When my uncle insisted I must visit this place, I wasn’t so sure….. It would have been a great miss if I had not heeded to the elder:) one’s wisdom.
My BIL and I started from Kumta on this bright Tuesday AM towards Honnavar. We have driven before to Kodani (About 45 KM from Kedige), but wanted to take a much less travelled road, so made a turn a little after the one towards Idagunji on NH 17, at Manki, via Gudemakki….. It was indeed a great drive…. Asked around many nice people that we met on the way the direction from their village to Kodani and finally reached my Uncle’s place.
The change in the terrain is dramatic. From the long stretches of sea facing greenery, almost flat, we were now entering the mountain ranges of Sahyadri, with thick, lush greenery cut through by many whitish streams/ rivers. Kodani itself is very close to the banks of the river Sharavathi (up river from Idagunji) and this region is a few KM’s from Gersoppa, on the opposite bank of the BH road to be accessed via Honnavar only.
After some kashaya and home made savories, we headed out from Kodani towards our destination – a true Emeraldescape location as I realized later…..
After about 6 KM by car through some of the greenest part of the western ghats, we reached the intersection of the muddy, windy road which would take us to our final destination. Although I was assured this road was motorable, I chose to leave my car behind on the tarmac and we started to walk the last leg of our journey to Mr Hegde’s house. It started to rain and the muddy, foot path we chose (as opposed to the motorable muddy road) was indeed a bad idea as it started pouring and the muddy road with a lot of water made it almost ‘quicksand-ish’. I lost my footwear several times, embedded deep within the slush, forked them out, used the rain water to clean the foot wear and my legs and moved on. We walked for a KM and half through some streams, narrow and slippery crossings made from stone slabs, wooden planks, areca stems and the like, all through marveling at the cloud bearing mountain ranges, that were Greeeeen and white, as if it were from a movie set:) (isn’t it ironic, how the frame of reference has changed over the years for city dwellers – from back yard to movie sets:)). The foot path took us through many a plantation that had mainly areca nut, beetle leaves, pepper and such other cash crops. It was indeed hard to separate the lush forest greenery from these plantations as they almost blended in to each other.
After about 20(25) min of a hike, we arrived at the Hegde residence. A simple abode built on one of the edges of his 8 acre farm. We quickly set out to explore his farm. I wasn’t quite sure when he grabbed his sickle when we started, but eventually understood the need for the same. It pours in these parts during the monsoon and every square inch supports rich vegetation that’s so dense, the shrubbery needs clearing by sickle’s to move forward. We started to walk his unique farm half of which are planted with areca nut, beetle leaves and pepper and the other half left as a jungle….
Mr Hegde practices organic farming to the core, does not use any chemical fertilizers, recycles the bio mass from his farm/ his part of the forest and also his cow shed. He even had experimented with a small gober gas plant using commercially available plastic drums and the like to harness bio gas, which he seems to have eventually given up on as non viableL
The farm is unique in the way its irrigated as well. There are a couple of ponds on higher ground that are fed by the perpetual streams which are rain fed during monsoon and later through ground water. The same double up as a good spots for a relaxed bath in the summer months. We managed to get to the edges of his farm clearing bush as we went, managed to sight 3 different species of snakes, mildly venomous we were told and returned to his house. The surprise package though was the leeches that had crept up our legs that we just hadn’t noticed. When we got to clean up our footwear and legs from the slush did we notice small blackish crawly’s clinging on to our skins. Managed to get them off using the local technique of dabbing the area with ‘sunna’ the lime stone paste used along with beetle leaves. Its only during the peak monsoon that there would be leeches here, but it’s a marvel as to how powerful their saliva is – the bleeding does not stop immediately – they say one loses as much blood bleeding as much as the suckers would have – well sucked up:)
As if to calm us down, Mr Hegde offered honey – collected from the apiary in his farm and the taste of it was – heavenly. I instantly went back to my childhood days when we would taste fresh honey, brought in to town by visiting relatives from their home town, adjoining Coorg. Yummy…… More dollops of honey and some coffee later, we marched back to our car, reminiscing the simple life these folks lead, in the lap of nature, gathering/ growing in harmony (and honey:)) with nature, educating their children for a brighter future, many of whom (like Mr Hegde himself – a qualified mechanical engineer, now committed to the cause of organic farming, preservation of local species of cows and such other nature friendly choices of a lifestyle) return to tend to the farms, back in to the lap of nature.
My BIL couldn’t help but recollect his childhood days when he had visited these parts during his summer breaks from school. We immediately began to compute the value of fresh produce, clean air, copious, fresh, clean water, a healthy blend of work and life V/S the city life (he is a Charted Accountant:)).
We almost immediately just gave up on it. Its futile (absurd we argued later) to compare the richness of mother nature’s bounty with man-created riches – all of which have come in to conflict with our very existence on this planet – in stark contrast to what my nieces 6th grade chemistry text espouses – plastics it seems, have helped the environment by replacing wood:). I am sure the context is different in the text but try explaining that to a 11 year old :).
We soon arrived at our car, drove back to Kodani for a very late lunch at my uncle’s place ; a simple yet lip-smackingly tasty fair (wood fired flavours and all) after which we drove back to Kumta – this time via familiar roads – with rains drenching us (the car) all through.
Once I arrived at Kedige, my nephew jokingly remarked – “you seem to be planning a shoot for a before/ after ad film for car shampoo:)”
Once settled in, we decided to return to this emeraldescape destination in Dec, post the rains on a 4X4, driving through the mud road (yes one can drive, perhaps easily on a 4X4 as opposed to a car and enjoy the adrenaline rush:)) stay longer, over night perhaps, to experience the proximity to the jungle – hopefully listening to the ‘Jungle Rhythm’ and sounds, gazing at the countless stars through the winter night, on a terrace/ machan, whatever we can manage at that time. Stay tuned for part 2 of this story…., better still, join us during Dec 2015.
PS: It was raining so hard, I could barely get out my phone for pictures (Camera, safely tucked away in the car) snaps I managed, included.