2 day escape to Madikeri and Dharmasthala

Ours being a travel freak family, the number of road trips we do are plenty. This post brings in the details of a short two day escape from the urban crawl. The destination was Dharmasthala via Coorg. Aah the story begins thus - It was decided that we will be heading to Dharmasthala in start of the year 2014. Making a plain back and forth bus trip to the abode of Lord Manjunatha has been a normal routine so far. In order to spice up the journey and make this event even more cheerful so that it lasts in the memories forever, there were quite a few additions to the list of places we'd cover over the 2 days marked for this cause.

Wrapping up work early on a Friday evening with an all excited feeling is something I look forward to in the weekend trips. It was a sturdy Innova this time that carried us along on the Bangalore-Mysore road and through the Ghats of Madikeri.  Raju, our driver for the trip was an experienced fellow who made it to Madikeri Heritage in mere 4.5 hours. An old guard escorted us to lounge where we collected our keys from a sleepy receptionist and headed to room that was booked till the break of dawn.

After a boring breakfast, we started our journey to Bhagamandala where resides the Lord “Bhagandeshwara".  It is at Bhagamandala that the two tributaries Kannike and Sujyoti join Kaveri to form a Sangama. There is no historical evidence of when this temple came into existence. According to Skanda Purana, Bhagamandala was known in ancient times as Bhaganda Kshetra. Long ago one great sage namely Sri Bhaganda Maharshi was living here in his ashrama with his disciples. Therefore, the place was named after the great rishi Sri Bhaganda as Bhagamandala. The shrines of Subramanya, Ganapathi, and Mahavishnu are also installed in the temple along with Bhangandeswara. This place was amidst greenery and we were so close to nature. That meant the most to me.

After having offered our prayers at Bhagamandala we were set to visit Talakaveri (That’s where they say Kaveri River originates from). Talakaveri is located by Brahmagiri hills near Bhaagamandala, Kodagu district, Karnataka. This place is frequented by pilgrims and has a small temple (dedicated to Kaveramma) in the area. A tank or kundike has been erected on a hillside, at the place that is said to be the origin. The river originates as a spring feeding this tank. The opening of the tank is through the mouth of a holy cow. Pilgrims throw coin here and make a wish. I tried my luck too and I succeeded in throwing it right. Hurrays to dear me! Let me wait for the wish to come true before I scream more.

There is a small hike up the hill from where you could see the surrounding mountain ranges. These activities are that spikes me up to a full charge. The wind was strong on the top and we had some shutterbugs clicking nature's beauty. I did click a few of them too :)

Down the hill we come, hungry and exhausted. The vegetarian restaurant (I guess the name was Athithi) had south Indian meals to fulfill us hungry souls. Our next stop was at Dubare - for a quick water ride in a boat. Nothing great but to just soak into that feeling of being in the middle of the river is what we craved for. Elephants had gone deep into the forest for the afternoon nap. So we continued our journey to Kaveri Nisargadhama - to walk on the hanging bridge and to walk in the woods. Bamboo to be precise!!

Yes that's all we did. Hush hush! And I did add on some calories with the cotton candies I had. But that equates the calories I burnt in the morning hike. I have my reasons ready.

Did I forget to mention about the pit stop at the spice and wine stall? The fresh spice straight from the estate and the home made wines (varied from flavors of sugarcane to rose, amla to eucalyptus and more). We bring home the finest of Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, dry mango pickle - sealed and packed.

On the way to Kushalnagar we sighted Orange groves on both the sides of the road. We noticed a few local sellers on the roadside selling freshly picked oranges from their farms. They had piled the citrus fruit so well to flaunt the passers-by. They were so fresh and welcoming that none could resist. Khader graciously agreed for a click.

A visit to Madikeri and not having gone to the Tibetan settlement. How can that be done? So after the walk and a further drive of about 20 min crossing the twin town Kushalnagar we reached the gates of Bylakuppe. Home to the Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery, Bylakuppe is the largest teaching center of Nyingmapa - a lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. There are over a 5000 lamas (both nuns and monks) residing here.

The Golden temple (Padmasambhava Buddhist Vihara) is the main attraction and calls for attention. The Guinea fowls walking in the lawns was the cherry on the top. Loved the serenity.

Three beautiful larger than life gold plated statues (Guru Padmasambhava, Buddha and Amitayush) look down at visitors above the altar. The beautiful paintings on the walls of the golden temple depict the Gods and demons from the Tibetan Buddhist mythology.

The day had got us debilitated. We just wanted to hit the beds, but the journey had to continue to Dharmasthala. Raju managed to drive us through those windings and horrible stretch from Madikeri to Puttur. We reached Puttur a little later than our anticipated schedule, so dreading the fact of not getting dinner at Dharmasthala we opted to fill ourselves with some snacks in a small restaurant on the main road. The famous Mangalore buns with veg gassi were the best deal. The plate size rotis also was remarkable. After about an hour’s journey in the woods we finally reached Dharmasthala at 11PM.

I do have faint memories of my childhood visit to the temple. I was visiting this place after a really really long time. We had not booked any accomodation in advance thinking they will be available in plenty as it was no season of pilgrim visits. But to our dismay it was not. The response was negative on inquiry at all possible places. "No Rooms Available"/"Rooms Full" Boards were up on each of the hotel's reception desk. We thought we'd try our luck in a nearby town Ujjire for some space to rest for the night. On the way to Ujjire, about 5 km from Dharmasthala we sighted a lodge that we had looked up on the internet. Luck was not that bad on us. We got 2 rooms for a decent budget. Anticipating the high numbers in the queue for darshan, we woke up early and rushed to the temple. The devotees were already standing in that crazy serpentine queue. We joined them at 7 AM and after a slow snail paced walk to the lord Shiva's Darshan at 10:45 AM. After a delicious meal offered at the temple we head back to the hotel to start our return journey to Bangalore. This was the only capture from Dharmasthala kshetra. I believe this statue has been recently installed outside the temple.

One pit stop at Sakleshpur - that is where we had akki and ragi rotti. Do you remember the pepsi ice we used to enjoy during the school days, I relished on them after a very long time. A short nap and a Telugu cinema for entertainment brings us back home by 7 in the evening.

CentStory 4: Wedding Bells.

She was fidgeting her saree nervously. Having been through this process many times now and getting rejected every time, made her weak and dejected.
Ramprasad was tired of searching a groom for his only daughter. Several men walked out on her for the reason she wasn’t a beauty material. Now that a prospect was sitting across the table sipping the hot coffee served by Vyjayanthi, there was only one thing she was hoping for - A "Yes". Tears rolled down her cheeks as Narayan accepted Vyjayanthi for what she was - a simple, loving and caring human being.

Rituals followed!

Cent Story 3: Married?

She crashed down, the receiver still in the proximity of her ear.
There was a constant "Hello! Priya you ok?" heard on the phone to which Priya's response was cold.

She had not believed her colleagues who spoke ill about her husband. Neither did she bother when she found the torn couple tickets of a current movie that she had longed to go watch with her husband coming weekend. It was 11:45 PM and Dev had not returned home yet. Priya called on his mobile only to hear a lady responding "Mrs. Dev speaking, may I know who is calling?"...



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