I was ready to escape the city; nature was calling my name not to far north of Mysore City. Coorg District = Kodagu District is situated approximately 107 km north on the Western Ghats. It is a beautiful hilly district, with an elevation varying between the lowest of 900 meters to the highest point of 1700 meters above sea-level with an average temperature of 15 °C (59 °F). I took the local government bus for ₹70 and arrived to Bylakuppe after two hours and fifteen minutes on the road. Bylakuppe is the second largest Tibetan Settlement in India, known for its Buddhist monasteries, Sera and Namdroling. On route from Mysore you will pass Dubare Elephant Camp, which is a great place to stop and learn about various aspects of Elephant history, ecology and biology. You even have the opportunity to bath an elephant, a perfect family adventure or even if you are on your own to be able to presence these beautiful mammals from up close. For more info check here: www.dubareelephantcamp.com
It was around 5pm when I finally arrived to the main road in Bylakuppe where I got off the public bus, yet still too far out to walk to the Golden Temple. I stopped a monk for directions, hoping to get a glimpse of the temple before closing at 6pm. Luckily I arrived with 30 minutes remaining to appreciate this Buddhist monument. Inside the temple you will find, 3, 60 foot representations of Guru Padmasambhava, Buddha Shakyamuni and Buddha Amitayus (from left to right). These Buddhist statues are made of copper plated gold and contain scriptures, relics of great beings, and smaller statues that symbolize the body, speech and mind of Lord Buddha.
Stay in Bylakuppe, Guesthouse Bylakuppe, Accommodations Bylakuppe
To stay in a guest house in Bylakuppe, you need a ‘Permission to Stay’ and they are very strict on this point. You will need to apply with enough time in advance, approximately 2-3 months prior. Needless to say, I did not plan this far ahead so I did not have permission to stay. After eating the most delicious veg momos made by monks across the street from The Golden Temple Bylakuppe, a rainstorm came in and I found myself waving down a tuk tuk heading to the neighboring town of Kushalnagar to find a dry bed for the night. The tuk tuk cost ₨200, approximately 15 minutes away, and luckily we quickly found a place without too much trouble! The next morning, I returned to Bylakuppe and after morning meditation and breakfast, I continued my travels to Madikeri. If you remember, I had been recommended to visit this coffee land by a nice gentleman in Mysore when I visited the Green Hotel, near Gokullam. If you missed my last blog about wedding crashing, and studying Ayurveda with two lovely doctors in Mysore, check it here: Exploring Ayurveda, wedding crashing, palace hopping, Hindu temples, Chamundi hills and our family in Mysore.
I was certainly keen on exploring Madikeri, coming from Guatemala; I can appreciate a delicious cup of coffee, anytime. So, as soon as I arrived into Madikeri, I began inquiring about coffee plantations to see if there were any opportunities to volunteer for a few days.
Volunteering on a Coffee plantation in Madikeri
I spent the following week at a coffee estate approximately 30 minutes from the town. Auntie Gangie is the main woman of the plantation and house. She has two sons, Rajesh and Satish, who live in the town but visit her often during the week. Although she is the only family member living at the plantation, she has a few local people to help her maintain the estate. Additionally, during certain times of year, new and repeat long-term volunteers from US, Canada and Europe stay with her on the plantation and help out with different activities.
Lately they have been building mud cottages in a property nearby the plantation and they also have a cute cottage on the lake. Gangie is a lovely lady and we spoke English together and were able to exchange stories. She cooked delicious meals for me and I helped out with a few tasks- repainting a grill for the new window in her kitchen, tree trimming, pruning, collecting soap nuts and clearing pathways. For more information about the coffee plantation and/or volunteering, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walking around the plantation you will see coffee, papaya trees, vanilla, jackfruit, hibiscus flower, angel trumpet flowers, bougainvilleas, many more plants and a few small lakes made for irrigation.
During the day, between working on this or that, Auntie would turn up reminding me to take my coffee and snack break.
Those were sweet moments to relax in the shade and enjoy the afternoon downpour of monsoon from the porch in Auntie’s wooden chair, sipping on my bean coffee with gratitude and pleasure.
Gangie has been suffering from Spondylitis and working in the house as much as she does is counterproductive for long term healing. I offered her some Ayurvedic massages for her head, neck, back and shoulders which allowed me to put my Ayurveda training into practice. The ayurvedic massage helped her with the pain as well as achieving relaxation, after the day’s work, for more restful sleep through the night. She was very grateful and so was I, to enjoy her company and be able to offer kindness in return.
After the third or fourth day, our quiet coffee plantation became a celebration and meeting place for family friends. They were Rajesh’s old schoolmates. I had not yet had the opportunity to share and spend so much time with an Indian family until now and this was funny, entertaining and interesting. My dinner time was set at around 7pm with Gangie because I have slowly been eating earlier, giving my stomach more time to digest before bedtime. If you know anything about Indian culture and meal times, they will eat late and heavy.
One of the most memorable nights was the evening of Mutton Curry (Saoji Curry), and eating the curry and rice with my hands. This meal was deeeelicious and meticulously prepared by one of the guests, Jayant. I witnessed the entire process for making Saoji, and you quickly see and can appreciate the dedication, patience and passion that is involved in Indian cuisine. This is serious! Bravo Chef!
