AN APPEAL: Journalist P.T. Bopanna is shocked by reports of tourists turning the holy places into spots for merry-making, garbage-dumping and a place for open cooking.  Equally shocking is the callous attitude of the Kodagu district administration and local panchayat bodies in failing to discipline the tourists. This is an appeal going out to the tourists to respect the local sentiments and maintain cleanliness around Talacauvery, the birthplace of the sacred river Cauvery, and Bhagamandala, located on the foothills of Talcauvery, around 39 km from Madikeri.

Bhagamandala is the confluence of the sacred rivers of Cauvery and Kannike and legend has it that a third river Sujyothi, a subterranean stream, joins the two rivers. The Bhagandeshwara temple is located on the banks of the two rivers and is one of the important pilgrimage centers in Coorg. Pilgrims proceed to Talcauvery only after offering worship at Bhagamandala. It is customary for the Coorg men to shave their head at Bhagamandala in the event of a bereavement in the family.

The following is an interview given by Journalist Bopanna to Arre, an Indian entertainment content platform based in Mumbai, on what Cauvery means to people of Coorg.


As a community of nature worshippers, we think of ourselves as the offspring of the river because it originates from our land. It courses through our lives, from the time we are born until the day we die. Every landmark, every momentous occasion is marked by some association with the Kaveri.

Like every Kodava, I went to Talakaveri – the source of the river in Coorg and a holy spot for us – after I got married. At all our wedding ceremonies, a prayer is offered in the name of the river and the family’s ancestors. After the wedding, we go for a dip in the holy water. Another time, I’ve felt a kind of vibration. The waters seem to have a kind of strength… I am an agnostic, but I still felt the positivity.

The Kaveri figures not just in Kodava celebrations, but also in our grief. It is invoked in death. At the 11th-day ceremony after a person dies, the male family members shave their heads and go to the Talakaveri after visiting the Bhagamandala temple, for another dip in the river’s purifying waters. At home, the corpse is laid out in the house for people to pay their last respects, accompanied by a pot of Kaveri water. Then, tulsi leaves are dipped in the water and put on the dead person’s lips, a way for the deceased to attain moksha. The path to the gates of heaven flows through the Kaveri.

And yet we remain Kaveri’s forgotten children.

The relationship between the river and our land spans back centuries and yet the river has never been ours. It flows down to the plains where Karnataka and Tamil Nadu wage war over it, riot over it, fight for it to further their industries without even acknowledging its holiness.

They don’t celebrate Kaveri Sankramana every year in October, we do. This is the time when water from a pond at the Talakaveri gushes out; this holy water is called thirtha. On Kaveri Sankramana day, a bott, or a post-like thing with creepers, is put in the fields, near wells, or manure pits. It’s the time of the year for children to go a little wild. The women, who perform the puje, keep dosas as offerings at all the botts. After all the prayers, we would run to all these dosas and eat them in secret.

The Kodavas come together for the Kani Puje, to thank Mother Earth for the bounty received from Mother Kaveri. And the irony is that we receive nothing. We are caught in an endless cyle of water shortage, triggered by deforestation and large-scale environmental devastation. But our worship of Kaveri never stops.

To date, children in Coorg grow up listening to stories about the river, which marks its presence even in our traditional dress.

According to one legend, the sage Kavera Muni chose Brahmagiri in Coorg to meditate. He prayed to Brahma for children, who granted his prayers by giving him a daughter in the form of Lopamudra (also called Kaveri).

Lopamudra married sage Agastya on the condition that he wouldn’t stay away from her even for a moment. So one day, Agastya put his wife in his kamandala, a water pot, and went for a bath. Lopamudra got so angry at this that she spilled out of the pot and started to flow like a raging river. She washed over all the Kodava women, who pleaded with her to stop her from leaving their land. The story goes that she washed over them with such force, that their saris swept from front to back. Even now, Coorg women pleat their saris at the back, instead of the front.

And yet our voices go unheard. Each successive Karnataka government has been unjust to Kodagu, withholding funds for the Bethri project, to supply water to Madikeri town from Kaveri. This project has been in the pipeline since the 1980s. The Harangi dam project, which is in Kodagu, has been conceived over the river Harangi, a tributary of the Kaveri. However, the water available for irrigation in Kodagu is only 607 hectares, out of 54,591 hectares of the total irrigation potential. Thirteen villages in Kodagu have been submerged in the building of this dam. We don’t even get drinking water in Madikeri, which is facing an acute water shortage. The lack of water and neglect of irrigation facilities is because Kodagu lost political clout after the erstwhile Coorg state merged with Karnataka in 1956.

