Connect with a region that represents so much that is Indian
India’s culture upholds an image of duality, ever-changing cycles, and bold, organic beauty in everything to the world’s audience. When you think of India, you may think bright colors, spices, mysterious religion, and an organic chaos. It’s no wonder India is such a fascination. This is a a jarring contrast to the rest of the temperate world where stability lead daily life and culture. India’s yearly Monsoon is a perfect representation of that regenerative chaos that India inspires and has inspired Indian culture.
Throughout the region of the Western Ghats, the Monsoon is a necessary and transformative experience. It’s celebrated and life flows with the downpour. Between the months of June and September, a green emerges over the Western Ghats that blankets the rolling, mountainous hills. It brings to life an experience of nature and humanity thriving not found quite like this elsewhere in the world.
Here’s what it’s like to live this cultural and natural experience in seven days:
What is the Western Ghats:
The Western Ghats region is a mountainous area of continental India. The result is a stunning rolling, mountainous region that borders a beautiful coastline. It’s the ideal location to explore the cross sections of culture, livelihood, landscapes, and nature. Here, people thrive and celebrate the torrential downpour of the monsoon. An entire livelihood and culture has grown within it year after year. The Western Ghats’ atmosphere is so unique, this region is a UNESCO world heritage site. Eight days else where is hard to fill. Eight days here is a life-changing experience.
Day one: Start at the crossroads of daily life and nature
The journey begins in the green, hilly town of Sakleshpur, Karantaka. This town, known for its coffee plantation, boasts perfect growing conditions in the fertile, mountainous hills. We stay in a homestay that is a traditional village home run by welcoming locals. We explore the area surrounding on foot. We trek down meandering trails to a get to a quiet stream and waterfall. It is the perfect introduction to this region during monsoon season. It’s a good opportunity to get used to existing with the water and thriving in it like this region does so well. Our local hosts cook a traditional “Malenadu” meal. The name Maneldu means “region of rains” in the local language. It’s a unique cuisine and culture we get a rare personal experience of staying among locals.
Day two: Spend a day in the elements:
The next day we get a little more adventurous. We travel further into the Western Ghats region, chasing the monsoon and discovering culture in its path. We travel by bike and over bodies of water to Mudigere, a traditional village further into the region. Here we stay at a coffee plantation homestay where we get to tour the coffee plantation with those who have made this their livelihood. We experience their way of life living off the land and monsoon in a hands on way, completely unique. We see the entire coffee life cycle from growing beans to grinding aromatic coffee. We venture deep in the hills while exploring the stunning green views. Our local friends here provide an incredible traditional meal, completely homemade. It’s a perfect way to end a day of exploration in the elements.
Day three: Make the edge of the wild home:
Day three we get a bit little more “wild”. We travel by bike through a town to the Kudremukh National Park. This park is an preserved wildlife sanctuary where we are visitors to the unique wildlife. We have a lunch in nature before traveling to another village. We spend our night in a heritage home that completely embodies the culture and tradition of the region. Our hosts do as well as they introduce us to the Malenadu way of life and their warm hospitality. The homestay overlooks a stream and coffee plantations for an unforgettable morning experience.
Day four: Visit Wisdom and Knowledge in her homeland:
After traveling again through the national park for incredible views, we reach the town of Shringeri. Here we visit the temple of the goddess Sharada. She is the goddess of knowledge, learning, and wisdom. It’s customary to bring school age children here to ask for her guidance for their journey towards knowledge. The temple is 1200 years old and an amazing testament to the region’s long-standing harmony between humanity and nature. We stay in a spice plantation homestay where we explore the spices that make cuisine here so unique.
Day five: Come face-to-face with wildlife:
Here we catch up to the Monsoon as we ride into the region with the second highest rainfall in India. We visit the Agumbe Rain Forest Reserve where we will learn about the wildlife. The king cobra also calls this region and the monsoon home. The ARRS’ mission is to raise awareness through their programs for the preservation and deeper understanding of India’s native wildlife. The reserve takes us on a night trek to face these feared creatures in their natural habitat and develop a new understanding of the king cobra like a local.
Day six: Experience where culture and nature meet; ancient and new:
We leave Agumbe on bike and ride to Kavledurga fort for an amazing look at the past among the green of the mountains. This fort dates back to the 9th century and holds the stories of the growth of the Vijayanagar Dynasty. The stone structure both contrasts and compliments the region. We visit one of the biggest mountain peaks, Kodachadri. It rises as a massive green formation for an amazing view. We eat out in the elements before our journey to our next homestay. The Simha Farms homestay is unique with a mix of art in nature. They share a completely sustainable way of life with us.
Day seven: Descend from the high rains to a coastal calm:
From here on, we begin our descent from the mountainous region down to very near coastline. We spend a day on a downhill to Maravanthe Beach. This is one of the most peaceful and beautiful areas of coastline in India. Hidden from normal tourist destinations, it’s a perfect way to end an adventure like this. It’s serene and a great place to enjoy one more type of coastal cuisine.