September 2019 - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Monsoons in Bhagamandala and Talacauvery: Paradise of greens and floating clouds

Lush green Bhagamandala temple town

One of the monsoon giants of Karnataka, Talacauvery and Bhagamandala get copious amounts of rains during the monsoon season. These copious rains ensure that this belt of the Western Ghats is a beautiful paradise of greens and floating clouds. So not only do you get to visit a religious and spiritual destination, you also get to make utmost use of its pristine nature and ecosystem.

Talacauvery is the place inside the Greater Talacauvery National Park where the holy Cauvery river originates and Bhagamandala is the place where the three holy rivers – Cauvery, Kanike and mythical Sujyoti meet right in front of the Bhagandeshwara temple. Built in Karavali style with copper roofs, the Bhagamandala temple and Talacauvery are important pilgrimage destinations, especially for those who pray for their ancestors. Pilgrims first take a bath at Triveni Sangam, offer their prayers to the unique West facing Ganapati, Subramanya, Maha Vishnu and Ishwara in the Bhagamandala temple before making their way to the temple at Talacauvery.

The pristine route from Bhagamandala to Talacauvery wildlife sanctuary

This spiritual temple journey, which connects the 8 kms between Bhagamandala and Talacauvery is full of panoramic vistas, a sea of greenery, mighty mountains of the Western Ghats and consistent mist, petrichor and floating clouds during the monsoon season. When you are near Bhagamadala, you can see the vistas, paddy fields, spice plantations and mountains, but as you climb steadily towards Talacauvery, these views are replaced with that of floating clouds and when you reach Talacauvery, you feel as if you have stepped into a white world, a world where clouds, mist and fog usurp the entire region during the monsoons.

It doesn’t matter whether you are on a religious trip, on a monsoon holiday, on a trekking expedition through the Western Ghats or a simple weekend trip to Coorg, Bhagamandala and Talacauvery are bound to blow you over with their paradise like setting, quaint atmosphere and pristine ecosystem.

Monsoon scenes near Talacauvery

I would definitely visit them at least once during the monsoons, though they are beautiful during other seasons too. And if you are planning to offer respects to your ancestors, do visit these places during the upcoming Pitru Paksha month (Sep 15 to Sep 29). Not only would such an auspicious location for apt for remembering the dead, but the monsoon scenes will certainly relax your mind and rejuvenate your body and soul.

Bhagamandala temple as seen from the road to Talacauvery on a monsoon day

How to reach here:

The nearest well connected airport would have to be Bangalore international airport, though Mangalore and Mysore would be the closest airports.

The nearest railway station would either be Mysore (Karnataka) or Kanhagad (Kerala). The remaining distance has to be covered by road.

If you are driving from Bangalore, you can either opt for the Bangalore –> Srirangapatna –> Hunsur –> Kushalnagar –> Madikeri –> Bhagamandala route or Bangalore –> Srirangapatna –> Hunsur –> Gonigoppal –> Virajpet –> Kakkabe –> Bhagamandala route. Both routes should take you about 6 hours.

If you wish to travel by bus, you can either take the KSRTC bus to Madikeri or Virajpet and then take local buses from there to Bhagamandala.

You can auto auto rickshaws to reach Talacauvery temple from Bhagamandala town.

Confluence of Cauvery, Kanike and Sujyoti rivers at Bhagamandala, Coorg

Where to stay:

If you prefer to stay close to the temples, you can stay in and around Bhagamandala town.

If you prefer to stay in coffee estates, homestays and nature retreats, opt for one of the many properties on either the Bhagamandala – Kakkabe – Virajpet road or on the Bhagamandala – Madikeri route.

If you prefer a heavy dose of luxury, opt for properties such as Tamara Coorg, Taj Madikeri Resort and Spa or Evolve Back Resorts.

Monsoons are the season of sowing paddy

Nearby tourist attractions:

1) Sri Igguthappa temple, one of the most famous Kodava temples

2) Karike ghat, a beautiful route that runs contiguous with the Greater Talacauvery national park

3) Madikeri and abbey falls

4) Nalknad palace, Chelavara falls and trek to Thadiyendamol peak

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Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Kayakoy: The Ghost Town of Turkey

Ghost Town of Kayakoy, Turkey

Once upon a time, there was a bustling Lycian era town in South-Western Turkey that enjoyed great maritime trade and a beautiful location. Known as ‘Karmilassos’ (Lebessos) in ancient Greek and pronounced as Livissi in modern Greek, this town of craftsmen enjoyed prosperity and happiness from the ancient Greek era, Byzantine period to the late Ottoman empire. Made up of Greek orthodox Christians and Turkish Ottoman Muslims, they lived in peace till the early 20th century when religion based cleansing took place. Around that time, either the Greeks were killed or they were forcibly converted to Islam. Those who converted to Islam and came to be known as Greek Muslims refused to stay in this village due to fear of ghosts of those who were killed. Thus, began the abandonment of this village. All that is left today is a ghost town called Kayakoy.

Exploring the ghost town of Kayakoy near Fethiye, Turkey

Much of its current streets and buildings were built in the 18th century, but they lie in a dilapidated state today. The roofs are missing, the buildings look weather-beaten and the paths worn out. Two Greek orthodox churches, fountains, cisterns and about 350 homes now sit empty in this famous ghost town of Turkey. In spite of all this, the ghost town of Kayakoy has a unique charm to it. This could be due to the eerie quietness, its grey stone buildings, its hilly surroundings or its horrendous past. But, there is something about it that begs attention and evinces interest.

