Kodagu First a Celebration. Positive News, Facts & Achievements about Kodagu, Coorgs and the People of Kodagu – here at Home and Overseas
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    Coffee was once a closely guarded Arabian secret until Baba Budan, a Sufi mystic, smuggled seven beans from Yemen and scattered them on the hills of Chikmagalur, from where it spread to the rest of India…Anurag Mallick and Priya Ganapathy spill the beans on the story of coffee, the world’s most popular brew.

    It was Napoleon Bonaparte who once grandly announced, “I would rather suffer with coffee than be senseless.” Sir James MacKintosh, 18th century philosopher, famously said, “The powers of a man’s mind are directly proportional to the quantity of coffee he drank.” In The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, when T S Eliot revealed, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons,” he hinted at the monotony of socialising and the coffee mania of the 1900s. German musical genius J S Bach composed the ‘Coffee Cantata’ celebrating the delights of coffee at a time when the brew was prohibited for women.

    “If I couldn’t, three times a day, be allowed to drink my little cup of coffee, in my anguish I will turn into a shriveled-up roast goat,” cried the female protagonist! French author Honoré de Balzac wrote the essay ‘The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee’ to explain his obsession, before dying of caffeine poisoning at 51. Like Voltaire, he supposedly drank 50 cups a day! So, what was it about coffee that inspired poets, musicians and statesmen alike?

    Out of Africa

    Long before coffee houses around the world resounded with intellectual debate, business deals and schmoozing, the ancestors of the nomadic Galla warrior tribes of Ethiopia had been gathering ripe coffee berries, grinding them into a pulp, mixing it with animal fat and rolling them into small balls that were stored in leather bags and consumed during war parties as a convenient solution to hunger and exhaustion! Wine merchant and scientific explorer James Bruce wrote in his book Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile that “One of these balls they (the Gallas) claim will support them for a whole day… better than a loaf of bread or a meal of meat, because it cheers their spirits as well as feeds them”. Other African tribes cooked the berries as porridge or drank a wine prepared from the fermented fruit and skin blended in cold water.

    Historically, the origins of the coffee bean, though undated, lie in the indigenous trees that once grew wild in the Ethiopian highlands of East Africa. Stories of its invigorating qualities began to waft in the winds of trade towards Egypt, North Africa, the Middle East, Persia and Turkey by the 16th Century. The chronicles of Venetian traveller Gianfrancesco Morosini at the coffee houses of Constantinople in 1585 provided Europeans with one of the foremost written records of coffee drinking. He noted how the people ‘are in the habit of drinking in public in shops and in the streets — a black liquid, boiling as they can stand it, which is extracted from a seed they call Caveè… and is said to have the property of keeping a man awake.’

    It was only a matter of time before the exotic flavours of this intoxicating beverage captured the imagination of Europe, prompting colonial powers like the Dutch, French and the British to spread its cultivation in the East Indies and the Americas. Enterprising Dutch traders explored coffee cultivation and trading way back in 1614 and two years later, a coffee plant was smuggled from Mocha to Holland. By 1658, the Dutch commenced coffee cultivation in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The word ‘coffee’ is apparently derived from qahwah (or kahveh in Turkish), the Arabic term for wine. Both the terms bear uncanny similarity to present day expressions — French café, Italian caffè, English coffee, Dutch koffie or even our very own South Indian kaapi. A few scholars attribute ‘coffee’ to its African origins and the town of Kaffa in Ethiopia, formerly known as Abyssinia. However, the plant owes its name “Coffea Arabica” to Arabia, for it was the Arabs who introduced it to the rest of the world via trade.

    As all stories of good brews go, coffee too was discovered by accident. Legends recount how sometime around the 6th or 7th century, Kaldi, an Ethiopian goatherd, observed that his goats became rather spirited and pranced after they chewed on some red berries growing in wild bushes. He tried a few berries and felt a similar euphoria. Excited by its effects, Kaldi clutched a handful of berries and ran to a nearby monastery to share his discovery with a monk. When the monk pooh-poohed its benefits and flung the berries into the fire, an irresistible intense aroma rose from the flames. The roasted beans were quickly salvaged from the embers, powdered and stirred in hot water to yield the first cup of pure coffee! This story finds mention in what is considered to be one of the earliest treatises on coffee, De Saluberrima Cahue seu Café nuncupata Discurscus, written by Antoine Faustus Nairon, a Roman professor of Oriental languages, published in 1671.

    Flavours from Arabia

    Coffee drinking has also been documented in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen in South Arabia. Arabic manuscripts dating back to the 10th Century mention the use of coffee. Mocha, the main port city of Yemen, was a major marketplace for coffee in the 15th century. Even today, the term ‘mocha’ is synonymous with good coffee. Like tea and cocoa, coffee was a precious commodity that brought in plenty of revenue. Hence, it remained a closely guarded secret in the Arab world. The berries were forbidden to leave the country unless they had been steeped in boiling water or scorched to prevent its germination on other lands.

    In 1453, the Ottoman Turks brought coffee to Constantinople, and the world’s first coffee shop Kiva Han opened for business. As its popularity grew, coffee also faced other threats. The psychoactive and intoxicating effects of caffeine lured menfolk to spend hours at public coffee houses drinking the brew and smoking hookahs, which incited the wrath of orthodox imams of Mecca and Cairo. As per sharia law, a ban was imposed on coffee consumption in 1511. The Grand Mufti Mehmet Ebussuud el Imadi was hailed when he issued a fatwa allowing the consumption of coffee, by order of the Ottoman Turkish Sultan Selim I in 1524.

