Coorg, known to many as South India’s very own winter wonderland, has a surprise around every corner. Apart from the famed Talakaveri and Bhagamandala, Coorg has a bounty of scenic beauty just waiting to be discovered. Come uncover the hidden gems in Coorg’s treasury.
Tourist Places in and around Coorg
Madikeri or Mercara is the main town of Coorg and is also a well-known hill station.
Some of the important places to visit around Madikeri, Coorg are
- Madikeri Fort
- Raja’s seat
- Abbey Falls
- Tala Kaveri
- Nagarhole national park
- Tibetian Buddhist Golden Temple and
- Iruppu falls, amongst many others.
Madikeri Fort, Coorg
17th century saw the rise of the rudimentary structure of what would eventually become the Madikeri fort. Tippu Sultan refaced the fort in granite and christened it as the Jaffarabad. The fort after that changed hands from one ruler to the next to the current use of the palace as a Deputy Commissioner office.
The view from the fort is a beautiful picture of modern Coorg and the idyllic scenery surrounding the fort. The imposing masonry elephants and the stone tortoise that almost blends in to the stone flooring is an amazing little window into history.
The museum within the walls of the fort offers an interesting insight into the diversity and the rich historical background of Coorg. The church and Ganapati temple located within the fort epitomize the religious diversity and tolerance within Coorg.
City weary travellers can sigh a huge breath of relief; the scenic Raja’s Seat in Madikeri is a beautiful oasis of seasonal flowers and idyllic fountains. Built on high ground, the area affords a breath-taking view of the surrounding valleys and cliffs.
Legends speak of the park being a sanctuary built for the King’s recreation. While the structure itself is significantly small, four pillars with arched entryways, the garden no doubt would have been the background to numerous royal romantic liaisons.
With a toy train to keep the children occupied, the Raja’s Seat might be the perfect place for parents to rekindle their lost romance much like the royals of yester year.
Omkareshwara temple was built by Lingarajendra in 1820. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located in Madikeri town. The temple interestingly represents both the Islamic and the Gothic style of architecture. The temple has four minarets around it and a dome in the centre (similar to a Muslim Masjid).
History portrays Lingarajendra as having killed an honest and pious Brahmin in order to fulfil his political ambitions. On executing the brahmin he acquired the brahma hatya dosha and began to have nightmares, like falling off the throne. The murdered Brahmin became a “Brahmarakshasa” and started troubling the king. Then he was advised to build a temple to get rid of his dosha. The king got rid of him only when he brought a Shivalinga from Kashi and installed it after building a temple. The Shivalinga was named as “Omkareshwara”.
Among the many Shivalingas five are considered the most sacred, and Omkareshwara is one of them. Praying to Omkareshwara is thus believed to get rid the sinner of the tormenting ‘Brahmarakshasa’.
The River Kaveri which is one of the 7 sacred rivers of Sapta Sindhus described in the Hindu scriptures. The river originated at a place is called Talacauvery (Talakaveri) (head of Cauvery/Kaveri) 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 located about 48 kilometres from Madikeri.
Abbey Falls located only 8 kilometres away from the town of Madikeri is a wonderful refrain from the world of the concrete jungle. The mountains of the Western Ghats feed this waterfall. Looming clouds seem to hang constantly over the falls making it an ideal getaway spot from the summer heat. The hanging bridge creates the perfect vantage point to witness the beauty of the falls.
Dubare is at its core, an elephant capturing and training camp of the Forest Department. The camp is located at the edge of Dubare forest, on the bank of river Kaveri, on the Kushalnagar – Siddapur road. Tamed elephants and local tribal people, the Kurbas, capture the wild elephants that are then held captive for up to 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. Afterward 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.
The most visited tourist spot in Coorg is the Nagarahole National Park, renowned for its wild-life population. Nagarhole National Park also known as ‘Rajiv Gandhi National Park,’ is located a short 94 km from Mysore. It is spread between Kodagu and Mysore districts.
One can spot elephants, tigers, leopards, sambars, spotted deers, and bisons in plenty in and around the watering holes. There are facilities for over-night stay inside the Nagarhole Park next to watering holes.
Valanoor, located 30 kilometres from Madikeri, is home to the back waters of river Cauvery. It is held in high esteem as one of the most beautiful angling sites in Karnataka. The types of fish found here include Golden-Masheer, Maral and Mapp. Licence / permit can be arranged by local tourist agents.
Cauvery Nisargadhama is situated about 36 kilometres from Madikeri. This tourist picnic area is an island in the middle of the river connected to the mainland by a rope bridge. You can go boating or go on elephant rides as well as visit the elephant training camp run by the Forest Department at Dubare located 8 kilometres further inland.
When the river Cauvery flows downhill, it is joined by two more tributaries – Kanake and Sujyoti. The spot where all three converge (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 located about 40 kilometres from Madikeri.
Located right outside the beautiful Kushalnagar town, Harangi Dam is a picnic spot unlike any other. The dam across Harangi, a tributary of the River Kaveri is a sight to behold during the monsoons when the water levels are at their peak. The rushing sound of water through the open gates of the dam and the bounty of green surrounding it create an oasis of pure splendour and revelry.
Also known as the Lakshmana Tirtha Falls, the fresh water cascade has been a sight to behold during the monsoons for eons. While the water falls are breath-taking the surrounding scenery is in no way any less beautiful than the falls. With a largely contained flow and a depth that is not too deep, the water falls attract a lot of amateur swimmers and adventure junkies. However please be aware of posted signs and slippery routes.
Changing rooms and toilets are available for the comfort of tourists who decide to jump into the falls. A small convenience store located near the entrance supplies a steady stream of snacks and refreshments.
A trail through the surrounding forest takes tourists to the doorstep of the Rameshwara temple. The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva sees the highest devotees during the Shivarathri festival.
The Tibetian Buddhist Golden Temple or the Namdroling Monastery is located in the idyllic town of Bylakuppe. Most tourists make the Namdroling a pit stop on the way to Bangalore from Coorg. Built in 1963, the monastery offered refuge to those exiled from Tibet.
The Tibetian New Year, usually in the month of February or March, according to the lunar calendar is the best time to visit the monastery. Traditional Lama Dances and solemn processions mark the festivities with the sanctuary. The décor and the architecture are stark reminders of a rich Tibetian heritage that has been reconstructed in a land far away from home.
An overwhelming sense of poetic peace and serenity seems to overcome every traveller that steps into the temple. The daily prayer ritual is elaborate and worth a watch. There are lots of eateries in and around the temple offer Tibetian delicacies for the foodies. Prayer wheels, flags and other trinkets make beautiful souvenirs, a reminder of the beautiful town of Bylakuppe.