Where else will you get a perfect blend of historical monuments, pilgrimage spots, waterfalls, reserve forests, camping and plantation hikes all in one place? Here are the top tourist attractions that you must visit on your trip to Coorg.
Madikeri Fort: Originally made in mud, the 110 feet long Madikeri Fort was re-built in stone (with secret underground passages) by Tipu Sultan. Much later Lingarajendra Wodeyar II reconstructed this two-storied fort with brick and mortar between 1812 – 1817. Now the District Collector’s Office, this palace has a stone formation of a tortoise with the initials of King Vijayarajendra and two life size stone replicas of the royal elephants killed by King Veera Raja. In 1855, the British built a Gothic styled Anglican St. Mark’s Church which has now been converted into a museum. After a couple of facelifts a Clock Tower and a portico were added by the British in 1933.
Now under the Archeological department, this church turned museum is home to some of the historical artifacts and a section dedicated to Field Martial Cariappa. Other areas of interest within the fort premises are the district prison, the Kote Maha Ganapathi temple and the Mahatma Gandhi Public Library. The Kote Maha Ganapathi temple is also one of the main temples in Coorg which competes during the Madikeri Dussera Festival.
Raja’s Seat: Located at a vantage point in town, Raja’s Seat is a very popular stop in Madikeri. Set on the western edge of Madikeri, people throng the place to catch the sunset view. The sun going down against the backdrop of distant hill ranges is a sight to behold. View of the Coorg Valley with paddy fields and forests between Raja’s Seat and the distant ranges add to the picturesque setting. Apart from the breathtaking view of the valley, Raja’s Seat also gives you a brilliant view of the road leading to the coastal city of Mangalore. Raja’s Seat is essentially a well maintained garden with attractions like a small pavilion and a toy train. According to local folklore, the kings of Kodagu spent their evenings here. We’d also recommend a walk towards the Karnataka Tourism hotel further up. It is a lovely walk along some of the higher reaches in town.
Omkareshwara Temple: It is located in the heart of Madikeri town. The Omkareshwara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was built in 1820 by Lingarajendra Wodeyar II to ward off evil caused by Brahma Rakshasha. Legend has it that Lingarajendra killed an honest and pious Brahmin to fulfill his political ambitions. The Brahmin came back as ‘Brahmarakshasa’ to haunt the king. To ward off the evil spirit, a temple was constructed by Wodeyar. A huge tank in front of the temple is an attractive feature of the complex. The main temple structure is unique as it is a blend of Gothic and Islamic architectural styles. Just like a dargah, this temple has four minarets and a dome in the centre with a Shivling installed at the entrance, where the Shivling is reported to be brought from Kashi. The history of the temple has been engraved on a copper plate which has been installed at the entrance.
Abbey Falls: Just 8 kms from Madikeri, Abbey Falls is a very popular tourist spot. A steep climb from town leads visitors to this pretty falls tucked within plantations. The final walk to the location through lots of trees sets one up for the final view. Cascading from a 70 feet drop, this waterfall leads up to a pool through coffee and cardamom plantations. You can access Abbey Falls through private coffee estates. The strength of this waterfall is more during the monsoons as compared to summers. You can walk on the hanging bridge to get a closer view of the falls. The water gushing down creates a roaring sound and the mist rising out is quite breathtaking. During summers and winters visitors can sit on the rocks below the falls with feet in the water and the view of the waterfalls in front. A delightful experience indeed! A trip to Abbey Falls during monsoons and winters is ideal. Care should be taken especially during monsoons as it can get slippery while walking around the area.
Thadiyandamol: One of the highest peaks in the Western Ghats, Thadiyandamol stands at a height of 1,747 meters and is ideal for experienced trekkers. You can access its peak with an 8 km drive from Kakkabe, located at a distance of 35 kms from Madikeri. Though you can access two-thirds of the route by jeep, but the final climb is quite difficult yet rewarding with the beautiful view from top. In the lead up to the top, trekkers usually take a break at Nalaknad Palace. Built in 1792, Nalaknad Palace was one of the final safe havens for the last King of Kodagu, while he was escaping from the British. Though not easily accessible, this two-storey building serves as a base for the campers to catch their breath and spend a night of rest before scaling the narrow and steep path to the peak of Thadiyandamol. Presently under the Archeological department, the Nalaknand Palace also houses a bee-keeping centre.