    Though subsequent bans were re-imposed and lifted at various points of time according to the whims of religious politics and power, coffee pots managed to stay constantly on the boil in secret, or in the open, for those desirous of its potent influence. Given the fact that Sufi saints advocated its uses in night-time devotions and dervishes and Pope Clement VIII even baptised the bean to ward off the ill-effects of what was regarded by the Vatican as ‘Satan’s drink’ and the ‘Devil’s Mixture of the Islamic Infidels’ till the 1500s, it is easy to see why coffee is nothing short of a religion to some people.

    Coffee enters India & beyond

    Surprisingly, India’s saga with coffee began in 1670 when a Muslim mystic, Hazrat Dada Hyat Mir Qalandar, popularly known as Baba Budan, smuggled seven beans from Arabia and planted them on a hillock in the Chikmagalur district of Karnataka. The hills were later named Baba Budan Giri in his memory. From here, coffee spread like bushfire across the hilly tracts of South India.

    In 1696, Adrian van Ommen, the Commander at Malabar, followed orders from Amsterdam and sent off a shipment of coffee plants from Kannur to the island of Java. The plants did not survive due to an earthquake and flood but the Dutch pursued their dream of growing coffee in the East Indies with another import from Malabar. In 1706, the Dutch succeeded and sent the first samples of Java coffee to Amsterdam’s botanical gardens from where it made further inroads into private conservatories across Europe. Not wishing to be left behind, the French began negotiating with Amsterdam to lay their hands on a coffee tree that could change their fortunes. In 1714, a plant was sent to Louis XIV who gave it promptly to the Jardin des Plantes at Paris for experimentation. The same tree became the propagator of most of the coffees in the French colonies, including those of South America, Central America and Mexico.

    The importance of coffee in everyday life can be gauged by the fact that its yield forms the economic mainstay of several countries across the world; its monetary worth among natural commodities beaten only by oil! It was only in 1840 that the British got into coffee cultivation in India and spread it beyond the domain of the Baba Budan hills.

    Arabica vs Robusta

    Kodagu and Chikmagalur are undoubtedly the best places to know your Arabica from your Robusta and any planter worth his beans will trace coffee’s glorious history with pride. The strain that Baba Budan got was Coffea arabica and because of its arid origins, it thrived on late rainfall. Despite its rich taste and pleasing aroma, the effort required to cultivate it dented its popularity. The high-altitude shrub required a lot of tending, was susceptible to pests, and ripe Arabica cherries tended to fall off and rot. Careful monitoring at regular intervals affected production cost and profitability.

    Till 1850, Arabica was the most sought-after coffee bean in the world and the discovery of Robusta in Belgian Congo did little to change that. Robusta (Coffea canephora), recognised as a species of coffee only as recently as 1897, lived up to its name. Its broad leaves handled heavy rainfall much better and the robust plant was more disease-resistant. The cherries required less care as they remained on the tree even after ripening. Its beans had twice the caffeine of Arabica, though less flavour, which was no match for the intense Arabica. It was perceived as so bland that the New York Coffee Exchange banned Robusta trade in 1912, calling it ‘a practically worthless bean’!

    But in today’s new market economy, the inexpensive Robusta makes more commercial sense and is favoured for its good blending quality. Chicory, a root extract, was an additive that was introduced during the Great Depression to combat economic crisis that affected coffee. It added more body to the coffee grounds and enhanced the taste of coffee with a dash of bitterness. Though over 30 species of coffee are found in the world, Arabica and Robusta constitute the major chunk of commercial beans in the world. ‘Filter kaapi’ or coffee blended with chicory holds a huge chunk of the Indian market. Plantations started with Arabica, toyed with Liberica, experimented with monkey parchment and even Civet Cat coffee (like the Indonesian Luwak Kopi — the finest berries eaten by the civet cat that acquire a unique flavour after passing through its intestinal tract), but the bulk of India’s coffee is Robusta.

    As the coffee beans found their way from the hilly slopes of the Western Ghats to the ports on India’s Western Coast to be shipped to Europe, a strange thing happened. While being transported by sea during the monsoon months, the humidity and winds caused the green coffee beans to ripen to a pale yellow. The beans would swell up and lose the original acidity, resulting in a smooth brew that was milder. This characteristic mellowing was called ‘monsooning’. And thus was born Monsooned Malabar Coffee.

    Kodagu, India’s Coffee County

    Currently, Coorg is the largest coffee-growing district in India, and contributes 80% of Karnataka’s coffee export. It was Captain Lehardy, first Superintendent of Kodagu, who was responsible for promoting coffee cultivation in Coorg. Jungles were cleared and coffee plantations were started. In 1854, Mr Fowler, the first European planter to set foot in Coorg, started the first estate in Madikeri, followed by Mr Fennel’s Wooligoly Estate near Sunticoppa. The next year, one more estate in Madikeri was set up by Mr Mann. In 1856, Mr Maxwell and Mcpherson followed, with the Balecadoo estate. Soon, 70,000 acres of land had been planted with coffee. A Planters Association came into existence as early as 1863, which even proposed starting a Tonga Dak Company for communication. By 1870, there were 134 British-owned estates in Kodagu.

