Coorg that much sought after hill station down south located to the southwest of the state of Karnataka, bordering with Kerala used to be a mini state in its own right until it was included in the geographical boundaries of Karnataka. In this region the undulating Western Ghats start to plummet down towards the sea and the landscape is dramatic with lush green valleys and the fertility of the soil is ideal for widespread growth of the finest quality of coffee grown in India.
The forests are rife with game and tourists to this part of Karnataka often encounter the resident wildlife in the form of Elephants, the famed Malabar Squirrel and the occasional Tiger. Gurgling mountain streams and cascading waterfalls, unfathomable ravines and coffee bushes, the region entices the holidaymaker from far and near who flock to this fascinating biodiversity hotspot.
Coorg is also the land of the exotic martial Kodava tribe who lead a fascinating lifestyle thereby nicely complimenting the picture perfect mountain landscape. Their rich folklore and legends are the stuff that dreams are made of and the friendly Kodavas have made many a visitor to their dreamland fall in love with their chiseled features and colorful attires. The sheer ecstasy of guests who take delight in being honored guests in the traditional Kodava tribal huts in the midst of undulating Coffee estates have charmed the discerning world traveler for more than a century.
Coorg is all of 2,564 Sq.Kms and is easily accessible from Banglore (243 Kms.) via State Highway 17 via the quaint towns of Maddur and Mandya. In fact getting to Coorg is half the fun as the drive from Bangalore to Madikeri, the Kodava capital is tantalizing to say the least as you pass through lush green paddy fields and the salubrious Karnataka countryside.
The Coorg Trail
Madikeri This charming hill station is an ideal base from where one can explore the breathtaking vistas of Coorg. With the soaring popularity of Coorg as a much preferred holiday destination, hotels and resorts to suit every budget have come up in this impressive hill station.
Madikeri is renowned for the impregnable Fort Madikeri, which was built by Tipu Sultan in the 18th century when he reigned supreme in this part of the world. The focal point of attraction here is the minimalist palace of the erstwhile Lingayat rulers. Other places worth visiting are the Abbi waterfall and the Raja’s Seat. The later serves as a vantage point for ethereal sunset views and the distant Western Ghats make for a truly kaleidoscopic vigenette.
For an adrenalin pumping session of trekking through coffee plantations along the shimmering Cauvery River, a visit to the Coorg Wildlife Society at Madekeri is ideal as they have carved a niche for themselves when it comes to organizing Eco-friendly mountain treks.
Where to Stay: Coorg International (Tel: 08272-228071), Mojo Rainforest (Tel: 08272-265638), Capitol Village (Tel: 08272-225929), Hillyside Estate (Tel: 080-22990364), Ludwig Mahal (Tel: 08272-265629)
Escapades from Madekeri: Tala Cauvery:
A scenic 48 Kms. Drive will take you to Tala Cauvery, which happens to be the origin of Cauvery and thus is revered by the natives. The picturesque backdrop of the impressive Brahmagiri Hills makes for truly aesthetic visual feast.
Siddapur, Coffee Estates and Golf:
Siddapur is the quintessential “Coffee Country” of Coorg and the spectacular mountain drive (19 Kms.) through Coorg’s famed coffee plantation estates is in itself a sight to behold. Time permitting, you would do well to go further upfront (12 Kms.) to Pollibetta, referred to as the “Mecca of Coffee Planters”. The more discerning tourists make it a point to also cover the “Golden Quadrilateral” consisting of Titimati and Gonikoppal, which is where some of the most scenic golf courses in the whole of Coorg are located.
The 9-hole Mercera Downs and the picture perfect Coorg Golf Links Course located at the charming Bittangala retreat are much preferred by the golfing enthusiasts. The 18- hole Bittangala Golf Course is ideal for an engrossing session or two of intense golfing and one also has the option to camp at the School Estate’s simplistic cottage across the golf greens.
Dubare Elephant Camp: One of south India’s best-known Elephant Camp is located at Dubaree Forest Reserve and can be reached by driving 15 kilometers on the Siddapur Main Road. Here wild Elephants are domesticated and a variety of Wildlife experiences ranging from grooming of elephants to ecology and conservations are on offer for the discerning tourists.
Most visitors to Dubaree are fascinated by the “Command Demonstration” wherein the resident Elephants are made to obey commands made by the “Mahuts”(Elephant Trainer). Time permitting, you would do well to go on an enchanting Elephant ride in the lush green forest cover of Dubaree
Many visitors stay as guests of the Jungle Lodges & Resort, a pioneer in the domain of wildlife preservation in India
Kakkabe This quaint but colorful village located ideally in the southwestern part of Coorg is conspicuous by its evergreen rainforest and the favorable microclimate of the region means that it is home to hundreds of species of migratory birds, some even belonging to the list of endangered avian species. If you are looking for hideway far removed from civilization, Kakkabe would fit the bill perfectly.
Kakkabe is most renowned for its honey and produces and over the past century has carved out a niche for itself as the largest honey producer in the whole of South East Asia
Make it a point to visit Thadiyendamol, the highest peak of Coorg that rises like a sentinel at 5,730 feet above sea level. This part of Coorg is much preffered by the serious trekkers and on a clear sunny day one can bask in the uninterrupted vistas of the emerald coast. Soma Male, Mallamma Betta and Kakkabe Pass are some of the most popular trekking routes
A whiff of Kodava royalty can be savored by visiting the regal Nalnad Palace, which used to serve as an exclusive royal hunting retreat of the erstwhile Maharaja. This palace is conspicuous by its elaborate wooden architecture and exotic murals
While in Kakkabe don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit the Igguthappa Temple, believed to be very potent spiritually and the best part of the temple visit is the complimentary Kodava meal consisting of rice, sambar and payasam. The indigenously manufactured mango pickle only adds to the flavor of the meal. Igguthappa is the presiding deity of Coorg and the locals venerate Lord Igguthappa as the “Rain God”.
All in all a visit to Coorg is like the gateway to serenity and if one is looking for the calm of nature and immerse oneself in tranquility amongst endless acres of coffee plantations, the haunting wilderness or simply head back to your Kodava tribal hut and curl up, the myriad voices of nature will lull you to loosen up in the lap of nature.
If You Go:
Best Time to Visit:
Avoid the rainy season. The months between September to May are ideal.
Getting There: Madikeri, the capital of Coorg is easily accessible from Bangaluru along the State Highway 17 all the way to Srirangapatna and on State Highway 88 to your final destination – Madekeri.
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