Following dinner table banter, laughs, mutton curry, stories, and our bellies full, I was surprised to see Gangie’s son, Rajesh, on the floor, being stretched by the ankles and arms in opposite directions. What is going on here HAHA!!
THE PEOPLE WE MEET
The next few days continued to be educational and cultural on different levels, taking a full day to visit several temples, taking “pujas” with the family, learning about the ancient Indian science, “Vastu” and one man’s acting in Indian TV and film.
Our excellent Chef, Jayant, has an MBA (Marketing, HR), and PGDAME (Events, Media & Advertising), with varied experiences in the corporate system in different roles and responsibilities. Despite this career path, Jayant has a creative and expressive side that defines him. He is passionate about interior design, Vastu consulting, as well as anchoring events and acting.
He hosts an Indian travel show, India Travel Vids (on youtube), with the intention to inspire his fellowmen and international audiences to discover India. Overseas, India is known as “The land of snake charmers and poverty” yet, Incredible India has its name for many reasons, indeed, and there are so many unknown, hidden gems yet to be explored. The show is currently in Marathi and Hindi. However, translations in English for international viewers are in the works. Subscribers to the show are upwards of 65,000. Check out one of his latest adventures, Rajmachi trek and incredible waterfall:
Jayant consults Vastu for individuals and families. For those not familiar with this Indian science, below are a few key points:
- Vastu has a scientific approach to balancing the natural energies in and around our lives. If the energies are unbalanced in your vastu, you are likely to receive adverse effects.
- Vastu is a building, a house, a city, a state, even a continent. In a person’s life, having a ‘healthy’ Vastu is said to contribute 25% to their success for a balanced happy existence.
- There are nine zones in Vastu, divided as follows: N, E, S, W, NE, NW, SE, SW and Brahma.
- NE is the designated space for cosmic energy to enter into space, also known as Electro Magnetic Field (EMF). Upon coming in, it will travel to SW and continue onto SE and then NW. For this energy to move through, the NE corner must be clear of construction, an open space. This is the ideal location for the gate or entrance of the house. EMF will not enter this space if it is blocked. Brahma, located in the center, needs to be clear and open and this would be the ideal area for an interior courtyard or garden. No water bodies should be placed in Brahma zone.
- General guidelines for appropriate Vastu: children’s bedroom NW, SE for the study room as this is a place of high activation energies. The master bedroom SW, staircase S, toilets W, kitchen SE. All heavy electric equipment such as those used for the kitchen should be kept in SE. Brahma in the center (open space), the gate or entrance of the house in NE.
- Without proper placement issues related to health, finances, interpersonal relationships are typical to arise. With toilets in the N and the kitchen not in Agnia (SE), chronic disease as well as terminal disease is more likely to occur.
- Aside from these general guidelines for proper Vastu, other factors come into play such as: location to roadways, soil conditions, if the property is on an incline or slop, hills and water bodies.
Jayant is a certified Vastu consultant for Dr. Nirmal Shah, the only individual with a doctorate in Vastushastra. The World Health Organization has recognized the scientific approach of Vastushastra.
For additional inquiries and Vastu consulting, contact Jayant: email@example.com.
Jayant is also making his debut in the Indian Film Industry, starring as Ibrahim Khan. The film is based on the war of Panipath in 1761 and it will be the first representation of the General of Infantry of Maratha army to be seen on the big screen. Panipath is scheduled to be released in March 2019. So keep your eyes open!
The time is now, Guatemala awaits you, bordering the south of Mexico, Guatemala City Airport is approximately 2.5 hour flight from Miami or Houston. Guatemala offers a vast natural playground for the daring international visitors looking to plunge into something completely different. Guatemala is the perfect getaway for a long weekend or if you can take a few extra days off for your next holiday. Check out our experiences for family fun, couples retreat or if you are just traveling solo, with a friend and looking for adventure.
Experience our flavors here:
Have you ever hiked a volcano? What are you waiting for? Get out there, check it here and on the way visit coffee plantations: This is one-of-a-kind true local coffee experience while supporting a local NGO near La Antigua Guatemala. It takes you to the volcano on a small hike through coffee fields while learning from smallholder coffee farmers and experience a day in the life of a farmer. At the end share a delicious cup of coffee in their home. Read full details here.
Go local and learn from a Guatemalan family how to make traditional Guatemalan dishes nearby Antigua Guatemala, a UNESCO Heritage Site and expat melting pot: Learn how to prepare Pepian, one of many traditional dishes of our country and our famous “tortillas”. This delicious dish is a thick meat and vegetable stew full of local herbs and spice served with rice and vegetables. Read full details here.
Have you ever participated in a Sacred Mayan Fire Ceremony?
We are fortunate to be close to our Mayan Ancestral roots and to hold space to express gratitude for our blessings in sacred gatherings of Mayan Fire ceremonies. Indigenous communities and visitors participate in this mystical ritual for healing, cleansing energies, for clarity, to offer prayers, and re-connect to the life source and themselves. This is not a religious practice, but based on the belief that all of our destinies are interconnected. We invite you to experience this mystical ancestral ritual in sacred altars. Read full details here.
Not sure when but you’d like to plan some experiences for your next holiday? Get in touch, we’ll help you put something together. Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or contact us +502 4261 9223.
Be the dream. Travel. Life is short.