From Chikmagalur, where my previous post on this trip left off, I headed in the direction of Agumbe. I stopped at Sringeri on the way for a night, though I’m not really sure why. Travel for religion isn’t really my thing, and Sringeri is about nothing if not the big temple in its center.
Maybe Belur and Halebeedu had made me realize that temples in India aren’t just about religion. In their time, they used to be theaters, courts, dance halls, markets, town squares, and most significantly for me, an incredible showcase of the artistry of the people who lived and worked in those times.
Sringeri has great importance in the Hinduism of South India because Adi Sankaracharya, one of the great sages of his times, established his first school here. There is a river (the Tunga) at the back of the temple where is a popular tourist activity to feed the fishes. I had dinner in the temple as well which was simple and free, but otherwise unremarkable.
Sringeri is full of guest houses catering to the religious, but those guys did not care for the solo traveller on his motorcycle and refused to let me stay. I ended up picking a random lodge by the side of the road, and spent two hours capturing grasshoppers in my room and releasing them outside.
Road: 8/10. Nothing special, nothing disappointing.
Temple: 8/10. The temple was nice, but the free dinner was disappointing.
Grasshoppers: 9/10. Oh what fun it is to spend the evening running behind grasshoppers partying in your room.
My next stop was Agumbe, a village in the rainy parts of the Western Ghats of Karnataka. One of the rainiest regions in the state, it is famous for its wide varieties of flora and fauna, and for being home to a Rainforest Research Centre.
I stayed in a homestay called the Doddamane (big house) Home Stay. The house was built more than 80 years ago, and has deary held on to its charm through multiple generations of the family that owns and lives it.
It’s a very nice place: quiet, stone interiors with a big courtyard and no cellphone signal. The lady who runs it now (Kasturi Amma) used to have a lot of land till the sixties when most of it was taken by the government in their quest to get rid of the landlord system.
I asked her if those were hard times. She shook her head happily. “If you take what God gives you and are always happy with what you have, it’s never a very hard time in life.”
The food at the homestay was great. For lunch dinner were delicous meals prepared by and served with smiles by Kasturi Amma and family.
When I asked Kasturi Amma what there was to do in Agumbe, she told me to go visit the Rainforest Research Center, and the Sunset Point.
The Agumbe Rainforest Research Centre deserves a lot more attention and time than I gave it. I spoke to the lead researcher there, who was bubbling with enthusiasm. He spoke about their work, involving, among other things, many new species of frogs and snakes.
After the Rainforest Research Center, I hopped on Perezosa for a short ride through the forest to the Sunset Point. I met a few other motorcyclists who were amused at my lack of direction or goal in my ride.
Self-proclaimed as one of the world’s most famous sunset spots, Sunset Point was a slight let-down, not least because of how crowded it was.
Food: 9/10. Great, homely food
Stay: 8/10. Very peaceful stay at Doddamane, and Kasturi Amma was a pleasure to chat with. But the bathroom was very far from my room 😛
Sunset: 5/10. People, chatter, noise and sunset colours
Rainforest Research Center: 10/10 would visit again.
Road: 9/10. Very nice roads to and from Agumbe. Smooth, green, and cool (in November)
Davangere on the way to Hampi
The next stop on my ride was Hampi, but I couldn’t resist taking a small detour into the town of Davangere, the birthplace of the Benne Masala Dosa, my favourite kind of masala dosa.
Somehow both lighter and crispier than the standard dosa, the benne masala is accompanied by buttery, mild mashed potatoes and a spicy coconut chutney. Each mouthful offers a crisp first bite and then melts away magically.
Food: 10/10. Great chutney, great mashed potato. Great dosa!
Stay tuned for the next post, which will be about Hampi!