We don’t ask for separate statehood. All we ask is that Kaveri’s own land, her own children don’t perish from thirst. Kodagu is in the main catchment area of the Kaveri; we already bear floods and damage to roads and communication.

Kaveri’s anger does not deter us. We will forever be her children. Even if nobody acknowledges us.



Kodagu superintendent of police P. Rajendra Prasad (in picture) has also not been spared by touts soliciting business for homestays in Coorg.

Addressing a meeting recently at Madikeri, the SP recalled how his vehicle was stopped around midnight by agents of homestays, asking him whether he wanted to stay at their homestay. They scooted only after he revealed his identity.

With illegal homestays mushrooming in Coorg, touts are pestering tourists visiting the district. The SP went to the extent of saying these touts are posing a “law and order problem.”

It is not just the touts who are posing a problem. Cases of honey-trapping of tourists have been reported regularly in Coorg. It is no secret that many homestays are involved in flesh trade.

The concept of homestays in Coorg which was earlier meant to offer the tourist an authentic experience of living with a Coorg family and tasting some of the local cuisine, has now become a money-making racket.

The Kodagu district administration has to take the main blame for its failure to act against illegal homestay which outnumber government-recognised homestays.




By P.T. Bopanna

Is Kodagu (Coorg) district in Karnataka the ‘illegal’ homestays capital of India? Are these illegal homestays engaged in prostitution racket, gambling and rave parties?

The answer is in the affirmative because only 242 homestays are legal and the rest of the homestays estimated to number around 4,000 in Coorg are operating illegally.

According to a survey conducted by HolidayIQ, Karnataka had the highest concentration of homestays in the country with Coorg being ‘India’s homestay capital’.

Karnataka Tourism Minister Priyank Kharge (in picture) said 242 owners had registered their homestays in Coorg and another 357 were operating without registration.

The Karnataka government had introduced fresh guidelines for homestays last October and had fixed November 15 as the last date for registration. This was subsequently extended till December 1.

But a majority of homestays in Coorg are being operated illegally to avoid scrutiny. Some of the requirements for registration, include that the owners should stay in the premises and they should not offer more than five rooms for guests.

It is learnt that many homestays are operating resorts in the name of homestays to avoid payment of taxes. Many of these owners run a chain of such properties, in clear violation of the guidelines.

What is worrying is the fact that some of these homestays are known to indulge in illegal activities such as prostitution, gambling and rave parties.

An official was quoted as saying: “We have information that some homestays’ links to brothels in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru and Mumbai.”

Former minister M.C. Nanaiah, who was chairman of the committee to suggest measures for safety of women and children, has been quoted as saying “At least 3,000 homestays operate in the Malnad region without certification from the state tourism department. They offer rooms at rates much lower than the licensed homestays. Most of these places do not have families staying in them and are run by people with dubious credentials. These illegal activities cannot happen without the tacit support of police and local authorities.”

The blame for not cracking down on the illegal homestays should be taken by the district administration led by the deputy commissioner Dr Richard Vincent D’souza.

It is time the district administration cracked the whip on the owners of illegal homestays. If their activities are not checked, Coorg will go the way of Goa.

Must visit Top Ten luxury Coorg Homestays of all time

Spring Dale Plantations


Spring Dale Plantations
Arapattu, Kadaga, Virajpet-Napoklu Road,
Mob: 098459 89898
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.springdalecoorg.com

The school Estate


The School Estate
Tel: 08274-258 358,
Mob: 094486 47559
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.schoolestate.in

Bird of Paradise


Bird of Paradise
Sona Floral Farms, Kudamangalore
Kushal Nagar
Tel: 08276-278 980,
Mob: 098451 24026, 094484 60580
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.birdofparadise.in

The Kedakal Estate


The Kedakal Estate
Tel: 08272 239 250, 08272 239 140
Mob: 094482 84341
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.kedakal.com

Honey Pot Homes


Honey Pot Homes
C/o Sandal Cad Estate,
Ibnavalavadi Village, Madikeri
Mob: 094481 06100, 093419 98782
Web: www.honeypothomes.com

