Magic at Chiklihole

TRAVEL

This quaint, seldom-visited place called Chiklihole resembles the celebrated Periyar lake of Kerala.

If you are wondering what it is about Periyar that is so fascinating, then you must know that Periyar is reputed for its mystic appeal, contributed by the lakes there with sunken ground for trees whose putrefying trunks rise out of the water. They are picturesque and eerie all at once!

It’s not completely surprising if you have visited Kodagu and not seen Chiklihole. In spite of several visits to Kodagu, I had missed out on this breathtaking locale. Sometimes, a place finds you instead of you finding it. This is exactly what happened, when I chanced upon this lake; unintentionally as the cab driver drove past it to take a detour.

Nevertheless, its beauty has left a memorable mark on me; something to savour.

Periyar-Chiklihole connection
Chiklihole is a calm, serene and beautiful tank in Kodagu, poetic in its appearance. It has numerous leafless trees and randomly shaped putrefied trunks rising out of the subtly greenish-blue water as if they were sea horses.

Walking up to the waters, I could instantly relate to Periyar of Kerala. Chiklihole seemed similar in appearance to Periyar, though smaller in size – but its spell on me was quite magical. It seemed like I was injected with a tranquiliser and suddenly found myself mesmerised by the peace and bliss of this tank.

Sitting down on one of its numerous mounds, I observed how this little body of water had green meadows sprawling on one side of it, while there were thick forests on the other. Few hours passed by, as I observed it closely and realised there was more to this water body than meets the eye!

The reservoir
Chiklihole is a reservoir situated on the tributary of River Cauvery. Chiklihole’s water, along with water from nearby Harangi, is a big source of water for farmers here – and also a source of hope. Only source of hope, especially when the rain gods choose to play spoilt-sport; when farmers face utter scarcity of water for agriculture.

Water from both dams is supplied to farmers in the villages who wait each year to get a good yield. And one of the farmers I spoke to indicated that, if the supply from Chiklihole is good, farmers take up growing crops like jowar, tobacco, ginger and paddy as well.

In and around
Around the water body filled with trunks and a house-like structure in the middle, there are small, random-shaped hillocks formed from by the collection of sand lying beside the lake. These mounds have hardened over time. Quite a lot of cattle and sheep can be seen grazing – and why not when there is so much of green meadows and water?

This got me visualising about how the Chiklihole irrigation catchment area would look when it is brimming with water. Perhaps, the trees would be further submerged and the birds perched on them would be closer to water? 

But in reality, as the lake gets fuller, the water is let out into the rivers in order to ensure it does not overflow into the land nearby. Many types of birds come in and perch on these sunken branches. Given the pin-drop silence here, chirping of most birds is quite vivid.
A bird lover would certainly cherish being here, but this apart; it’s a great stress-buster and a place for nature lovers. In addition to the birds, Chiklihole is merely three kilometers from the Dubare elephant camp.

A must-see…
So, plan on stopping by this serene lake of Chiklihole to fill your lungs with oxygen and hear the chirping of the birds incessantly. If you can stay back till the sun sets over the Periyar of Karnataka, then you can exploit the liberal photo opportunities this reservoir offers. 

Located in the northern Kodagu region between Madikeri and Kushalnagar, Chiklihole is roughly 15 km from both places. The months between March and June are the best time to visit, especially if you want to see a filled-up reservoir. Visitors to Kodagu must take a stop-over at this place.

Walking back, I thought about how there is a little bit of magic in everything and everywhere.

The urge to travel till Kerala to see the putrefied trunks of trees at Periyar had remained a desire for a long time, but suddenly after seeing Chiklihole it seemed like that desire had been fulfilled.

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