Madikeri is a hill station town in Karnataka state, India. Also known as Mercara,
it is the headquarters of the district of Kodagu. It is a popular tourist destination.
I stayed at Madikeri for two weeks this summer. It was an exciting trip that brought back so many of my childhood memories. I had gone to Madikeri before with my parents when I was 6 or 7. Only this time, I went alone.
I flew to Bangalore where I was picked up at the Bangalore airport by a family who had known me since I was just a baby. Nitin (the father), Neha (the mother), Rahi (the elder sibling) and Sufi (the younger sibling). I had known Rahi since he was an infant (in fact, I was there when Nitin and Neha brought him home) and I was two. Sufi was just a baby when I went previously.
Sufi to the left, Rahi in the middle and Me at the right
We went travelled to Coorg via Mysore from Bangalore. That night, we stayed at Mysore. The concept of 'homestays' is very popular in many parts of Kodagu (Coorg), Mysore and Bangalore. Homestays are where people stay at a house for a few days and pay the rent to the owner/caretaker. It is like renting a house but only for a few days. This is done so that the owner can earn money for the maintenance of the house/mansion. All the houses there, are ancestral except a few buildings and most of the shops. Most of the common people in Coorg have/work in estates. These estates grow only coffee, spices, and cocoa beans as Madikeri is situated in the western ghats.
Neha and Nitin have a huge ancestral house with a few small houses and trees in the front yard and backyard. There is this huge tree in their front yard which has a swing tied to it. It was tied during my last visit, when me and Rahi were still very young. But we both remember that time very clearly. Both Rahi and I were insisting on throwing the ropes to the men standing on the tall tree while Nitin kept denying our pleas because red ants were biting those poor men...😅
Neha and Nitin have many trees in their backyard. The fruits from the trees include a variety like butter fruit, mulberries and even cherries! The fruits were indeed very juicy and delicious!
Along with trees, they also had two dogs named Tom and Jerry. Tom was the alpha male of the litter while Jerry was the youngest pup. Tom had shiny black fur and eyes the color of molten gold. Jerry, on the other hand, had a rich shade of gold for his fur and cute, warm brown eyes. Both the dogs were buff and formidable looking but in reality, they were such sweethearts, that you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.
I made a lot of friends there. The family had quite a few neighbours who I immediately took a liking to. Rahi, Nikhil, Monica (Nikhil's sister and my best friend), Sufi, Teja (Monica's and my best friend) and I spent a lot of time roaming around town with no particular destination in our minds. We did loads of shopping in the city. Nitin even took us to a fair!
We had a lot of fun there, we sat in public places and played truth or dare, we ran around. In short, we bonded so closely that a few people mistook us to be cousins! All of us looked similar except Rahi and Sufi who were smaller and fairer than the rest. We had a lot of fun. We did whatever we wanted to but we tried our best to not cross the limits.
I truly loved everyone and every part of Madikeri. Later that week, Neha took Rahi, Sufi, Nikhil, and me to get cool haircuts at Kushalnagar. I got side bangs, Sufi got a chinese style cut, Rahi and Nikhil got military cuts.
Later that day we played 21 questions and found out we had a lot in common. Music, movies, cars, sports, almost everything! I came to know more about the Kodavas that day. Neha told me a lot about them. Their eating habits, clothing
The traditional dresses of men and women of the Kodava tribe are very interesting. The men wear dhotis with a turban and kurtas with short and decorative daggers hanging from their belts while women wear sarees with the pleats tucked in the back.
The Kodava language has no separate script of its own. So, it is written in Kannada but it is spoken differently. The Kodavas have always been hunters and planters. They eat all types of meats. Their food and traditions are a little similar to Gauls as they drink wine and eat pork at almost all festive occasions.
If you ever go to Madikeri, I suggest you just take a day off and roam around with no destination in mind. But the toy train, the raja's seat, and the raja's fort are a must see.
If the problem is packing, carry at least one sweater and be sure to carry a lot of socks, jeans and t-shirts. One or two dresses are okay...Also, be sure to carry sneakers, trekking shoes or any types of sports shoes and rain boots because rains in Madikeri lead to mudslides, slushy roads and huge puddles (which are fun to jump in!)
I went to one of my friends estate and it was simply awesome. He had a huge estate with 3 keres( Kere written “ಕೆರೆ” meaning 'pond' or 'lake' in Kannada) connected with a stream. It had puddles, trenches, huge trees, and was very green. Needless to say, I fell in love with the estate at first site.
Naachi (the family’s friend and estate owner) had 4 dogs named Drupak, Lola, Sheba and Lucy. I had loads of fun there. Rahi, Nikhil and I swam in the keres and caught tadpoles. The tadpoles went into a paper cup that another guest Martin carried to Naachi’s house. In front of Naachi’s house, there was a bathtub filled with rainwater, lotus plants and frogs. Martin dumped the tadpoles in that bathtub. Then, after drying up, we had a water fight and got wet again. End of story? Nachi’s couches bared the brunt of it all.
After that, we watched the movie-Mad Max: Fury Road for some time. It didn’t matter to us that our clothes were wet from swimming in the keres because we
were having a LOT of fun tormenting poor Naachi (he had an amazing collection of instruments!)
Anyway, I REALLY, really hope you guys experience the true beauty of Madikeri and if you do, be sure to contact me on my email ID: email@example.com (you can also contact me on my other ID: firstname.lastname@example.org or on my Instagram ID: tholakari_medida) and share your experiences and suggestions to fellow travellers with me.
Thank you for staying put and au revoir!