    Braving ghat roads, torrid monsoons, wild elephants, bloodthirsty leeches, hard plantation life and diseases like malaria, many English planters made Coorg their temporary home. Perhaps no account of Coorg can be complete without mentioning Ivor Bull. Along with District Magistrate Dewan Bahadur Ketolira Chengappa, the enterprising English planter helped set up the Indian Coffee Cess Committee in 1920s and enabled all British-run estates to form a private consortium called Consolidated Coffee. In 1936, the Indian Cess Committee aided the creation of the Indian Coffee Board and sparked the birth of the celebrated India Coffee House chain, later run by worker co-operatives. With its liveried staff and old world charm, it spawned a coffee revolution across the subcontinent that has lasted for decades.

    Connoisseurs say Coorg’s shade grown coffee has the perfect aroma; others ascribe its unique taste to the climatic conditions and a phenomenon called Blossom Showers, the light rain in April that triggers the flowering of plants. The burst of snowy white coffee blossoms rends the air thick with a sensual jasmine-like fragrance. Soon, they sprout into green berries that turn ruby red and finally dark maroon when fully ripe. This is followed by the coffee-picking season where farm hands pluck the berries, sort them and measure the sacks at the end of the day under the watchful eye of the estate manager.

    The berries are dried in the sun till their outer layers wither away; coffee in this form is called ‘native’ or parchment. The red berries are taken to a Pulp House, usually near a water source, where they are pulped. After the curing process, the coffee bean is roasted and ground and eventually makes its journey to its final destination — a steaming cup of bittersweet brew that you hold in your hands.

    The ‘kaapi’ trail

    In India, coffee cultivation is concentrated around the Western Ghats, which forms the lifeline for this shrub. The districts of Coorg, Chikmagalur and Hassan in Karnataka, the Malabar region of Kerala, and the hill slopes of Nilgiris, Yercaud, Valparai and Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu account for the bulk of India’s coffee produce. With 3,20,000 MT each year, India is the 6th largest coffee producer in the world.

    Recent initiatives to increase coffee consumption in the international and domestic market prompted the Coffee Board, the Bangalore International Airport and tour operator Thomas Cook to come together and organize coffee festivals and unique holiday packages like The Kaapi Trail to showcase premium coffees of South India. Coffee growing regions like Coorg, Chikmagalur, B R Hills, Araku Valley, Nilgiris, Shevaroy Hills, Travancore, Nelliyampathy and Palani Hills are involved in a tourism project that blends leisure, adventure, heritage and plantation life.

    At the Coffee Museum in Chikmagalur, visitors can trace the entire lifecycle of coffee from berry to cup. In Coorg and Malnad, besides homestays, go on Coffee Estate holidays with Tata’s Plantation Trails at lovely bungalows like Arabidacool, Woshully and Thaneerhulla…
    The perfect cuppa

    Making a good cup of filter coffee traditionally involves loading freshly ground coffee in the upper perforated section of a coffee filter. About 2 tbs heaps can serve 6 cups. Hot water is poured over the stemmed disc and the lid is covered and left to stand. The decoction collected through a natural dripping process takes about 45 minutes and gradually releases the coffee oils and soluble coffee compounds. South Indian brews are stronger than the Western drip-style coffee because of the chicory content. Mix 2-3 tbs of decoction with sugar, add hot milk to the whole mixture and blend it by pouring it back and forth between two containers to aerate the brew.

    Some places and brands of coffee have etched a name for themselves in the world of coffee for the manner in which coffee is made. The strength of South Indian Filter coffee or kaapi (traditionally served in a tumbler and bowl to cool it down), the purity of Kumbakonam Degree Coffee, the skill of local baristas in preparing Ribbon or Metre coffee by stretching the stream of coffee between two containers without spilling a drop… have all contributed to the evolution of coffee preparation into an art form.

    With coffee bars and cafes flooding the market and big names like Starbucks, Costa, Barista, Gloria Jean’s, The Coffee Bean, Tim Horton’s and Café Coffee Day filling the lanes and malls in India along with local coffee joints like Hatti Kaapi jostling for space, it’s hard to escape the tantalising aroma of freshly brewed coffee. And to add more drama to the complexities of coffee, you can choose from a host of speciality coffees from your backyard — Indian Kathlekhan Superior and Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold, or faraway lands — Irish coffee and cappuccino (from the colour of the cloaks of the Capuchin monks in Italy) or Costa Rican Tarrazu, Colombian Supremo, Ethiopian Sidamo and Guatemala Antigua. And you can customise it as espresso, latte, mocha, mochachino, macchiato, decaf… Coffee is just not the same simple thing that the dancing goats of Ethiopia once enjoyed.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> Supplements> Sunday Herald / September 21st, 2014

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    Bangalore :

    When I was much younger, Coorg was a little squiggle on the map of Karnataka, its shadowy presence acknowledged by half-remembered geography lessons, coffee and by a certain gown-like drape of a certain Mrs Mundappa’s sari. The latter especially stood out eking out a visual cue for Coorg. Many years later in college, Coorg was one of the many places that people called home in the multicultural melting pot that was Delhi University. And almost all of them had an unbelievably high tolerance for fiery meat dishes. This naturally led to a conversation about the Pandi Curry or the famous spiced pork curry of the region. Some Coorgi folk actually believed that this dish was the sacred rite of passage for all meat lovers. Since a good Pandi Curry eluded me and those I sampled remained greasy blots in my food memory, just like the dish, with time, the place faded from the memory.

