23rd December, 2015
Sulthan Bathery, Kerala to Polibetta, Coorg, Karnataka (98 kms)
When the long straight roads turned curvy, when the forest along the road turned denser, sky turned bluer and wide coffee estates started making appearances every now and then I realized I was in Coorg. I had left Sulthan Bathery at 7:45 am and within 98 kms I was in Coorg. The ride was pleasant. Riding through the Tholpetty Forest region was a soulful experience. The forest was silent and serene. For long distances I found myself to be a solitary human being travelling through such dense forest. It was bit frightening to go alone through a forest inhabited by wild animals. The beauty of the forest took my fear away. My action camera was strapped to my chest. I kept the camera on throughout the venture in the forest with a hope of catching some wild life, but I was disappointed. The only wild life I spotted were wild monkeys. Which was not a new sight for me.
After crossing the Gonikoppal town I reached Polibetta market area. It was a very small town with few shops and few houses. I stopped near a bank and called up Paul sir. He had a shop in the market and had asked me to meet him there. He asked me to come near Hotel Sapphire. His shop was right in front of the hotel. I asked for directions to a guy standing near by. I faced the language barrier again. From what he said I could make out that he was saying that there’s no hotel with such name. I took a u-turn and asked few more people about Hotel Sapphire. Nobody knew about it. Paul sir called back, when I explained him where I was standing he told me I went too much behind on the route where I had come from. I again took a u turn and met Paul sir just 100 meters before the bank where I had stopped earlier. Paul sir took me to his shop. I looked around and saw a hotel named ‘Hotel Safara’. Clearly, I had made a mistake in catching the name of the hotel.
Paul sir invited me in his shop. He was a very humble and soft spoken person. He asked me about my road trip and said we’ll leave in few minutes once he’s done with his work at the shop. After about 15 minutes we left. Winding roads of Polibetta took us through some dense and beautiful plantation and coffee estates of Coorg. Paul sir was riding ahead of me and I followed him through the entire route. He took a turn from a sign board that pointed towards ‘Coorg Cliffs Resort’. It was a narrow off road going up hill. The human population was very scarce in this region. Everywhere I looked I only saw plants and trees. Green and blue were the dominating colors in this region. The sky was just a narrow strip over my head and most of it was blocked by tall trees. Every now and then a small house would pop up as we rode further. The road became more narrow and bumpy. I wondered if I did the right thing by booking this home-stay so far off from the main road. I was in for a surprise. Soon I saw neatly planted row of small dense plants making way for a beautiful house up ahead. It was Paul Sir’s home. It was more of a bungalow. When I reached at the parking lot of the home-stay, I looked around. The view I saw cannot be explained in words. It was beautiful. I had a dense forest in my view. I could see horizon fading into blue mist. Series of big mountains faded into the horizon and sky. I heard an elephant’s roar. Paul sir said, “If you get lucky, you might spot an elephant in the jungle down there”. I forgot that I had to unload my bags from the bike and move in. Paul sir invited me in his house. Just at the steps leading up towards the door I saw Christmas decoration with small human figures illustrating Jesus Christ’s birth event. I left the bags on the bike and went in through a beautifully carved decorative wooden door. I was turning back again and again to catch more glimpses of the view.
Me and Paul sir sat in the living room. A Christmas tree stood decorated next to a wall with its tip touching the ceiling. Paul sir had served me with some cookies and refreshing cold drinks. We had a long conversation while I was relishing on the snacks. He told me about him and his family. He had three daughters, all three of them were married and living in different parts of the country. One of the daughters had settled in USA with her husband. Now it’s only him, his wife and his mother-in-law staying in this house. That’s why he decided to start home-stay on the rooms on the upper floor of his home so that he could meet new people and network with different travelers coming from different parts of the globe.
I unloaded my stuff from the bike and carried it to the upper floor where Paul sir showed me to my room. There were three rooms. The upper floor had a large decorated hall with cane-wood sofa, chairs and bunch of bean bags. On the corner was a big television, a huge photo of Jesus and a decorative light stand. My room had amazing views from all the windows. From the window on the left side of my bed I could see dense plantation of the place with long trees blocking the sky and from the window in front of the bed I could see beautiful view of the valley stretched till horizon. The valley was on the western side which meant I could see a beautiful sunset from my room. I peeked out from the window and saw a hammock tied between a pillar and wall of the gallery. I went into the gallery where a wooden sofa, a table and few chairs were arranged. I was just falling deeper and deeper in love with this place. Just like the name ‘Tranquil Home-stay’ this place truly had great tranquility to offer. I was seated in the gallery enjoying the beautiful view and the tranquility with frequent chirping of the birds, when Paul sir came in. He told me come down for lunch. I told him how much I liked the place. He asked me if I’d like to see the terrace. I said, “I’d love to”.
There was a smart arrangement for reaching the terrace. Half way down the stairs that come up to the first floor, there was a door at high height. A wooden staircase had been hooked onto the door. Paul sir unhooked the staircase and folded it down. Now the stairs were upside down with the bottom portion perfectly resting on the floor. He then climbed up the stairs to unlock the door. We came out from the door and climbed up the concrete staircase to reach up onto the terrace. The beautiful view was looking even more beautiful from there. The dense plantation was all around the place. It was like standing in enormous inverted dome full of trees with sky right sky above it. I was standing in the center of this dome. I told Paul sir that I was missing my telescope. The terrace was a perfect place for night sky gazing with telescope.
“I have a binocular which I don’t use. My son-in-law had gifted it to me. You can use it as long as you are here”, Paul sir said with a smile.
“Oh that’ll be great. I can’t watch the stars with a binocular but it’ll be a great experience to observe this beautiful view with it”, I replied.
“Yeah, that’s right. If you get lucky you can spot many birds in the surrounding, especially hornbills. There are plenty of those birds here. I just loved their sound”, Paul sir said very enthusiastically.
We came down at the table where lunch was served. I met Paul sir’s wife. She had cooked chicken in Coorg style which was amazingly delicious and tangy in taste. This place was tickling every single sensation of mine. From beautiful view for my eyes, to soothing sounds of ruffling leaves of trees, accompanied by frequent chirping of the birds, for my ears, to arousing fragrance of coffee plants and aroma of delicious food for my nose, to wind on my face for my skin, to delicious spicy and tangy food for my tongue. This place had satisfied all my senses. And I had two more full days to absorb all the tranquility this place offered.
After having a heavy meal I went back to the gallery and sat in the hammock. The weather was cool. When I started feeling sleepy I went in my room and tucked myself beneath a blanket and disappeared into a state of dream. I had no idea what I saw with eyes open was a dream or otherwise.
I didn’t realize how fast two hours passed by. When I woke up Paul sir called me down for coffee. I washed my face and rushed down for a cup of hot coffee. A local delicacy was served with coffee. It was made with jaggery and rice dough cooked in wrapped banana leaf. It was damn tasty and tasted even better with coffee. Paul sir brought his binocular from his room and gave it to me. We both went up and sat in the gallery and had a good chat. When Paul sir left I was trying to spot some wild life with the binocular but could not spot any. The evening had started turning into a night. The sun was getting closer to the mountains standing on the horizon. I sat still for a long time and observed a beautiful sunrise from a chair in the gallery.