Dubare Elephant Camp to open from Sept. 15 with restrictions
Kushalnagar: Many tourist destinations in Kodagu were thrown open on Sept. 1 after months of COVID-induced closure but the public response remained tepid. The District Administration is preparing to open all tourist spots from Sept. 15 and stakeholders are expecting a surge in the number of visitors.
Although most of the tourist spots in the lush green and hilly district of Kodagu, which were shut down due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in March, reopened on Sept. 1 after the State Government announced new relaxations a day earlier, some of the tourist spots coming under the control of Forest Department have remained closed.
These tourist spots included Dubare Elephant Camp, Mallalli Falls in Somwarpet taluk, Irupu Falls in Virajpet taluk, trekking and expedition spots including Thadiyandamol and the famed Mandalpatti have not reopened as a precautionary and safety measure. These spots are most likely to open on Sept. 15.
Among the places that are popular is Dubare Elephant Camp where tourists can see and experience tamed elephants in close quarters and take a look at the life of an elephant and its mahout and kavadi in a day. Also, the place is famous for White Water River Rafting. The Forest Department, however, is now constructing barricades in the wake of COVID pandemic to separate elephant enclosures from the tourists.
Earlier at Dubare, one could touch and feed the elephants and this was a popular activity for almost all the tourists, especially children. But henceforth, this activity will not be allowed and there will be a six-foot distance between elephants and tourists.
Rafting at Dubare has not been permitted along with boating activities at Cauvery Nisargadhama in Kushalnagar as at present, the water currents are strong and it is dangerous to raft or pedal a boat. These activities are likely to be open from November, said Forest Department officials. At present, barricading works are being undertaken at Dubare.
The tourist spots which opened on Sept. 1 included Abbe Falls, Raja’s Seat, Chikklihole Dam, Kanive Aqueduct and Cauvery Nisargadhama.
Nisargadhama, a beautiful 64-acre island near Kushalnagar on the Mysuru-Madikeri Highway, has been renovated and beautified by the Forest Department. The nature park, surrounded by River Cauvery, is an ideal weekend getaway for those who yearn to be amidst nature, far from the madding crowd.
However, visitors are not allowed to touch any animal at the Deer Park which has been completely fenced as a COVID-19 safety measure.
Nisargadhama recorded a footfall of 150 visitors on the first day of reopening on Sept.1 with all COVID-19 safety measures such as thermal screening, wearing of facemask and use of hand sanitisers. Besides, all sit outs and other seating spots are sanitised every day in accordance with the protocol.
Kushalnagar Range Deputy Range Forest Officer Vilas told Star of Mysore that they were expecting an increase in the number of tourists in the coming days. This apart, the tourist destination is likely to witness a good number of visitors on weekends and the Forest Department, which manages the tourist spot, is mulling on allowing visitors in batches if the crowd gets bigger. However, pedal boating is disallowed for now and the Department may allow its resumption only in November after getting permission from the Government, he added.
Raghavendra, Assistant Director of Tourism, Kodagu, said that all tourist spots, including the ones controlled by the Forest and Tourism Departments, will re-open from Sept. 15.
The Department has put all COVID-19 precautions in place at all tourist spots and centres, he said.
However, there will be no rafting for now at Dubare Elephant Camp and the visitors have to maintain a safe distance from the pachyderms, he added.
Golden Temple at Bylakuppe to remain closed till Oct. 26
The famous Namdroling Monastery — commonly called the Golden Temple — located inside Tibetan Camp at Bylakuppe on Mysuru-Madikeri Highway will remain shut for visitors till Oct. 26.
The Temple, a popular tourist spot close to the border of Mysuru-Kodagu district near Kushalnagar, was closed for visitors following the nationwide COVID-19-induced lockdown in March.
The temple will remain closed till Oct. 26 as a precautionary measure and no outsiders will be allowed entry into the Temple, according to Lobon, General Secretary of Namdroling Monastery, who manages the Buddhist Temple.