    Five years later, as I crossed a bridge over the Cauvery, with the familiar highway markers announcing ‘Welcome to Kodagu District’ in, I felt a sudden rush of excitement as those half-remembered impressions flooded in.

    In a few kilometres after the gateway town of Kushalnagar, the run-of-the-mill state highway suddenly transformed into a winding hilly road. Monsoon is not regarded as a favoured time to visit this region and yet, whenever I have travelled across South India, it has been under the aegis of the rain gods. Somehow, I have always enjoyed this off season experience which drives away the tourist hordes and returns the place to its quietude. The rain-washed land shorn of its summer dust has a fresh and dewy sheen. Coorg was no different and my first glimpse of the lush and wild forested tracts interspersed with the vast coffee plantations, was through a gap between passing rain clouds. As the sun cast its errant late afternoon beams across the road, the coffee bushes glistened, cementing this as a lasting snapshot of the place.

    Coorg or the Kodagu district is the least populous of the 30 districts of Karnataka which make it one of the few places where the wilderness per square kilometre is far more than the human population around these parts. Also, since large tracts of this district are privately owned by the coffee planters (Coorg is India’s most important coffee-growing district), that ensures that the forest cover remains unspoilt and thus the region supports an extraordinary biodiversity. This also prevents any unnecessary development in an area which draws hundreds of holidaymakers. As a result there is the growth of a new hospitality industry—one which thrives on homestays and extremely luxurious boutique properties helmed by the plantation owners.

    As we made our way through the bumpy non-roads a little above Suntikoppa into the Old Kent Estate, the Coorgi terrain enveloped us in her musky, squelchy and coffee-scented bosom. An idyll in the middle of 200 odd acres of coffee, cardamom and pepper crops, the Old Kent Estate is a renovated version of quintessentially English coffee bungalow. 21st century comforts are juxtaposed against coffee plantation walks and traditional Coorgi food. This is the template for most Coorgi homestays or resorts. We spent our days walking around misty hill roads. Like many other places, Coorg has also been more about the ‘in between’ journeys rather than the popular tourist spots. An initial sightseeing experience at the Abbey Falls left us a little scarred. Buffeted by the jet spray of the fairly impressive waterfall and trampled by nearly five score camera-happy tourists who braved precarious rocks and moss-sodden perches in order to get the perfect shot, we did a quick about turn just as we got a glimpse of the waterfall. The tourist legions had left in its wake reams of orange Haldiram bhujia packets, while the all-round wetness had led to a proliferation of leeches and you were lucky if you left Abbey Falls without a bloodsucker in tow. Thereafter we drove around aimlessly, tracking the natural beauty of the rolling hills and stopping where we pleased. Lured by ambling cows, little bridges over gurgling streams and picturesque sunsets, we were masters of our own itineraries.

    A strange fact I discovered is that although this is the land of coffee with green beans hanging from every bush that you see by the highway, a good cuppa is not all that easy to come across. The best coffee of the region is actually packed off to the auction houses and sold off to foreign buyers. They return to India via the circuitous international coffee chain route with a 100 percent markup and are served in branded cups or as freeze-dried packs of Arabica and Robusta with esoteric descriptions on their labels.

    Apart from the plantation homestays, it is rather unlikely that one will find Coorgi coffee at a roadside stall. A single ambitious shop in Madikeri has forward integrated into a cafe and this was where we had our first traditional Coorgi coffee, made with local beans and sweetened with jaggery­—a perfectly heartwarming brew. However, we managed to wrangle many a cuppa from the kitchen in our estate. And while we took in the changing light across the coffee bushes, we drank deeply of the brew of the land.

    While coffee is an integral aspect of Coorgi cuisine, a plentiful bounty of the land, so is meat. Traditionally the Kodavas (the indigenous locals who had settled in the region thousands of years ago) were fierce hunters who subsisted on game that they caught and the produce of the land. This included a limited number of vegetables and resulted in a largely meat-based diet. And it is the meat from the wild boar hunt that forms the region’s greatest delicacy—the Pandi Curry. While we tasted our delightful Pandi Curry in a restaurant with a jaw-dropping view across a valley, most Pandi curries are best had in traditional homes accompanied by banter and snowy akki rotis.

    I discovered that the true beauty of Coorg lies outside human settlement and in its fragrant coffee and delectable food. Everything is born of the soil, including its people. It rains as I walk under bulbous jackfruit, hanging from mossy branches. I pick an occasional green berry off a coffee plant and watch kingfishers create a sudden gash of blue across the green canvas. This is a Coorgi monsoon. And it is like no other that I have seen.

    source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Bangalore / by Diya Kohli / September 18th, 2014

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    September 5th, 2014adminAbout Kodagu / Coorg, Science & Technology

    Bangalore :

    An expert committee has given the go-ahead for the proposed 400-kV Mysore-Kodagu-Kozhikode power line passing through eco-sensitive forest zones. It said the power line can follow the original alignment, despite serious apprehensions expressed by environmentalists in Kodagu district.

