October 2008
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Coorg in Karnataka, India: Beautiful green location

Location : Western Ghats, Karnataka, India
Altitude: 1100 meters
Main Attractions : River Cauvery, Coffee Plantations
Best Season : October to April (good the year round)
Temperature : Max 28°C, Min 22°C (summer); Max 24°C, Min 15°C (winter)
Nearby Attraction : Nagarhole National Park
STD Code : 08272
Languages : Kodava, Kannada and Malayalam

Situated in the southwestern part of Karnataka near Mysore and Mangalore, Coorg is located on the Western Ghats. Dotted with beautiful coffee and green tea plantations (covering the view as far as one can see in some places), alluring nature trails and splendid waterfalls, it’s a place good enough to be visited again and again. Nestling at a height, the climate in Coorg throughout the year is perfect. In recent years, the advent of sports and leisure activities such as trekking, river rafting, and angling have added to the charm of Coorg.

Coorg / Medikeri on Google Maps

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Coorg experiences a moderate climate, where winters are cool and pleasant having a temperature of about 10-20 degree Celsius. In the normally colder months of December through February the minimum temperature may go down to 9 degree Celsius. Summers are only slightly warm at 25-35 degrees Celsius. In the monsoons the rainfall is really heavy. Coorg is literally a place that you can go the year round.
Easily one of the most attractive regions in India, Coorg or Kodagu is an enchanting expanse of natural tourist spot that nestles amid the hills and valleys of the picturesque Western Ghats.
Popularly referred as the Scotland of India, Coorg is a dream destination for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. The misty wooded mountains and valleys, huge cardamom jungles and numerous coffee plantations located in Coorg cast an everlasting spell on your mind, making people come back again and again to this beautiful place. The warm hospitality of the people of Coorg would make your stay truly memorable.

History of Coorg:
Prior to the annexation of Coorg by the British in 1834, Coorg had been ruled by Lingayat Rajas since 1600. A prince of Ikkeri family in Shimoga district, assumed the role of a Lingayat priest and established himself at Haleri, to the north of Madikeri, the capital of Coorg. Over a period of time, he assumed the throne of Coorg and his heirs ruled Coorg for the next two centuries.
Coorg has a fascinating history and one of the interesting aspects of its colorful past was the fact that Queen Victoria of England was the godmother of a Coorg princess! The British finally annexed Coorg in 1834 by removing the last ruler, Chikka Veerarajendra, the last Raja of Coorg. He was taken by the British to Vellore in Tamil Nadu, and then to Varanasi in 1835. Eventually the king, with two of his wives and his favorite daughter Gowramma sailed to England in 1852 where he died in London in 1859. Queen Victoria was the godmother of princess Gowramma, being present during Gowramma’s baptism by the Archbishop of Canterbury on June 30, 1852, and the princess was given the name Victoria Gowramma.
So much for royal history ! With its misty mountains and dense forests, Coorg seemed like a little corner of England to the British (actually, it must have also reminded them of Scotland). They left behind a legacy, in the form of coffee plantation. The well laid coffee plantations in Coorg account for almost half of Karnataka’s coffee production. And Karnataka continues to be India’s largest producer of coffee. Other reminders of the colonial past are the spacious estate bungalows, many of which still have British names and the meandering roads that wind through the district.

Places around to see:

Madikeri Fort: Built in the 19th century, the majestic Madhekiri fort is located in the heart of the quaint hill station Madikeri (also the district headquarters). This historic Fort houses a chapel, a temple, a prison and a small museum. The fort affords a panoramic views of Madhikeri town that is stunning and worth a visit.

Omkareshwara Temple: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Omkareshwara temple was built by Lingaraja in 1820 AD. The architecture of the temple reveals a beautiful amalgamation of Islamic and Gothic architecture. It is said that the temple was built by Lingarajendra to save himself from the spirit of a Brahmin, whom he had killed for his personal reasons. He brought a Shivalinga from Kashi and consecrated it here and named it Omkareshwara.
Some of the interesting items in the temple that are worth noticing are: The gold leaf inscription atop, accessed through a narrow flight of interesting steps that were used by the king to survey his Kingdom, the fishes in the pond which leap in symphony to gobble food offered to them, etc. The annual ‘Teppothasava’ or “Boat Festival” is a memorable event.

Abbey Falls: The roaring Abbey falls (about 10 kms from Madikeri) are surrounded by the lush green coffee plantations and is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Coorg. From a distance, the silent forest comes alive with the sweet chirping of birds and the gurgling of the Abbey falls, with the volume getting louder as you get closer. It is easily accessible by road, with an added advantage; the main road leads upto it through picturesque coffee gardens. The best time to visit Abbey falls is around November when the falls are overflowing after monsoons.

Raja’s Seat: Enjoy the unexplored beauty of Coorg from the favorite spot of the kings. Raja’s seat offers spectacular views of the misty hills, green paddy fields and serpentine rivers. These hill ranges, clad in green, rising high seem to play with silken clouds of myriad hues, and this is the that you get from Raja’s Seat, literally meaning the “Seat of the king.” It is here that the kings of Madikeri enjoyed nature and unforgettable sunsets.

Cauvery: Lifeline of the south, Cauvery bubbles up from Talacauvery and reaches ground level at Bhagamandala, 39 kms to the west of Medikeri. One of the seven major rivers of India, Cauvery is the ‘ Dakshina Ganga’ or ‘ Ganga of the south’.

Bhagamandala: It is a shrine of Bhagandeshwara. It is here the Cauvery merges in joyous and divine form with the rivers Kannike and Sujyothi to form a ‘Triveni Sangama’. The Bhangandeshwara Temple built in Kerala style on the bank of the Sangama.

