IMG_3649.JPGNighoj Kund is 90 Km from Pune, Maharashtra in a village by the same name. Spreading across just 2 Km or more, the river Kukadi has carved out potholes that resemble a Martian landscape.

IMG_3638.JPGThe river stagnates at this stage to a shallow level, exposing the potholes on either side. It’s not a deep gorge as one can see during the summer, but the kUnd is part of the attraction, the main characteristic here is the potholes.

IMG_3653.JPGWe had learned so much about Nighoj Potholes, and Jayesh of Western Routes always announces group visits there, only during summer. These potholes are visible barely for less than two months.

IMG_3673.JPGThe monsoon fills up these craters of all frames and sizes may not be advisable to visit them to see the potholes.

IMG_3685.JPGMy first impression when I recently visited Nighoj Kund was a bit disappointing. I anticipated a more expansive coverage of this geological marvel, the potholes are centuries old, and these basalt rocks are geologist’s enchantment.

IMG_9763.JPGDuring acute summer the landscape changes drastically giving it the otherworldly upshot.

20170409_102350.jpgI could not avoid dropping off into a bathtub like a hole, sunbathed for quite a while. Some of the larger outcrops of rocks were layered in distinctive subtle shades, some even had shells embedded in the sediments.

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It’s worth watching your step while examining the strange outlines of cavities that the river etched as it swished and swirled around these basaltic rocks for centuries.

IMG_3637.JPGThe Nighoj Kund area is quite easily maintained, and considering its interior location in the village some of the smaller holes were filled with hay dump and a few plastic bottles.

IMG_3661.JPGLuckily the two Devi temples alongside the Kund safeguard the cleanliness initiative. The main Devi temple that towers above the kind has an interesting story, there are 9 such temples in the hamlet. According to the priest at the temple, goddess Devi carved out the gorge with her mere elbows.

IMG_9751.JPGThe temple compound provides the much-needed shade, do venture out here early morning, as the afternoon sun is unrelenting. We barely covered the Kund opposite to the newly constructed bridge. An ancient bridge could be viewed at a distance now abandoned.

IMG_3658.JPGDuring the height of monsoons the gorge fills up to prodigious levels and jumping into the gushing river makes it pleasurable. The potholes are completely submerged to form the riverbed. The incredible summer lunar landscape disappears only to appear until the succeeding year. These potholes and riverbeds are a mute testimony to our past and hold secrets of the river as also ecological insights.

IMG_3669.JPGNighoj Kund can be combined with temple visits nearby. The famous Ganpati temple and Devi temples of Nighoj. On your way out a fort built by Shivaji’s cousin is worth holding back for a quick look.

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Friendly villagers are quite overwhelmed by visitors to the hamlet, they will even tempt you to their homes for a meal and witness bullock cart (it’s not banned here) race on festive occasions.

IMG_4385.JPGRevisiting Coorg -with some last minute shopping to be done, I set out downtown, which is the pulse and marketplace of Coorg. Former glorious days these bustling towns catered to just bare essential ma and pa shops.

IMG_4328.JPGIt’s a far cry now with traffic snarls, narrow roads that intensify chaos amongst swelling crowds.

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The mid-90s witnessed a surge in tourist boom. The verdant forests, cool climate and manicured coffee estates are such an allure to this mountainous district in Karnataka. Home Stays (luckily in and around far-flung villages, coffee estates) and many Hotels (unfortunately around townships) have led to traffic woes and other adversities.

IMG_4372.JPGTourist preferences are indicative in these small towns of Coorg. The proliferation of restaurants catering to tourists from neighbouring states is inevitable. I was beyond shocked to see KFC (Kodagu for Chicken or something to that effect!).

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In Virajpet, several Delhi eating joints, Chaat shops, thankfully a few Kerala Paratha joints and Kerala cuisine, but North Indian food appears to have swept over local cuisine.

IMG_4374.JPGIndian tourists quite frankly are quite averse to trying out food other than what they are accustomed to, especially Vegetarians.

 IMG_4389.JPGCoorg Cuisine in Mercara, Main road, is one place not to avoid for the most authentic Kodava dishes.

