Also known as “Cherrapunji of the South”, Agumbe is an utterly beautiful village in the Thirthahalli taluk of Shimoga district in Karnataka. Nestled in the Malnad region, Agumbe is well-known for its bio diversity and rain forests. One of the most scenic places in India, Agumbe is most famous for its spectacular sunset which can be viewed on one of the tallest peaks of the Western Ghats on the Udupi-Agumbe road. This tiny village therefore is a haven for tourists, trekkers and nature enthusiasts alike.
While in Agumbe we decided to take the road ‘less traveled’ and visited the famous ‘Dodda mane’ which means big house in Kannada. Located in the heart of the village, this is a heritage house that stood the true test of time. Built in what is called the ‘thotti mane’ style in local parlance, this 150 year old house has a huge courtyard in the center that is open and surrounded by wooden pillars. Every single drop of rainwater that falls in the courtyard is harvested by allowing it to seep into four pits dug into the ground. And considering that the mean annual rainfall in Agumbe is 7,620 millimetres (300 in), it is definitely a huge quantity of water conserved! The house itself is a treat to visit if you love anything that is rustic and traditional. Replete with antique furniture, vintage storage boxes, doors with intricate carvings, utensils and kitchen aids of the yesteryears, the house is nothing short of fascinating. A few episodes of the famous TV serial “Malgudi days” were also shot here.
Complimenting this is the heart-warming hospitality offered by the matriarch Kasthuri, fondly known as Kasturi akka. While we were in the house for a short visit, Dodda mane also offers accommodation to scores of trekkers and tourists. The visitors are provided authentic home cooked vegetarian meals. The rates are not fixed and visitors are free to pay what they deem appropriate and the fact that all the proceeds from this goes in supporting the cause of education in the village is indeed a noble thought. Their advise and tips on sightseeing and treks around the area is an additional bonus!
Kasturi akka’s son-in-law was happy to show us around the house and we also spent some time with the family over hots cups of freshly brewed ‘kashaya‘ (an ayurvedic preparation that is therapeutic for the throat and respiratory system). The fact that it had been a busy morning for them as they had cooked a lot of food for two groups of trekkers who finally never turned up had not dampened their spirits. While I was quite aghast and asked them if they had not taken an advance booking, they just negated the whole idea very cheerfully saying it was a common occurrence for them. They did admit however, that it tends to get very difficult in times like this because all food, vegetables and perishables need to be outsourced as nothing is cultivated in Agumbe. Nonetheless, this speaks volumes of their generosity and open-mindedness!
If you are in Agumbe, this is place has to be on your list; Dodda mane will make you feel truly welcome!