Coorg (kodagu) is a mountainous district located in South India. The misty hills, lush green valleys, evergreen forests and meandering brooks beckon nature lovers for a tranquil sojourn. The region is scattered with hamlets, villages and townships surrounded by coffee plantations and orange groves interspersed with cardamom and pepper plants and dense forests.
Kodagu or Coorg is derived from the local version “Kodavu” and the people of Kodagu are known as Kodavas. According to Puranic versions, the land of initial settlement was called Krodadesa which later became Kodavu. It is also said that Kodagu is derived from the word Kodava, Kod means 'give' and avva means 'mother', i.e mother Kaveri, the river Kaveri.
Madikeri is the district headquarters of Coorg with about 28,729 population and 1200 meters altitude. Muddurajakeri named after the first ruler Mudduraja from this place since 1681 later became Madikeri. It is a picturesque hill town with Palace inside Fort, Omkareshvar temple, Raja’s tomb, Raja's seat, Abbey falls.Madikeri is about 120 Kms from Mysore and takes about 2.30 Hrs to reach. From Bangalore it is around 250 kms and takes about 6 hours to reach Madikeri.
Places of interest in Madikeri
Abbey Falls or Abbi Falls:
Abbey Falls also called as Abbi Falls is located 5 kms from the town of Madikeri . The waterfall is located amongst coffee plantations with coffee bushes and spice estates with dense bushes and green trees where the Kaveri river cascades down a rockface.The falls appear suddenly, the water cascading over rocks into calm pools. The roar of the falls can be heard from the road. The water flow is very high during the monsoon season and during the dry seasons the flow is considerably less. A hanging bridge has now been built across the gorge here offering a good view of the falls.The best time to visit is early winter when the monsoons bring plenty of water. The falls can be reached by a narrow road from Madikeri. Cars can reach the entrance of these falls from where a downhill walk of 500 meters on slightly paved steps takes one to the waterfalls.
Raja's Seat is a small pavilion with a garden surrounding it, offering a view of the green valley below. Legend has it that the Kings of Coorg spent their evenings here watching the spectacular sunset. The valley below and the far stretching mountains are sure to take one's breath away.
Gaddige - Raja's Tomb
Gaddige or the tombs of Virarajendra and Lingarajendra at Madikeri is one of the important monuments of Coorg. It is located in the north of Mahadevpet in Madikeri city. The royal tombs on a hillock to the north of Madikeri provides a spectacular view of the town. Lingarajendra's tomb was built in 1820.There are also the tombs of a Raja's priest and that of two army commanders. A commemorative plaque, eulogizing the bravery of General Biddanda Bopu who fought Tipu Sultan has been recorded by Dodda Veerarajendra in an inscription. The tombs are in the style of Muhammadan edifices with domes in the center and turrets at the angles.
Omkareshwara temple was built by Lingarajendra in 1820. It is located just 1 km away from the heart of the Madikeri. The temple has both Islamic and Gothic style of architecture. There is a tank in front of the temple. There is a footpath leading to a small “Mantap".
Madikeri fort was first built by Mudduraja in the last quarter of the 17th century. He also built a palace inside the fort. It was eventually rebuilt in granite by Tipu Sultan who named the site as Jaffarabad. In 1790, Doddavira Rajendra took control of the fort.The palace was renovated by Lingarajendra Wodeyar II in 1812-1814. One can find two life size masonry elephants in the north-east corner at the entrance and a church in the south-east corner.
Kushalnagar is an amazing place to visit in Coorg and a great picnic spot too. The climate in Kushalnagar is completely different from other places in Coorg. The humidity level is much higher compared to Madikeri. There are lots of picnic spots in and around Kushalnagar, some of them are Nisargadhama, Golden Temple, Dubare Elephant Camp and Harangi Dam.
Places of interest in Kushalnagar
Cauvery Nisargadhama is a breathtakingly beautiful island off the state highway, 2 kms from Kushalanagar town and 28 km s from Madikeri. The 64-acre island, surrounded by the Cauvery river, can be accessed by walking across a hanging bridge. Established in 1989, the picturesque picnic spot with lush foliage of thick bamboo groves, sandalwood and teak trees has lovely river-side cottages. A deluxe cottage on stilts with the Cauvery flowing around it, can accommodate five persons. Elephant rides and boating are some of the other attractions. There is a deer park , children's park and orchidarium in the resort. Medicinal plants are also grown. Tourists are allowed to get into water at a few shallow and safe points along the river.