Silver Brook Estate Homestay


Silver Brook Estate Homestay
Ph: 08272-200107, 9449272703
Alt: 9945815485, 9242271987
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.silverbrookestate.com

Polaycad Estate


Polaycad Estate
Tel: 08274-252 240,
Mob: 094486 06066
Email: [email protected]

Kabbe Holidays


Kabbe Holidays
Chelavara Village, Cheyandane Post,
South Coorg
Tel: 08272-200 658,
Mob: 098459 94510
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.kabbeholidays.com



New Extension, Madikeri
Mob: 094481 93822
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.gowrinivas.com

Java Mane


Java Mane
Garandoor Village, Suntikoppa
Tel: 08276-262 225,
Mob: 098801 36574, 098450 72525
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.javamane.com

A Home in Coorg

Its elevation, and the salubrious climate that Coorg enjoys for the better part of the year, makes it an ideal holiday destination. Read more

Home Stay Mix-Ups!

Home-Stays have become so ubiquitous in Coorg that one can find umpteen places that offer hospitality on almost any road that you drive along. Just to be different, some of the homesteads call themselves Stay Homes!

Couple of weeks ago we had the newly married daughter and son-in-law of our friends visit us from Bangalore where they were recently posted. They were driving down and my wife gave them the directions to reach our place near Gonicoppal. My wife told them to ask for our place known as – Home Estate – after they pass the town named Thithimathi and neared Gonikoppal.

The newlyweds, both city-bred, were a trifle intimidated at the thickly forested area they were driving through. It was a little late in the evening and they were quite relieved on reaching Thithimathi, and drove along hoping to reach our place before it got dark.

After driving for about 5 minutes from Thithimathi, in their anxiety they stopped near a wayside teashop and asked how to get to Home Estate. The man enthusiastically told them that it was very near: ‘Drive about half-a-kilometer and it’s the big green gate on the right-hand side.’ Our young friends drove along, found the big green gate, and moved in much reassured to have reached their destination. As they parked their car near the large bungalow they were accorded a warm reception by a lady, and a servant came running to unload their luggage. Our friend’s daughter was quite confused because the lady did not look like her ‘Aunty’. They could not contact us on their mobile, as the signal was weak. After some enquires, the mistake was realized, and they resumed their drive towards Gonikoppal. Again, anxious not to get lost they asked a pedestrian the way to ‘Home Estate’. They were told to enter the large black gate on the left-hand side after crossing the bridge. The black gate was open and after a short drive through the coffee estate, they found themselves in front of a beautiful house with a well-manicured garden. A man came and asked them if they had advance booking because the place was full. Bewildered they were back on the road again. Soon they reached Gonikoppal town, and the signal on their mobile was back to full strength. The young lady called my wife and further directions were given and ten minutes later they were at our place.

After they settled down and had a cup of tea, they told us how they were directed to two different places when they asked for directions to ‘Home Estate’. It took us a while to figure out the confusion because of the audio similarity in ‘Home Estate’ and ‘Home-Stay’.

A week later, around noon, a car full of youngsters pulled up in front of our gate. They wanted to stay in our Home-Stay for two days. They were perplexed when I told them that ours was not a Home-Stay. ‘We were directed to your place by two different set of people,’ they tried to argue. I had to explain to them, rather painfully, the difference between Home-Stay and Home Estate!

cpbelliappaThe content for this article was provided by C. P. Belliappa

Karnataka to make online registration of Homestays compulsory

To weed out bogus homestays, Karnataka government has made it mandatory for all homestay owners to register their homestays in the tourism department portal.

Sources in the tourism department said a government order will be issued shortly directing homestay owners to register their facilities before November 15, 2016, failing which legal action would be initiated.

The online registration has to be done through the tourism department portal www.karnatakatourism.org.

An official noted that even the existing registered homestay owners too need to upload the facilities available at their homestays in the portal.

Meanwhile, tourism minister Priyank Kharge has been quoted as saying: “All homestays have been directed to register on or before November 15. Failing this, legal action will be taken against them and will be shut down. The objective of homestays is to give a homely, traditional environment with quality service.”

The minister said the number of complaints from domestic and foreign tourists against homestays has been increasing. This involves shoddy premises, security issues and lack of basic facilities. There are also cases of flesh trade rackets being run in the name of homestays. Many resorts are claiming to be homestays to evade taxes.

