Kodagu or more commonly known, Coorg is a place quite different from the rest of southern India. It was a small kingdom which then became a state after independence and now is a district in the southern part of Karnataka. It is rich in vegetation and produces wonderful coffee, cardamon, pepper, ginger and paddy. If that is not enough to entice you to visit , Coorg has won international acclaim for its flora and more importantly fauna causing it to be one of the most important hot spots of biodiversity in Asia, I am not making that up.
(On a side note this is perhaps the first time in my life that I am able to use both Flora and Fauna in the same sentence and have a proper context as well.)
We set off on a very busy Friday afternoon with the newest member of the Loudamericans travelling fun show our friend Ajay. Ajay is related to us through my sister Brigid's friend whom Ajay was a college roommate. Having a great deal in common with him we have been planning a get away for month's and finally the journey began. We were sorry to not have Ajay's Mom and Dad join us however rain and airport delays caused Ajay's Dad to have to cancel.
Ajay behind the wheel, the vehicle loaded down with all conceivable types of junk plus banana's a dvd player and cold beer for our arrival off we went. Traffic out of Bangalore was intense, as was the rain, however we persevered. 6.5 hours later at the bottom of a extremely muddy road in the middle of the jungle Ajay announced "we have reached". Reached what I thought as we slowly climbed the muddy road opened a gate and proceeded to the car park which upon reaching was actually someones driveway. Several minutes later the rumbling of an old jeep could be heard over the joyful screams of the three youngest loudamericans whom were in search of a way out of the car.
Ganesh the driver loaded our gear and again we were off. The 3 kilometers from bottom to top were to quote Billy Murphy " weally weally bumpy". The trip was worth the drive for when we reached the top there was Honey Valley. The guest house/Hotel is situated in the bottom of a bowl surrounded by trees, mountains, forest.
Honey Valley is home to a wonderful family, the Chengappas. Suresh and Susheela are wonderful hosts and provide a comfortable and very clean place to stay. The food is wonderful and the Coorg pork is not to be missed! Their main form on income up until the early 90's was bee farming. Suresh had as many as one million bee's producing honey until 1994 when the Thai sac brood attack killed all of his bee's overnight.( The Thai sac brood attack is far too brutal in nature for me to go into any details).
We had a wonderful dinner a couple of well deserved cold beers and retired for the night.
The following day was beautiful and we headed out to see a waterfall and to play in the river and get as wet as we possibly could even though three of us tried our best to keep the other three dry, it was a losing battle. Trekking is a favorite past time of may Indian's and Honey Valley provides access to may treks through the Kodagu Hills.
So after lunch and naps for no one we took a trek up into the hills. We needed to be mindful of the kids being there was a panther in the area and it had already took three of Sureshes dogs. ( I neglected to tell Tracy this little tidbit of information).
We meet three clothes designer who were also from B"lore and had a nice dinner with them. Kay spent most of the time discussing fashion and face painting while Jimmy and Billy showed off their power ranger moves. The day was long and the kids crashed except Billy who some times has a hard time going to sleep. We have found that he likes to read before he goes to sleep ( see photo) and after a few chapters of Power Rangers, he to crashed. Tracy, Ajay and myself had an after dinner glass of wine and retired as well. There was quite a bit of commotion around 3:00 in the morning, jackals howling, dogs barking, a panther perhaps?
Early the next day we were off to see Elephants, a Tibetan Monastery and maybe a bird sanctuary.The trip back down was according to Billy " weally weally bumpy". We set out to reach the Elephant camp by 9:30 to see them wash and feed the Elephants and arrived as the last one was heading back into the jungle, drat. We had breakfast and got back on the road to the Monastery.
The Gold Monastery is beautiful. There are several students living there and the place is immaculate. The colors and artistry is amazing and the three Statues inside are breath taking. We spent some time wondering around amidst the peace and quite until that was disrupted by you know who.
Back in the car everyone finally fell asleep so we continued straight back to Bangalore.
The trip with Ajay ranks in the top two we have taken while here and fortunately he feels the same so we are busy contemplating the next excursion....