Tibetian Golden Temple
Bylekuppe near Kushalanagar is one of the largest Tibetan settlements in south India . The settlement, set up in 1960, is dotted with several monasteries and the prominent among these are the Great Gompa of Sera Je and Sera Mey and the Namdroling monastery. The Mahayana Buddhist University is at Sera. Another important monastery is the Tashi Lhumpo monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama. The gold-coated Buddhist statues in the monastery are imposing and unique, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of the Tibetans..The statues are of Guru Padmasambhava, Buddha Shakyamuni and Amitayus. The settlement is home to over 16,000 refugees from Tibet who fled their country after its invasion by the Chinese. There are nearly 7,000 monks and nuns. Agriculture is the main occupation of the refugees. Besides, they make handicrafts, carpets and incense. Tourists can shop for sweaters, dress material and other accessories.
Dubare Elephant Camp
Dubare is an elephant capturing and training camp of the Forest Department of Coorg. Dubare is located in between Kushalnagar and Siddapur on the banks of river Kaveri.The wild elephants are tamed and trained with the help of other tamed elephants and local tribals. It is a wonderful sight to watch the tamed elephants bath in the river and being scrubbed clean by their mahouts.
The Harangi dam near Kushalanagar has a beautiful reservoir, ideal for a week-end picnic.
Bhagamandala is on the foothills of Talcauvery and is 39 km from Madikeri. Bhagamandala is the confluence of the sacred rivers of Cauvery and Kannike and legend has it that a third river Sujyothi, a subterranean stream, joins the two rivers. The Bhagandeshwara temple is located on the banks of the two rivers and is one of the important pilgrimage centers in Coorg. Pilgrims proceed to Talcauvery only after offering worship at Bhagamandala. It is customary for the Coorg men to shave their head at Bhagamandala in the event of a bereavement in the family. Bhagamandala is also famous for honey and its apiaries.
Talakaveri - River Kaveri Originates here
This is the origin of river Kaveri on the eastern slopes of Brahmagiri peak at 1350 metres altitude, about 8 km by road from Bhagamandala.An enclosure around the spring called Gundige is connected to a small pond beside. The water from the pond goes underground and comes out after about one kilometer down the hill. There are three shrines above the spring and birds eye view of west-coast from the hill range.On a predetermined date and time of Tulasankranthi every year the spring from Gundige overflows called Thirthodbhava. This holy water is carried home by all pilgrims when they go back after paying the last rituals to their parent or spouse departed during the preceding year.
Nagarahole National Park
The Nagarhole Game Sanctuary extending over 284 sq. km affords an awesome sight with wild animals like bison. tiger, panther, elephants, wild boars, peacocks, etc.in their natural habitat.Nagarahole National Park now renamed as Rajiv Gandhi National park was first set up in 1955. In 1975 its area was increased to include a greater expanse of forest reserve. Once an exclusive hunting preserve of the erstwhile rulers of Mysore.The serpentine river after which the park is named, winds through lush green wilderness, hence the name "Nagara Hole" in Kannada means Serpent River.Kabini is the largest river draining the forest and a dam built on it has created a splendid lake to the south of the park, which also forms a boundary with the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Huge herds of elephants walk down to Nagarahole in the summer months, which is an excellent time to watch them.Over 300 bird species have been reported here, including rarities like Blue Face Malkhoa, White-cheeked Barbet and Nilgiri Flycatcher. The Short Eared and Oriental Scops Owl can been seen at night as they come out to prey.
Iruppu Falls ( Irpu Falls)
This is a sacred place called Iruppu in south Coorg on the Brahmagiri range of hills. River Lakshmana-tirtha flows nearby. According to legends Rama and Lakshmana, passed this way in search of Sita. Lakshmana shot an arrow into the Brahmagiri hills and brought into being the river Lakshmana tirtha when Rama asked him to fetch some water. The river descends into a water fall known as the Irupu Falls.