I was born in Madikeri. Having spent a good number of my initial years as a student in the district headquarters of Kodagu, I moved out of town in search of good education and suitable employment.
Having said that, I have never been able to detach my bond with this charming hill station and capital of Kodagu. The joy of coming back to this breathtaking view is hard to explain.
Considered by me as one of the most beautiful places on earth, I simply feel invigorated and uplifted the minute I step into Madikeri. As soon as the KSRTC bus touches Chain Gate from Kushalnagar side or Thalathmane from Sullia side, I am overwhelmed by the freshness of the air I breathe.
When there was no internet, no Netflix and no 200 plus entertainment channels on television, cinemas were the main source of entertainment for residents of Kodagu. In the 80s and 90s, movie going was merriment and an experience by itself. Many of us remember the joy of watching popular Kannada, Hindi and Tamil flicks at Kaveri Mahal and Basappa theatres in Madikeri.
However, it is sad to know that in 2018 only three cinema halls are functional in Kodagu. Kaveri Mahal in Madikeri, Woodland in Siddapur and Cineplex in Kushalnagar are the only existing theatres. Also, for company there is a cinema tent in Shanivarsanthe called Yashaswini.
With its unique wild habitat, Kodagu is home to several endemic species of medicinal plants. Over the years these plants have become the true backbones of a wide range of local health traditions and hundreds of home remedies.
With the introduction of Allopathy in Kodagu, indigenous use of medicinal plants has taken a serious beating over the years. Despite all the affinity for ‘English medicines’, even now for ailments like jaundice and herpes many people in Kodagu prefer herbal medicines because natural products are safe and free from side effects.
Aadhi Kaveri, Igguthappa Travels, Subrahmanya, Gafoor Travels, Gowhar Travels, Panchakshari… rings a bell? Well, these are the names of private buses in Kodagu of the yesteryears. All these are part of nostalgia now.
Over the last few decades, many of the iconic buses have ceased operations while some of them have changed their names and in some cases the routes have been cancelled.
In the 1980s, residents of Kodagu would know the time of day by looking at the names of these buses at a particular location. The iconic Subrahmanya Travels shuttling between Virajpet and Madikeri was a bus etched in the memory of senior citizens. Even now, they have fond stories to tell about the driver, conductor and cleaner of that particular bus which was operational till 1990.
MADIKERI: Did you know? Corporation Bank was the first to open a branch in Kodagu in 1934. The first branch was inaugurated in Madikeri (Mercara then) on November 14, 1934.
Till Corporation Bank started operations in Kodagu (Coorg then), the planter community and local businessmen had to go all the way either to Bangalore, Mysore or Madras for their banking needs. It remains a puzzle why it did not occur to other banks to open a branch in Madikeri till 1934. Some say it could be because many were frightened of rumours about the prevalence of malaria in Kodagu. After opening its first branch in Madikeri, the Corporation Bank opened its second branch in Virajpet on July 7, 1935.
Mid-1930s were crucial times. It was a period when trade was in the grip of depression with a steep fall in the prices of coffee and cardamom. Money was dear. But it was at this time the Corporation Bank started doing business of every banking description such as issuing of remittance both by mail and telegram, collecting and discounting cheques and bills, and accepting deposits, and also making advances on approved securities at reasonable rates of interest. Corporation Bank’s service to the planters and business community in Madikeri infused confidence in towns such as Virajpet, Somwarpet and Ponnampet. Subsequently, branches were opened in small towns across the district.
(Source: ‘Corporation Bank – A Corporate Journey’ by M V Kamath)
MURNAD: Built across River Kaveri in Bethri, the Bethri bridge is one of the important bridges in Kodagu. Part of Virajpet-Baindur state highway, the bridge connects the towns of Madikeri and Virajpet. Even though there are other routes to connect the two towns, the road via Bethri bridge provides the shortest travel distance between Madikeri and Virajpet. One of the oldest bridges constructed after independence, it is built in arch shape. According to some estimate, more than 1000 vehicles move along the bridge daily.
Colonel O S Bedi, IPS, then the chief commissioner of Coorg had laid the foundation stone for Bethri bridge on March 29, 1953. It was inaugurated by then Union Minister for Transport and Railways Lal Bahaddur Shastri on May 29, 1955. Coorg was a ‘C’ state at that time.