After spending a few days & Christmas in Hampi, the next stop on my #SouthTakeOver journey was Coorg, Karnataka. With Hampi feeling hot and dusty, I needed some hill station feels, and decided to head straight to Madikeri (Also, Mercara) – This is like the centre of Coorg. Yeah, Coorg is a big place.
A ton of people told me this place is extremely mainstream and a popular tourist destination, and warned me against going there. Alas, there is a reason why a place is mainstream, the idea is to enjoy the mainstream and explore the unexplored. Keeping that agenda in mind, I departed from Hampi – (Hampi – Hospet – Mysore – Madikeri) and arrived in Madikeri – Coorg on a windy afternoon.
When you plan a trip to Coorg, you can choose to live in Madikeri. This is the centre (sort of) and other places can be visited from here. There is reason why I choose the word centre, amazing places to visit from Madikeri range from 1km to 90 kms. There is a ton of touristy things to do in Coorg. Do them. There is a lot of greenery, natural trails, hikes, waterfalls. I suggest at least 5-6 days here if you want to “experience” everything. Not see, experience.
IMPORTANT: When I visited Coorg, I didn’t know anything about it. Places to see, things to do, nothing. Like all other places I thought, hey, I’ll go there and figure. Well when I got there and went to the tourist help desk, they had “packages” for places to visit since everything was really really far. I was quite dejected at first because I was told these places can only be visited by cabs/taxis which can be booked for the day for prices ranging from Rs. 1000 – 2000 and upwards. And those are REALLY not my budgets. I spend 5 days in 2 grand to be honest. So, after some asking around and research I figured there are public and private buses that go to these places. And cost like 30-100 bucks for distances as far as 90 kms (Eg. Nagarhole) That is NOT BAD AT ALL. So yeah, save money. Spend it on better experiences. And you can make friends in buses!
i. (Cauvery) Nisarg Dhama:
This is nice little foresty island created by the carvery river is on the Mysore-Madikeri road, about 45 minutes from Madikeri. You can catch a bus from Madikeri bus stop and it’ll take you 30 bucks to get there. Catch a cab, and it’ll take you Rs. 1500. You see what I mean?
This place has a very famous wooden bridge over the river, a deer park and an animal sanctuary of sorts. Its even got huts to stay at. But these are pricey, at 700-1000 bucks a night. Didn’t look like the best. I’d stay away if I were you. But the place is really good. Nice environment, cool breeze and nature scenes.
ii. Thadiandamol Hills & Chelavara Falls:
On the second day I planned a hike to the Thadiandamol Hills and Chelavara falls. This was probably the best of my time in Coorg. Check it out! Lots of pictures, keep an eye on the descriptions!
The hike took about 3 hours one way – total hike was about 5 kms but I started walking from the base of the mountains so thats another 7 kms. So total 17 kms of walking. Must say I was exhausted!
The view from the top was so pristine, I didn’t take a picture. I really didn’t feel like sharing that moment with anyone else (I do regret it now.) The Chelavara falls were alright, I say you can skip it if you wish.
Now this place was something. I heard about this dam and decided to visit and I was not even a little disappointed. You won’t hear about it when you’re in Coorg, and not too many people know about it. But then again, finders keepers.
iv. Dubare Elephant Camp:
On the 4rd day I visited Dubare Elephant Camp! This is a fun kid’s place but I really wanted to bathe elephants and play with baby elephants. it was too much fun! (keep the child in you alive, I say)
I later realised how the elephants are trained and kept there. Did make me feel a little bad about the entire thing. I leave it up to you to decide whether you would like to see the place or not.
v. Byllacupe / The Golden temple:
On the 5th day (31st December ’15) I left for Bylacuppe, a place about 30 kms from Madikeri to see a huge tibetan settlement. Slept through New years in a monk’s room and got to see his Holiness the Dalai Llama, before which I got to meditate with 5000 monks at 4 am in the morning. More on that soon.
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