We often have trouble unplugging from our work. No matter how we manage it, it is uncomfortable. As a result of our always-on culture, we may even feel guilty putting an end to our workday and leaving emails unanswered until the next day. According to the cult of overwork, we should always be busy with something. Nevertheless, this emphasis on overwork means we overlook the benefits of not working. Hence I decided to wander a bit in the Kodava woods. Since the monsoon was about to end and winter was about to begin, the area would be ideal for trekking and relaxed driving. The plan was to drive down to Bangalore, pick up my daughter, move towards Nagarhole National Park, touch Kutta, Gonikopalu, and reach Yevakapadi after crossing Kabbinkadu.

Day 1

We left Bangalore at 5.30 am to beat the traffic and took the Nelamangala route to reach Srirangapatna and Hunsur. We drove 218 kilometres in 4.5 hours. From Veeranahosalli, we entered the jungle through the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve after arriving in Hunsur. There was a forest checkpoint where we registered our vehicle. As it began to rain, the 35-kilometre drive started without expecting to see any animals. For almost 30 minutes, the roads were terrible, but once we reached the point where we could take the road to Kutta, the roads improved. In the middle of a beautiful rainy drive, we came across fresh elephant poo, which was a bit scary. But immediately saw a group of Axis deer, also called Chital an Indian deer. The orange-coated deer marked with white spots were beautiful, especially the cute baby deer. It was an exciting drive, and we crossed the exit check post after driving towards Kutta. The 46 Km, curvy and windy roads lead us to the next town, Gonikoppal. Crossing these small villages and towns were the sweet spots. The next lap of the drive was towards Virajpet. It took 2 Hrs to reach Yevakapadi.

We reached our resort, and the property spans 180 acres, located 3500 feet above sea level. Close to 5000 live in this village, and it hosts one of the best wooden lodges in the country. The property’s architecture is designed based on the Balinese concept of Tri Hita Karana, i.e. the universe can attain balance only when God, Man, and Nature live in harmony. After checking in, we walked to the small waterfalls inside the estate.

We returned to the room and found a leech on my foot, tasting my blood! The sound of the water stream made us relax after the long drive. It was dinner time, and we tried the traditional akki roti ( flatbread made of rice )  and Koli curry, and we called it a day.

Day 2

The property’s outdoor activity team woke us up at 6.00 am, asking us to assemble near the Yoga centre for the 8 Kms trek. We opted for the 8Km walk covered in 5 Hrs, both ways. I was hesitant, but my daughter motivated and challenged my fitness.  Our guide Thimaya shared the guidelines. At 50 Yrs, I wanted to improve my cardiovascular strength and get out of my comfort zone. Our group had a young couple from Mumbai and another couple from Bangalore. Our trek had three stages to reach the peak. The first stage was easy and had a proper path to walk, and we stopped before we started our next phase after spraying sanitiser on our shoes as the leeches were waiting to welcome us! At this stage, paths disappeared, and we used the narrow, steep rocky trail. As we crossed the midway, I started panting and realized my fitness was not enough to indulge in this adventure. Our guide gave me a few tips and encouraged me. I am the oldest in the group, while my daughter is the youngest. Inspired by this young team, I decided to put my best efforts to give them company ( haha ). The peak was 5 minutes away, and we saw the full view of the western ghats range to cap it, a waterfall in our viewfinder.  We rested at the peak for 10 minutes and took group photos of our achievement, and I felt accomplished. We walked back for two hours and 30 minutes to reach the resort. We had breakfast and crashed and skipped lunch. We woke up in the evening to join the coffee plantation tour, again one hour of walking, ended up at the verandah to understand the bloom to powder process of coffee making. We were hungry and wanted to taste the authentic Kodava pandi curry. The dish with the akki otti filled our stomach full, and we topped it with lovely desserts to soothe our taste buds.

Day 3

We had a light breakfast and left the resort around 9.30 am to take up the 2 Hr drive via Napoklu and stop at Madikeri for a break. We wanted to test the offroad capability of the Thar and decided to drive to Mandalpatti to witness the Neelakurinji flowers, which blooms once in 12 Years. After 30 minutes of drive, we ended up in a forest road at noman land with a dead end. While cursing Google maps, an angel appeared in the form of an older man. My daughter tried her spoken Kanada skills but then conversed with sign language. It was funny, but we got the instructions and took a U-turn to reach the correct road. The drive to Mandalpatti was scenic and refreshing. The road to the peak was bumpy and tested all the joints in our bodies. To our disappointment, fog covered the mountain hence we couldn’t get a clear view. We drove back and stopped to witness the extraordinary sight of the 30 – 60 cm shrub. This kind of mass flowering is known as gregarious flowering, where plants of the same gene pool in a landscape bloom en masse. We have never experienced such a sight and started our descent to the base.

Coorg Cuisine at Madikeri boasts the most authentic Kodagu food in the area, and we reached the restaurant opposite the post office. It was already 3.00 pm, and the place was empty. We ordered neer dosa, Koli curry, pork chops and the passion fruit juice. Mr Girish Pemmaiah, the owner, was kind enough to share the history of this traditional popular restaurant. We left Madikeri and started our drive towards Yevakapadi. We enjoyed the windy roads, and suddenly, the rains came tumbling down. The visibility was 30%, we drove the Thar at 30Kms speed to reach Yevakapadi.

Day 4

Time to check out and take the 11 Hrs drive back to Chennai, and we left Yevakapadi at 6.00 am. Immediately after 1 Hr of drive, the dashboard alerted the air leakage in one of the rear tyres. The leak was quick as it was around 10 PSI, and it was a concern and checked the locals for a puncture shop. Drove 7 Kms to reach Virajpet for a puncture workshop, but it was early for the city to wake up. We waited for an hour to change the Stepney to continue our 600 Kms drive towards Chennai. It was a mixed feeling, but I recalled Karl Maxx’s quote, “Nothing is constant in this world”. Well spent three days testing our fitness, exploring the jungle with little fear, eating traditional Kodagu food and staying in one of India’s best resorts.

It will not be fair if I miss mentioning the courtesy of the staff and especially Madhusudhan, who took care of us 24×7. We enjoyed the trip thoroughly and reached home around 6.30 pm, safely. All through the journey, our angel guided us. Thank you, Regi!