October has been a month of travels and making memories that my heart will cherish forever, with one more to go before the month ends.
The month started off with the first long weekend road trip to Bandipur, a tiger reserve which is about 250 kilometers away from the City. This entire weekend was about memorizing the details like – driving in the jungle, the the person, the conversations, the mountains, the trees, the sounds, the smells, and the all the feelings that came with it, because as it was happening, I knew that this would be a memory that I will revisit when my heart needs some solace from the world.
But this post is not about that weekend. Simply because I’m afraid if I write about it, I might not remember the details with as sharp a clarity as I do now, and somethings are meant only for our souls. But here are two of my favorite photos from that weekend.
Now back to the weekend that this post is actually about- the super long weekend road trip which started off with the promise of elephants and the golden temple, and yes I got to see both, so my heart is still reveling in the memories of this trip.
Coorg or Kodagu, as it is more colloquially known is about 270 kilometers from Bangalore.It took us about six and a half hours to drive up, with an hour and a half long breakfast stop.
The place is utterly beautiful, and has all the elements of a small town, enough to give city girls like me all the feels.
On day One – After reaching the hotel and having lunch, I went to the spa, got a wonderful massage and spent the whole evening (extending up to the wee hours of the morning) playing cards with my people.
On day Two – I went to the Golden Temple at the Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe, it is also called Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery, which is about 15 kilometers from Kushalnagara. The Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery is the largest teaching center of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in the world.
The temple is beautiful and peaceful, despite the big crowd. If you can, plan your trip during an off season month, so you can actually sit and enjoy the present moment at the temple, and spend the afternoon listening to the monks chant their prayers accompanied by the rhythmic beating of the drums. I can almost hear it now.
The place itself is beautiful, colorful paintings on every wall, and beautiful gold details everywhere you see, its all too much and deserves a longer visit to soak up all the little details, after all, love is in the details. And the folks that built this temple know it.
One thing I would definitely recommend is to plan to spend a whole day here, you can see the monks do their chores with so much sincerity, which is a living embodiment of simple tasks done well.
On day three – I went to Dubare Elephant Camp, one of my most awaited places of which I’ve been dreaming, for close to a year. When I finally got there, it was a mixed bag, as is with anything that has been long anticipated.
Mixed feeling number 1 came in the form of less elephants on the campsite owing to the Dasara celebrations and parade at the neighboring town of Mysore. There were about ten elephants in all, including a baby. The baby playing with no care in the world was a joy to watch.
Mixed feeling number 2 came in the form of long lines. We had to wait for an hour to get on the boat that took us to the campsite, and another hour to get on the boat again to come back to shore. The waiting didn’t bother me as much as the number of people around. There were people EVERYWHERE.
It was our own doing I suppose, having planned the trip during one of the biggest festivals in India (Durga Puja & Dasara).
Now back to the elephants – heavens know that I love elephants, I love them for their kindness, their humanity, their majesty, their sheer existence. I would have loved this place more if the elephants weren’t chained. It broke my heart too much to see these gentle beasts chained up and shackled, and dragged around for our amusement.
But it did make me happy to be in such close proximity of them, enough to hug, feed and pet them, but my mind registered their chains as well. It was a bittersweet moment.
My biggest recommendation for anyone planning a trip to Dubare is to plan it on a weekday during an off-season. Get there early, so you can even play with the elephants as they bathe, and basically chill with them for half the day. The camp is open from 7 am to 12:30 noon. And reopens only between 4 pm and 5 pm. I personally would recommend mornings to visit this place.
On day three (evening) – we drove uphill to Madikeri, and wandered around the town aimlessly, before heading back to our hotel for a late dinner.
On day four – Which was my dad’s birthday, we had cake and breakfast and drove back to the City.
And just like that the trip had concluded, we were back at home, back to checking work emails, back to real life.
But here is something I noticed on both the weekends – during the time spent with all the people I was with, I noticed as they were happening that these would be moments that I will keep going back to. The memories that are now part of my happy place.
Life is short, our time here is so limited, and often we forget that and get busy in our routines. As I am writing this post, I can’t help but smile with gratitude for all that has happened so far.
To the people that were part of my weekends, we will always have those moments, and you will always have a piece of me that no one else will. For you, and our time, I will forever be grateful.
Until next time, love.