Table of contents for Coorgi Delights
Hello Friends ! It feels so nice to share a travelogue in Ghumakkar after such a long gap. The last decent holiday I had was in Jan’2012 during Pongal, the harvest festival in Tamil Nadu, where me and my wife had undertaken a long awaited, extensive tour of the temples of the Malnad region of South Western Karnataka(Temple Trails of Karnataka- a five part Ghumakkar series).
Usually, I plan a trip during early September to coincide with our marriage anniversary, but a cousin’s marriage in August put a spanner in the works. Even as I was sincerely browsing through train Schedules and availability for at least a short trip to placate the Home Minister (to say the truth I was using that as an excuse to fulfill my own wish to escape from the daily routine), came the news of my niece’s engagement. Being the only maternal uncle of the bride, as per our customs, I have to be present at all stages of the marriage and in every ritual from engagement to the day of tying the knot. The marriage was fixed for the third week of October and that meant there was no holiday possible at least until early November.
The function went off without any hitch and the bride and groom were off to her new home in Chennai. I think I have bored u enough with family details. Suffice to say that, we fixed the Diwali Holidays in mid-November for our trip. The next task was to choose the destination. My initial plan was to do a full round trip of the Pune-Mahabaleshwar and Konkan region. A tour of Pune ,the green hills surrounding it just after the monsoon and the beaches of Konkan would have been just the release we would have needed. But because of the long distance the trip would have needed a minimum of 7 to 8 days and a much bigger budget. So reluctantly we postponed Pune and Konkan to a future date and opted to visit a relatively nearby place.
The tourist places in Tamilnadu will mostly be too crowded during Diwali because it is one of our longer holidays. We had done almost every part of Kerala. So once again, it was Karnataka. Though I had covered most of the state during my earlier trips, somehow a trip to Coorg on the Karnataka-Kerala border and famous for its Coffee plantations, Pork (Gen.Cariappa, the hockey mad people, its dense forests…one can go on and on) somehow had eluded me all these years. Hence, Coorg it was we were heading to.
The shortest route from my hometown in Tamil Nadu, Tiruppur to Madikeri (Coorg’s largest town) passes through Mysore and is around 315 kms. But going by this route meant a difficult climb on the Dhimbam Hills from Bannari Checkpost in Tamilnadu right upto the TN-Karnataka border just past Hasanur (An almost vertical climb with 27 continuous hairpin bends in just 16 kms). This was a strict no-no because my wife has a chronic allergy to hill travel and vomits incessantly during hill rides, of which I have had many unpleasant experiences, especially during one trip to Munnar on a packed Innova and during another ride on the Palani-Kodaikanal route last summer. Inexplicably she never has any problems when riding up hills on a bike and that is the reason for my many bike trips to nearby Ooty (Thanks for small mercies). So, I had to choose a relatively less adventurous route and picked the Bangalore-Mysore-Madikeri route as my best option. Although this doubled my travel distance (Tirupur to Bangalore to Madikeri is 575 kms by road) there was no other choice.
Travelling to Coorg from Bangalore, though has its own attractions. The stretch between Bangalore and Mysore is dotted with many tourist hotspots. The ride is almost a tracing back of river Cauvery from the plains to its birthplace in Coorg district. Srirangapatna an island situated in the midst of Cauvery river, is renowned for its famous Ranganathasamy Temple and the historical sites connected with the reign of the brave Tipu Sultan and his encounters with the British. Further on the route, a mere 6 kms after Srirangapatna is the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, the largest of its kind in Karnataka. Here guided Boat tours are available throughout the day to watch the birds. Along with the birds, the riders on the boat can also enjoy the thrilling sight of huge crocodiles, sun-bathing on the rocks, precariously close to the boat’s edge.
15 kms from the Bird Sanctuary lie the entrance gates to the massive Krishnaraja Sagar Dam. The dam is famous for its size as well as the spectacular display of lights in its gardens every evening. Huge crowds throng the place over the evenings and weekends. From KRS Dam, you can either take the option of taking the Outer Ring Road which bypasses Mysore City and take the route to Hunsur-Madikeri (or) one can opt to stay in Mysore City, which in itself is a major tourist destination requiring at least two full days to fully appreciate its varied splendour.
So, it was not a difficult decision to travel to Coorg via Bangalore. The first leg of our journey, Tiruppur to Bangalore (to and fro) was booked on overnight trains. I contacted TaxiforSure.com and booked a Tata Indica from Bangalore to Madikeri for 3 days. Searched the net and a decent looking budget hotel-Chitra- at Madikeri was booked for our stay. We left Tiruppur on the night of Nov 11th. The train reached Bangalore Junction promptly at around 6 am. I gave a call to my cab driver informing our arrival and he said he would come to the station at 6.45 am. This gave us enough time to complete all our morning chores. After a nice hot cuppa of coffee, we were ready when our cab arrived punctually.
After some discussions with our driver, I got a pretty good idea of the places to be visited on the way to Coorg. We decided to visit Srirangapatna during our onward journey and cover Mysore City on our way back. Next episode to follow soon.