28-Feb-2004 -- We had planned to visit this point as well as four more points on a trip that would take us through three states. Due to most of us being busy on a couple of weekends, we were finally able to embark on this long trip with a route charted out to reach five confluences over a weekend.
12N76E is located in the district of Kodagu (a.k.a. Coorg) in southern Karnataka. Kodagu is coffee country. Some of the best coffee in the world is grown here. The point was in the general vicinity of the town of Kutta.
It is typically a 5 to 6 hour drive from Bangalore and the route goes through the beautiful city of Mysore and on to Hunsur before we turn south towards the Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuary (a.k.a know as the Rajiv Gandhi National Park). We planned to drive to Mysore and stay overnight before leaving for Kutta next morning.
Jagan and Nath piled their luggage into the Mahindra Bolero and came and picked me up at 1530 hrs on Friday, February 27. We drove down the busy highway that connects Mysore and Bangalore and reached Mysore at 1815 hrs. Jagan had to meet a few of his colleagues there and soon after that, we checked into the spacious Sports Club guest house. The Sports Club takes you back to the time when Mysore was an independent kingdom ruled by the Maharaja with its well preserved ambience and architecture.
We checked out at 0600 hrs the next day met with a friend of Jagan and Nath before we headed out to Kutta. After we passed Hunsur, the road deteriorated a bit and our pace slowed down considerably. We had to pass through the forest checkpost to enter Nagahole National Park. We were told that we would be able to see some wildlife if we were lucky. The whole forest was dry. We did get to see lots of monkeys, spotted deer and a lone peacock beside the road. We passed through Nagarhole and continued to meet up with a ham friend Cheng (callsign VU2GUY) whose estate (Palthope Estate: http://www.indiacoffee.org/iicf/21.html) was very close to the confluence. I had not met Cheng (his full name is B. B. Chengappa) for a decade and this was a good opportunity to do so. He also has a GPS which he uses extensively to map his property. In fact, instead of giving me directions to his estate, he gave me the coordinates (12N 00'10.3", 76E 02'59.1") which I programmed into my GPS and we had no problems getting there!
After chatting for a while we piled into the vehicle and let Cheng drive us to the nearest point on the road. Our GPSs told us that the point was 5.4 kilometers from Palthope Estate. In ten minutes we arrived at a spot on the road that was 150 meters from the confluence. The GPS pointed to the left into Vishwaroopa Estate. We decided to drive in and request the owner permission to walk through his coffee estate. We met the owner Nanda Subbaiah and he was quite thrilled to know what we were trying to do. We set out into the plantation from a gate behind his house and entered the plantation. Coffee bushes are grown in the shade and they are not very tall. We marched in with our GPSs and at one point had to get off the path and find our way through the coffee plants. The only way we could make progress was to crawl from under the low branches and reach clearings to check our coordinates on the GPS. After about 20 minutes of crawling, scrapping our elbows and being bitten by some vicious red ants, we found the confluence in between coffee plants. The altitude recorded was 820 meters. The time was 1037 hrs. We took the necessary photographs and after a few minutes, crawled our way out of the plantation.
We headed back to Cheng’s estate where we took a few photographs and then thanked Cheng for his hospitality and tore our selves away to continue on towards Kozhikode (a.k.a Calicut) in Kerala to attempt another confluence (11°N 76°E).