excellent.

After dinner, we took 2 rickshaws to our hotel. The rickshaw took us from a different winding route which was nice because the weather was pleasant at night. After watching a bit of IPL, we slept

Coming UP Next Vitthal and the journey to Coorg

Welcome Udupi


11th April 2010, Karnatak Hinterland, India

The day dawned bright and clear. it was this day that we were leaving Manki and setting out. the first part of our journey was complete!!!
As we opened the kitchen door, we realised we had a little kite on the doorstep!! It was a small baby who i guess must have been tired of flying. this season was when all the birds like eagles and kites mated and their young hatched. so the sky was always dotted with birds teaching their young to spread their wings and fly.

After the tasty breakfast of jackfruit patoli and lots of pictures(with sanjay mam,suma pachi,shanti,hemant bhatmam and tender coconuts) we departed for Udupi to see the Krishna temple there.

As you move towards Udupi which goes towards the south, the vegetation differs, becomes thicker and the standard coconut trees give way to more banyans and other species which generally spread and make a canopy over the road.

There are 4 entrances to Udupi, all through entrance gates called ‘dwars’ which are intricately carved and beautifully painted, each gate having a different design.

We made our way through udupi to meet sanjay mam’s mother. we freshened up at her place and then made our way to the Krishna temple. The first thing that strikes you about udupi is that the roads are nice and done up well and there is no traffic. for a mumbaikar, any small place will have absolutely no traffic!!

The temple complex is very large and spacious and they have big warehouse type structures for storing ‘Raths’ for festivals when they have ‘Rathotsavas’.

the raths were in gold, silver and were so intricately done up. there was a huge queue
for entry into the temple so we got some special tickets (yes they are available there) and saw the inside of the temple. the inside is air conditioned and very clean. the idols are very clean and the air is filled with positive vibes. we had a bhatmam give us a tour and after seeing the temple we went to this restaurant called ‘Mitra Samaj’ which we heard was good for its food.
Its essentially very hot in south india at this time but the sky is pretty clear so we can see the carvings on all dwars and temples clearly 🙂

Next Episode:Helllo Manipal,Mangalore Tales,Vitthal and Journey to Coorg,Coorg and Beyond
the baby kite!! soo cute!!!one of the many dwars we saw

Chronicles of Manki-The last leg


Whew, finally we arrive at the last part of our stay at the beautiful village of Manki

Saturday, 9th April, Karnataka Hinterland, India
Today, we were invited to lunch at Hemant bhatmam’s place. It’s slightly on the hill in the temple complex of the Chikarmane family deity. It’s not usual for a bhatmam to invite tourists over at his place and the gesture was touching.
We had ‘khotte’ for breakfast (immensely tasty i feel bad for those who havent had it as yet) and tasted jackfruit from the home garden.
We made our way to the bhatmam’s place and we were warmly welcomed by his younger daughter, Purvi
The menu was filled with jackfruit items, a new thing for us as we had never known that one could make so many different dishes using the same vegetable. There was pickle, cashewnut bajji(=puree types),some ambat(=dal+spices),white curry(=dhave randayi),some phodis(=bhajis)!! Wow long list. But it was so simple and yet so delicious. The simplest dishes are the tastiest. And served on the banana leaf so the added taste!!
There was a small calf in another room and we had a great time playing with it.

Ponderings Cows eat the banana leaf you eat in so no waste problems.

Wow!! We were going to have a dish called ‘phanas-ache patoli’  the next day (=a sweet dish usually made with coconut and jaggery, this time we used jackfruit). This dish is made in the leaves of the Saag tree or better known as the Teak Tree. So we plucked some leaves off the Teak tree in the bhatmam’s garden. Those leaves are huge!! really huge.

A surprise
The bhatmam who stayed in the village, the one who took care of the janardhan temple in Manki village had expired a while back and his son now took care of the temple and said the evening prayers. Hemant bhatmam was training the young priest in making. So today was his birthday!!
We decided to hold a surprise party for him and so we ordered for a cake and got some ice cream. We also invited some kids who were there at hemant bhatmam’s place.


The party was fun!! The candles that we had were re-lightable and so the surprise was even better!! I can’t forget the expression on Sriram’s face when he had to cut the cake.
After that we all had a nice dance session with Hemant bhatmam joining us!! We concluded the party by saying the ‘deep namaskaram’ which is a prayer for the gods to keep our lives enlightened.
We also went to the janardhan temple and prayed with gratitude for the wonderful time we had at Manki and for the stunning sights that we saw.

Dinner at Murudeshwar
Murudeshwar is the most well-known tourist spot in Uttar Kanara, with the famous huge idol of Lord Shiva. Our previous stay here was fun, we actually have photos with me and sachi picking up fish straight from the boat!!
Apart from that there are also lot of water sport activities in Murudeshwar.
We went there for dinner. I learnt that if random people wave at you like complete idiots then they want to draw your attention to the hotel nearby and you should simply ignore them!!
The food was amazing!! The fish and other dishes were delicious. The baked vegetable that we had was simply awesome. To top it off, we had some amazing ice cream and an amazing drive through the night!!

