Sometimes we can be so ignorant of our own country’s geography. For all these years after numerous enthusiastic inquiries from our acquaintances and some limited reading we had assumed that it was a dotted point on the political map of India. So when we had started planning our itinerary to Coorg we looked for that dot and realised that Coorg(Kodagu) is actually a vast region, in fact it was a separate province when India became independent and later on became a district of the erstwhile Mysore state when the state boundaries were redefined in 1956. Now its never-ending coffee estates and beautiful treks in Nilgiri make it a famous destination for travellers. Still if you are looking for some dots then you have Madikeri ,which was the capital of the Coorg( province and now the district headquarter, Virajpet and Kushalnagar. It will be highly likely that you would have your accommodation in a resort at one of these places. We had been lucky to get ourselves booked in Evolve Back Resorts (Orange County) in Siddhapur. Since Coorg and Mysore districts are just adjacent to each other it was only going to be a drive of around 3 hours to our resort in Siddhapur from the city of Mysore.
We wanted to make use of our road trip from Mysore to Evolveback and therefore had figured out a few places which could be seen on the way. One of them was the Namdroling Monastery or the Golden Temple as it is famously called, in Bylakuppe. At a distance of around 80 Km from Mysore, Bylakuppe is home to the second largest Tibetan settlement outside Tibet. Spread over a large area of around 3000 acres now , this settlement came into existence in 1961. Today as you travel through it, you can see that it is self sufficient with schools, colleges , hospitals and other amenities for the Tibetans who dwell here. The monastery itself was beautiful with its vividly colourful buildings crowned by golden pagodas glowing in the bright winter sun. We had managed to get inside the prayer hall, a large room typically decorated with paintings and murals depicting various facets of Buddhism and when the monks started their chant in unison you could feel the powerful vibrations reverberating around the large hall engulfing everything and everyone probably.
We then went to Nisargdham a supposedly famous tourist spot near Kushalnagar which is actually an island around which River Kaveri flows. The description and images on most of the travel sites had raised our expectation, the exotic name to go with it also played a part in what we imagined. Therefore what,we somehow, expected was a place amidst nature and a serene island in the river but where we stopped was actually an anticlimax. Just off the road we had parked at a shopping plaza crowded with people and having walked through the congested lanes we came to a queue to cross a bridge suspended across the River Kaveri .We joined the queue after getting our tickets from a small ticket counter facing the bridge.The narrow suspension bridge waved a little with every footstep and led us to a park, which was just like any other park in any city , perhaps the bamboo trees all around were the only distinct feature. Quite obviously this was not as exquisite as we had thought so we hung around for a bit and then decided to return. This is definitely a spot you can skip and save all the hassle especially on a holiday.
On the way to Siddhapura we also crossed inlet to the Dubare Elephant Camp which was there initially on the list but partly due to our experience of Nisargdham and partly due to the time at which we reached we decided to proceed to Evolveback Resort instead of making a stop. In around half an hour we had turned left onto a narrow road which led us into the coffee estates around Siddhapur .We went along River Kaveri for a while and then the road morphed into very narrow lanes crisscrossing through the coffee plantations one of which took us to the entrance of the resort…………