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Kodagu, also called Coorg, is a district in Karnataka State
Coorg is known for its hospitability of people and beautiful scenery. This is one of the best destinations for nature lover in India. Tourists get fascinated by colourful scenery, wooded slopes, undulating landscape and quaint villages of Coorg. There are endless mountain ranges which attract thousands of tourists every year.
The nearest railway station is Mysore, some 100 kms away. But buses are frequent and connect Kodagu to nearby Karnataka cities such as Mysore and Mangalore, among others. The bus journey is about 4-5 hours away. Be prepared for a rough, winding and inexpensive ride. If you are coming from Bangalore/Mysore, it is better to rent a cab from either city. This is recommended as public transport is not very effective in coorg district and the tourist attractions are spread across the district. Taking a cab from the city will help you get better rates as it is always difficult to bargain in tourist spots. If travelling from Bangalore/Mysore, you should plan to cover Bylanakuppe (Tibet monastery), as it is en route.
Rickshaws (autos) and four-wheelers can be hired, the former for short pay-by-the-trip journeys and the latter by the day too. Buses connect Coorg with the rest of Karnataka state, and also ply locally (less frequent). Trekking is a healthy possibility; cycling for fitness freaks in this hilly terrain.
For local information, the only easily-available texts in Coorg appear to be Glimpses of Kodagu (Coorg) : Places of Interest by Dr K.U.Ashok (available for Rs 40, including at the main bus-stand bookshop) and a Kodagu Tourists Spots Map, priced at Rs 30, and also available locally, including at the local tourist office near the main bus stand.
A big attraction for tourists and filmdom alike is the Abbey Falls, 8 km from Madikeri. Even during the summer there is plenty of water in these falls. The roar of the falls can be heard from the main road, from where a path goes through lovely coffee and cardamom plantations right up to them. The chirping of innumerable birds which are easier heard then seen, fill the air with sweet music. Do remember to take your binoculars and camera when you go there. As of Mar 2011, bathing in the falls is not allowed as the water pours into the rocky steep valley.
Nagarahole - Wild Life Santuary
Nagarhole is a kannada word meaning "snake river" - which flows through the park. The park and animal life is part of the country's first "bio-sphere reserve". The Forest Department conducts tours along well-defined routes for tourists, in the early mornings and evenings. One can surely see the bison, elephant, spotted deer, sambhar, barking deer, wild boar, mongoose, peakcock, jungle fowl and many other birds and animals. Lucky ones get the chance of seeing Panther or Tiger.
Honnamana Kere is a holy and tourist place located in Daddamalthe near Sulimalthe village 6 km away from Somwarpet town. The lake (See picture) is surrounded by beautiful landscape including Coffee estates and Cliffs. Special pooja is offered to the Goddess Honnamma on the Gowri festival every year. Thousands of devotees come to this sacred place on this day and offers pooja to the Goddess Honnamma followed by climbing the cliff. 'Bagina' which consists of sacred belongings of the Goddess is left in the lake. A new temple was built several years back with the aim to improve the place and offer better facilities to the devotees, this was possible by the financial assistance of the people living in the surrounding villages.
Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctury
Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctury is 30 km from Somwarpet towards Kukke Subramanya. The Wildlife Sanctury is a apt for trekkers who want to experience the wilderness of Western Ghat. Home for different kinds of wild species like elephants, deers, wild cats etc.
Mallalli Falls is situated around 25 km from Somwarpet. The exact location of Mallali falls is in Bettadahalli Gram Panchayat in Somwarpet taluk. It is an eye feasting sight of river Kumaradhara gushing through the valley and falling into a gorge, with lush green mountains around.
Madikeri is the capital of the Kodagu also known as Coorg. This place is known as the “Scotland of India”. Millions of tourists come to this place to visit coffee plantations, lush green forests, misty hills and some breath taking views of other areas. Madikeri is also known for it;s amazing climate. Madikeri also has a world record in the production of cardamom crop.
According to an official explanation board at the site, Mercara, the headquarters of Coorg or Kodagu district, was founded by Prince Mudduraja of the Haleri Dynasty in 1681 CE, and was named after him as Muddurajanakeri -- which became "Muddukayray" and Madikeri over time. The British termed the place Mercara.
