• profile Priya Belliappa,
  • August 18, 2018 | 11:47 am

The night the mountains fell…

The Night the Mountains fell a blog by Priya Belliappa about the Floods in Kodagu

The Western Ghats in India have been experiencing one of the worst natural calamities in recent history. Kerala is facing its worst flood in 100 years. Over 350 lives lost and more than 223150 people in over 1500 relief camps. Kodagu is a district in Karnataka adjacent to Kerala. Though Kodagu was facing the same fury of the monsoon rains that decimated Kerala little or nothing was being reported. Mainly because the population of this district is limited and also because politically it not a significant vote bank. Culturally and religiously Kodagu is very different from mainstream Karnataka and mainstream India. So, all things considered, no political leader took a step forward to help out immediately.

Here is a little story of how my Aunt survived the night the mountains fell.

My 66-year-old Aunt around lost her husband 3 months ago. She lives alone is a village called  Hatti near Madikeri. Her companion – a rescue puppy that she took home from  Bangalore.

In the area that she was living in little springs started to erupt from the earth. One erupted in her bathroom and she managed to divert it but did not pay attention to the warning signs. On the night of August 16th, she went to bed as usual. It was raining outside and she had her pup with her warm in the house.

At around 12:30 am that night she heard a thunderous roar. Like the earth crashing. Like the earth splitting. Like thunder under her feet. A sound she will never be able to describe. Within minutes of this sound, her neighbour who lives a few 100 meters away came knocking, urging her to leave with them. He told her that the mountain was shaking and they could not tell in the dark about the movement of the earth. Something bigger than they could imagine of was happening. And that they better go to a flatter, safer terrain.

She doesn’t remember the moment she left the house. She didn’t take anything with her.

The neighbour’s family and my Aunt ran in the rain in the middle of the dark night in the direction that their  guts guided them. Within minutes of leaving her house, her slippers got stuck in the mud and her night clothes that she left her home with were soaked. They ran towards Kannakolli junction. It took them over 2 hours to reach the junction and then they made their way to a relatives house. There are no roads that connect to that house. Just mud paths over uneven terrain. They reached there at around 2:30 at night.

They collectively decided to rest till the morning.

In less than 2 hours the house that they were resting in cracked open as a huge spring burst through the floors. Their resting place was not safe anymore. All of them had to leave the house before it crumbled under the pressure of the spring. They ran blindly in the dark once again. They began another long and arduous journey towards Suntikoppa town. The roads were filled with rouble and there were landslides everywhere.

She doesn’t recall much about this part of her journey as yet. She had been running, walking barefoot in the cold wet rain for over 8 hours.

At around 9 am they reached a slightly wider road, near an open area where they spotted a rescue mission in the process. They were individually lifted with ropes and over 100 rescued people were packed in a truck and dropped off in a little church in Suntikoppa. At 10:30 am she found a working phone and called her son. Her son could not reach her because the roads and highways have all disappeared. Lucky for them they had a friend in that area who went and picked her up. Her nephew reached their friend’s house and got her to his house in Gonikoppa at 4:30 in the evening.

My Aunt doesn’t know if the house that they have know as home for over half a century still exists. All she can think about right now is the little puppy she left behind. There is no road, way or path to go home.

My Aunt’s story is not an isolated one. Kodagu has been decimated. A lot of people are not reachable by phone or road. Electricity has been cut off. Roads have vanished. Mountains have fallen. The extent of damage cannot be assessed. They are many in desperate need of food, warm clothes, clean drinking water, and medical assistance.

The People of Coorg are resilient and helping each other is all ways that they can. They are the Gods that are there in the need of the hour.

Kodagu or Coorg as it is popularly known always gets a step-motherly treatment from the government. But the apathy of the govt. in this hour of crisis is criminal. The rescue mission that was deployed many days too late is now in motion. Much has been lost and hundreds have been reported missing.

Crying out loud to all those who can to Rescue Coorg, Save Coorg, and Re-build Coorg.

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Ronica Naveen

Thanks Priya for taking the pain of writing down the article which records the most shocking n horrific turn of events that my mother had to face i am yet to come to terms with the gravity of the situation which looks so surreal like a scene lifted frm one of the movies. Though the experience should not happen to anyone ur article has immortalized it .


