We decided to head towards Coorg on a pleasant winter morning. There were four of us, and we took my car. My car was pretty new for me, I was new to driving, and so were rest of the gang. This was my first outing in my car, and I was then not used to travelling much as I now do, so we were a bit anxious. Things worked out fine though. Though this was my first trip, I went back to Coorg many times later.
It was a weekend whirlwind trip. We planned to start early in the morning, something that never really happens ever! After herding everyone, we finally left Bangalore around 8am, sulking about being late.
It was a pleasant drive most of the way. We took the Mysore road, and the road was good till Srirangapattna where we turned right to avoid Mysore. The next stretch of road was narrow and pot-holed ridden till we reached Mysore-Hunsur road. We took deviation towards Nagarahole National Park(Not called Rajiv Gandhi National Park) after Hunsur and continued on the forest road.
This road passes through the National Park. You may sometime get to see some wildlife, primarily Chitals(Spotted Deer), Sambar, Elephants and Bisons when you are driving by. All we got to see were a few Chitals grazing by the road. We reached the park office in the afternoon and decided to take the jungle safari.
The safari must have lasted for an hour and we saw wildlife in plenty. Most of my sightings were first time in the wild, though I am now used to seeing them in plenty. We saw a few herds elephants which walked pretty close to our van. There were Chitals, Sambars and Bisons. I don’t remember well, but I think we did see a few peacocks.
Wild Elephant at Nagarahole
We drove further towards Kutta village(which is in Coorg) from Nagarahole, had a quick coffee and then reached nearby Irpu falls in the evening. Evening is the best time to be at the waterfall. Irpu is a beautiful waterfall coming down from Brahmagiri hills where river Laxmana Teertha originates. We wandered around the falls for an hour or so and headed towards Madikeri.
Madikeri is more than an hour’s drive from Irpu. We reached there around 8pm and checked in to a small hotel.
Before everyone woke up next morning, I made a quick sneak visit to Raja Seat to take some photographs. Raja Seat is a small garden beyond which is a beautiful valley, often foggy in the mornings. The name comes because the King of Kodagu had constructed a small canopy here and often came to relax.
Foggy morning at the valley beyond Rajaseat
When back, we had a small debate about places we should be visiting for the day. Being a short trip, and a car at our disposal, we wanted to cover every place, and each one of us wanted to be at a place of their choice. After much debate over breakfast, we headed towards Abbey(Abbi) falls, that being the nearest place.
Abbey falls is a not-so-big waterfall that happens to be inside a private coffee estate. With habitation upstream, and probably some coffee related work happening, water is not clean and you won’t feel too good about it. Nevertheless, a nice waterfall which is a much visited place in Coorg.
Our next stop was Bhagamandala and Talakaveri. Bhagamandala is the place where three small rivers unite to form Kaveri. As it usually happens(!), we saw only two rivers, and the third one is said to be hidden somewhere! Must be an influence from Allahabad! Anyway there wasn’t much to do in Bhagamandala. So we haded straight up to Talakaveri. It is a steep uphill and winding road to Talakaveri, and it took some 30 minutes to cover those 7-8 kilometers. But we stopped occasionally to enjoy the vistas of the planes below. Talakaveri is said to be the birth place of river Cauvery. It is on the top of a hill and houses a temple(like every other hill!). There is a small pond in front of the temple, from where the river is known to originate. The Brahmagiri hill ranges, which is part of the wildlife sanctuary starts from here. The peaks around look green in monsoon and are a treat to see.
We headed back to Madikeri and reached there for lunchtime. Our next stop was on the way back towards Mysore – Kaveri Nisargadhama near Kushalnagar. The Nisargadhama is a large area on the banks of Kaveri and has been developed into a touristy place by forest department. You can take a walk by the river, wet yourself in the water, see some deer in enclosed area or take an elephant ride here. We did not find much to do here, so we returned quickly and headed back to Bangalore.
You can take elephant rides at Nisargadhama, but keep in mind that these pachyderms are often beaten and treated badly. You will be better off buying this guy a bunch of Bananas than trying to take him for a walk.
The drive back was uneventful till we reached Mysore Road. Being Sunday evening, Mysore Road was pretty crowded and it was a tough job driving in the lights. After a painful three hours drive in the night on Mysore Road, we finally reached back Bangalore around 11pm. It was a not-so-great trip, but being the first time driving trip and (at that time)being very infrequent travellers, we really had a great time.
Kodagu, or Coorg as it is written in English, is a small district south of Karnataka. It is a hilly region in the Sahyadri ranges and is known for many things including their distinct Kodava Culture, the green beautiful hills, waterfalls and coffee estates. Madikeri, sometimes written as Mercara is the district headquarters.
You can take ksrtc buses from Bangalore or Mysore to Madikeri. To reach Coorg from Bangalore, take Mysore road and drive till Srirangapattna. Turn right little ahead of Srirangapattna and drive till you reach Mysore – Madikeri main road and continue to Madikeri from here. You can also visit KRS dam, Balmuri falls, Ranganathittu and Srirangapattna if you have time, as they all are a short detour near Srirangapattna. Madikeri should be around 250km from Bangalore and can be driven in 6 hours.
Orange County is the only upmarket resort in Coorg. But there are hundreds of mid-range and budget places to stay all over the district of Coorg. Home stay is a popular concept in Coorg where you can stay with Kodava families and get a taste of local culture and cuisine. There are a few budget hotels in Madikeri where you can find accommodation easily.
PLACES TO SEE
Places to see in Coorg are plenty, and you can easily spend a month if you want to go to every one of them. The popular places are the Irpu waterfalls, Kaveri Nisargadhama, Tibetan monastery and settlement in Bylakuppe near Kushalanagar, Hebbe falls, Talakaveri where Kaveri originates, Dubare elephant camp, Harangi dam and many more. Nagarahole National Park is in the border of the district and can be done along with your Coorg trip. Depending on where you are staying, your hosts may be able to take you on short treks or coffee estate walks. Most people who come to
Coorg prefer to stay at a place and enjoy its beauty instead of going sightseeing.
For those interested, there are a few options to trek in the forest. Thadiandamol is the tallest hill in Coorg and can be done as a full day trek. Trek to Brahmagiri Peak requires two days though you can do it in a day if you are fit enough.