One drizzly morning in Madikeri

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A view of the mountains from a bench at Raja’s Seat

That a DSLR camera makes a sea of difference to your life is no exaggeration. My recent trip to the beautiful hill-town of Madikeri exemplified this and more. This was not my first visit. I have been here innumerable times mostly during my childhood. This was were my grandmom stayed for a good 20 years of her life, reason enough for me and other kids in the family to spend many memorable school vacations complete with games and story-telling. Little would I have known then that my fairy tale land would one day turn to a photographic haven.

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A typical bungalow surrounded by trees

I woke up early one Sunday morning before the crack of dawn to trek all the way to Raja’s Seat, Madikeri’s most famous tourist spot. The idea was to capture the sunrise but sadly I was a tad late. However,  the walk uphill made up for the disappointment in a large way. The air was filled with a mélange of fragrances. The faint drizzle added to the romance of the surroundings. Every now and then Magpie Robins broke into a song. At a distance the rooster crowed, “kookra-a-koo ku”, not once but thrice. There were so many sparrows chirping around. The road was lined with dwellings large and small, some old others trendy. All along, there were narrow mud roads wet because of the incessant drizzles. The 4-km walk was simply out of the world. And to add to all the nature’s treats was a soft-as-satin breeze blowing against my face.

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I looked everywhere except at my watch so I wouldn’t be able to say for how long I had walked before I eventually reached Raja’s Seat. There were a lot of people at the park. I could see joggers, walkers, and a lot of tourists. The flowers were wet and looked fresh and pretty.  They stood out against the lush greenery. Birds chirped and sang in concert.

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The main structure at Raja’s Seat

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The ramp at Raja’s Seat offers picturesque view of the mountains

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As I approached the Raja’s Seat, the air smelt sweeter. The sight of clouds kissing the mountains was breathtaking. Once upon a time, this was where the erstwhile Rajas of Kodagu (Coorg) spent a lot of time enjoying nature and watching the emerald mountains and blue skies.

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A group of tourists had completely let their hair down running around trying to catch each other, some others were playing musical chair and then there was a group tugging at each others shirts and saree pallus reciting “Fire in the Mountain, run run run …”. Perhaps the beauty of the surroundings had driven them nuts.

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An attractive bench at Raja’s Seat

A good half-an-hour later, I made my way back. This time my walk was downhill. The experience was similar to my walk uphill. I felt like in heaven.

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A view of Madikeri town

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A weather-beaten building

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A week later, the songs of the magpie robins linger in my mind. I can still smell the fragrances of the flowers. The mountains of Coorg are a great place to be in summer!

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Book Review: Bangalore – Swinging in the 70s

Through his illustration-laden coffee table book “Bangalore – Swinging in the 70s”, artist Paul Fernandes has paid a very colourful  and apt tribute to the 70s’ laid-back life in one of India’s finest cities. Complementing the delightful illustrations is the eloquent text with lots of humour thrown in for good measure.

The book vividly describes how life was in Bangalore’s Cantonment area as seen through the author’s eyes from his large bungalow on Pottery Road where he spent his childhood, his daily commutes to school and college, visits to the market place, theatre and more. A highlight is the page of contents. The author has deviated from the usual list style and instead laid out the titles across an illustrated map of the Cantonment area.

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Picture courtesy: E-bay

The 70s in Bangalore was when bell bottoms were in vogue, TV was not heard of, visits to a theatre a celebration of sorts, riding through the roads on a cycle was a pleasure, and cops wore parachute shorts and extremely tall hats that would be dislodged by mischievous school boys. The city then had a sizeable Anglo-Indian population. Those were the days when policemen were paid to grow handle-bar moustaches. Sparrows were in plenty and had nests in almost all homes. The majority of the roads in the city were lined with trees. Throughout the year, trees were in bloom at some part of the city thanks to the efforts of botanist extraordinaire Gustav Krumbiegel.

Chapters on Victoria Hotel fondly referred to by the author as Old Vic, Dewar’s Bar near Bamboo Bazaar and Hotel Udyavan on MG Road will make one feel very sad and wonder why these popular age-old edifices had to go. The references to the oil-bodied mango thieves of the 70s is very cute. It goes without saying that Paul Fernandes has a flashbulb memory.

Being a 70s’ child, the book made me feel nostalgic of the Bangalore of my childhood and flooded my mind with lovely memories.

“Bangalore – Swinging in the 70s” makes for wonderful reading. A must-buy if not a must-read for all Bangaloreans especially the ones who have been here since the 70s!

The best place to buy the book would be at Paul Fernandes’ gallery Apaulogy in Richards Town, one of the few localities in Bangalore which still has an old-world charm. If lucky you could get to meet the man behind the book. And of course you could spend time looking at the amazing illustrations on view. The book is priced at INR 2600 and I must say worth every rupee.

Also read:

A walk down Richards Town
https://sujnaturelover.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/a-walk-down-richards-town/