The next morning, we had an amazing time relishing the patolis which had become nice and pink, yes pink and were incredibly tasty!!!!
Hemant Bhatmam had come along to say good-bye to us and we had made some cards for sanjay mam and suma pachi which we gave them. There were a lot of photos and goodbyes and we departed for our next destination
So this way our chapter at Manki came to a beautiful close!!

Stay tuned for the next episode- Welcome Udupi, Hello Manipal,Mangalore Tales

a calf at the bhatmam’s i.e priest’s place.the surprise party!!!The Janardhan Temple

Chronicles of Manki-Super Sights-Part 6


Chiiling out
We had a lot to do simply chiiling out at home also. First things first, watering a one acre plot is not easy, i’d have you know. Pulling the pipe literally breaks your arms off. shows how weak city-dwellers are. The maid at where we stayed could lift all of our luggage effortlessly and she is so thin.
Also we plucked flowers to make garlands . There were so many hibiscus plants there. I also had a task of plucking jackfruit leaves because breakfast the next day was going to be “Khotte” which is simply idlis steamed inside cups made out of jackfruit leaves. Much more healthier than idlis and also way tastier.
Caution to the new: Jackfruit sap makes the skin itch. So i had to use tons of coconut oil on my hands so it wouldn’t itch.
Incidentally 4 jackfruit leaVes are needed for one such cup 😀 things i got to learn out there.

Today was the day we chilled out and mummy, papa, suma pachi and hemant bhatmam went for a ride to Shirali in the Civic. It being an automatic and the latter two not have seen it.

Super Sight 1
There is this place between Shiroor and Baindur where P.P Swamiji visits often. The lane for the place is so small that you won’t notice it. But the spectacular sight took our breath away. Westood gaping at it for a long time. Also the Govt of Karnatak was building some cottages nearby (rent 400 bucks a night with your morning view of the ocean). we also xplored and walked down the steps. Sachi and I had a nice time climbing into the forest there and exploring. I had a nice time playing with the dogs there also.

Super Sight 2 Merwante
Merwante is a marvel. On one side of the road, there is a river winding by and on the other, the sea and Trasy beach. So here we look, its a wonderful river. There we turn, the beach invites us!! I dont have the words to describe this.
We went and had some snacks and then had a long walk on the beach. Unfortunately for me, there was a thorny branch that poked my foot. At first i thought it was a starfish and when i moved my foot it wriggled. then mum pulled it out for me. It was like this new adventure for me, something poking my foot. apart from that the trip was injury-free for a usually clumsy me. The poked thingie was swollen at night and i felt totally excited. Too bad the swelling went down the next day 😛 i loved the attention i was getting 🙂

The night was uneventful and we slept deeply totally in gratitude for the wonderful sights that we had seen today 🙂

To be Continued: The final leg of Manki, Welcome Udupi and Hello Manipal. Stay Tuned
The Sharavati

Branch Mavinkurve

Hemant Bhatmam, Manki’s proactive and travel-loving priestThe spot called Super SIght 1The sea at Super Sight 1

Chronicles of Manki-A hectic day, more Maths and lot of discoveries


8th April 2010: Karnataka Hinterland, India

So we set out to explore our roots and do a ‘Naag Pooja’ of our family deity. The ‘Naag Pooja'(=Naag means the snake deity) is a pooja where the past generations are worshipped and their blessings are sought for the well being of the present and future generations.

First Destination: Kumta
In Kumta, my grandfather’s cousin stays who had been taking care of the Mavinkurve deity for so long. The bhatmam who we met at Manki came with us to perform this holy ceremony. We also had an insight into how life is in a small town. Kumta is the education hub there as there are many schools and colleges. The bhatmam who accompanied us has sent both his daughters to Kumta to study.

Discovery: Cows and Calves eat banana peals, flowers and leaves and its so much fun to feed them. They even lick your fingers!!

 

Followed By: Mallapur
There is another Math at Mallapur so we made our way to Mallapur. There is a story of a bell at Mallapur. It is huge and when you ring it, the vibrations last for a long time, and sound line ‘Om’. So the story goes that one Swamiji wanted the bell shifted from Mallapur to Shirali. But he got a dream the following night that the bell was destined to stay there. And the bell stayed.
The bhatmam’s son at Mallapur also served us lunch, he is so cute. We played with him and sat on a swing there listening to his stories.

I’m Loving It: Food served on banana leaves has its own different taste!! Steel plates can never come close to that.

 

 

 

 

Next Destination Gokarn
The beach at Gokarn is in the shape of ‘om’ and is stunning when seen from a height. we visited Gokarn Math and had a special pooja of the Samadhis like in Mallapur and Shirali. Met an irage dog and a naughty cow who followed us into the Math and had to be shooed out.

