Devara Kaadu (Sacred Forest) is a small forest like grove marked as the adobe of the local deities. Coorg has many hundred such sacred groves scattered all over the region. In fact every village would have such a place of worship. Some of them are sprawling mini forests with many hundred acres of span, while the rest are of smaller scales anything from an acre upwards.
What is common among all these Devara Kaadu are the customs and traditions. As mentioned, these areas are considered sacred and nothing other that what is related to worship goes on in the Devara Kaadu. For example the groves are left un touched. The trees and never pruned, no paths are cut into the groves, not even the fallen trees, leaves or twigs are cleared. In short a Devara Kaadu stays as a miniature forest close to the village.
Inside the Devara Kaadu there are shrines dedicated to various deities. These are typically a simple open shrines with the image of the god installed on the stone platform. The paths inside the Devara Kaadu is restricted to accessing these shrines for worship.
Many places practice complex and age-old rituals and customs that are not very easy to understand and explain. While superficially a Devara Kaadu appears as a religious institution associated with the spiritual and emotional needs of the village folks of Coorg, the underlying principles demonstrate a far more complex relation between people and Nature.
The significance has made United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) designate Coorg as the ‘grove capital of the world’. The whole idea is to preserve the tradition of Devara Kaadu in Coorg.
There are many Devara Kaadu one can visit while in Coorg. Some of them are privately (family) owned while a great majority are under the state forest department, but managed by the local public.
En route to the Iruppu Falls you will come across the Rameshwara Temple and the Devara Kaadu associated with the temple. Padi Igguthappa Temple at Kakkabe in Coorg is set in a sacred grove. Katakeri village in Madé near Madikeri has a large Devara Kaadu. Of course there are many more there that you are easily find whereever you are in Coorg.
May of the Devara Kaadu are dedicated to deities such as Maramma, Bhadrakaali, Durga, Ayyappa and so on.
If you are not already aware of, enquire locally about the customs ,restrictions and etiquettes to be followed before you visit a Devara Kaadu.