Bhaganmandala: Bhaganmandala is a popular pilgrimage spot situated on the upstream banks of the River Kaveri and is also known as Dakshin Kashi. The temple architecture in Bhaganmandala has a strong resemblance to the Kerala style of temples with two-tiered sloping roofs. This is the place where two tributaries Kannike and Sujyoti Rivers join the Kaveri. Pilgrims throng at this confluence known as the ‘Triveni Sangama’, to take a dip and perform rituals before heading to Tala Kaveri, the origin of the River Kaveri.
The Bhagandeshwara Temple is the most popular amongst other temples situated in the vicinity that are devoted to Lord Ganesha, Subramanya and Vishnu. You can visit these temples during October and November when thousands of oil lamps are lit in the temples during festivals. It is fascinating to know that Dassera is celebrated at night where decorated chariots are on display which show how Goddess Shakti had destroyed all evils. Bhaganmandala is also famous for their bee rearing centre called Madhuvana, where you can take a tour in their in-house museum to learn more about bees and honey. There is also a state government run Apiculture Training Institute that is dedicated to the study and research on managing and maintaining colonies of honeybees. You can head towards Napoklu, which is a 9 km drive from Bettegiri (en route Bhaganmandala) to the Padi Igguthappa Temple dedicated to Lord Igguthapp, which is considered to be one of the most holy places of worship by the Kodavas.
Talakaveri: Talakaveri is the origin of the Kaveri River that flows in full strength during the monsoons. The river is looked up on by the Kodavas as their godmother, and hence Talakaveri becomes a venerated site. Talakaveri is situated 12 kms away from Bhagamandala and 47 kms from Madikeri. It’s situated on the hills of Brahmagiri close to Bhagamandala and is considered to be one of the seven holy rivers from the Sapta Sindhus mentioned in the Hindu scriptures. The temple located here is devoted to Lord Agastheeswara which symbolises the bond between Kavery (Parvathy) and Sage Agasthya. This area is popular amongst pilgrims who visit Shiva and Ganesha temples. A small water body with a tiny temple at one end greets visitors to the temple complex. This is considered the source of the holy river. Taking a dip in its holy waters particularly during Tula Sankramana in October is considered very sacred. Surrounded by dense Shola forests, the tranquil atmosphere adds to the flavor. After darshan of the origin, visitors climb the stairs to reach the main Shiva temple. The tile roof temple is reminiscent of a design seen in Southern Karnataka. Beyond the temple limits are forested slopes that are tailor made for trekking and hiking.
Chetalli: On your trip to Bhaganmandala, you can drop by at the horticultural farm at Chetalli and see a wide variety of exotic fruits and flowers. There are flower gardens, cocum and banana plantation, star fruits and mango trees to name a few). Chetalli also houses the Regional Coffee Research Station and is worth paying a visit to see the extent of research that is carried out for coffee, quality of soil and diseases related to coffee beans. Chetalli has a huge potential to become one of the future hotspots for nature tourism, so be sure to check this place out.
