Coorg, also known as Kodagu, is one of the favorite long weekend destinations from Bangalore. It offers ideal temperature and untouched nature is the biggest attraction. Coorg provides the most serene surrounding for detoxing from the hustle and bustle of the city life. Situated about 275 kilometers from Bangalore and about 100 kilometers from Mysore, the drive takes about 6 hours in all, through numerous towns and scenic drives.
Tip: Do not forget to stop for breakfast at Hotel Kamath Yatri Nivas on the Bangalore – Mysore highway followed by some hot Maddur vada and filter coffee, a local favorite, at several highway eateries while driving through Maddur.
How to Reach Coorg:-
The closest railway station is situated in Mysore, so driving by road into Coorg is inevitable. I am sure you will enjoy the drive and it is worth driving on the picturesque roads. There are several buses that ply from both Bangalore and Mysore. Madikeri, being the capital of Coorg, is the hub of all the activities in Coorg. There are several taxi or cab companies that offer day trips around Coorg. There is also the option of traveling by autorickshaws from place to place. Be aware that public transport is not very well connected and one must plan well in advance before stepping out.
Tip: It is ideal if you have your own car as it gives you the flexibility of visiting any of the places at your own time. Parking is not too much of an issue in this area. But you might want to be careful while driving as the roads are all gradients, especially during the monsoon seasons.
Best Time to Visit Coorg:-
Coorg is a round-the-year favorite destination for most people given the beauty of the region. The rains are fairly heavy during the monsoons in the region during the months of June – August and most hotels offer discounted packages during that time. However, even during the rains, the entire region comes alive and it is still an ideal time to sit in your resort and look out, sipping coffee and enjoying the rains. Be warned that if you are driving into Coorg at this time, the roads will be quite slippery and hard to maneuver.
Tip: Visit Coorg specifically during the months of September and October, as the high water levels post monsoons offer some great spots in the waterfall and an ideal time for some river rafting. You should carry a light sweater and an umbrella at all times.
Things to do in Coorg:-
Coorg has enough to offer for all varieties of holidays – be it an adventure holiday, wildlife holiday, family holiday or a honeymoon. Ideally, one can spend 4-5 days and see all the spots around the district with ease.
- Bylakuppe: This is a small town with Tibetan settlements. If you are driving from Bangalore to Coorg, this town is en route and hosts a beautiful Buddhist Monastery. This will easily find its way into your ‘must see’ list. The Monastery houses 3 gigantic sized, beautiful sitting Buddhas. The other noteworthy activity here is the Tibetan food that one must not miss tasting.
Tip: There are several souvenir shops around the monastery that sell dragon embellished crockery, laughing Buddhas, lucky charms, wind chimes, etc..
- Abbey Falls: The best form of identification for these falls is the noise of the falls that one hears before you actually see the falls. Located about 8 kilometers from Madikeri, Abbey Falls has water throughout the year and is at its majestic best just after the monsoon season. The road leading to the falls is narrow with a hairpin bend, albeit manageable. There is a facility for a car park, a short walk away from the waterfalls. From the parking, you have to walk through the private garden and you get to enjoy the coffee plantations, pepper plantations and a variety of plants. The grandeur of the waterfalls is quite unexplainable and it also features on one’s must-visit list in this region. There is a hanging bridge across the falls and while standing on it, one can see the falls from up front. This also happens to be most people’s favorite photo spot. The force of the waterfalls is quite strong and it is likely that you will get wet once you get on the bridge. In all, this trip to the waterfalls will not take more than 2-3 hours, so based on that the rest of the itinerary can be planned.
Tip: The bridge is quite slippery because of the constant water spray from the force at which the waterfall hits the rocks below. It is advised that you wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Also, the place can get very crowded during the holiday season.
- Raja’s Tomb: On the way back to Madikeri from Abbey Falls, is a monument called the Raja’s Tomb. There are three tombs here – one for the king, one for the queen and one for the high priest. There is no entrance fee. One can just walk around appreciating the mix of culture and religion visible in the architecture. In all, a walk around the tomb will take you no more than half an hour.
- Raja’s Seat: This is one of the best spots to get a view of the sunrise or sunset in the district. As per the legend, the king (Raja) would watch the sunrise and sunset from here. It is situated in Madikeri itself, so depending on where you are staying, you could take a walk down to this site. There is a small monument built in the middle of a park to commemorate this. The entry fee to the park is INR 5 per person. The best time for viewing the sunset and the musical fountains are from 6.30 PM to 7.30 PM which includes a short sound and light show daily. You can also take a walk around the park. There is a toy train ride for which tickets can be bought on the spot. You can also enjoy the hide and seek play of clouds here.
Tip: Do try the churmuri / Bhel Puri (Indian snack) from one of the stalls near the park. The vendors customize it to suit your taste.
- Talakaveri: Situated about 45 kms from Madikeri, Talakaveri is the point where the river Kaveri originates. It surfaces as small perennial spring and then flows underground for a short distance and reemerges as the Kaveri that we know of. Near the spring is a small shrine with a Shiva Linga and a Ganesha temple. A little behind the shrine is a stairway of about 365 steps that takes you to the peak of Bharmagiri hills and one can get a beautiful view of the town from up there. You might need to be lucky to get a clear sky for the view.
Tip: This trip will consume almost half a day so your itinerary must be planned accordingly.
- Dubare Elephant Camp: The easiest way to approach this camp is either by rafting or taking a short boat ride. Weather permitting; you could even trek to the camp. This is a camp where elephants are domesticated and tamed. Early in the morning, tourists are permitted to bathe the elephants. Throughout the day, at a price, there are time slots for elephant rides, feeding the elephants, etc. The entry fee is Rs. 20 and opens at 8.30 in the morning. You can easily spend half a day here. It is highly recommended if you are traveling with kids.
Tip: If you are an adventurous person, the rafting is a must do. But this must be booked in advance. Almost all hotels and several local travel stores in Madikeri will be able to secure a booking for you. The time taken for the rafting is about 5 hours in all.
- Cauvery Nisargadham: Located on the banks of Cauvery, this is an ideal place for enjoying the combination of water and greenery. You can also stay here and enjoy the serenity of forest during the night.
- Some other must visit places: Omkareshwara Temple, Bagamandala, Iruppu Falls, Kaveri Nisargadhama (Deer Park), Nagarhole National Park and the Madikeri Museum.
Miscellaneous Tips: There are numerous resorts and budget accommodations in Madikeri and Kushalnagar. Most of them can be booked online. You could even try your luck by driving to Coorg impromptu, but it is advised that the reservations for holiday seasons are made well in advance. Several resorts take you on a coffee estate walk and demonstrate how the coffee plantation is grown and maintained. Resorts like The Serai, Orange County, etc. all have this activity. In any event, the drive into Madikeri is through several coffee estates.
Shopping: In addition to the places to see, shopping is one of the must-do on your things to do in Coorg list. The must-buys on any trip to Coorg are the locally grown coffee, locally made honey and spices that include pepper, cardamom, and dry fruits.
Must do Activities in Coorg:
- Whitewater rafting from the Dubare Elephant Camp to Cauvery Nisargadhama.
- Trekking up the Brahmagiri Hills and Thadiyandamol.
- Boating and fishing at Honnamana Kere.
- Ayurvedic massages at several centers and resorts.
Safety: The area is quite safe for tourists. The locals are very friendly and helpful. Most people speak and understand English, Hindi, and Kannada. But the roads have steep climbs and curves. So be careful while driving or alternatively you can hire a local driver.