Kushalnagar: The only one hanging or suspension bridge that is in proper shape and is useful to people of Kodagu is the Theppadakandi Hanging Bridge near Guddehosur in Kushalnagar. This bridge connects Mysuru district (Periyapatna taluk) with Kodagu.
Theppadakandi is a small village in Guddehosur and earlier, people used to cross River Cauvery using improvised bamboo boats, coracles — that is why the village got its name — ‘Theppa’ means a floating bamboo raft. However, raft crossing had led to several causalities. Residents, including students, cross the river to reach Rani Gate, Maroor, Lingapura, Doddaharave, Doddehosur and Tomabathu Acre villages. Crossing the river was the shortest but dangerous route.
Dangerous because people used rafts made of bamboo or small tree trunks or banana stem to cross the river and was very risky especially during rainy season. River Cauvery separates Kodagu and Mysuru districts near Theppadakandi village.
Realising the need of an eco-friendly hanging bridge as a concrete bridge was not a viable but a too expensive proposition, the State Government sanctioned money for a hanging bridge. In fact, the credit for this hanging bridge must go to Guddemane Vishu Kumar and his brother-in-law D.V. Sadananda Gowda, former Chief Minister and now Union Minister in Narendra Modi Government.
Vishu Kumar raised public opinion in favour of the bridge and the issue was highlighted inside Vidhana Soudha by Madikeri MLA M.P. Appachu Ranjan. Through the Malnad Area Development Board, Rs. 83.75 lakh was sanctioned and Bridge Man Padma Shri Girish Bharadwaj took up the construction. It was inaugurated in October 2012.
The bridge is built near the road leading to Nanjarayapattana, Dubare camp from Guddehosur. During monsoon, villagers had to take a longer route via Bylakuppe to reach Kushalnagar, Guddehosur and Basavanahalli. The bridge is a boon to school and college-going students and farmers who reside on the other side of the river.
Apart from agrarian activities, farmers are engaged in dairy farming and it was difficult to sell milk to places including Guddehosur in the absence of a bridge. The farmers were carrying milk to the Guddehosur Dairy by crossing the 300-metre river using coracles. Now the hanging bridge has eased the process.
Before the hanging bridge was constructed, villagers were deprived of daily wages as they could not reach the estates in Kodagu for work whereas from Kodagu side they were denied quick access to reach Mysuru district and people had to walk extra miles to reach their destination.
In fact, when the COVID-induced lockdown was announced, labourers used this hanging bridge to reach coffee estates in Kodagu for daily wages. Their movement was not restricted and even the estate owners were happy that despite nationwide lockdown, the work in their plantations was not hampered. The labourers were in turn happy that they were able to earn money for survival even during lockdown.
Unfortunately their happiness was short-lived as the Police came to know about their secret route and closed it down in their attempt to enforce the lockdown strictly. Even now, people use coracles, not to cross the river but to catch fish that is available in abundance in the river. The view of coracles from the hanging bridge floating on the water below is breath-taking. Even the surroundings of the hanging bridge is lush green with trees and paddy fields. It is an ideal and unexplored tourist spot.