Dubare Elephant Training Camp: A Karnataka Forest Department initiative, Dubare Elephant Training Camp is a base which tames wild Asiatic Elephants to help the locals. It’s a sight to watch the elephants bathe and how they respond to the commands of the mahouts. The Dubare Elephant Camp has played a vital role in history, as during the King’s rule in Mysore, it was at this camp, that the elephants were trained for the famous Dussera festival at Mysore. Today, the Karnataka Forest Department trains more 150 elephants, out of which Dubare is the most significant one. Apart from the elephants, you can also lovely species of birds such as partridges, peacocks, kingfishers and woodpeckers. On your trip to the Elephant Camp, you can interact with these giants by feeding and bathing them and even go for an elephant ride for a nominal fee. The best part being, the Elephant Camp has log cabins that can be booked through the District Forest Officer at Madikeri. Its quite an adventure visiting the camp as you will have to take a boat across to the island spanning 11 acres (Rs. 20 one way). Rafts can be hired at Rs 100 for a short ride. River rafting exists during monsoons (Jul – Sep) (full course Rs1,000; short course Rs 600)
Iruppu Falls: Located in the Brahmagiri Range of district Kodagu (Coorg), the Iruppu Falls is also referred to as the Lakshmana Tirtha Falls. It forms the starting point of Lakshmana Tirtha River, a tributary of Cauvery. The walk up to the Falls is very picturesque. You cross a small bridge, and walk up the muddy stairs surrounded by moss, ferns and tall trees accompanied by the sound of the gushing waters. There is a small square space with some benches kept facing the Falls for visitors to relax after the climb and enjoy the beauty of the Falls. You can choose to dip take a full body dip or just a feet dip at the cool waters of Iruppu. One is advised to be careful during monsoon due to the heavy flow, it is best to go in groups. Iruppu is a plastic free zone and littering is an offence. Iruppu also has mythological significance and is linked to the Ramayana. Legend has it that when Ram and Laxman (Lakshmana) were passing through the Brahmagiri range looking for Sita, Ram felt thirsty. To quench the elder brother’s thirst, Laxman (Lakshmana) shot an arrow into the Brahamagiri Hills resulting in this flow of water.
Plantation Hikes: There are a few Plantation Hikes that are conducted regularly in and around Coorg. These hikes take you through coffee territory, and visitors can feel the plants and the coffee beans. One of the popular ones being the Mojo Rainforest Trek that takes you on a trek to the 1,100 meter rain slope on the Western Ghats. You can contact the Coorg Wildlife Society regarding trekking options, guides and campsites to plan your treks or contact the Coorg Adventure Club to know more.
Resorts like Orange County also conduct a guided tour of a 300 acre coffee and spice plantation. This is where you get to know the difference between an Arabica and Robusta and learn about the spices of Coorg.
Weather: Coorg is located close to the Kerala border, in southern Karnataka. The climate in Coorg is pleasant throughout the year. It owes its lush green hills and forests to the southwest monsoon from June to September. Coorg is a hilly region with an expanse of 4,102 square kilometers. The Brahmagiri range of the Western Ghats, separate Coorg from Kerala from the south-western and southern borders. The Kodavas consider the river Kaveri sacred that springs from the Brahmagiri range at Talakaveri. A lot of trekkers and adventure seekers visit Coorg for the famous Tadiandamol range with its highest peak of 1746 m above sea level. The other being, the Pushpagiri or Subrahmanya Hills at a height of 1715 meters above sea level.
Coorg is a blend of hilly areas in the south with cluttered mountains and deep ravines to the north. The unremitting long stretch of jungle that runs between the two main Rivers Kaveri and Lakshamantirtha, is home to the Nagarhole (Rajiv Gandhi) National Sanctuary.
A year round destination, Coorg experiences the south-west monsoon from June to September, winters from January to February and summers from March to May. The peak season in Coorg is between October to May.
How to Reach Coorg:
The only way that you can access Coorg is by road. The nearest railheads are in Mysore, Hassan, Mangalore and Kannur, while the nearest airports are Mangalore and Bangalore.
The best way to reach Coorg is by road on the Bangalore-Mysore highway, which should take you about five to six hours by car. By bus, it is almost seven hours. You can hop on to a bus from the KSRTC bus depot near the Bangalore railway station. Buses head to Coorg every half an hour. Once you reach Coorg, you can hire auto-rickshaws to take you to your hotel. There are regular KSRTC buses plying from Mangalore to Madikeri. You can check with your hotel and hire a private vehicle to travel in and around Coorg. Though not connected with direct railhead or by air, Coorg is well connected with by roads. Karnataka’s state transport buses – the K.S.R.T.C ply from all over the state, offering good connectivity.
- Distances from Madikeri by road:
- Bangalore – 260 Kms – 6 hours
- Mysore – 120 Kms – 3 hours
- Mangalore- 120 Kms – 4 hours
- Hassan – 125 Kms – 4 hours
- Tellicheri – 155 Kms – 4 hours
- Kannur – 140 Kms – 4 hours
The nearest railhead is Mysore (120 km), Hassan (125 km), Mangalore (120 km) and Kannur (140 km).
Nearest Airport is Bangalore
A Travel Guide Series for Yatra.com.