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The Journal of Mirandita

Further adventures in Karnataka

INDIA | Tuesday, 19 February 2013 | Views [326] | Comments [1]

There’s a delight in simply adventuring, which awakens every time we pack up and leave a place; I suppose this is the saving grace (and privilege) of those travelling for travelling’s sake. What is missed by a lack of structure in my being in India (say studying, researching or volunteering) is gained by experiencing nomadic freedom released from structure. What, no structure? Hold tight! Speeding from the barely-known to the unknown, in the luxury of sleeper class on Indian Railways, senses wide open, communicating in the language of smiles, we delved structurelessly into the state of Karnataka.

We spent a weird week (with nice bits) on the beach in Gokarna. Weird because we got sick and the world began to spin, and nice bits because we made Turkish friends who shared their exuberance for life with us. The inescapable bout of stomachache hit after we tucked into to dal and rice at one of the beach bars. At first I mistook the discomfort in my colon as a result of having overeaten or the arrival of my period, and then the realisation hit: bad food has been ingested and now you will suffer! I spent the night expelling various toxins from various orifices and the following day I tossed and turned in bed. Gradually day passed into night and night into day and I felt in my body that the worst was over. Other than sickness, we body-surfed the waves with jubilant Atgu and Emre, heard about their hitchhiking experience from Turkey through Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan to India and learnt about their country.

The city of Mysore beckoned and the thought of city restaurants and variety cheered us greatly. The Maharaja’s palace was stunning, the dosas (lentil-based pancakes) were crunchy and delicious and on the way down the 1000 steps from Chamundi hill, which overlooks the city, we saw India’s biggest statue of Nandi, the bull that Shiva rode on, not to be confused with Nando!

The Kodagu region is in the south of Karnataka close to the border into Kerala. It is mountainous (about 1,250m with some higher peaks) and full of coffee plantationsas well as black pepper and cardamom crops. It is also home to a Tibetan settlement: after the Chinese invasion of Tibet, thousands of Tibetans took refuge here and the Karnataka state government granted them 1,200 hectares of land. We read about the region in the guidebook, and lured by the idea of mountains and some cooler temperatures, hopped on a bus and journeyed the four hours from Mysore.

We headed into the Tibetan settlement hoping to visit and meditate in the Golden Temple monastery, which houses an 8m high statue of Buddha. Pootling along in an autorickshaw from the main road, we saw the surroundings transform around us as India became Tibet and Indians became Tibetans. Gone were the multi-coloured saris we’d got used to seeing and gone the lungis (cloth saris worn either long or short by men in south India) and instead we saw Tibetans dressed either in Western clothing, or in full monk’s robes! We reached the temple at sunset only to be told at the hostel opposite that in order to spend the night within the settlement we needed a special permit. It seemed a bit dodgy to stay and we didn’t want to end up in an Indian prison, so we reluctantly continued to Madikeri, one of the two biggest towns in the region.

We made our way to a working coffee farm a couple of hours away, which also offers accommodation. Honey Valley is one of those places where you arrive and let out a deep sigh of contentment. What a beautiful, peaceful, nurtured place. The nature around the valley is a feast for the soul - I could feel myself dilate as I tried to drink it all up, like a camera lens drunk on beauty that can’t focus quickly enough because there are too many pixels; as each day begins the many species of birds share their melodious chorus and by night the forest insects play their gentle symphony to a backdrop of jungle sky, bejeweled with stars and not paled by electricity. We felt fortunate to share our time and a fluid group dynamic with a warm bunch of international guests and those running the farm. The food prepared for us three times a day was delicious, nourishing and varied, and we were subtly left to our own devices to rest, recharge and explore the choice of walks around the farm.

One those walks took us into a strip of native forest towards the top of a waterfall. I was leading the merry band of three – me, Henrietta, Fernando – along a fairly narrow path that wove in and up through the trees and vines. Two of the farm dogs had come with us and were ahead of me. All of a sudden we heard strident rustlings coming through the trees, the dogs came running back along the path, ears pricked up in fear, “There´s something there!” shouted Fernando, followed by “RUN!” I heard stampeding feet and a wild boar came to a halt about 10m away from me. It was enormous - cow-sized - but didn’t seem to be looking straight at me (do wild boars see from the sides of their head?); as if in slow motion I turned and moved to where the other two were. Luckily it didn’t follow me and as I stood becoming aware of my racing heart and wobbly legs, we pooled our knowledge on wild boars – next to nothing - ha! Given that, we decided to turn around and slowly go back the way we came. The boar moved parallel to us, seeing us off its territory, and relief only came when we were quite literally out of the woods. And no, I didn’t get a photo of it!

Sad to leave this slice of peace and paradise, but adventure awaits in Kerala.

Tags: gokarna, kodagu, mysore

Comments

1

cada vez escribes mejor!!! me alegro de que la intoxicacion se quedara en un mal recuerdo ....y por si acaso, no te fies de los jabalies aunque ese no os hiciera nada!!!
besotes grandes a los dos

  camino gefaell Feb 19, 2013 10:36 PM

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