In the mid of August 2013, We a couple of people from Cochin had an invitation to the Vivanta by Taj Madikeri and this turned out to be an awesome trip as the monsoon was just withdrawing. When we think of Coorg, a lot of things come to our minds, it would mostly be of coffee and may be about the people of Coorg. However for us the highlight of the trip was a very interesting trek – Trekking in Coorg to the mist filled Nishani and an impressive property tour showcasing the peculiarities of the new Taj property. We were into an overnight train to Mangalore on a Sunday evening with the plan of heading to Madikeri. We arrived at Mangalore, early in the morning and had a room to get freshened up for the day’s trip to Coorg. For us, there was a reason to touch Mangalore as we had to visit the Gateway by Taj, Mangalore. You really need not go to Mangalore to connect Coorg, there are more shorter routes via Kannur or Kasargod if you are coming from South. By 9:15 in the morning we got started for Madikeri, it was really a good road just after Mangalore city and slowly as the travel progressed, the roads were really horrible for a while. The monsoon after effects on the Indian road is a little more than cruel, especially when you already have some problem with your back. The roads closer to madikeri seem to be still good.
We had a warm welcome at the resort and was in room for a nap after the lunch. A trek was told at 3:30 pm and every one was on time at the lobby. We met Sajid and he was the man to take us to Nishani. We were briefed and were taken in a buggy to put on the leech socks and the monsoon gear as it was drizzling all the time and had probable chances of heavy rains. The trek terrain was kind of slant and slight uneven steep hikes. Sajid stopped by almost all the exciting things enroute to Nishani, even the most unhidden things and the unheard voices and noises of nature. He kept explaining
“We are in a region that consists of one lakh sixty thousand square kilometers; it has 25 percent of the wildlife in India, roughly about forty percent of India’s bird species, about forty six percent of India’s Mammal species, around eighty five percent of the amphibian species and sixty percent of the reptile species. This extremely rich biodiversity is called the Western Ghats of India. It is considered to be one among the top ten biodiversity hotspots in the world. Roughly about 5000 square kilometers is the Nilgiri biosphere covering the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka – So Keep breathing, its pure oxygen!!”
When he was explaining this, we were kind of recollecting our school chapters. We saw a lot of Impatience – a species of flowering plant which grows normally on moss. When you get to know so many details about the usual things that we see around, then it becomes a different story, a different experience of learning and excitement.
“Oops! there is a leach in your hand”, and suddenly there is an emotion of panic in everyone’s face. These blood sucking creatures are just part of the environment and with its presence, some of us really got scared. They might go unnoticed and has the capacity to crawl to wherever they get some real bad blood, leaches suck only the bad blood in our body, there are even treatments where leaches are used to suck out the bad blood from the human body. So making sure that the leaches do not go into our ears and nose was kind of a minor challenge :-).
After an hour of explaining and hiking, we took a deviation to a little more steep step trek route to Nishani. A single path through the kurinji bushes (Strobilanthes Kunthiana) which flowers once in 12 years, these are found abundantly in Western Ghats and the shola grass land of south West India. At last we reach Nishani!! It was high wind than expected, the air was brisk, it was drizzling and so misty that we could barely see each other at a distance. The most interesting part is, Sajid had some coffee for us to have it at Nishani, now that is something of a different experience altogether!! I just don’t know how to express it so I took a video. We spent around 25 – 30 minutes at Nishani and got back down hill, and reached back by 6 pm, basically a 2 hour trek with a lot of things to see and experience.
Next day it was property visit – Vivanta by Taj Madikeri – no words to express, a stunning splurge property, the location, they have only cottages and they are really big, wide and spacious, the food was wholesome and delicious! The property is all about luxury, a lot of activities, nature and Coorg!! We headed back to Mangalore to board our train back to Cochin, we knew the roads back and were prepared for it!
Written by Benjamin John