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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    CoffeeKF18sept2014

    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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    AinmanesKODAGU31aug2014

    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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    Coorg

    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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    Kodira A Kushalapa writes why there is an urgent and dire need to protect the natural landscape of Kodagu, the “Scotland of India”.

    The erstwhile state of Kodagu is now a district in Karnataka with nature and culture, that require immediate efforts to conserve, not only for the present, but also for the future generations to survive.

    The district is partly located on the Western Ghats with a portion on the east.

    The Western Ghats is considered an ecologically sensitive area and requires careful scientific approach in its development and management, failing which, it will have adverse impacts on the entire southern part of India.

    Under Article 48A of the constitution, the government is under an obligation to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.

    Under Article 51A(g), likewise, each one of us as citizens, has the obligation to “protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.” There are several issues that require careful and urgent handling.

    Paddy cultivation
    The district, on an average, receives over 2500 mm of rainfall annually and is ideally suited for rain-fed paddy cultivation.
    People were cultivating only paddy till the British invasion in 1834 and took up coffee cultivation subsequently.

    Now, only 10 to 12 per cent of its total area is under paddy. It is been discovered recently that paddy cultivation is not economical and farmers are diverting their paddy fields for cultivating cash crops or for construction, without any concern and forethought.
    This has increased the run-off during the rainy season, resulting in flash floods, damaging the lands by accelerated soil erosion. Paddy cultivation was impounding rainwater for about 100 in paddy fields, allowing slow infiltration enriching the subsoil groundwater.

    This would be beneficial to us later, due to slow release of the groundwater, to maintain continuous flow in rivers.

    Now the rivers are almost dry during summer, indicating that there is a need for encouraging paddy cultivation all over Kodagu district by introducing incentives, subsidy and support price.

    The government should immediately prohibit conversion and use of paddy fields for any other purpose, like it has been done in Kerala and Dakshina Kannada.

    Another issue which needs immediate attention is reduction of crop damage by wild animals, which has forced many farmers to abandon paddy cultivation.

    Forest conservation

    Nearly 31 per cent of the geographical area of Kodagu is under forests managed by the government. Tropical evergreen forests dot this landscape.

    Any disturbance to them will make the area barren, like we see around Talacauvery, where the once dense forests have now been reduced to grasslands due to continuous use of wood by pilgrims.

    These lands are so degraded with poor nutrient top soils, that reforestation has become a hard task.

    The forests have to be protected to facilitate infiltration of rainwater and to prevent accelerated soil erosion.

    Natural forests once destroyed cannot be recreated and reforestation can only create plantations.

    The various forest and wildlife acts should be strictly implemented and the persons who violate them should be suitably punished.

    Relocation

    There are a number of cases of encroachment in the forests. Even high forests like Devarakadu and national parks have been encroached upon, where wildlife need relocation and rehabilitation, outside the forests and possibly even out of Kodagu district to drier areas suitable for agriculture.

    The Forest Rights Act envisages the issue of khatha to all tribals and others, residing inside forests for 2 to 3 generations, not to continue there only inside the forests, but as an important document to get equal areas outside forests during relocation.

    The union government is committed to grant Rs 10 lakh per family during the relocation to bigger and compact blocks.

    Fodder development is another important activity to contain wild animals inside government forests. The flowering of bamboos has left only dried clumps and have become hazardous to forest fires.

    Grass and other fodder species have been destroyed and invaded by lantana and other weeds as ground flora, preventing natural regeneration of native species.

    It is impossible to raise any fodder plants now in government forests unless large blocks or compartments are properly fenced and protected and then planted with tall seedlings of fodder species annually to cover the entire forests.

    In addition, profuse aerial seeding of treated bamboo and other miscellaneous seeds should be taken up with the onset of monsoon all over the forests.

    The old plantations of teak covering over 7000 ha in Nagarhole National Park and other areas should be harvested and liquidated in a phased manner (with special permission of the Central government) and followed by planting of bamboo seedlings to develop fodder resources to wild animals.

    The forest department should give priority for creating barriers along the boundaries of government forests and develop fodder resources for herbivores inside such forests.

    Development of tourism

    Kodagu has attracted tourists from all over the world, creating irreparable damage to the landscape.

    The presence of numerous resorts and homestays all over the district has attracted more tourists resulting in landslides, water scarcity, waste management problems, bad roads, felling of trees for constructing houses, influx of outsiders for business and settlement and high cost of living.

    There is no proper guidance and control for activities like registration of homestays and resorts, study of environmental impact assessment and carrying capacity of every activity.

    The building and house constructions have been taken up on steep terrains as seen in Madikeri and Virajpet landscapes, making the hills barren.

    The riverside areas are all occupied unauthorisedly, polluting river water.

    There is a need to control and restrict the tourists coming to Kodagu, by studying the carrying capacity of land involved in every activity and their impact on environment and framing suitable guidelines.

    Management of private forests

    Nearly 75 per cent of the area in the district is covered by trees.
    Coffee estates maintain sufficient shade trees per ha in which silver oak gets precedence due to its faster rate of growth, straightness of bole, multiple use of wood for planks, furniture, peeling, plywood etc and exempted from felling and transit permits and fetches revenue returns in about 30 years.

    However, its cultivation should be restricted to allow other indigenous species to maintain biodiversity, to facilitate birds and bees to control pests and increase pollination.

    Jamma malai and Jamma bane land holders who have also maintained trees in their land should be given tree rights as an incentive to grow more trees to supplement their income when necessary.

    There is, however, a section in the Karnataka Forest Act with a provision to take over the management of private forests by forest department, if the owners violate the provisions of the Act and management principles. This would be binding on the owners to protect the standing trees.

    Under the provisions of Karnataka Protection of Trees Act, if a tree is felled, double the number of seedlings should be planted by the owners and this would ensure the sustainability of tree cover.
    Therefore the ownership rights of the trees should be with the owners.


    Land ownership

    Jamma land holder
    s have been enjoying the land tenure even before the rule of Lingayat Rajas, who surveyed, documented and levied necessary land tax.

    The Bane lands attached to paddy fields called Jamma Bane, in many families, have been converted into coffee and other plantations and by paying necessary tax, are now the property of those families.
    The Jamma malai owners have been negotiating with the government to surrender their privileges for a reasonable compensation, which should be accepted as these malais are situated on the ecologically sensitive hill ranges and the composition is similar to natural evergreen forest types.

    Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) funds could be utilised to pay compensation. Necessary amendments to the KF Act should be introduced to make the families of Jamma holders as the rightful owners of Jamma lands.

    However, to safeguard the unique culture of natives of Kodagu, the sale of their Jamma property should be prohibited, except for other Jamma holders only.

    High Tension 400 kV line

    The proposal to draw a 400 kV line, partly along the reserve forest, private wetlands and coffee estates was met with stiff opposition from local people.

    There are several alternate routes available, such as, along the Mysore-Kodagu forest boundary line, or by upgrading the older available 220 kV line or taking through an underground tunnel (not feasible here) without clearing much forest growth.

    Amendment 4.4 to the FC Act issued by Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) on January 7, 2013, indicates that for linear projects, alternate routes, if available should be indicated and availed of, so that forest lands are saved.

    This linear project should be aligned outside the protected area without any consideration of increased cost and accordingly the MoEF may be appraised to allow the HT line through alternate non-forest areas.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> Supplements> Environment / by Kodira A. Kushalapa / DHNS – July 08th, 2014

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