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Coorg is a hill station in the lap of western ghats in Karnataka. It is best known as the coffee bowl of India with coffee estates all around. Officially called Kodagu, Coorg is rich in nature, culture and offers pleasant weather for travelers. There are a lot of places to visit in Coorg beyond the coffee plantations, so come with me to explore some of them.
Here the list of exciting places to visit in Coorg that I have had an opportunity to visit. I have also included some from my bucket list for a future visit. You need to plan a visit to these places as they spread out around Madikeri town. You need to hire a cab to explore day trips off Madikeri.
Talakaveri Temple tank the origin or source of Kaveri river
Kaveri, the river that nurtures most of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu originates in Coorg. As you know the place of origin of a river is considered sacred in India. The place where Kaveri originates is called Talakaveri. You can see the Murti of Kaveri Amman, as the river is reverentially called everywhere here.
Established by Bhaganda rishi and also called Skanda Kshetra, this is a large temple at the base of Brahmagiri hill where Talakaveri is situated. You must see this for its antiquity, its local architecture, and beautiful wood & stone carvings.
Bhagamandala Temple complex
Bang opposite the temple is the confluence of three rivers – Kaveri, Kannige, and Sujyothi. Just like Prayagraj, this confluence of three rivers is very sacred and many rituals are performed here. Around here you can see many ancient Shivalingas in stone. Do read the above-detailed post on the temple and Triveni Sangam if you plan to visit.
Padi Igguthappa temple is dedicated to the presiding deity of Kodagu, who is also the deity of harvest and hence prosperity. I have already written a separate detailed post on it.
Igguthappa Temple complex
Walking through the Coffee Plantation of The Old Kent Estate in Coorg
The best way to explore coffee estates is to live in one. Here you can walk around the estate and learn a bit more about coffee plantations, different types of coffee, and the history of coffee in India. Understanding the lifecycle of coffee beans before it lands in your cup can bring you closer to your coffee. Learning different ways to roast and brew coffee can be fun. Most of these coffee estates also cultivate spices like pepper and Cardamom and it is a great opportunity to see the flavors in your food growing. Most coffee plantations are from the British era, so you get a very colonial feel in most bungalows inside the estates.
Read More – Living at a Coffee Estate in Coorg
Pro Tip – Visit when the coffee plants are flowering, they look beautiful as if a woven garland is kept on the plant.
A century-old giant tree in a coffee estate
Elephant spraying water on the visitors at the Dubare Elephant camp
As the name suggests, it is a camp where you can see elephants up, close, and personal. You can participate in some of the activities here like bathing the elephants or elephants arranging logs of woods in neat piles. All this is done under the guidance of a naturalist or mahout. Even if you do not participate, it is absolutely fun to see them playing in the low waters of the river here.
Elephant bathing at Dubare
Giant Bamboos at Kaveri Nisargadham Forest Park
It is a dense forest area where you can take a walk amidst the different types of forests. You can walk on the cable bridge on the Kaveri river and admire the lush green surroundings nurtured by its waters. An exhibit here shows the life of the Kodagu people. I particularly enjoyed the small bamboo forest. Trees and driftwood have been painted with local characters from history and folklore.
Wood-craft installed at Nisagadham
They also have a lot of dioramas depicting the Kodava lifestyle. There is a zipline facility for adventure seekers. Several souvenir shops, particularly of the spices and a variety of homemade chocolates are there at the exit/car parking of the campus. Do visit them.
Bylakuppe is the second largest Tibetan settlement in India after Dharamshala since 1961 CE. It houses around 100,000 Tibetans and is a small town in itself. Tourists visit it to see its Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery popularly known as Golden Temple due to its bright golden color. Many Buddhist festivals take place at this monastery.
It is a Buddhist oasis in South India, just like Mainpat in Chhatisgarh is in Central India.
Carved wooden doors at the entrance of Nalknad Palace
Locally called Naalnaad Aramane, this is a late 18th CE palace located in the village of Yavakapadi. It belongs to the last of Haleri kings of Kodagu before the region went to the British. More than a palace it looks like a large double-story mansion, with double slanted roofs. The woodwork on the ceilings & doors and some of the paintings inside are worth admiring. There is a cobra symbol carved everywhere in the palace, I wonder if it was the sign of the dynasty or lineage.
Durbar Hall of the palace
The guide here will explain to you how the design ensured that people inside could see and fire outside while remaining invisible to outsiders. This was a design requirement of those days when the security of royal buildings was a must.
The lobby of the palace
There is a small mandapa outside which was probably used for ceremonies and rituals. The Durbar Hall and a couple of dark rooms were interesting. Although a modest heritage property, visit if you have an interest in them and time to spare.
Madikeri Fort, also known as Mercara Fort is a 17th CE built by Mudduraja. It passed on to Tipu Sultan, back to Dodda Vira Rajendra, then to the British, and finally, today it is the office of Deputy Commissioner making it a Govt of India property. Two elephant figures outside are very popular with tourists. Walking on the walls of the fort gives you an overview of the area around the fort.
A view of the Madikeri Fort
The Madikeri Palace was a part of Madikeri Fort.
Landscape view of the Madikeri Palace now a government office
It is now a local government office, you can only have an outside view and admire the large heritage building.