Mudduraja built a mud fort and a palace inside the fort, in the last quarter of the 17th century. This fort was later rebuilt of granite masonry, after it was captured by the "Tiger of Mysore" Tipu Sultan. Tipu named it Jaffarabad. In 1790, Doddaveer Rajendra took possession of the fort, and in April 1834, the British took control of it.
Built on an elevated area, the fort has been described as an "irregular hexagon" on plan, almost confirming to the shape of the hilltop. There are six circular bastions at the angles, the entrance on the east is intricate and circuitious and guarded by three successive gates.
Majestically looking over the area are two life-sized elephants made of mortar in the north-east corner of the entrance. A small but imposing church at the south-east corner was built in 1855 and is presently home to an archaeological museum (photography prohibited inside). The palace, renovated by Lingarajendra Wodeyar II in 1812-1814, presently accomodates government offices.
According to legend, the kings of Kodagu spent their evenings here. But what's unforgettable about Raja's seat is the spectacular sunset that one can enjoy from here. A sophisticated musical fountain is also located here. Best timings for viewing the sunset and the musical fountains are from 17:30 to 19:30 Hrs. It is not always possible to see the sunset due to cloud cover. However, if you miss the sunset, an alternative is to visit the place early morning around 7am. No tourist crowd or blaring speakers(which play during the evening). There is a toy train next to the park which offers a small ride for ten rupees. Park has an entry fee of 5 rupees. Try the chur-muri(bhelpuri) from one of the stalls near the park. It costs around Rs. 15 for a packet and they customize the taste according to your choice of spice and salt. The park charges a car park fee of Rs. 20.
Bagamandala - Temple and river confluence
At a distance of 39 kms from Madikeri, 8 kms before reaching TalaKaveri, Bhagamandala is on the banks of the confluence of three rivers, Cauvery, Kannike and the sub terranian Sujyoti, popularly known as "Triveni Sangama". The famous Sri Bhagandeswara temple is located on the bank of the river over here. Pilgrims visiting Bhagamandala bathe (or sprinkle water on your head) in the Triveni Sangama, confluence of rivers and worship at the temple complex. Watch out for the wooden carvings in the temple. The subrahmanya idol in the temple is a swayambu and the temple was established by a rishi named Bhagamandala. The temple serves free lunch - you get rice, sambar and buttermilk. Not a lavish lunch, but a clean,simple vegetarian option instead of the poorly maintained restaurants in the neighbourhood.
Mandalpatti- View point
At a distance of about 35 kms from Madekeri town, Mandalpatti viewpoint provides breath taking view of the nearby hills. The route from Madikeri is a great ride through coffee plantains. The view point is about 1600 meters above sea-level . If you are looking for some adventure, you can go downhill from the view point on the opposite directions which leads to a small yet beautiful water fall. Please use all safety measures as this water fall is secluded and is almost inaccessible due to its distance from the view point.Avoid trekking down alone or in small groups
Talakaveri / Talacauvery
River Kaveri which is one of the 7 sacred rivers of Sapta Sindhus of the Hindu scriptures, originated at a place is called Talakaveri (head of Cauvery) in the Brahmagiri hills, at about 4,500 ft above sea level. This place is marked by a tirtha kundike or Brahma kundike (small spring/pond) from where the river emerges as a small perennial spring, but flows underground again to emerge a short distance away. It is about 48 km from Madikeri.
There is a shrine near the kundike and a big tank in front of it where devotees baths before offering prayers. There are 2 temples, a Shiva temple and with a rare and ancient Shiva Linga, and another temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha. This temple has a holy Ashwantha tree where, according to legend, the Trimurtis - Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh gave darshan to sage Agastya.
Legends also has it that every year on Tulasankramana day (approximately on 17 October) Goddess Parvati appears in the Kundike as the sacred teerthodbhava. This occasion is marked by the sudden unsurge of water in the kundike and is considered very auspicious
From Talakaveri, 365 steps lead up to the nearby Brahmagri peak, where the 7 great sages called the Sapta Maharishis had performed a special yagna. From the peak, as well as on the drive to Talakaveri, tourists can enjoy a good view of the misty blue Brahmagiri hills. On a clear and sunny day you can view the glittering of the mangalore sea just before sunset.
Dubare - Elephant Camp
This is mainly an elephant capturing and training camp of the Forest Department, at the edge of Dubare forest, on the bank of river Kaveri, on the Kushalnagar - Siddapur road. The largest land animal is captured here with the help of tamed elephants and local tribals - the Kurbas - and is held captive for upto 6 months in large teak wood cages.