Well written Priya but we coorgs do not deserve this at all under any situation.
I wish your aunt carried the pup along…..greedy?


No! That’s perfectly humane.


Very greedy to survive and to let that poor pup die behind


At 66, it’s impossible to carry along a pup and run around in the dark..just hoping and praying that the pup wud have run away from danger as animals seems to be very intuitive about these situations


I understand she couldn’t run with it but she could have atleast carried it out and left it on the street . Animals follow their owners loyally


Very greedy to survive ??? You seem demented


Demented ? That’s you. If it was a human child wouldn’t you go back inside house n pick up and run . Just bcos it was a pup it was ok to run ? Anyways now the pup is rescued I’m happy . I’m an animal lover I don’t hold anything against anyone expect to the fact that when you adopt a pet it’s your responsibility to look after them in any situation .

Santha john

Arpita you are heartless and safe I suppose


Yes very safe and helping people of kodagu with relief material .


That’s a great news . I’m an animal lover and have 9 dogs . I can never think of leaving them behind in such situation . That’s my point of view . When you write an article in an open forum you get both positive and negative comments .

Pavithra Puliyanda

In Igguthappa’s name may the Kodavas roar back stronger than before

Anand Naidu

It’s sad to hear about the disasters ,We are with Coorg and my support and what ever possiable we can do from our end

A Well-Wisher

Dear Priya,
Please do not lose faith. We are in this together. Today, it is Coorg and Kerala, tomorrow may as well be any of us. We support you. Hats off to your brave Aunt.
Warm Regards,
A Well-Wisher


Priya your aunt did the right thing by leaving immediately or else it might have been dangerous for her and her friends. Sad the pup was left behind. Human life takes precedence over animals. Wish the poor animals get rescued too. Thanks for sharing your story.. it could well be anyone anywhere next time so we need to reach out to Coorg and Kerala and many other parts of the nation who have these calamities. My prayers for the people who have been hurt and displaced.


Good Lord….may they all be safe… nothing to add just incredible sadness and admiration for the courage displayed…

Shyamala Sivaraman

Priya it is so sad to hear the night mare that yopur aunt & the neibours suffered. I have been to Coog 3 years back & stayed in Orange County. We visited Madikery Thalakavery etc. We can’t afford to loose such a calm & serene Coorg. Karnataka Government please take some steps to save Coorg.

Col Vivek Bopiah

HDK wrote off 38000 crores of loans to farmers but couldn’t allot a single rupee in aid to the population of Coorg in their hour of distress.
Shame on the politicians of all hue!


He has granted 200 crores . Check ur facts . Not a fan of HDK though

Sweekrithi Kumar

It’s not that the govt haven’t been doing anything, they are! so let’s not blame them instead let’s try doing our bit .

Kapil Kadam

Its better off to be autonomous atleast..if not for UT or reverting to Fmr State status. Coorgs/Kodavas will be better off!


today it is coorg and tomorrow it can be any place in karnataka due to this climate change effects. We should never forget Coorg is an Integral part of India and United we stand. Now is the time to say We should and must join our hands together. As such Natural calamities are bound to happen with time and space at any place. Lets recall how Japan is prepared with technologies to face more disastrous like quakes. Few years back it was kedarnath, now Coorg what happens in years to come is a big challenge, we should all be United… Read more »

Kavitha Hegde

Prayers for Kodagu ,,the spirit of kodavas will restore it’s glory ,,step by step & brick by brick

Raghuraj Gujjar

Well illustrated in a beautiful simple language. We CD experience the story. Let’s extend our support & share our love & resource for the needy, who need all the help to restore themselves.

Prajwal M Patel

Horrible to read about aunt. Thank God she is safe. Lets pray for kodagu. Will stand to rebuilt kodagu…


Sad that all folks from the mountains have a tough life india and most of the men join up the services

Amjad Mahamed

Superbly written Priya !!! Felt like literally experiencing the calamity . As a fellow coorg, understand the sentiment attached . Let your folks increase and help us #REBUILDCOORG


Plzzz consider her age and the time she had to react and the situation she had to go through. We all know its sad to know about the pup. But plzz think before u comment its easy to say anything but being in that situation with that age hatts of to her what she did. We r leaving here not you. So we know what she achived. Im sorry if i have hurted ur feelings but reconcider b4 you type anything. I love my coorg and people who leave here.


