India - Christmas in the Western Ghats
Updated: Nov 24
Leaving Kannur in the direction of Madikeri, I (Nina) had to face a special challenge. After having changed my ayurvedic medicine the evening before (as prescribed by the doctors), I had quite a strong diarrhea. As I felt healthy and ok, I did not pay much attention to it, but a 6 hour bus journey was not really what I was looking for. Anyway, we were lucky. Being the first ones on the bus, we were sitting in prime position in the front row with a perfect view. After 1 hour of travelling, we realised that theses seats were essential for a good journey. The driver was driving like crazy and the road was really curvy. The result: we were nearly the only one not feeling sick and not in need of some sickness bags. Instead we were enjoying the drive up the Western Ghats. As the bus had no windows anyway and the engine was very noisy, we did not even hear or smell that the co-passengers were all doing really miserable. Even my colon was quiet. Luck was on our side this time.
After nearly 6 hours we arrived in the dusty town of Madikeri which is nestled in between beautiful rolling hills. The landscape looked amazing. We went out to look for a rickshaw and easily got one to a fair prize to get to our final destination: the Rainforest Retreat , an ecolodge tucked away in the forest. The ride on the rickshaw was nearly 1 hour and really bumpy (which woke up my colon and I had to train some specific muscles ;-)). But it was worth it. We arrived at the remote lodge. Our small and rustic cottage was a 15 minute walk away from the dining area and the middle of nowhere. We had our own fireplace in the room, an outdoor bathroom (the first thing I saw in the cottage). We got hot water for the shower by heating a huge bowl of water on the open fire (there is a solar panel solution, but we did not have enough sun those days) - and then it was a bucket shower. GREAT - and a real adventure. All the food is grown biologically on the farm - and one can taste this. Everything was so delicious. But still - there was one problem: my diarrhea. After dinner it got really bad and because of all my surgeries some years ago, I got quickly dehitrated. As we were really remote in the forest, I decided to be safe and go to the hospital as I did not know why I had this problem. I driver of the lodge took us there. Well, it was a private hospital and the first thing I thought was: "oh my good, I do not want to see a public hospital then....". I had to lay down on a bed which, well, more than stained. The doctor came in quickly wearing a battle dress. No angel in white - this guy was ready for a fight! It made me laugh. But he was friendly, checked me and said: you must stay here for the night.
Well, I first wanted to know what my problem was. His quick answer was: food poisoning. OK, finally we agreed that I could take some medicine especially for the dehidration and we went back to the lodge. I really did not feel sick enough to stay in this place. After returning and taking the medicine, I quickly felt better and had a good sleep. Some days later I discovered that the cause of my problems was not food poisoning at all. My poor stomach simply did not like a specific ayurvedic tablet - that was all. So, all problems solved and after a tough start in the Coorg we finally could enjoy this wonderful place.
The first day we took it really easy. A nice breakfast with homemade bread, curries, idly, fresh fruits and self-crown tea was followed by some hammock time. After a wonderful lunch (I was feeling much better at that time) we went for a walk around the hills of the lodge before we enjoyed a nice bonfire. At night it was getting freezing cold (around 0-10 degrees). We had not been really prepared for this, but the open fire helped a lot. The other guests were a great mixture of indians and westeners and we were all talking and exchanging our stories. These evenings were really like what travelling is all about. Wonderful! This was christmas eve. We slept to the sound of frogs, crickets, wild dogs and other animals. What can you wish more for christmas!
The following day, christmas day, we had our own driver who took us to Bylakuppe where
the Golden Temple and the buddhist monastry is. It was cheaper, faster and easier to have our own driver than to take a riskshaw to town and a bus to Kushalnagar and another rickshaw to Bylakuppe. And, we could also go and visit other places with our own driver as well - so, no question what to do. It was kind of funny to celebrate christmas in the buddhist temple together with hordes of indian tourists. The monastry was stunning and had a great energy. The temples were so beautiful! It took us quite some time to leave the place again. On our way back we stopped at the Abbi Falls, a nice but not really spectacular waterfall near Madikeri, before we had lunch in Madikeri. After lunch we headed to the Rajas Seat, a nice garden overlooking the hills and Madikeri. It was a bit too crowded for our taste. Finally we also visited the oldest temple of the region, the Omkhareshwara Temple, in the heart of Madikeri. It is a beautiful and really well maintained temple. Even non-Hindus were allowed to participate in the ceremony. So we got darshan (blessing). We ended the day with a visit at a small and hidden temple in the sacred forest. This temple a a really powerful energy and the surroundings were so peaceful. Overmore, no one was around, we were the only ones. It was a perfect day which ended with a wonderful dinner and lots of laughing with the other guests.
On our last day we went on a guided hike (it was included in the accomodation). It was a beautiful 3 hour hike up a hill with stunnning views. This part of India is wonderful and so far away of the hassle, the noise and the pollution. We loved every second. After a big lunch we relaxed in the hammocks for the rest of the day. We did not really want to leave the following day. Just the cold and the humidity at night was really getting to us and we had no spare clothes left. So after 4 nights we left paradies for a warmer climate.
Many thanks to Dave, Laurie, Sujata and the rest of the Rainforest crew who made our stay so wonderful and who took great care of us!