    Speaking to reporters here on Wednesday, Power Minister D K Shivakumar said the state government had constituted a three-member expert committee headed by R S Shivakumara Aradhya to examine the issue. The committee has submitted its report and has recommended the construction of the line on the route originally proposed by the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL)

    He said the work on the double-circuit transmission line, which had secured forest clearance, was halted following objections raised by environmentalists and a few elected representatives from the region.The committee, in its recommendations, also suggested certain remedial measures to deal with environmental issues. This included regeneration of vegetation along the 3.93-km stretch in Dubare and Devamachi reserve forests.

    It recommended working out a plan to mitigate elephant-human conflicts in coffee plantations, paddy fields and settlements in Kodagu district during the cutting of trees and construction of tower lines.

    The remedial plan should be prepared and implemented by the Forest Department in consultation with experts as well as local stakeholders, with funding from the PGCIL, it said and suggested better compensation to paddy growers than what was proposed by the PGCIL.

    The committee felt that about 6,000 trees have to be cut in a 12-km stretch of coffee plantations in Kodagu and another 2,247 trees in the forest stretch to build the proposed line. It acknowledged that the line passes through 4.5 km of reserve forest in Virajpet, Madikeri and Hunsur forest divisions, which fall within the buffer zone of the tiger reserve.

    Various environmentalist organisations, including Coorg Wildlife Society, had strongly protested against the project fearing large-scale damage to forests.

    source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Karnataka / by Express News Service / August 28th, 2014

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    By Prof. A.V. Narasimha Murthy, former Head, Department of Ancient History & Archaeology, University of Mysore

    Victoria Gowramma is an enchanting but a perplexing name as it is a curious combination of western culture represented by Victoria and Hindu culture symbolised in Gowramma. In fact, an old fashioned and devoted Hindu woman with traditional virtues is referred to as Gowramma. Actually Gowri is Parvathy, the consort of Shiva. Slowly the name Gowramma is vanishing from Hindu household in preference to more modern names. However, that name still persists among the Kodavas.

    I was re-reading D.N. Krishnayya’s book Kodagina Itihasa (History of Kodagu) in Kannada. It is a good book and reads like a novel but gives authentic history of Coorg. He has devoted many pages for sketching the life of Gowramma. In fact, C.P. Belliappa has made a special research on the charming lady and has written a book titled Victoria Gowramma: The Lost Princess of Coorg, which I have not been able to read unfortunately. Further he has taken the trouble in exploring and locating her cemetery at Brompton in South-West London. Thus Belliappa has given a new lease of life in history to this extraordinary Princess of Coorg and has added a new chapter to the history of Coorg. K.B. Ganapathy has also written about her in his book ‘The Cross and the Coorgs’ and its Kannada version Kodagina Mele Shilubeya Neralu. All these books are useful in understanding the personality of this Princess who passed away when she was just 23 years (1841-63).

    Victoria Gowramma was the daughter of Kodagu King Chikka Veerarajendra Odeya, son and successor of King Lingarajendra. He was just 17 years when he became the king and due to bad company he became a cruel and autocratic king and people of Coorg cursed him to the maximum but were scared of him to raise their voice. Killing people when he did not like them or those who did not toe his line had become a daily affair without any mercy. A low class person by name Kunta Basava, who was looking after the Palace dogs rose to the position of a Dewan of the State and encouraged the King in all his atrocious acts. Added to it, he had a strong weakness for women and as soon as he saw a charming woman, he would get her into his harem. The British warned him but he ignored their advice. Finally he submitted himself to the British and became a prisoner in his Palace. He was first taken to Vellore and finally to Kashi where he was kept as a State prisoner. He requested the British government to permit him to take his dear daughter Gowramma with him to England and the British permitted him.

    Thus Princess Gowramma went with her father and reached England in March 1852. The deposed King and Gowramma were given a rousing reception at London and Veerarajendra was actively participating in social life of London along with his daughter Gowramma. Suddenly he thought of her future after his own death and wrote a letter to Queen Victoria, requesting her to take Gowramma under her protection and convert her to Christianity and give proper education to her. The queen was very happy and Gowramma was converted to Christianity in Windsor Castle church by Canterbury Archbishop.

    Queen Victoria became her guardian and gave her the name Victoria Gowramma. Chikka Veerarajendra was also present on that occasion and he expressed his gratefulness to the queen. The responsibility of her protection and education was entrusted to Major Drummond and his wife. As they did not look after her properly, she was sent to Lady Login and Sir John Login who were proficient in Hindustani. She was not encouraged to meet her father frequently and was allowed to meet him on special occasions only. Gowramma had forgotten Hindustani and Veerarajendra did not know English and hence the father and daughter talked to each other through a bilingual interpreter. Most of the time Veerarajendra was weeping whenever he met his daughter and thought that he was responsible for her plight under the British but it was too late. He became sick and when she came to meet him, he handed over a bag to her which contained a large number of precious stones and rich ornaments and asked her to wear them. Both of them cried.

    Veerarajendra died in 1859 in London but Gowramma could not go to the funeral as she was living in White Island, far away from London.