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Girish Pemmaiah proudly serves well-known local cuisine handed over by his grandma a great cook and his Mother. He does show exasperation when tourists demand Dal Chaval and takes great trouble retaining and initiating them to Kodava food.

IMG_4393.JPGSome dishes like Pandi Curry Kadambutu, and Nuputu is to die for. Don’t miss the Bamboo curry, even though seasonal, at CC it’s available all year round.

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Authentic Coorg food is difficult to trace even in Mercara, couple another hole in the wall places exists but difficult to ascertain the quality of food.

COORG THEN AND NOW

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I found a sea change in the way Coorg has emerged from a sleepy coffee growing/farming district to hook on as a potential tourism destination.

IMG_4379.JPGTwo decades ago it was a chore driving down to my husband’s estate filled with potholes and bad roads. Today infrastructure has vastly improved, with smooth roads even in the deep interiors.

IMG_4387.JPGGarbage disposal was a problem, but now the District has that organised and maintains squeaky-clean streets, especially Mercara.

IMG_4438.JPGI remember climbing hilltop to catch network on my mobile, similarly that has greatly improved.

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The Kodavas guard their customs and traditions rather diligently especially in their hometown find progress slightly intrusive.

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The young Turks (Kodavas) on the other hand take great pride in nonconformity, welcoming change that is inevitable and returning home as was the norm.

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image8.JPGThe Nalknad is a palace full of covert windows and doors. The last Raja used this as his final outpost and refuge, the palace though secure as his hideout could not withstand the onslaught of the British army. Ironically Dodda Veerarajendra built this palace to commemorate his victory against Tipu Sultan ably assisted by the British!image1.JPG

A guide welcomed us and I distinctly remember asking him if this is a house like any other around these hills, why call it a palace?

image5.JPGOnce you step inside the simple architecture of the Nalknad, the fading geometrical designs, intricate colourful murals on the ceilings and walls, the carved pillars, this two-storied palace undeniably permeates everything royal.

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The secure palace compound wall that surrounds the palace is where some of the ingeniously designed hidden passageways begin. Just at the entrance is a veiled window, which acts as the guard’s secret viewing spot and also a secure room. The entrance door is massive and completely spiked to prevent any elephants from battering it down.

image4.JPGThe palace with many highlights – look out for bulky wooden latches on every door of the many tiny rooms that exist. Each latch simply slides into a wooden block ensuring secure closure of doors.

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The tunnel vision peephole is a decorative geometrical design open window panel that also doubles up as room ventilation. From a distant rear end of the building, one could directly watch the entrance through well-aligned narrow windows privately.

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The bathing room had a low partition within its interior for the actual bath area. There was no evidence of storage of water either hot or cold. The pots if at all must have vanished years ago.

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The Royal hideout was through various narrow passageways and stairs, steep leading to the hideout in the basement. Strangely there was no window or ventilation in that particular room. The wedding Mantap building exemplifies simplicity, this was built for the Raja’s sister’s nuptials.

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On our way out I met some government officials who had come to mark the presence of their visit. I categorically stated that this iconic building must be saved. The building is in a grave state of disrepair, the paintings are peeling off, and the floor is caving in certain places. The steps of the stairs were chipped, doors and windows disjointed, displaying apathy and disrespect to this iconic palace that could otherwise help tourism in Coorg.

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Coorg has some very charming spots , unquestionably the deep interiors are the place to see. The usual route tourists zone in like town-centric doesn’t give the true substance of Kodagu. There are buses and private taxis, most Hotels and Resorts provide such infrastructure. Take a ride through the fields and Coffee Estates of Coorg, soak in the sights, aroma and sounds of village life. Revisiting Coorg I lingered on many narrow country lane that opened out to sweeping vistas of pastoral life. Hustle bustle aside the countryside of Coorg is where one should be. Time slows down, it’s just the clear blue skies, chirping birds, beautiful backdrops and oh that heady aroma of coffee beans drying out in the scorching sun.#coorglandscapes #coorgdiaries #incredibleindia #coffeetime #coffeeland #prideofkarnataka #natgeotravel #natgeoindia #drinkcoffee #traveleatdrinkwrite #travelblog #travelgram #traveltodrinkcoffee #wheelsundermyfeet #instagrammer

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