Mavinkurve Island
Mavinkurve Island is located in the Sharawati river.
How to reach it?? Go into one lane after Honavar and before crossing the bridge to the banks of the river. Catch a boat and there it is.

The Sharawati river is sperb!! Its so placid and blue and clear. Our bhatmam who incidentally loves travelling, came with us to Mavinkurve as well. There are a lot of other islands in the Sharavati but i doubt if all of them are inhabited by humans.
Seeing a Syndicate Branch at Mavinkurve made me feel proud. It seems the land over there is marshy so we saw lot of rice planted. I learnt that one of the villagers could easily walk over the marshy land. i’m sure i’d fall, i’m a clumsy nut!!

 

 

Our ancestral land was far away, deep into the island and as sunset was approaching, we couldn’t explore. The temple there has one of the prettiest devis i have ever seen. and the island has an AC hall lol.
The bhatmam from the island invited us for ‘kasai’ which means a drink like masala milk. Nobody has much of tea there they all prefer kasai which is made with lot of garden herbs. While we were leaving the bhatmam from Mavinkurve asked our boat-driver to give us a longer ride so he took us through some islands and ahead below the freight train bridge. As it was dark by then, the river and islands looked mysterious and inviting and there was a certain glow about them.

 

 

After Mavinkurve, we made our way back home, totally connected with our roots and so proud to be an Amchi!!

our evening entertainment was always IPL as we had a set top box at Manki. Also, the Karnatak Govt faithfully cut power for 1 hour during the day, inexplicably at 7 at night. We felt bad for the students who had to study for their board exams as in Karnatak, board exams are in April.

Coming Up Next: The strip of wonder and more chronicles

Chronicles of Manki-The past we meet


6th/7th April 2010, Karnataka Hinterland, India
 
A meeting
I forgot to mention about the 6th of April. We were driving through the lanes of Honavar, buying some groceries. We had some hot dal-wada off the streets (i love street food!!). It never fails to amaze me, that even if the weather is hot outside and you’re in a car in the evening, something hot, just off the stove tastes amazing.
(L-R) Jackfruits hanging low, A Rail tunnel at Manki, The Chitrapur Math Logo
We met my grandfather’s relative with whom we chatted about the “good old days” and about our families. Its a tradition among households here to apply some haldi-kumkum when a guest leaves home. I’ve noticed that people who live in smaller towns or villages are so much more hospitable and warm as compared to people in cities.
The Chitrapur Math
The Chitrapur Math:
For non-amchis, Maths are places where religious events within the community happen. Our Swamis or Gurus reside at the Maths and often hold talks and meetings. It is also a place where the Samadhisof our Gurus lie as well as the family deity of many of the families who have now migrated to cities and larger towns.

First Destination: Chitrapur Math
There we had a special pooja of the Guru Samadhis and our family deity. We also had the ‘prasad bhojan’ (i love amchi food it tastes heavenly!!).
There have been a lot of changes in the Math in recent years and it is much more user friendly and spacious. We also saw the ‘goshala’ which is where they keep the cows. I have never seen such huge cows. and they were soo clean!!! Fascinating!!

His Holiness Sadyojat Swamiji with the cows
After a refreshing nap (its inevitable when the weather is unmerciful and you’re full with all that delicious food!!), we left to see the Museum.

Next Stop:The Museum

Well done up now, the museum is a collection of artifacts that our P.P Parignyanashram Swamiji had collected over his life, which ranged from stone sculptures to coins. There was also a write up about the item on display and my respect for His Holiness increased even further. All Visitors are recommended highly to see the museum.

Some of the items on display like the swords and different murtis made of brass were stunning in their beauty. we also saw a one line drawing made by a genuis. A one line drawing means that the artist as never broken the line but continued the entire picture using the same line. I was speechless.
There were also beautiful charcoal pictures on the ‘Rathotsava’

Followed By:Kembre Farm
This farm follows practices of organic farming and the preference for this type of farming was evident. Huge and i mean huge vegetables, flowers of different colours (i mean 3 different types of aboli?? are you kidding?? yellow, orange and the normal colour!!)
We also sat on tractors and saw a biogas plant. The size of vegetables!! Stupefied!!

Flowers at Kembre Farm

ORGANIC is Good 😀 😀

Vocabulary 😉 : A large stone beneath a tree is called ‘Katta’ and Mango tree means “Mavin” so when all the Mavins sat on a large stone, it was “Mavinkurve’s on the MavinKatta” 😀 lol

Agla Sthan: Bhatkal
Bhatkal is the next big stop after Shirali although we didnt do much there, just had a snack and some Hang Yo ice cream which means “Come here ” in Amchi. Can’t say much about the ice cream, since i’m a Naturals fan, i quite liked the chickoo, was horrified at the ghastly colour of the pista and the american fruit was ok.
he he, i love the crooked smile 🙂

That ends 7th April. Stay tuned for the next episode of ‘Chronicles of Manki’A murti at the entrance of the Mathone of the many huge vegetables at kembre Farm