    His body was kept in Kansal Green Cemetery and after two years the body was brought to Calcutta through a ship. From there it was taken by road to Kashi and was buried there as per the rituals of Veerashaiva community and a tomb was built over it. The expenditure for all this was Rs. 2500 and the British government sanctioned this amount. When he died he had cash and valuables worth around rupees four lakhs and it was distributed among his relatives. Nothing was claimed by Gowramma as she was under the protection of the queen herself.

    Gowramma was under the protection of Mrs. Drummond. The latter had two daughters who were active and were going to school. But Gowramma was always inactive and had no interest in learning. Hence she was being treated badly by the family. She felt that under the influence of Gowramma, her two daughters also may get spoilt and requested the queen to relieve her family from the responsibility of Gowramma. Then Gowramma was entrusted to another European woman by name Lady Login. She had a good knowledge of India, and also had the responsibility of looking after Dilip Singh. He was the first King to be converted to Christianity whereas Gowramma was the first woman to get converted.

    As part of the ritual, the queen wanted her to go to Italy. The queen had sent an expensive diamond ear-ring and necklace of pearls and asked her to lead a life acceptable to God. Veerarajendra who was present on the occasion was happy at this gesture. Then Gowramma was taken to Italy (Vatican) by Lady Login and the new climate made her healthy and enthusiastic, regarding the royal life. Though some people tried to get her married to Dilip Singh, the latter did not agree as Gowramma did not come up to his expectations.

    Then Gowramma came to England along with Lady Login. The latter wanted to be relieved of the responsibility of Gowramma and she was put under the care of Lady Katharine Harcourt. But the latter put Gowramma under a Junior Governess and Gowramma did not like that. Then she was put under the care of Sir James Wirhog. At that time Colonel Campbell used to visit her house. He was a young widower and showed great interest in Gowramma. They were married and they had a female child who was given the name Edith Victoria Gowramma. Campbell and Gowramma enjoyed fairly good life, visited many places and took part in royal festivals and parties. The queen was very happy and ordered that there should be no deficiency in providing funds and amenities to Campbell and Gowramma. Thus everything looked wonderful to the couple.

    Gradually her tuberculosis was becoming severe. Queen Victoria made all arrangements to get her the best medical help. But the medicines did not help and finally she died in 1864 (March 30) when she was just 23 years. As per the desire of the queen her body was buried in Brampton Cemetery in London and an epitaph was carved on the marble stone as follows:

    “Sacred to the memory of Princess Victoria Gowramma, daughter of ex-Raja of Coorg, the beloved wife of Lt. Colonel Campbell. Born in India, July 4th 1841, she was brought early in life to England, baptised into the Christian faith under the immediate care and protection of queen Victoria who stood sponsor to her. She died on 30th March 1864.”

    After her death, her daughter married Captain Yardley and had a son who died in a road accident. Thus ended the family of Victoria Gowramma. Now she has entered the pages of history, the ultimate of everyone including kings, queens and princesses. But there is something melancholic in her life which makes us to have a soft corner for her. That is the greatness of Victoria Gowramma.

    source: http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> Feature Articles / August 30th, 2014

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    The much-awaited book on ‘Ainmanes of Kodagu’ (ancestral homes), authored by researcher-couple Boverianda Chinnappa and Nanjamma Chinnappa has hit the stands.

    The book was written after extensive fieldwork in Kodagu district (Coorg) of Karnataka, to record for posterity the way of life that the culturally-rich ainmanes symbolise.

    Speaking to The Hindu, P.T. Bopanna, journalist, who runs Kodagu’s first news portal www.coorgtourisminfo.com, said according to the researcher couple, the book is unique as it traces the origins and antiquity of the ancestral homes of all the native communities of Kodagu.

    “It also describes the social and cultural significance of these ancestral homes, which are important elements of the rich heritage of the native communities of this area,” he said.

    An ainmane has a verandah, with carved square wooden pillars tapering upwards and wooden seats between the pillars, ornately carved windows and door frames, and specific areas within the ainmane for the performance of rituals.

    A ‘functional’ ainmane is where all the members of the okka (patrilineal clan) gather to celebrate important family rituals and ceremonies.

    The book describes the ainmanes of the native communities in Kodagu (Coorg) and their socio-cultural significance.

    Ainmanes are architectural symbols that bear testimony to the strength and vitality of the okkas of Kodagu.

    According to the authors, the ainmanes that are still standing today account for only about 40 per cent of the original number that existed in Kodagu.

    Many of them are dilapidated; others have been converted into simple homes. The Chinnappas expressed their apprehension that if this trend continues, these heritage buildings and the unique traditions, customs, festivals and rituals that are associated with them will probably vanish in the not too distant future. If they vanish, so will the heritage of the people, their way of life, they add.

    The authors have said their aim is to raise awareness of the cultural significance of the ainmanes of Kodagu and encourage efforts to maintain and preserve these heritage buildings for generations to come.

    The cover illustration for the book is by noted cartoonist, Nadikerianda Ponnappa.

    The book has been published by Niyogi Books, Delhi. The work on the website www.ainmanes.com is in progress.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> National> Karnataka / K. Jeevan Chinnappa / Bangalore – August 23rd, 2014

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    The air smelled green. For someone from the city who is used to the smell of petrol fumes, garbage and fried food, inhaling this crisp, clean air was a real treat.