The abandoned city of Kayakoy on the southern coast of Turkey

I didn’t know much about this ghost town before I landed there as part of my Lycian way trek, but after seeing it up close and live, I think it deserves a visit if you happen to be exploring Fethiye, Oludeniz or trekking the ancient Lycian way route. It is not often that you come across such abandoned towns that are surrounded by stunning land and seascapes. Do not miss the trek to Oludeniz when visiting Kayakoy for those legendary aerial views of the coast.

On the hiking trail from Kayakoy to Oludeniz, Turkey

How to get here:

The nearest airport is Dalaman and it is about 45 minutes away from Fethiye. The nearest large city would be Fethiye and it has good road connectivity with the rest of Turkey.

If you are driving from Fethiye, Kayakoy is about 15 kms or 25 minutes away.

If you wish to trek from Oludeniz, you can follow a 2.5 km trekking trail over the mountains while enjoying some stunning mountain and sea vistas.

Scenic views on the hike from Kayakoy to Oludeniz

Where to stay:

If you prefer to stay in a city, opt for any of the many accommodation options in Fethiye. If you like luxury and prefer a beach side resort, opt for Oludeniz. If you like staying with locals, opt for remote homestays on the ancient Lycian way for a truly authentic experience.

Beautiful southern coastline of Turkey

Nearby tourist attractions:

1) Oludeniz beach town

2) Lycian way trek

3) Fethiye rock tombs

4) Island hopping from Fethiye, Marmaris or Bodrum

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Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Monsoons in Coorg: A Photo Story

A monsoon moment on the Bhagamandala - Talacauvery road

Coorg or Kodagu is more than the ‘Scotland of India’. It is more than just coffee estates and spice plantations. It is a pristine ecosystem of mountains, forests and water bodies that are teeming with life. It is this very ecosystem that gives birth to the holy Cauvery river, the life line of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. This bio diverse region is at its very best during the monsoons when dark clouds, multiple shades of green and persistent rains usurp our senses, but at that same time allowing nature to flourish. It is a season of aplenty and is an absolutely magnificent place to rejuvenate oneself. A hot cuppa coffee or herbal teas along with the delicious local cuisine are just added benefits. Monsoons in Coorg in itself is an experience and I hope you can get a flavor of it through the photographs in this article.

About the above photo: The scenes just after a heavy downpour are a treat to the senses. The freshly washed earth and roads, the fresh water droplets on leaves and flowers, the different shades of green that glow when the sun shines briefly after a downpour and the grey dark clouds in the background all make for a heady monsoon concoction.

Sowing paddy near Bhagamandala, Coorg

About the above photo: For a farmer, monsoons mean happiness. Sowing season begins with the onset of the rains. And for a thirsty crop like paddy, good rains are essential. Such paddy sowing scenes are common in the fertile villages of Kodagu.

A moment from rural Coorg

About the above photo: This is the highway that connects Virajpet to Madikeri. During the monsoons, foliage takes over every nook and cranny except for the black tar road. Just driving on these roads has such a calming influence. People wear big gum boots to protect them from leeches and wear head gear with plastic covers to keep their head dry.

Riding in the monsoons is pure joy

About the above photo: The route to Igguthappa temple, the holy temples for Kodavas, is an absolute joy to ride through during the rains. The recently laid concrete roads, the descending clouds, the umpteen streams and the innumerable view points make for a fantastic experience.

Monsoon clouds, dense forests and Mallalli Falls

About the above photo: Located in North Coorg and starting in the Pushpagiri mountains of the Western Ghats, the holy Kumaradhara river winds its way through lush forests of the Western Ghats before tumbling down about 25 kms from Somwarpet and this tumbling spectacle is known as Mallalli Falls, the prettiest waterfall in all of Coorg.

A monsoon view - Bhagamandala to Talacauvery

About the above photo: Such drama in the skies and surrounding nature is a common occurrence during the monsoons in Coorg. Just watching this drama is a great past time. All you need is a hot drink and a book for company.

Chingara waterfall surrounded by greenery

About the above photo: Starting in the Thadiyendamol mountain range of Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuary, Chingara waterfall plunges in the midst of coffee, spices, flowers and forests. It roars during the monsoons and offers a great offbeat waterfall holiday as it falls in the private premises of Chingara and Honey Valley estate.

A pitstop during a monsoon motorcycle ride to South Coorg

About the above photo: My first love in India has to be the Western Ghats. May be, it is because I hail from there or may be because I absolutely adore its bio diversity. Every year during the rains, you can see me trekking, riding, chilling, working, eating and sleeping in the Western Ghats.

The pristine environment at Honey valley estate in Coorg

About the above photo: This is where 100 acres of coffee estate, fruit orchards and spice plantations meet the forests of Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuary. This location is Honey valley, one of the oldest homestays in Karnataka and a pristine location where nature is literally at your doorstep.

Beautiful moss covered carvings inside Nalknad palace, Coorg

About the above photo: Consistently wet environment with floating clouds, mist and intermittent sunlight ensures that moss grows almost everywhere. It could be on estate roads, on trees, in your portico or in this case on the walls of the structure inside Nalknad palace, one of the most scenic palaces of Kodagu.

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