Inside view of the museum
Just outside the fort walls is an old church, which is now the fort museum that houses very interesting artifacts. Outside in the garden, there are many Veergals or hero stones from the area. I picked up a lot of books on Karnataka heritage from the museum shop.
Landscape view of Government Museum, Madikeri
This lovely temple with a beautiful temple tank stays in my memory for being connected to Kashi. The Shivalinga here came from Varanasi and the temple shares its name with Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga on the banks of Narmada in MP.
Landscape view of the Omkareshwar temple and the temple tank
The temple located in the middle of the temple tank makes it look even more beautiful. You can see many turtles in the pond.
Omkareshwar Temple tank landscape view
Florally decorated Raja’s seat Madikeri
This is the most touristy part of Madikeri – a leisure garden with a lovely viewpoint. You see a valley with all shades of green and a lovely sunset against the cascading hills. If there is mist it creates an aura of mystery in the surroundings. Gardens here are well maintained and if you go in March, you can see the flower show. There is a toy train for kids to enjoy.
Landscape view from the Raja’s seat
These are series of royal cenotaphs that look quite like Qutub Shahi tombs of Hyderabad but have Nandi figures carved on them. Inside the cenotaphs, there are some Shivalingas that are worshipped. You also see dwarpala or doorkeeper sculptures outside some of the tombs. Door and windows jambs in stone are worth admiring. Plaques here tell you about the king whose cenotaph it is and a bit about his life.
Landscape view of Raja’s tomb
Not many tourists visit these. The campus has well-maintained gardens and heritage structures.
Taste a variety of Coffee
Taste local food
Explore Nature Photography
Bird Photography, if you have time and patience
River rafting on Barapole river
Listen to the wild Elephants visit stories from eye witness
Souvenir Shopping: We have compiled a list of Coorg Souvenirs for you. Do check it out.
Coorg is on the edge of the Western ghats, it receives very heavy rainfalls during the monsoon season. Naturally, a lot of the rainwater flows down from the mountains into small streams. Some of them merge along and as they take a natural plunge in the terrain form seasonal waterfalls. Mostly seasonal during the monsoons, they are all relatively medium to small waterfalls, but beautiful surrounded by lush greenery.
But there is a catch, visiting them during the monsoons can be risky as one needs to get farther from the habitation by trekking, leeches en route is a real threat, and the unpredictable fury of the rains and its after-effects can pose serious life-threatening situations to getting stranded in nature for a few days with little or no support systems.
Immediately post monsoons like in November month, with local guides visit to these waterfalls can be adventurous fun. Later on, the water flow in most of these falls trickle down and can just be a trek in nature, rather than watching a beautiful waterfall.
Popular Abbey Falls
The local authorities have created a well laid down concrete staircase amidst the private lush green properties for the public to take a view of this waterfall. It can be strenuous if you have elderly who have difficulty with staircases. Rest can do it easily with a bit of sweat both due to high humidity and physical efforts. There are refreshments available at the entrance.
We did visit and liked the natural beauty of the region. Though it is neither a large or deep waterfalls. It is about 60-70 feet deep waterfall, best wrt sight and sound in monsoons. A nominal entry fee is charged. Visitors are not allowed to swim in the pool below or bathe/shower in the falls. Don’t have high expectations. It is about 8 KMs from Madikeri city. Visiting hours 9 AM to 5 PM all days of the week. Don’t visit during the summer season, the waterfalls may dry up.
All of them are seasonal, are at their best during the monsoons. We visited Coorg in the month of March. Neither it was the season nor did we have enough time to spare and hence did not visit the following waterfalls. Just sharing some of these attractions for your information.
Iruppu Falls (Lakshmana Tirtha) in the Brahmagiri range of western ghats bordering Wayanad
Chelavara Falls also called Tortoise rock-like ‘Embepare’ in the local Kodava language.
Kalyala Waterfalls also called Spatika Jalapata in the Kannada language
Plenty of the Western Ghats sections to go trekking, climb onto higher peaks of the region for some great landscape views. However, they are risky and exhausting. Hence plan, go in groups, and seek local guides for such adventures. Most of them pass through the forest ranges and need prior permission from Forest dept officials. For sure do not go alone and without informing someone caring. Remember mobile signals may not be there or very poor in such mountainous areas. Help cant reach easily. Please do note we have not undertaken any of these treks ourselves. Some of the trekking you can undertake are:
Tadiandamol peak – The highest peak in Coorg at about 1750 meters above sea level
Pushpagiri (also called Kumara Parvatha and Subramanya hills) – About 1710 meters above sea level, it is the second-highest peak
Brahmagiri – about 1610 meters above sea level, the fourth-highest peak, bordering Kerala state
Nishani Betta (Betta means mountain) – about 1275 meters above sea level
Kopatty – about 1300 meters above sea level
Kote Betta – reportedly about 1620 meters above sea level, the third-highest peak
Galibeedu – Subramanya
The region is surrounded by several Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks & Tiger reserves. They are spread across the borders of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. If you are on a long holiday, plan for some of these places to visit around Coorg.
Nagarahole National Park & Tiger Reserve
Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary
Bandipur Tiger Reserve & National Park
Madumalai National Park
Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary
They are on our list of, to be visited places, someday hopefully.
Interesting nature outings places to visit near Coorg if you have more time on the trip/visit are:
Honnamana Kere – A largest natural lake
We have not visited them, hopefully sometimes in the future.
Happy Holidays in Coorg.
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