Coorg a sylvan glade
The Kodagu or Coorg district nestled in the Western Ghats is known widely for its headquarters Mercara or Madikeri. This hill station also called the Scotland of India is a conflation of Tamil, Tulu, and Kerala traditions and cultures. Sprawling hills, dense forests, coffee plantations, trekking trails and abundant wildlife makes Coorg a great destination to rewind, relax and rejuvenate. Lush greenery with rice steppes, streams and waterfalls it is indeed a sight for sore eyes.
Not many know but Coorg is a flowering abode and is a destination for enjoying the colourful flora. Come March with the first shower of the season the coffee plantations look like a blanket of snow sprinkled over the green shrubs. White star shaped flowers glimmer and infuse the surroundings with an aroma similar to that of the jasmine. A walk through the plantation in this season would be a heavenly experience. The blossoms are not restricted to the plantations alone but are found all across the expanse through the year. Rooftops, window sills, staircases and fences of Kodava houses have flowering plants of all shapes, colours and sizes. The Angel’s Trumpet, 4 ‘o clock flower are to name a few that paints Coorg as a riot of colours for the onlookers.
Kodagu is a haven for wildlife as it is peppered with Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Park. Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Talakaveri Wildlife Sanctuary, Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary and the Nagarahole National Park are verdant and home to the India Gaurs, Deers, Birds, Asiatic Elephants and Tigers. Getting to observe the Tuskers and spending time with them is an opportunity that many wouldn’t want to miss at Dubare Elephant Camp. Earlier the elephants were trained for the famed Mysore Dussehra, today visitors watch the pachyderms bathed, groomed, fed and also enjoy a short ride on its back. Crossing the Cauvery River by wading through its waters and jumping over rocks to reach this camp is an experience that shouldn’t be missed. The other alternative is to take a boat ride and if luck is on your side you might even spot some crocodiles basking in the sun.
RUMBLE AND TUMBLE
The natural beauty of Coorg is something that would leave anyone spellbound especially during and immediately after rains. Cascades, pools and streams flow across the land enveloped in a mist with the clouds hanging low. A short walk through thick vegetation, coffee and spice plantations followed by a hanging bridge takes you to Abbey Falls. The water tumbles down the hill like a milky cascade. It is a great spot for the shutterbugs and also for those who would love to enjoy some panoramic vistas. One needs to take extra care during the rains as the place would be infested with leeches.
SHRINE WITH A SIGN
Omkareshwar temple in Madikeri is steeped in history and legend. It is told King Lingarajendra II killed an innocent Brahmin after which the victim took the form of Brahmarakshas. The spirit then started to trouble the king who found himself in a helpless state against the supernatural power. After consulting learned scholars he got to know installing a lingam brought from Kashi would elude him of all the on-going troubles. So the King got the lingam and consecrated a temple in Madikeri in the early nineteenth century after which he was free of troubles. The signature of this shrine is the presence of a huge dome and four minarets surrounding it depicting the Islamic style of architecture.
Another noteworthy destination around Madikeri is the Bylakuppe Tibetan Monastery. The second largest Tibetan settlement outside Tibet captivates visitors with its striking 40 ft. Buddha statues and colourful paintings of gods and demons. The place has numerous camps for Buddhist monks and is a major education seat for them.
A COORGI SLURP
Walking through the Madikeri Market one wouldn’t miss the sight of women young and old draped in Coorgi styled sari buying their daily stuff. It is told the Kodavas were warriors and served their King in the bygone era. Most Coorgi families have license to own a gun and these weapons adorn the walls of their house. Coorg is a melting pot of the Kerala, Tulu and Tamil cuisine. Pork dishes are very common like the Pandhi Curry which is consumed regularly by the locals. Akki Otti the rice flatbread, Kadambuttu or milky white steamed dumplings, Nool Puttu or string hoppers is few Kodagu dishes that shouldn’t be missed when in Coorg. Head to Coorg Cuisinette a restaurant near the market for an authentic gastronomic experience.
Coorg is also known for its homemade chocolates of different flavours. Try the unusual betel nut chocolate at Choci Coorg for that heavenly feeling. Walk through the bazaar and you will find many outlets selling a vast variety of fruit wines like banana, grapes, apple, pomegranate, gooseberry, mango, strawberry, dates and the lesser known betel leaf, ginger, finger millet and paddy wine.
How to Get There
Madikeri is at a distance of 265 km from Bengaluru.
Where to Stay?
One can stay at Club Mahindra Madikeri for some pampering spa treatments. Tel: 08272 22111/221882. www.clubmahindra.com
For a homestay experience head to Honey Valley India Tel: 08272238 339 / 238 888 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Coorg has loads to offer for the adventurous kind. You can go trekking or cycling in the numerous trails
- Experience a range of rejuvenating treatments in the spa centres across the region
- Do not forget to buy a packet of the delectable and aromatic Coorg coffee