    My drive on the winding roads of Coorg transported me to another world. I put my head out of the car to click away at the Kodava houses lining the roads, quaint churches and local shops. My photo sessions attracted some curious glances from local women. I had officially arrived for my weekend in the coffee district of Karnataka, and my stay at one of the most luxurious resorts in the region was about to begin. As the rains pelted the roof of my cottage at Tamara Coorg, a luxury resort situated in the picturesque confines of lush verdant coffee plantations, I opened my eyes to the breathtaking view, wishing I could wake up to this every day.

    The mist kissed the foreheads of the silver oaks and the rosewoods, as I walked to the balcony with a hot mug of bella kapi. I sipped the aromatic yet comforting black coffee laced with cardamom and flavoured with jaggery, while listening to the symphony of cicadas and birdcalls. The fresh taste of coffee resurrected my soul and prepared me for the invigorating plantation walk that my hosts at the resort were kind enough to organise.

    After being playfully warned about the leeches by the resort’s guide, I remained skeptical about the trek around the 170-acre Kabbinakad Estate, tucked inside the resort. “Don’t worry, madam, leeches will only suck out the bad blood, and you won’t even feel the pain. You know they are now being used for medical treatments in several parts of the world,” he said. Nevertheless, his scientific explanation failed to comfort me as I tied my shoe laces tight, determined not to have my blood sucked out. ‘Just enjoy the walk, and take in the natural beauty,’ I told myself.

    Natural fortress

    Built strategically around landscaped waterfalls and glistening streams, the resort is home to some rare species of flora and fauna. As we walked around the plantation, we had the electro-pop background score of gushing falls and cicadas follow us wherever we went. “Hey, but why can’t I smell the coffee?” I asked out of ignorance. “Well, you won’t smell coffee here. But you will see the beans in different stages of growth,” my well-informed guide explained. Arabica and Robusta, the two kinds of coffee plants, are grown at the estate, which is dotted with cardamom plants and pepper vines.

    Handing me a bright green pod, the guide said, “Just bite into it and tell me what it is.” As I nibbled on the pod, suspiciously, waiting for some allergic reaction to pop out, a fragrant taste exploded my palate. “It’s cardamom, isn’t it?” I shouted excitedly. Finding my daily food ingredient in its freshest form left me hungry for more. By the end of the walk, I had savoured passion fruit right off a tree, watched in awe at the bitter lime tree pregnant with fresh fruits and beautiful wild mushrooms.

    Bird-watchers too have something to look forward to at the resort, as one can find some rare avian species, including Malabar trogons, Nilgiri laughing-thrushes, great black woodpeckers, and Malabar whistling-thrushes (that are a part of the night-time orchestra). Apart from these, yellow-browed bulbuls, Pacific swallows, grasshopper warblers, orphean warblers and yellow-billed babblers can also be spotted.

    Coffee kicks

    After teasing the touch-me-nots, collecting some rudraksha berries and clicking away at the luscious red ginger flowers and pristine white coffee blossoms, it was time to call it a day. But the coffee lover in me was still to be satiated. And the best was yet to come. The resort definitely knows how to woo coffee addicts, and my experience at The Verandah at Tamara Coorg made me fall in love with the drink that half of the world kick-starts the day with. Right from handpicking the fresh beans, drying them, roasting them, sifting through them and grinding them, coffee-making is nothing short of an art form. And the experience of making my very own brew made me feel like an alchemist. And the secret to pure healthy brew is roasting and grinding your own beans.

    A visit to Coorg will be incomplete without sampling the authentic Kodava cuisine that includes the famous pandi curry (pork curry) and koli barthad (chicken fried in spices). But for a vegetarian like me, it was best to tip-toe around the meaty dishes and stick to the green zone — lip-smacking mangye pajji (ripe mango curry), kadambuttus (rice dumplings), kumm curry (mushroom curry), akki rotis, banana fritters and sumptuous payasam.

    Coorg is blessed with nature’s bounty. Apart from plantation tours, one can trek to the nearby Manje Motte view point, Pathi Pole Falls and Ballyaatre Ridge. For wildlife and history enthusiasts, this quaint hamlet has a lot to offer in the form of Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Nagarhole National Park and Madikeri Fort. As the afternoon sun gave way to the golden light of dusk, dark clouds gradually invaded the sky. The rains pounded the earth with all their might, bringing to life every inch of the green surroundings. The perfect weather to cuddle up and read. Another day had come to an end in the land of the brave Kodava warriors, and I slept fitfully to the lullaby of noisy cicadas.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> Supplements> Sunday Herald travel / by Arundhati Pattabhiraman / August 17th, 2014

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    Mysore :

    A video reflecting the various facets of Kodagu has been put up on Youtube. The video titled ‘Discover Coorg — Land of the Brave and the Beautiful’ has been produced by freelance journalist and author P.T. Bopanna.

    Bopanna’s efforts so far were confined to his books and websites. Now, for the first time Bopanna has used the medium of video to capture the various facets of Kodagu.

    The Discover Coorg video features tourist spots, homestays, Coorg jewellery, the Kodava family hockey festival, and the golfing culture in Kodagu. It also captures the traditional tribal folk dances and even a colourful Kodava wedding.

    The video has been scripted and made under the creative supervision of Pattamada Sundar Muthanna, an advertising copywriter, who is passionate about Kodagu.

