Madikeri: After according permission to jeep owners to ferry tourists to the hilly tourist spot of Mandalapatti in North Kodagu, with some riders and conditions, the Kodagu District Administration has now decided only to permit Yellow Board jeeps (taxis) to transport tourists.
At a meeting of Mandalapatti Management and Supervision Committee held at the Deputy Commissioner’s Office under the Chairmanship of DC Annies Kanmani Joy, it was decided to ban all sorts of vehicles other than taxies up the Mandalapatti Hills.
As per the decision taken in the recent meeting, drivers of such yellow board jeeps must obtain mandatory identity cards from the Madikeri RTO Office and the Tourism Department.
Kodagu Superintendent of Police Dr. Suman D. Pennekar, who also attended the meeting, warned the jeep operators to strictly follow the price list decided by the Committee and not to fleece the tourists.
She said that speed-breakers must be set up on the Mandalapatti Road in a particular frequency to prevent drivers from over-speeding. The Public Works Department (PWD) and the local Panchayats, Police and the Engineering Department must take steps to devise a surveillance mechanism by installing CCTV cameras all along the way.
Also, the DC and the SP directed the officials to ensure that the drivers are not in an inebriated state while at work. RTO officials must frequently check the drivers, their credentials and documents to ensure that they are not drunk and all documents are in order. All vehicles entering Mandalapatti will have to pay Rs. 50 per vehicle and Rs. 25 per person and the Panchayat must be paid Rs. 25 per four-wheeler and Rs. 15 per two-wheeler.
Mandalapatti is one of the most sought after tourist locations in Kodagu district at a distance of around 15 to 17 kilometres from Madikeri. According to villagers, the name Mandalapatti means that the place where ‘Heaven meets the Earth’ and the tourists who visit the area are spell-bound by the serene beauty, accompanied by mist, that the nature embraces in its arms.
Mandalapatti is a part of Pushpagiri Reserve Forest and the place has become a famous four-by-four jeep drive spot to the top. The nearest town to Mandalapatti is Madikeri. From Madikeri, Mandalapatti is around 17 kms and one can drive till the last three kilometres. Tourists are not allowed to drive for the last 3 km because of the restriction put by the Mandalapatti Forest Department.
Tourists are taken from Madikeri to Mandalapatti by private jeep owners and their agents. The last stretch of 3 km jeep drive is like a rope walk across a ravine as it is ridden with few dangers and needs driving expertise to touch the destination.