One does not need to go as far as Kerala to see a lake of the stature of the Periyar. This especially holds true for residents of Karnataka. Just a visit to Chiklihole in Coorg will show you a look-alike of Periyar – a beautiful lake with numerous leafless trees and trunks emerging like sea-horses from the surface of this beautiful lake; are you also reminded of the Loch Ness Monster?
My first tryst with Chiklihole was during my third visit to Coorg – perhaps this explains how less explored this place has been…
We chanced upon Chiklihole quite unintentionally as our cab driver drove through it. However, the place left an intentional mark on me. Offering immense peace and tranquility amidst the chaos, Chiklihole got me submerged in its surroundings, and the time simply flew past. With green meadows on one side of the dam and thick forests on the other, Chiklihole is surely a sight to behold.
Interestingly, around the water body, there are small, randomly-shaped hillocks formed from the sand found close to the lake side. Sitting on one of them, I felt the calmness and watched the cattle and sheep grazing besides the lake. While speaking to a couple of passers-by, I realized that Chiklihole is a large reservoir, situated on the tributary of River Cauvery. One person I spoke to was a farmer, who indicated that the water from the Chiklihole and Harangi dams are the only source of hope for farmers, especially when the rain gods choose to be spoilt-sports. Water from both dams is supplied to the farmers in the villages, who wait each year for a good yield. And if the supply from Chiklihole is good, farmers take up growing crops like Jowar, Tobacco, Ginger and Paddy.
This had me visualizing how the Chiklihole irrigation catchment area would look when it is brimming with water. Perhaps, the trees would be further submerged. However, the water is let out into the rivers usually when it gets fuller. The best time to visit this place is between March and June, if one wants to see a dam that is full. Visitors to Coorg must make a stop-over at this place – as it is merely 15 kms from Kushalnagar, located in Northern Kodagu, between Madikeri and Kushalnagar.
The pin-drop silence in this area makes it possible for one to hear the chirping of each bird vividly – a definite stress buster and a must-see for nature lovers. An added attraction is that the Dubare Elephant Camp is just three kilometers from here.
As the sun set over this Periyar-like setting, the shutterbug in me took advantage of the liberal opportunities for photography that this reservoir offered. Walking back, I thought about how there is a little bit of magic in everything and everywhere – Chiklihole for one had cast a magical spell on me!