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Thursday, 20 October 2016

For a green escape (keywords : Coorg tourism)

My article 'For a green escape' was published in the Deccan Herald newspaper's Spectrum supplement on August 2, 2016. the link is given below.

Given below is my original draft:

In Kodagu, Igguthappa is venerated as a hero god and especially remembered during the Puttari harvest festival. While the river Kaveri is called the Kula devi or patron goddess, Igguthappa is known as the Mahaguru, or chief preceptor. Igguthappa is revered as Lord Subramani incarnate, the war-god who commands snakes as well. According to a ballad, he was one of six brothers and a sister, reincarnations of various deities. Born across the celestial milky ocean, they arrived as children upon the Northern Malabar coast. 

The eldest brother, a reincarnation of Lord Vaidyanath, settled down in Kanjirath near Tali Parambu. Known as Kanjirathappa, he is associated with the Vaidyanath Temple of that place. Kanjirathappa sent his younger siblings further inland. But the second brother, a local manifestation of Sri Krishna, settled a little distance away at Thiruchambara and came to be known as Thiruchambaratappa. The third brother, a reincarnation of Lord Rajarajeshwara, came to live in  Bendre Kolur and hence became known as Bendru Kolurappa. 


The remaining four siblings walked onward and crossed the Western ghats of Kodagu. Lead by Igguthappa the eldest among them, they came near a hill in the village of Kakkabe. There, being born as humans, they felt hungry and hence came to a halt. They were upon the family property of Nambimada Muthanna, a local farmer and landlord. Muthanna had the Padi Igguthappa temple built. His descendants became the hereditary managers of that temple. 

The elder among the remaining two gods was an avatar of Lord Mahalingeshwara. He settled down in the village of Palur along the river Kaveri and came to be known as Palurappa. Pemmayya, the last of the brothers went southward dressed as a yogi. He crossed the Brahmagiri hill range and settled down in Thirunelli, Waynad. His temple became known as the Janardhana temple, named after the deity whose avatar he was. 

The Padi Igguthappa temple is located in the town of Kakkabe and is accessible by road. One can go there either by means of private buses which ply to and fro from the temple to Virajpet and Madikeri or by hiring cars for the trip.

The main annual temple festival of Padi Igguthappa happens around April during Minyaar, or the month of Pisces. During the inauspicious month of Kakkada, or Kakartaka, the month of the crab, certain pujas are not performed. Four other festivals are also observed in the temple. They are the Chingyaar festival, held on the tenth of the month of Leo, the Tholyaar festival, held on the tenth of the month of Libra, the Birchyaar Kalladcha festival, held during the month of Scorpio and the Kumbyaar Kalladcha festival held during the month of Aquarius. The Birchyaar Kalladcha  festival, held around November or December is also called Puttari, or the harvest festival. The date of the Puttari festival is decided in the Igguthappa temple. The festival begins in the temple and the crop is first offered here. Then the people of Kodagu celebrate the festival the next day onward. During the harvest festival the people invoke Igguthappa, Mahadeva and Bayathurappa (the deity of Vayathur).

Monsoon Places

A scenic place nestled in the Western Ghats, Kodagu is known for its hills and waterfalls, rivers and forests. There are a number of lesser known places of interest to visit in Kodagu during the monsoon season. Trekking, water sports and nature watching are some of the common activities indulged in.

Chelavara falls

The Brahmagiri hill range of the Western Ghats is in the western and southern parts of Kodagu. Some of the highest peaks of Karnataka, such as the Thadiyendamol are found here. Near Thadiyendamol and on the way west from the town of Virajpet towards the temple place of Talakaveri is a beautiful natural cascade called the Chelavara falls, beside the village of Cheyyandane. This falls is within a forest and on a stream which eventually joins the Kaveri. Chelavara is also called Embepare, or Tortoise rock, colloquially. There is a beautiful hill called the Choma Kund a couple of kilometres away. Chelavara is accessible from Madikeri and Virajpet by road. It is around 16 kilometers from Virajpet town.

Nishani motte

Nishani motte is a hillock near the temple town of Bhagamandala which is known for the Triveni Sangam, a confluence of tributaries, on the River Kaveri. Also nearby are the Talakaveri wildlife sanctuary and the Thadiyendamol hill. During the monsoons the road to Bhagamandala is sometimes cut off virtually turning it into an island and boats ferry to and fro the town. Nishani motte is good for trekkers but one must seek permission from the forest department and follow a 'leave no trace' policy. Part of the trail is by jeep. If one is lucky then they can spot elephants grazing below the hills. One also needs to watch out for leeches. 

Kadnur mud race

During the monsoons and after the paddy saplings are transplanted, races are organised upon the muddy paddy fields of Kodagu. One of the more famous of these runs is held in the Kadnur village of South Kodagu. 

Bara pole

The Bara pole river near T. Shettigeri, accessible from Virajpet in South Kodagu, is a good site for white water rafting and has a number of rapids with strange sounding names such as Grasshopper, Morning Coffee, Wicked Witch, Frame Head and Milky Churn. It takes birth in the Brahmagiri hills, meanders through forests and coffee plantations and then disappears into the Brahmagiri Wildlife sanctuary in Kodagu. The greenery on either side is infested with reptiles and insects, so the traveller needs to take precautions. The rivulet eventually goes west into Kerala until it descends into the Arabian Sea. 

Irupu falls

The Lakshmana-Thirtha river takes birth in the Western ghat forests and flows through Kodagu and Mysore until it merges with the Kaveri at the Krishna Raja Sagara in Mandya. Near Kurchi village in the Brahmagiris of South Kodagu, this tributary forms the Irupu waterfall which gracefully slithers down the black rocks. 

Legend has it that Rama, Lakshmana and Hanuman had come to the place. Some say that when Rama was thirsty Lakshmana shot an arrow into the hills and hence the Lakshmana-Thirtha was born. Some others say that when Lakshmana had once unwittingly insulted Rama he attempted to immolate himself in repentance. In order to douse the fire and save Lakshmana, Rama shot an arrow into the rocks and the stream was formed. A Shiva linga was installed by Rama to aid his prayers. Nearby is the Hanuman Betta. One will be pointed out a crescent shaped depression on that hill and told that it was formed when the powerful Hanuman wound his large tail around it in an attempt to heave it. The Irupu falls can be reached by road from the towns of Virajpet or Gonikoppal and beyond Srimangala.

Nati otta races held in Kodagu

During the monsoons, races called the 'naati ota' are organised upon the paddy fields of Kodagu. A long strip of land upon a paddy field is left uncultivated. Both sides of this strip have three parallel rows of paddy seedlings, called naati. These rows are also called 'Darae naati' as they show the way to the runners. The track is set in the night. It is usually the farmers themselves who get together and organise the ota, or race. Traditionally the runners would gather from the neighbouring villages. They race across the track and through the slush, stumbling along the way. The winners would be given prize money. After the race the track will have seedlings planted in them. One of the more famous of these runs is held in the Kadnur village of South Kodagu.