Nagarahole National Park: One of the well-maintained game sanctuaries in the country is located closeby, 100kms from Madikeri, 64 kms from Virajpet & 94 kms from Mysore via Hunsur & Murkal. Nagarhole National Park was set up in the year 1955 and covers an area of 575 sq km. Main attractions of the park are tigers. The density of tigers in the park is quite impressive. The best time to visit the park is early winters when the climate is very pleasant.
It has many animals forming part of the overall wildlife, with Gaur, Chital, Sambhar & Barking Deer, Sloth Bear, Langur, Crocodile and over a hundred species of birds and the elusive cats – the Leop is home to herds of Elephant, ard and the Tiger.

Nalkunadu Palace: Built in 1792 AD by Dodda Veerarajendra, this beautiful palace is close to Tadiyendamol. To get here, you have to travel 32 kms from Madikeri through Napoklu and Kakkabbe. Buses too, are available.

Iruppu Falls: 48 kms from Virajpet on the banks of the pristine Lakshmanatirtha River, which seems to descend in joyous leaps, to salute the Shiva Temple believed to have been consecrated by Lord Rama himself. A wonderful getaway spot, on the way to Kutta from Gonikoppal.

Nisargadhama- Harangi: An island surrounded by the Cauvery river, Nisargadhama is a picturesque picnic sport that offers elephant rides, deer prancing about and boat rides. There are well equipped, thatched cottages, 3 kms from Kushalnagar.

Talakaveri / Talacauvery: River Kaveri which is one of the 7 sacred rivers of Sapta Sindhus of the Hindu scriptures, originated at a place that 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 kms 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.

Dubare: 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. Elephants are 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 evenings they come down to the river to bathe and to be scrubbed clean by their mahouts. Afterwards the mahout obliges eager tourists for free elephant rides within the camp. In the evenings, all the elephants are offered a special treat of ladoos made of ragi and jaggery, each no smaller than a cannon ball!

Valanoor: Valanoor, 30 kms.from Mercara, is part of the back waters of river Cauvery and is one of the most beautiful Angling sites in Karnataka. Types of fish include Golden-Masheer, Maral and Mapp. Licence / permit can be arranged by local tourist agents.

Bhagamandala: When the river Cauvery flows downhill, it is joined by two more tributaries – Kanake and Sujyoti. The spot where all three converte (the Cauvery, the Kanika and the Sujyothi) is called Bhagamandala. The temple here, built in Kerala style, has smaller shrines dedicated to various gods. It is about 40 kms from Madikeri.
The nearby Buddhist refugee camps at Bylakuppe offer prayerful silence in expansive halls with beautiful 40 feet high idols of the Buddha and Padmasambhava, his disciple.

Besides these places, if you have good walking shoes, then you are in for some luck; because Coorg is a trekker’s paradise. One can enjoy trekking up and down the hills, through coffee and pepper plantations, alongside the graceful Cauvery and myriad little streams. Coorg has many verdant trekking routes in the midst of forests and hills, and it’s best to go in the months from October to February. Some of the known trails are in the hills of Brahmagiri, where you could trek your way to the Irrupa Falls. You could also consider trekking to Pushpagiri, the second higest peak of Kodagu and Tadiandamol (the highest peak).

Besides trekking, you can practice few swings on the green top golf course; Avid golffers can tee off at the 9-hole course of Virajpet, or you can just sit by the river and try your luck in angling. Around Coorg, there are many Buddhist circuits as well that will keep you interested for long.

Adventure sports in Coorg: Madikeri in Coorg is a popular destination for white water river rafting. Experience the thrill of feeling the spray in your face as you plunge through the rapids of a rushing river, on a white water river rafting tour

White Water Rafting: There are few good camps around Coorg that offer rafting down the Cauvery river. For some fast paced action, visit the Upper Barapole River to the south of Coorg in Brahmagiri. The best time for rafting is from mid-June to mid-September.

Where to stay (Hotels and Bungalows):

Hotel Coorg International, Madikeri.
Hotel Rajdarshan, Madikeri.
Orange Country Resort, Siddapura.
Hotel Chitra, Madikeri.
Capital Village, Madikeri.
Alath-Cad Holiday Home
Maurya Valley View
Hill Town Hotel
East End Hotel
Golden Mist Plantation and Resorts
Club Mahindra Kodagu Valley
Kannika International
Polaycad Bungalow
Honey Valley Estate
Veerabhoomi Resorts
Bethel Home Stay
Kadkani River Resort
Shanti Estate
Honey Pot Homes
Rainforest Retreat
Jade Hills
Ramcad Estate
Hotel Crystal Court

How to get to Coorg:

By Air: There are regular flights to Bangalore from Delhi and other cities. From Bangalore, you can take a bus. The other option is to take a flight to Mangalore. It is at a distance of 136 km from Coorg. From Mangalore, you can take a bus or you can hire a taxi. The drive is approx 3 hrs.

By Rail: Mysore (114 kms) is the nearest railway station to Coorg. It has well connected rail services to all-important destinations in India. Since Mysore and Mangalore are around the same distance away, you can choose either of them to travel to Coorg.

By Road: A good network of roads connect Coorg from Mysore (120 kms), Bangalore (260 kms) and Mangalore (136 kms)

Additional articles / sites:

Coorgtourism (link)
Coorgyatra (link)
Coorg Map (link)
Bike trip in quite some detail (link)
Small blog on travel to Coorg (link)
Trip to Medikeri (with some photos)
Pavitra’s trip to Medikeri (link)

Photos from Fickr
View from Medikeri, King’s cottage

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