24th December, 2015
Woke up at 6 in the morning. Heard some voices downstairs. Suddenly the trees on the left window were lit by car’s headlight. I walked to the window, it was still dark outside. Color on the eastern horizon was giving a hint of the sunrise. Paul sir drove away in his car and disappeared beyond the dense forest trees. I wondered where he went at such early hours of the day. I was about to go back to sleep but then, I looked outside into the valley from the window. The misty view of the valley in the twilight drove me crazy. I came into the gallery and sat on the sofa till the darkness faded away into a daylight. I lost track of time while enjoying the beautiful view.
Paul sir’s car came back. This time car’s headlight was off. He parked his car in the parking area. I heard many voices downstairs but my eyes were fixed on the distant mountains on the horizon. By now the sun was casting crisp shadows of trees on ground. A layer of mist in the valley down below was clearing up slowly. I heard few footsteps coming up on the upper floor. A door lock opened. Then the window on my right side opened up. I heard Paul sir’s voice and two new voices with it. I realized that Paul sir had left early morning to pick up a couple who had arrived in Coorg from Mumbai. He had told me about them the previous evening.
A little while later a young guy came into the balcony. We exchanged smiles and said Hi to each other. He stood in the balcony and kept looking in the valley. I knew exactly what was going on his mind at the time as I had gone through the same a day ago after watching the view of the valle. I felt like he was trespassing on my property. This view belonged to me… and only me. I pushed my dramatic and kiddish thoughts aside. A girl came into the balcony. I said Hi and she replied the same. Both of them had no expressions on their faces. It was clearly evident that they had a rough drive at night. They must have had not slept all night. Their eyelids were proving the existence of Earth’s gravitational pull.
They both spoke to each other for a while then the girl went back to the room. Me and the guy in the gallery introduced each other. The guy’s name was Shashi and the girl was Laxmi, his wife. Both of them were from Mumbai. It felt good to meet someone from hometown. I could see he was feeling very sleepy. After a short talk he too went back to his room. I had planned to have my breakfast and leave for my sight seeing, in and around Coorg.
My friend Cyrus had given me his friend Arvind’s number. Arvind resides in Mumbai but originally is from Coorg. Cyrus asked me to call him to take suggestions for riding plans in Coorg. I called him up and had a nice talk with him. He suggested me a route which goes through mountains of Coorg and offers amazing views while riding.
On breakfast table I asked Paul sir’s recommendation for sight seeing in Coorg. He gave me many options but also doubted if I’d really enjoy those places. He said he himself doesn’t go to these places often. I wanted to see if these places match up to my taste. Luckily the place he suggested were in Madikeri, which was on the other end of the route suggested by Arvind.
I rode on the suggested route. The view it offered was amazing. It was the extended version of the valley view I got from my home-stay. I went through many small villages and coffee estates. There was lush greenery all around and throughout. I saw a sight of hundreds of coconut trees swaying to the wind. To my averted eyes they appeared like kids standing with arms stretched up and waiving at me as I was passing by. When I look ed straight at them they turned back into coconut trees. I saw many beautiful farms and lakes. After about a 40 kms long ride, I reached Madikeri.
Madikeri failed to impress me miserably. I expected it to be beautiful place where I’d like to spend some good quality time. But instead it turned out be a crowded place full of tourists. Tour and Travel buses were pouring in more and more tourists with every passing minute. At a road junction I saw a sign board that showed directions for ‘Abbey Falls’, ‘Raja Seat’ and ‘Madikeri Fort’. I decided to head towards Abbey Falls. I passed via the Madikeri Fort. A huge crowd was already entering the fort, so I decided to skip the fort while return trip as well. I went through deserted road through few hills to reach the Abbey Falls.
Parked my bike and started to walk towards the falls. To reach the waterfall I had to climb down many steps. The sound of falling water became louder, the more I walked. A small bridge came in sight. The waterfall was just behind it. Entry to the bridge was prohibited. The waterfall looked much smaller than the photograph. Hundreds of school kids were already gathered near the waterfall and at the arch near the waterfall. There was no room for me to go through this crowd to get a closer view of the waterfall. The waterfall was not so impressive anyways. I’ve seen many beautiful waterfalls and this one wasn’t getting on the list of those. For a guy who’s seen the Konkan (Coastal region of Mahrashtra) in rainy season, Abbey falls offers no attraction. This could be the only waterfall in Madikeri, may be that’s why it’s so famous. With few clicks of my camera I returned to my beloved motorcycle.
Next, I went to Raja Seat. It’s just a small, well maintained garden. The western view of the garden offered a valley view. A beautiful spot to watch sunset. There was a historic monument on the western end. The information board nearby said that the king used to sit at this arched open room to watch sunset. After climbing down series of steps I saw a half circular arch facing the valley. It offered a beautiful view. I had read that this view is most beautiful during monsoon season. I spent some time there watching the beautiful view.
I was hungry. It was noon. I searched for a decent local restaurant and ordered a Masala Dosa. The dosa was much bigger in size than I had expected. While munching on the food I was deciding on the next course of action for the day. I was sure that Madikeri was not my kind of place. Instead of spending time riding around in this town I decided to go back to the home-stay via the same scenic route that I had taken while coming.
When I was back at the home-stay. I took the binocular and sat in the gallery. After a long time with futile attempts to spot wild life, I saw some movement on a tree on the left. I looked though the binocular in the direction of the movement and spotted a small grey Hornbill. Wow, I can’t tell you how beautiful that sight was. The bird with it’s huge curved beak looked magnificent against the green background. My atempts finally paid off. Shashi and Laxmi were back from their day’s excursion. They had visited ‘Dubare Elephant Camp’, which I had planned to visit the next day along with a local monastery. Paul sir had told me that Dalai Lama was in Coorg and residing in the same monastery for few days. Shashi and Laxmi didn’t find the Elephant Camp that impressive. They said it wasn’t well kept and the condition of the elephants there was not good either. I cancelled it from my list. Three of us spent some time chit chatting. Shashi and Laxmi had been travelling for a quite some time. We had much information and travelling experiences to share.
During dinner, I told them about my upcoming plan to visit France for cycling. Coincidentally two of them had recently been to Paris. They told me to look up online for a guy named Fred who runs ‘La Mansion Bacana BnB’ in Paris. He was of great help to both of them. They spoke very highly about him. I made a note of that. It was quite a coincidence to meet a couple from the same town as me and who have had traveled to a place I was planning to go.
Since it was a night before Christmas, Paul Sir had quite a surprising dinner for us. We were served some local delicacy, Christmas cake and home made red wine which was mind blowing. The next day I asked Paul sir for the recipe of red wine and day after that I forgot it. Before going to bed I pondered upon the idea of spending the whole day at the home-stay, sitting in the gallery watching beautiful view of the valley and a pinch of bird-watching to add to the taste.
End Of Day 13…