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It is indeed fascinating to see how a river is born. While the major rivers in India originate at the glaciers of the Himalayas, like the Ganga or Yamuna, many others arise in the tropical hills. Take the Cauvery for example. It starts on the slopes of the Brahmagiri mountain ranges in the Coorg district. When I read about it, it intrigued me, enough visit and witness the birth of the mighty river.
I was traveling from Mangalore and chose to drive down, instead of taking a train or even riding my back. It’s always more convenient in the monsoon, especially when you just want to relax over a long weekend and don’t have the energy to drive for five hours. Fortunately enough, I could avail a hassle-free car rental in Mangalore with a driver who was experienced with the roads and even the best spots in Coorg.
After a couple of days in Madikeri and around, I managed to cull out some time to visit Tala Kaveri. It is a little outside the town and main sightseeing and needs an entire day to explore.
Tala Kaveri – the birth of a river
Tala Kaveri is near Bhagamandala, about 45 Km from Madikeri. It took me around two hours via Tala Kaveri Road, mostly due to the intermittent rains and a little weekend traffic. Driving through the winding, roads, through the lush coffee estates and spice plantations, I was accompanied by the grave and dense horizon, painting a monochrome of greyish black. If I could put it right, it was eerily beautiful. The road towards Tala Kaveri was narrow and kept tapering as I continued uphill, barely enough for two vehicles to pass. The twists and turns could get a little nauseating for those who aren’t used to hilly roads. After nearly an hour and a half, the car came to a stop at the base of the hill. The rains had stopped, but the dark clouds continued to hang overhead, ready to unload any minute. My cabbies suggested that I should get done with my exploration soon
Looking around, one wouldn’t imagine that a river could originate from here. Anyhow, I got the car parked and went on with my tour. There was a temple at the base, dedicated to the Goddess Kaveri; like most rivers are associated with a mythological story and a goddess. Its holiness and purity (albeit figurative) are akin to the Ganges, and often called the Dakhin Ganga. Needless to say, being a temple, pilgrims were scurrying around for rituals or perhaps just to get a glimpse of the goddess who assumes the form of water. There are a host of legends about Cauvery, in the Puranas, associated with iconic names like Rishi Agasthya, King Kavera, among others.
There were huge tanks built around the temple, marking the source of the sacred water body. So, this is where it all started, I began to wonder, and flows all the way, feeding almost three states with its bounty. The gurgling spring perennially fills up the tank, with a little aid from the monsoon. The post-monsoon period is often regarded as the ‘rebirth of Cauvery’ and celebrated as an auspicious day, with devotees rushing here and taking a dip in the holy water. Belief is a fascinating thing, indeed.
Where the journey begins
I carried on further towards the path that led to a public viewing point on the top of a hill. It was quite a climb and makes for a great trek if that is what one wants to do. Atop, the dark clouds were forming a convention, ready to roll, but so far, kept the upper reaches of the Brahmagiri hills under a misty veil, with almost zero visibility in some part. The platform offered a stunning, 360-degree view of the horizon and the valley below. It was from this point that Cauvery starts her downward journey, and eventually disappears underground. Halfway through, she resurfaces and takes a deep dive down Bhagamandala, where she joins her consorts Kannike and Sujyoti, and off go the trio on a journey of eternity. The confluence of these three rivers, also called the Triveni Sangam, was another sacred site, quite like the Triveni Sangam of Allahabad.
The rains had started, but I stood there, admiring the birth of a mighty river, that starts as a shy little spring, hidden among the hills. She grows into an adventurous adolescent, and embarks on an 800 Km long journey with her companions and turns into a goddess. Her exciting odyssey traverses varied landscape across three states, from hills to plateaus, paddy fields, plantations, and the coast, before finally, she bids adieu and unites with her destiny at the Bay of Bengal.
- If you are traveling from another city, you can book a direct cab from Mangalore airport to Tala Kaveri.
- The nature spots around Tala Kaveri are also popular for camping, trekking, rafting, and more.