Many a times I have come across people who tell me that they have visited Coorg and my first question would be “Where in Coorg?”. “Cooorg” comes the answer. Well..not many people realise that Coorg (aka Kodagu) is actually a District, and the town Madikeri is its district headquarters. Coorg is known for its coffee plantations primarily.But then there’s a lot of other things one gets to see in Coorg.
The town of Madikeri is around 230 kms from bangalore. The only mode of transport is through road and it takes abt 5 – 5.5hrs. The first time we (Vijay and me) went there by KSRTC bus and it was then that we learnt it the hard way that having a own vehicle is the best way to get around,else you need to be at the mercy of the local auto-rickshaw fellows or the private bus operators.
The next time that we went there (Priyam, Krishna, CV and me), we drove down to Coorg.
Route : Take the four laned Mysore road till Ranganathittu and proceed till you hit the Hunsur road,then on to Hunsur, and to KushalNagar. Madikeri is 40 kms from Kushal Nagar.
My personal opinion is to stay in Kushal Nagar rather than Madikeri for 2 reasons
Most of the places that one would visit are near to Kushal Nagar
It is less crowded than the town of Madikeri
Before I get on with the nitty-gritties of the “what-to-do”, one word of advice “Ensure you have made arrangements for accommodation”.
Orange County in Kushal nagar is a nice option if you are willing to shell out a decent amount of money.Other good option is Hotel Kannika International in Kushal nagar.
Madikeri has loads of options close to Bus stand.
Day I (Oct 30 2004)
We started from Bangalore early in the morning and as usual stopped at Kamat Lokaruchi for breakfast. After this , we proceeded to Srirangapatna ,10 kms before the city of Mysore, to visit the temple of Ranganatha swamy.
By the time we reached Kushal Nagar after the brief stops, it was around 2 PM when we checked into Kannika International.
We decided to take it easy for a couple of hours before we decided on an agenda for the evening.
In the evening, we decided to visit Bylakuppe,which houses the largest tibetian monastery in India. There is this Golden temple in the Namdroling monastry which is a must-see. Streams of monks wearing yellow and maroon robes can be seen all around this monastery.
Its a good idea to visit this place in the morning or when there is ample lighting. The walls of the prayer hall have colored glasses that let the natural lights into the hall.There are 3 statues , each of 40 ft high inside this temple.
The statues are of Padmasambhava, Buddha and Amitayus.
It was getting dark as we got out of the monastery and headed towards Kushal Nagar. With no specific agenda and time in hand, we decided to explore the place. We then headed towards Veerbhoomi, a place where one gets to see the cultural side of Karnataka with folk dancers performing while the dinner is served. The approach road was very bad and the experience inside also was not all that great for us.
After a long day , all we wanted to do was to have a good rest and gear up for the next day.
Coorg is said to be the place from where the river cauvery originates. So, we set out in the morning after a light breakfast to TalaCauvery, which is around 30 kms from the town of Madikeri.
From Kushal nagar, it took us almost an hour and a half to reach as the roads were bad. The place of origin of cauvery is a small tank. We took a dip in the tank. The cold water was refreshing enough to beat the heat of the day.
From this place, steep steps lead to a hill top (Brahmagiri) from where one can have a bird’s eye view of the whole area around.The climb is steep and there are no support railing to hold on. The view and the breeze are worth the climb.
On the way down from Talacauvery, there is a temple known as Bhagamandala.
This temple resembles the temples of kerala in its structure.
After a brief stopover in the temple,we headed back to Madikeri for lunch. Madikeri has few options for vegetarians near the bus stand. One place that you would probably want to skip is Raja’s Seat. Today this is just a park with a toy train for the kids amusement.
Since it was around noon that we landed in Madikeri , the Omkareshwara temple was closed.The architecture of this Shiva temple is muslim-like structure, with a central Dome and four minarets. A tank in front of the temple provide serenity to the temple.
Off we were, bidding farewell to Madikeri ,and heading towards Nisargadhama, a place where Cauvery has been diverted through. We spent close to an hour sitting on the rocks in the water and cooling our heels. The quite atmosphere adds to the calm. It was beginning to get dark and we decided to head back to the hotel.
This was the last day of the outing and we had saved this for Dubare, an elephant training camp ,around 8 kms from Kushal Nagar. The roads are narrow, but motorable except for the last stretch of 100 metres. Hang on, you are still not there yet.The last leg of the journey to the elephant camp has to be covered by boat across the cauvery.
As we were getting out of the boat, the first of the big visitor was on its way into the river. You get to spend time with the elephants, bathing them, feeding them with the specially-made food.
There is a doctor in the camp who explains all about elephants. Pretty interesting lecture. Finally the elephants get ready to give the visitors a ride on their back. All these activites are a part of a package that costs INR 150 per person.
If you are a person who is not fascinated by the huge creation of Mother Nature, then you could sit among the rocks in the river and enjoy the serene settings.All in all , this place has something to offer for everyone.
Plan to reach here as early as 7.30 or 8 in the morning so that you get to spend time with the elephants and also enjoy the nature sitting on the rocks.
Finally, the time had come for us to bid adieu and get back to rozi-roti. A long weekend well spent..
Last but not the least, the machine that helped us make it …. my fav.wagon
Until next time………