For instance, in Kodagu (Coorg) district alone, only 404 out of an estimated 4,000 homestays are registered. The process of registering an additional 29 homestays is in progress.

Illegal homestays provide accommodation to the guests through middlemen and do not maintain any register or collect ID card proof from the visitors.

Coorg Homestay Association has urged the superintendent of police   P Rajendra Prasad to initiate action against homestays functioning without valid permission. Tracking un-authorised homestays in the district has become a challenging task for the authorities.

The SP said, “The homestays should install CCTV camera and maintain a register. The homestay owners should collect a proof of ID card and address from the visitors. A visit of a foreign national should be informed to the nearest police station.”

As per a HolidayIQ report, Karnataka has the highest concentration of homestays, with Coorg being India’s homestay capital.

Kodagu’s Charms

To say Kodagu is a tourist haven would be an understatement. The district has many interesting sights, from cascades, peaks to ancient temples and tombs, writes P T Bopanna

The scenic Kodagu (erstwhile Coorg) district is a tourist paradise for nature lovers. Kodagu is not the sort of place for the routine tourist, undertaking a ‘package tour’. It is for those who want to soak in nature.

Kodagu shares one of its boundaries with Kerala. The landlocked district is not connected by train or air. The only way to reach this nature’s resort is to take a bus ride from Mysore, Mangalore or Hassan cities. Madikeri (known earlier as Mercara), the district headquarters of Kodagu, is 120 km from Mysore and 260 km from Bangalore.

Though Kodagu is dotted with several towns like Virajpet, Kushalnagar, Somvarpet, Gonikoppal and Pollibetta, only Madikeri and Kushalanagar to some extent, have good tourist facilities. There are not many clean budget hotels in Kodagu. Most tourists prefer to stay at ‘home stays’ spread across Kodagu, including at Madikeri. The home stays are mostly located away from the towns and housed in the midst of coffee plantations.

Home stays are a big draw
Home stays involve either sharing homes with the resident family or staying in independent bungalows. They offer an opportunity to enjoy the legendary hospitality of the Kodavas, the predominant community of Kodagu. There are an estimated 1,000 home stays in Kodagu, catering to various categories of tourists.

The tariff could range from around Rs 800 a couple per day to Rs 3,000, depending upon the facilities and location. Kodagu’s roads are a driver’s nightmare. Though the region has emerged as a major tourist destination, not much it seems, has been done to improve road connectivity and tourist infrastructure.

Madikeri is dotted with red-tiled bungalows and has an old world charm about it. Madikeri has several interesting tourist spots. The Raja’s Seat in Madikeri offers a breathtaking view of the towering hills and green valleys studded with paddy fields, and could be considered one of the most scenic spots in South India. Raja’s Seat attracts a lot of tourists and morning walkers. For the nature lover, the ideal time to visit the spot is in the morning when the first rays of the sun pierces through the mist covered valley. Madikeri Palace of the erstwhile Kodagu Rajas located inside the Fort, now houses the offices of the Deputy Commissioner. The brick and mortar structure was built in 1814.

The Omkareshwara temple in Madikeri was built by Lingarajendra II in 1820 in the Mohammedan style of architecture with a dome at the centre and four turrets at the four corners. The temple is akin to a Muslim dargah with a Linga installed near the entrance door.

Gaddige, or the tombs of kings Veerarajendra and Lingarajendra at Madikeri, is one of the important monuments of Kodagu. The hillock where the tombs are located is to the north of Madikeri and provides a commanding view of the town. The tombs are in the style of Mohammedan edifices with domes in the centre and turrets at the corners. Abbey Falls is a picnic spot eight km from Madikeri town, where water from the Madikeri stream gushes down from a height of 70 feet. It is a treat to watch the torrent of water in the monsoon season between July-October.

Talacauvery, the birthplace of the sacred river Cauvery, is located on the slopes of Brahmagiri Hill. Besides being a pilgrimage centre, Talacauvery is known for its natural beauty. On Tula Sankaramana day in the middle of October, thousands of pilgrims flock to the birthplace of the river to witness a sudden upsurge of water in a small pond, at a predetermined auspicious time. This gushing of water from the small pond is considered a miracle.

