The best part about Saturday, our second day of the trip, was that we didnt have any fixed spots to visit. The '52 Weekend Getaways from Bangalore' travel guide said that the road from Kushalnagar (4 Kms from Bylakuppe) to Siddhapur and then to Madikeri was very picterusque and ideal for a bike ride. So that was our plan. Ride around the coffee estates and reach Madikeri before sunset.
For the second consecutive day, we didnt get to eat idly/vada and sambhar. The eatery in Kushalnagar had only Set Dosa for breakfast. The coffee though, had already started to taste distinctly different.
Our first stop on the way was Dubare where you can cross the Cauvery and get to see elephants being bathed from close quarters. It turned out to be another one of the tourist places with a long queue for the boat. A 10 minute halt and we decided to move on.
The ride to Siddhapur and then onwards to Gonikoppal more than lived up to the description in the book. Hardly any outside traffic, bright weather but not at all hot, and the road which snaked through small villages and coffee plantations lined with huge trees - it was just as we had wanted it to be. A little after Siddhapur, we took a diversion to see one Augusteshwara Temple in Guyya. The almost non existent, narrow road suggested that it was in no way a place people visited. 3 kms and 10 minutes later, we reached a temple on the banks of the Cauvery. Serene, quiet - apart from the chirping of birds and the distant drone of a cement mixer and very much isolated; and the surprises thrown in by diversions was continuing. We spent almost an hour there, sitting on the rocks near the river, observing red ant like insects in the temple and mostly trying to assimilate the calmness of the place. Like the Sakya monastery but in a much different setting, this place again made my mind wander to the life we lead in cities and how we hardly ever sit idle, doing nothing, thinking about nothing. I know I dont want to (I wont be able to) lead such a life, but once in a while it makes sense to cut oneself from the everyday drill and go to such a place. To use the cliche, it really soothes the nerves.
On the way back, a screw got stuck into Naman's bike and punctured the front tyre. I went to Siddhapur and fortunately found Rajiv who came along with me, pumped air into Naman's bike and somehow managed to take it to his shop. He asked me how we were liking Kodagu and I said, 'bahut khoobsoorat'.
The road from Siddhapur to Madikeri goes through the hills. It had rained a little in the afternoon. The road had become so hot during the day that the rain water was fast evaporating leading to a very misty appearance. Add to it the dense jungle on one side of the road and a drop on another and the ride had become even more exciting. There's a certain charm, a sense of discovery, when you are on the road. Because no matter how much you have read or heard about something, it invariably has the ability to surprise and at times astound you. Kodagu and its beautiful roads were doing just that to me. And I was loving every moment of it.
Finally, we reached Madikeri at around 4 o' clock and started looking for a hotel. As it turned out, everything had already been taken up by half of Bangalore which had come there to spend the long weekend. We tried calling the Sakya monsatery guest house but the number was out of order. Bylakuppe was around 50 Kms from Madikeri. Left without any other option, we decided to head there anyway. The Madikeri - Kushalnagar stretch was really bad. Till Suntikoppa, which was 10 Kms or so from Madikeri, it was still comfortable. We made a brief halt there to have coffee. But after that the ride was bad and back breaking. Bylakuppe, however, didnt let us down. We got the last available room. Apparently, people had discovered it and were coming back from Madikeri to find a place there!
Sunday would be our tick-off-places-to-see in Madikeri day. And we would take the Kushalnagar-Siddhapur-Madikeri route again instead of the direct one. And again, when your body is a little tired and you are so content at heart, sleep does come real easy.