Sad story… beautifully written..My heart goes to all my fellow people from Coorg…Never realised that the beautiful mountains which brings in so much peace can bring such a destruction and affect so many people !!!

Srinivas Prasanna M

Let alone the govt. Which is consistent in its “I DON’T CARE” attitude towards people..

We the people of karnataka stand firmly with you! You have been wonderful hosts during our vacation… its our turn to do our bit… in hour of crisis…..

The scene in bangalore kodava samaja was overwhelming… hope this little effort help our veera kodavas….our prayers are with you… and im sure you people will fight it out successfully.

Srinivas Prasanna

Indian coorg

It’s high time we coorgs United against other the politicans who are supporting the timber Mafia for their own gains …say no tourism say no to deforestation


Indeed sad to see the state of affairs Priya. From a decade or so the Kodavas have all started moving to BJP amidst the nationalist hype being created. When it comes to citizen welfare however, all parties are the same and there’s no difference between the orange and green parties. Once again proved that the parties are only rising up passions for votes and no spiritual participant during the need of the hour


We are with you all. Jithen from Kerala


I sincerely hope things will get better for this brave people. I being a half Coorg ,know the pride and comfort of knowing how strong the Coorgs are.
Let us all pray for Coorg to get back to normal


Priya, thankyou for the spirit of Kodagu that screams in your words. The 66 year old aunt symbolises it. The fact that she doesn’t recollect much of the horrific run for survival, but only thought of that little pup that was left behind speaks volumes of her kind heart. The easiest thing in the world is to judge. Only the one that bears the brunt understands the pain. God be with you all. There are many many amongst us who look up to the brave souls of kodagu. Proud

Pooja Shankar

Thanks for the update Priya. I have shared this article extensively. We live in Kushalnagar and realise how difficult things are. Would it be possible for you to add a Post Script at the end of yr article with this update? A lot of people don’t realise the pup is safe and are being unecessarily judgemental. Love & best wishes to your aunt.

Puneetha Chittiyappa

I do feel sad about what has happened, but on the hindsight, I think, “didnt we deserve this”? Is it really right to cry today? Isnt this Karma…? – Didnt we play havoc with nature in the name of tourism? – Didnt we disrespect nature’s own way of laying out her boundaries and go and make our own homes and estates in her territory? – Didnt we keep quiet when there was deforestation in the guise of saying “nangak ennang bondu” (why do we have to bother)? – Didnt we stop worshiping nature in the name of modernism? – Didnt… Read more »

Meera Madappa

Absolutely ! The commercialization of a hitherto undeveloped section of theWestern ghats…has led to.this havoc. Sale of land to those who don’t actually belong….will eventually lead to indiscriminate felling of trees!
When it is ancestral land that you are cultivating ..there is an intrinsic respect with which work is done….
A nd when not ….it is only the profit factor that rules.


Hey Priya,

Glad to hear that your family and relatives are safe. Sorry to hear the struggles of your aunt. She seems like one resilient lady. Warm hugs and regards to your family.



Did tree cutting cause the landslide?

Kapil Kadam

Both karnataka and kerala politicians responsible for its ecology destruction. BJP kodava mla’s sitting lame ducks. Every politician responsible jd-s bjp or cong….

This come despite small kid appeal in july.

Coorg/Kodagu is the milch fat cow for karnataka since 1956 sad reality

Jai Codavaland.


Much appreciated for what you have done

Rajiv saxena

i am so sad to learn about the disaster.
can u also write why it so happened to make the policy makers analyse

Mr B. K. Nundee

It’s a miraculous escape from death . Sorry to hear about the puppy left behind. Hope he has survived somehow.It seems a combination of earthquake and landslides happened all over Coorg. Those who have land in Coorg has to go back and reclaim it and build another house again so that life goes on as before .

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