Bhagamandala is at the foothills of the Talcauvery. It is eight km downstream from Talacauvery and 39 km from Madikeri. Bhagamandala is at the confluence of the sacred rivers Cauvery and Kanike and legend has it that a third river Sujyothi, a subterranean stream, joins the two rivers here.

The Rajiv Gandhi National Park (Nagarahole) is one of the best maintained game parks in India. The Nagarahole (meaning snake river in Kannada) sanctuary derives its name from the serpentine river which flows through the park.

Irupu Falls, located 48 km from Virajpet on the way to Kutta from Gonikopppal, is both a picnic spot and a pilgrimage centre. The Falls is located in Kurchi village, not far from the Rajiv Gandhi National Park. A stream flowing down the Brahmagiri hill range plunges down 170 feet in two stages with a resounding roar into a rocky valley surrounded by dense forest.

Bylekuppe near Kushalanagar is one of the largest Tibetan settlements in South India. The settlement, set up in 1960, is dotted with several monasteries. Prominent among these are the Great Gompa of Sera Je and Sera Mey and the Namdroling monastery. The gold-coated Buddhist statues in the monastery are imposing and unique, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of the Tibetans. Tourists can shop for handicrafts, carpets, incense, sweaters, dress material and other accessories.

Cauvery Nisargadhama is a breathtakingly beautiful island off the state highway, two km from Kushalanagar town and 28 km from Madikeri. The 64-acre island, surrounded by the Cauvery river, can be accessed by walking across a hanging bridge.

Established in 1989, the picturesque picnic spot with lush foliage of thick bamboo groves, sandalwood and teak trees has lovely river-side cottages. The Harangi dam, built across river Cauvery, is located eight km from Kushalanagar. Behind the dam is a vast reservoir. On the banks of the reservoir stands a temple of Basavanna. Dubare Elephant Training Camp, located 15 km from Kushalanagar, on the banks of the Cauvery river, is run by the Karnataka government-owned Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd. A visitor can spend hours simply watching and interacting with elephants, some of which have participated in the Mysore Dasara festivities.

Virajpet town, 32 km from Madikeri, is a taluk headquarters. The town, situated at the foot of a hill, is well connected by road to the coastal Kerala towns of Kannur and Tellicherry.

The Clock Tower is the most visible landmark in Virajpet, erected in 1914 to commemorate the Delhi Durbar of King George V. Another important landmark of Virajpet is St. Anne’s Church built in the Gothic style in 1868.

Tadiyandamol peak (1,745 meters) is the highest peak in Kodagu and poses an exciting challenge to seasoned trekkers. The peak is located in the south-eastern part of Kodagu and is 8 km from the town of Kakkabe which is 35 km from Madikeri. A steep serpentine path from the Nalaknad Palace, leads to the Tadiyandamol peak from where on a clear day, one can view the distant Arabian Sea.

Off the beaten track
But, if you are one of those who wants to take the path not trodden, then, you should probably be exploring Mandalpatti, Mallalli Falls or Honnamana Kere, for instance. The fog-covered awe-inspiring mountains around Mandalpatti, located 20 km from Madikeri, is perhaps the most unexplored region of Kodagu till recently. The presence of treacherous curves makes it risky to travel by road from Madikeri to Mandalpatti during the monsoon.

The forest department has constructed a watchtower atop the mountain which provides a magnificent view of the Pushpagiri mountain range.

The villagers assemble at the mand (village plains) during the annual Hutthari festival for staging sports events and other cultural activities. In recent years, Mandalpatti has emerged as a popular venue for film shooting because of the scenic location. Mallalli Falls, located 25 km from Somvarpet, is one of the most beautiful water falls in Kodagu. The Kumaradhara river takes a plunge from over 200 feet, creating a spectacular sight. The Falls which lies in the foothills of the Pushpagiri hill ranges is situated in Bettadahalli Gram Panchayat in Somvarpet taluk.

The water falls into a gorge which is surrounded by steep lush green hillocks, making it an ideal place for trekking.

Honnamana Kere is perhaps the biggest lake in Kodagu, situated at Doddamalthe, six km from Somvarpet town, amidst beautiful hills and coffee plantations. During the Gowri festival, a special pooja is conducted and ‘Bagina’ is offered to goddess Honnamma. Newly wed couples visit the lake to make offerings. It is an ideal place for boating and fishing.