The walk today from Talacauvery to Madikeri on State Highway # 88 was an enchanting one. Leaving at the usual time of 6.00 am, they faced the mist enveloping gently around them, the visibility not more than a few meters ahead. The sun, hidden by the mist, was just a white glowing dot and whole landscape lay shrouded as if in a fairyland. Today too, the walking involved the aspect of quietude since the route continued with nary a vehicle. The only sounds were the chirping of birds and the calls of the wild. Being a hilly region, the road weaved in and out, up and down, meandering like a serpent.
Silence is the precursor to an inner search. Silence inspires one to see one’s reflection, the stepping-stone to a purposeful contemplation. Silence is to be in the presence of our own self. The greatest gift we can derive from our silence is mindfulness—being an observer as nature takes its course, as change becomes the only permanence.
Today’s destination was Madikeri—the district headquarters. Mr. Suresh Kumar, former Minister of Law and Governance, Karnataka joined the walk early in the morning for some distance. Breakfast was served by the roadside soon after 8.00 am. The walkers stopped every 5 kms or so for a short rest. They reached Madikeri by 12.50 pm, after walking 25 kms. Ms. Vartika Katiyar, Superintendent of Police—Madikeri, was present to welcome the walkers on arrival.
The walkers reached Kauvery Lodge—the halting point for the day. All the padayatris were accommodated in rooms in the same lodging house. Lunch was served at 1.15 pm.
Madikeri, a popular hill station in Karnataka, was named after the prominent Haleri king, Mudduraja (Muddu Raja Keri or Mudduraja’s area), who ruled Kodagu in the 17th century. It was later called Mercara by the ruling British and is now by it’s current name. The British who occupied it for over a hundred years called Madikeri, the Scotland of India. It is also known as the Kashmir of South India. The cool weather, the gliding hills and its still unspoiled beauty has been an attraction to many a tourist. Added attractions are the enchanting aroma of coffee, fresh spices like black pepper and cardamom and the honey from this region. The town is situated at an elevation of 1061 metres and is dotted with red tiled bungalows and narrow winding streets, lending it a quaint old world charm.
Mostly inhabited by the native community of Kodavas, who call themselves the children of Kaveri (the river that has made the land fertile), their attire and some of their cuisine are unique to the region. The traditional attire for the men include ‘Kupyas’ (knee-length half-sleeved coats) over a full sleeved white shirt; ‘Chale’ a maroon and gold sash is tied at the waist and an ornately carved silver dagger known as ‘Peechekathi’ is tucked into it. ‘Odikathi’ is yet another knife that is tucked into the Chale at the back.
Further, a chain with a miniscule gun and a dagger hanging onto it complete the warrior look. They also have a headgear like a traditional South Indian ‘Petha’ (turban). The women wear saris that are pleated at the back and the pallu fixed with a brooch. They wear either a full sleeved or three quarter sleeved blouse and cover their heads with a scarf / bandanna. A traditional gold beaded necklace called ‘Jomalae’ and a pendant studded by a gems ‘Kokkethathi’ is worn by the Kodava women. This remains the traditional attire to this day in weddings and events, while the elders still remain attired in these traditional clothes on a regular basis. Traditional cuisine includes bamboo shoot delicacies which is seasonal and pork, which is eaten regularly.
With no Satsang scheduled in the evening, the padayatris went about exploring the town and spending time with their friends after lunch and rest.