Sunday, January 17, 2010

Vacation in Malnad

Malnad, the colloquial form of Malenaadu which translates to mountainous region, is the greenest part of Karnataka. I feel lucky for hailing from Thirthalli, which is located in the heart of Malnad. Most part of my Christmas vacation was spent at my granny's place, a small village about 3km from Thirthalli town and surrounding places mostly in Shimoga district.

It was the betel nut harvesting season and people were as busy as bees peeling the betel nut, cooking and drying it, fighting and cursing the unseasonal rains. Betel nut a.k.a areca nut grows in areca palm plantations which are abundant in malnad region due to its tropical climate. The betel nuts come in bunches of drupes, after peeling the skin the central kernel is soft (hard if the drupe is dry) which is cut into two halves. When it fills the entire receptacle, its cooked with bark of jambhul fruit tree that gives the betel nut the purplish red colour. It's then sun dried for few days before its packed and sent for selling. Below are few photographs of the betel nut processing.

We got little time out to visit the great Kannada poet, Venkatappa's (Kuvempu) abode and his graveyard at Kuppali too.

We also lazed around in Jogi Gundi, Agumbe, a small natural lake in the middle of the forest. It was fun to sip sweet rum on the banks of the lake. The sunset point was disappointing due to various reasons - clouds, crowd and clutter. The place was dirtied to such an extent that I kept wondering why we Indians don't believe in "Cleanliness is Godliness". The idea of camping on Kundadri was turned down by the police officer who told us that it's unsafe in Agumbe to venture out at night due to Naxal problems. We had to sleep at Kasthuri akka's Doddamane. Though it was a torrid night worsened by mosquitoes. We also happened to goto the summit of Kundadri only to be disappointed more by mist and drizzle. But the best part of Agumbe was the simple pleasures of life we enjoyed by sipping the rum at Jogi Gundi and by the moonlit riverside.

We got to see the laidback town of Nagara too. Personally its one of my favourite places, I just love the red tiled houses, the fort of Shivappanayaka from which the panorama of the town is breathtaking, the little river that flows inside the town, the pools of Devagange.

I was also lucky to see the backwaters and storage areas at Sharavathi upstream in the town of Kargal. The town reminded me of Masthikatte, where I was brought up for the first few years of my life, well organized colony with silence as its most prominent trait. I made it to Jog falls too, but it hardly had any water flowing down the cascade, since the river is dammed at Linganamakki.

An architectural marvel was found in a tiny village of Bheemana katte near Thirthalli (on Agumbe road). A narrow yet beautiful cable bridge is constructed across the river here, which it seems attracts great crowd from nearby places. Though it's meant for pedestrians, the bikers somehow maneuver on it deftly.

I happened to do quite a bit of children photography. I love doing children photography for every moment is very elusive. The new EOS Speedlite 470EXII came in very handy.

The vacation of course was a great break from noisy, dusty Bangalore. It was a great relaxation in the verdant world of Malnad.
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