The Kodavas (the people of Kodagu) are a distinct race of ancestor worshippers. A tradition that binds them is their faith in Goddess Kavery, who flows as a river from the Brahmagiri Hills. This is Talacauvery, the most sacred place for the Kodavas. The river starts as a trickle and plunges down the slopes as a clear mountain stream to Bhagamandala. Here, she is joined by two smaller rivers, Kanike and Sujyoti, which flow underground. Cauvery is a major rain-fed river flowing southeastwards, through Karnataka into Tamil Nadu, and eventually the sea. The river has nourished the soil of Kodagu and thus guaranteed a comfortable livelihood to its people.

Barricaded by hills and jungle, Kodagu was inaccessible to tourists until about ten years ago. It is a 2.5- hour drive from Mysore into Kodagu and you can tell blindfolded that you have reached, by the cool, velvety feel of the air. Wildfowl perching by the roadside and deer are a common sight in the wooded areas; wild boar, elephants and bison live deeper in the jungles and can some times surprise tourists in the early hours of the morning, or late in the evening.

Talacauvery is a must-visit place of pilgrimage, not just for the Kodavas but also for the devout in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

A three-day trip would suffice. Do remember that light comfortable clothing, socks and walking shoes are essential. Carry a sweater or two. During winter, temperatures can dip below zero; a warm jacket or windcheater will be a blessing.

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The revered site from where the River Cauvery begins
The revered site from where the River Cauvery begins

Talacauvery

The shrine to Goddess Kavery is set against the backdrop of the Brahmagiri Hills, which rise up to 4,396 ft. There are steps leading to the shrine and to the top of the hill; the latter offers a fabulous view of the low-lying valleys. Immediately below the temple is a large open tank for devotees to take a dip in, with walled changing areas and toilets. A dip in the river at Bhagamandala is a papa snana; it is said to wash away your sins. A dip in the spring at Talacauvery is the punya snana, the holy dip.

The shrine where the daily puja is offered has been cared for by a family of Shivalli Brahmin priests.

Bhagamandala

The Skanda Purana says that the linga here was brought by Rishi Bhagand, all the way from Kashi. The Kodava king Doddaveera-rajendra reconstructed the temple 200 years ago. The temple has carved ceilings, and pillars painted with textured vegetable dyes.

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Doddaveerarajendra’s temple
Doddaveerarajendra’s temple

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

There are few choices in terms of accommodation in Bhagamandala (8 km from Talacauvery). Of these, KSTDC’s Mayura Kauvery (Tel: 08272-243143; Tariff: 1,200-1,400), has comfortable double bedrooms with attached baths, and clean dormitories. The dining hall down-stairs is airy and pleasant, and serves good vegetarian food.

TIP Madikeri has many more places to stay

In Bhagamandala, Mayur Residency is clean and reasonably priced. You can also eat good home-cooked vegetarian food at Santosh Hotel, right next to the temple. Try the dosais (the now-rare, home-made type), idlis, coffee and tea. Highly recommended.

When to go October-March is the best time. Rest of the year is all right with the constant possibility of a downpour. June-August is best avoided. Location The source of the Cauvery is on the tip of the Western Ghats, amidst the thick jungle and bamboo forests of Kodagu District Air Nearest airport: Mangalore Rail Nearest rail: Mysore Junction

 

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

Department of Tourism

Government of Karnataka

No. 49, Second Floor, Khanija Bhavan

Race Course Road, Bengaluru

Tel: 080-22352828

W karnatakatourism.org,

KSTDC

Central Reservation Office

Badami House, NR Square, Bengaluru

Tel: 43344334/ 37

Cell: 08970650070

W karnatakaholidays.net

KSTDC

A One-Stop-Shop

No 8, Papanna Lane

St Mark’s Road

Bengaluru

Tel: 43464351/ 53

Jungle Lodges & Resorts

GF, West Entrance, Khanija Bhavan

Race Course Road

Bengaluru

Tel: 40554055

W junglelodges.com

Tourist Information Counter

Bengaluru International Airport

Devanahalli. Cell: 08970650072

Kempegowda Bus Station

(Majestic) Bengaluru Tel: 22356246

Cell: 08970650075

Department of Tourism

Govt of Karnataka, KSTDC Hotel Complex

Ramdurgi Road, Badami

Tel: 08357-220414