    The content for the video has been sourced mainly from Bopanna’s four websites: www.coorgtourisminfo.com, which was started in 2005, www.coorgrecipes.com, www.coorgjewellery.in and www.coorghomestays.co.in

    A section of the video on ‘How to wear a Coorg sari’ was produced earlier by Bopanna for his website www.coorgjewellery.in. The video was directed by fashion guru Prasad Bidapa.

    One can view the latest video by visiting the website www.coorgtourisminfo.com or through the Youtube link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXN3aer12HY.

    source: http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> Feature Articles / August 05th, 2014

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    The work on a temporary project to supply water from Kundamestri is nearing completion. The water from Kundamestri is likely to be supplied to the citizens of Madikeri by the week end.

    Sand bunds have been laid to store water. The collected water will be supplied to Kootuhole through pipes. After filtering the water at a Filter house at Stuart Hill, water will be supplied to the citizens.

    Madikeri reels under water crisis every year during summer. The work on Kundamestri project was initiated to mitigate water crisis.

    However, owing to delay in release of funds, the work could not be completed. Now the estimated cost of the project has been escalated.

    The Kundamestri project is being implemented by Karnataka Water Supply and Sewage Board. It will take another one year to complete the work.

    Board Executive Engineer Balachandra has expressed confidence of completing the work. The project has been taken up keeping in mind the development of Madikeri in the next 50 years.

    When the water level declines in Kootuhole, water will be supplied from Kundamestri to Kootuhole.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> District / Srikanth Kallammanavar / Madikeri – DHNS, July 26th, 2014

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    Udaka Mandala is Karnataka’s other place by the waters that became more famous as Ooty, or Ootacamund thanks to the Brits. Elsewhere, the denizens of John Bull’s Island changed Mumbai to Bombay and Beijing to Peking.

    However, like the refreshing confluences of rivers, the close encounters of the cultural kind led to enriching mergers and acquisitions. A fine example is the Omkareshwara Temple at Madikeri, which is not far from the sacred confluence. King Lingarajendra built it in 1820 around a central pool using a mix of Islamic and Gothic styles.

    The golden-domed shrine with its whitewashed walls and red borders is dedicated to Shiva in the form of a Linga brought from Benares. Both Lingarajendra and his predecessor Virarajendra are buried in a compound north of Madikeri.

    Outwardly, these domed tombs with their short minarets look like Islamic monuments but they are richly embellished inside with Shaivite symbols and imagery. The syncretism that led to the creation of these memorials was definitely ahead of its times.

    The revival of Indo-Saracenic style in Bombay, Madras, Calcutta and Delhi came later.

    This required a spirit of amity and cultural convergence. This is best summed up in a quote from the Panchatantra engraved on the lintels of the Parliament building designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker some 20 years before Independence: “That one is mine and the other a stranger is the concept of little minds . But to the large-hearted , the world itself is their family.”

    source: http://www.articles.economictimes.com / The Economic Times / Home> Collections> Bombay / by Vithal C. Nadkarni, ET Bureau / May 31st, 2013

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    Mysore :

    A train to Kodagu could now be possible, which could sell tourism potential of the hill station to both domestic and foreign tourists and be the driver of economy.

    Thanks to railway minister D V Sadananda Gowda, the only district in Karnataka without railway connectivity is inching closer to get on the rail map of India.

    Gowda, whose wife Datty is from Kodagu district, on Tuesday approved the survey of new line that will connect Mysore to Madikeri, the district headquarters. He said: “I am happy to announce that the survey for Mysore-Kushalnagar portion of Mysore-Kushalnagar-Madikeri new line has been completed and the state government has agreed to share cost of the project. This will provide rail connectivity to important tourist destinations in Kodagu (Coorg). I propose to pursue this project for obtaining requisite approvals after completion of remaining survey up to Madikeri.”

    Sources in the Mysore division of the South Western Railway said that the survey between Mysore and Kushalnagar has been completed in 2011. The preliminary survey between Kushalnagar and Madikeri is completed t the final location survey is not taken up. With the approval from the railway minister, the project is back on track, they told The Times of India. The Mysore-Kushalnagar section is estimated to be 89 kms long and is planned to have over five stations including one at Peripayapatna. But the estimate for this section is not prepared, they added. As the minister has said if the state government funds its share, the project can be taken up, they explained adding the survey for the remaining portion can be completed within an year.

    The Mysore Industries Association welcomed the move and said it will help in the development of the area.

    Besides, the track doubling works between Mysore and Bangalore is expected to completed year end, which will improve connectivity to the city. Gowda has said that they plan to open the double track by February 2015 and operate trains. Inclusion of Mysore-Bangalore-Chennai corridor for high speed train connectivity is also welcomed by the MIA.

    Connectivity to Shimoga set to improve

    Gowda has also announced new survey between Talguppa and Siddapura in Uttara Kannada, which could help link the costal Karnataka to the Malnad region. It was long pending demand of the public to extend railway connectivity from Talguppa near Jog Falls in Shimoga district and link it to Konkan Railway. Shimoga, represented by former CM B S Yeddyurappa in the Lok Sabha, has also got lucky with a new survey ordered between Shimoga and Mangalore via Sringeri. Shimoga has also got a bi-weekly train to Bangalore.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Msore / by H M Aravind, TNN / July 08th, 2014

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