The tamed elephants attend to various jobs during the day and in the mornings they come down to the river to bathe and to be scrubbed clean by their mahouts. Afterwards the mahout obliges eager tourists for elephant rides (Rs 100 per head, about five minutes, free for children below seven years) within the camp. In the mornings, all the elephants are offered a special treat of ladoos made of ragi and jaggery, each no smaller than a cannon ball! If you arrive early (before 1030am ), you can join in the programme to bathe the elephant. The entry fee to the park is Rs.20/person and there is an additional charge of Rs.100 to bathe the elephant. There are elephant rides from about 10 am to noon, and from 4 to 5 pm. 4-6 persons can ride an elephant at a time. There may be a queue for a ride. Buy your ticket at the counter. However, they follow a token system to ensure queue priority.
To get to the camp you will need to cross the small still water lagoon over motor boat or still water rafting or by a small trek over a rocky pathway (no trekking in rainy seasons). Ideally you can raft across the river to reach the camp and trek back over the river over the rock pathway. The boat ride will cost you Rs.20/person. If you are young and dont mind wetting your feet, the rocky path is fun and is not dangerous.
You could also do white water rafting at this place. The rafting distance is about 7 km and path is a great combination of rocks and water. A must do if you are looking for some adventure
There is a sacred spot called Iruppu in south Kodagu on the Brahmagiri range of hills. River Lakshmana-tirtha flows nearby. Legend says that Rama and Lakshmana, warrior Gods, passed this way while searching for Rama's consort, Sita. Rama asked Lakshmana to fetch some drinking water for him. Lakshmana shot an arrow into the Brahmagiri hills and brought into being river Lakshmanatirtha. Also the river is said to be blesed with powers of cleansing one's soul, it is an important pilgrim point for many devotees and a temple dedicated to Lord Ram is a few km below.
The river descends perpendicularly into a great cataract known as the Iruppu Falls. This place is believed to possess the power to cleanse one's sins and is visited by thousands of devotees from far and near on Shivaratri day. There is temple dedicated to Sri Ram, surrounded by paddy fields, from where it is a climb up to the falls through natural forest. This place can be visited from Gonikopal on the way to Nagerhole National Park by taking a detour after Srimangala, situated in the Kutta Road.
Nagarhole National Park:
Nagarhole, in kannada means Snake River, but there are not too many snakes at this place. This park was created by former king for their hunting adventure. Nagarhole provides best natural habitat for different wildlife animals like tigers, elephant, panthers and many more. Mostly found animals here are wild dogs, gaur, langur and deer.
The best things to do in Coorg is outdoor sports. Fondly called The Scotland of India or even the Switzerland of India, it's a lush, green blanket covering ranges of hills, and valleys, great for mountain biking and trekking.
Of course, if you could also come here for some time to cool off, or as a break from the usual tourist hot spots. Coorg has various options for adventure lovers. Some of the attractions are White water rafting, Trekking, Rockclimbing, Mountain Hiking, Dirt track racing etc.
Coorgi food is an elaborate mix of Indian pepper, curry leaves, and, simply putting it, a lot of other magical ingredients. With a tendency to be a little too hot for the foreign tourist, it does have a great potential to compete with Andhra cuisine. Since the people of Coorg have a warrior background, their food is a little different from the mainly vegetarian cuisine of the rest of India with an abundance of pork, chicken and meat in it. Many dishes reflect a melding of meat, particularly meat and pork. Stews are common, and rice is the main staple diet.
And the very famous Coorg coffee to wash it all down.
If you are visiting Coorg in wet weather seasons, beware of leeches especially while walking through wet grass and in bathrooms/toilets. Watch out for traffic (locals warn about "overloaded lorries") along the main highways leading into Madikeri, and the winding roads of the region. Speedbreakers on some roads tend to be unmarked. Wild animals are reported on some roads at night, and domesticated herds by day too.
Road is the main link to get into and out of Coorg (Kodagu). There is no railway link to the area, the nearest stations being Mysore and Mangalore (approx a hundred kms away, in each case). The nearest airport is the Mangalore international airport. Buses connect the region with the outside world, and there are frequent connections particularly to Mysore and Mangalore, two nearby Karnataka cities. Catch either from the main bus stand at Madikeri. Some buses do not require pre-booking, though some do. Check out details locally.