Driving through the winding roads engulfed in mist and clouds in the Western Ghats, with countless waterfalls emanating from the hills was quite a memorable experience. The picture postcard scenery was an eclectic mix of green meadows over the hills, valleys, and the monsoon clouds which promised more rain.
After a few hours of driving in the gentle drizzle, we finally reached our destination in Chikmaglur and were in for a surprise as our hosts brought out trays of piping hot samosas. Sitting in the verandah overlooking the coffee estate embedded with pepper vines clambering over the huge silver oak trees with occasional wild creepers and ferns, we felt like we were in paradise. As the rain settled down, I chose to walk along the stream within the estate. The sound of flowing water soothed my soul . The monsoon had indeed cast its spell on me.
The birds chirping around added magic to the atmosphere. A purple sunbird soaked in the rain, was playing with the rain drops on a copper pod tree .It was delightful to watch the antics of this beautiful bird.
I wanted my family to experience this and so went back to get them. We set out down the path and settled near the stream. The kids enjoyed the place. Throwing a pebble in water and watching the ripples disappear was the one activity that they did not tire of. Collecting shells and playing with water kept us all occupied for quite a while. The gurgling stream and the wind chime swaying in the air had the effect of a delightful lullaby and we lost ourselves in the atmosphere.
The next day we chose to trek around the coffee estate. Did you know that Coffee was introduced to India by Saint Baba Budan? It all began with a handful of coffee beans from Mocha in Yemen, and he planted them in the hills around Chikmagalur. The Baba Budan hills are now vibrant with lush coffee plantations.
Coming back to our holiday, we realized that one should not miss the safari ride into the Bhadra wildlife sanctuary. It was the lure of a tiger sighting that had us all excited but the sanctuary is home to a large variety of flora and fauna and it is regarded as one of the best Wildlife Sanctuaries in India. The lush vegetation and lofty hill ranges are a beautiful spectacle. A peafowl perched on a tree was enjoying the rain.
The raindrops on its feathers resembled sparkly shiny diamonds. There is so much more to this beautiful bird. It is so beautiful that Lord Krishna chose its feather to adorn his crown. Similarly, the Mauryan dynasty founded by Chandra Gupta Maurya was named after the peacock and it went on to become their emblem and then of course there is world famous peacock throne of Shah Jahan that had two peacocks facing each other.
A sound at a distance suddenly brought me back to our safari. We sighted the Malabar giant squirrel, gaur, some sambar deer and elephants. During the course we also saw the big teak tree called Jagara Giant with a girth of 5.21 mts and aged about 300 years and it was one of the attractions of the sanctuary.
Later in the day we set out to catch the sunset from a viewpoint nearby the reserve. The panoramic view of the sunset was indeed awesome. The sun displaying various shades of red shimmered in its glory before it finally disappeared behind the surrounding hills. I was at a loss of words to explain what I witnessed. As John Muir quotes “Keep close to Nature’s heart and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
It was time to bid adieu to this magical place. But not before promising myself that I will come back again to listen to the sounds of the wild, the whispering wind and the gurgling stream and another tryst with the monsoons.
By Poornima Kannan