Coorg – The scenic hill district of Karnataka.

By Somali K Chakrabarti

Taking the time out for a vacation during summers is a routine with most families, and ours is no exception. At the end of May, to seek respite from the scorching summer heat of Mumbai, we had decided to go to the hill district of Coorg via Mangalore.

I have, since been contemplating to jot down some highlights of the trip to preserve the memories. Within a span of a month, when I found myself going to Mangalore once again last week, I thought that I absolutely must write this post before it gets too late.

Mangalore is an hour’s flight from Mumbai. The Mangalore airport is on top of a hill with two table top runways. Acres of greenery covering the hills all around is pleasing to the eyes. A winding road takes us down the airport.

Green Coorg

Mangalore to Coorg is a three hour drive. We had decided to spend the day at Mangalore and start for Coorg early next morning.

 

Heading to Coorg

The way to Coorg is filled with green patches of wooded lands, coffee plantations and hilly slopes.

Enroute Coorg1

 

Coorg (originally Kodagu) is distinctively different from its neighbours. Kodavas, the native inhabitants of Coorg have their unique identity, customs and traditions that are different from other communities of Karnataka. Originally a martial race, the Kodavas later started practising agriculture. Serving the armed forces has been a tradition with the Kodavas. Even now, members from many families join the armed forces.

On the way, the driver tells us that Kodava language is influenced by Tulu, Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada languages.

We reach the hotel by the noon. After lunch and rest we get ready to go around the area.

 

Madikeri

Very near to the resort in which we stayed was Madikeri, a small hill station town which houses the headquarters of the district of Coorg.  The place has an old world charm about it. A view point from where the king would watch the surrounding down hills, with his consorts is known as Raja Seat.

Madikeri

The flowers in the gardens bore a clean and fresh look.

Flower

Flower1

We went to the Omkareshwara Temple, an ancient temple built in the 18th century. The temple has a simplistic architecture with a combination of Catholic, Keralite, Gothic and Islamic styles and a pond within the temple courtyard. I was surprised to see dragon heads on a box trunk like structure built outside the temple. We ended the sightseeing with a visit to the Kodagu Fort.

 

Dubare Elephant Camp

The best part of our trip came on the next day with the visit to Dubare Elephant Camp, where we saw elephants from a proximity.

We started early for the camp, so that we could see the elephants bathing.

On reaching the Dubare camp area, we crossed the river Kaveri on a ferry to land at the Elephant Camp. We spotted some elephants standing on the bank of the river. After buying the tickets, we headed towards the place where the mahouts were taking the elephants for a bath.

Elephants bathing

 

Soon we found ourselves splashing water at the elephants. The tuskers seemed to enjoy the attention. Suddenly a baby elephant that was quietly standing beside its mother, filled up water in its trunk and playfully splashed the water on the people standing in front of him. It amused the people as well as the calf, who repeated the prank a couple of times.

Elephants Wading

After finishing their bath, the elephants headed towards another corner of the camp. On the way, the baby made it a point to roll in a stack of hay to dry itself. Soon it snuggled up to its mother and stated suckling.

 

Thalakaveri

Thalakaveri (head of Kaveri), in the Brahmagiri hills in Kodagu, is the place of origin of river Kaveri.

Kaveri or Cauvery, considered among the most sacred rivers of India, emerges from an underground spring, which is connected with a small pond. A temple complex built around the spring houses the shrines of gods.

Thalakaveri

A peaceful atmosphere prevailed as we climbed up the stairs of the temple. It was breezy around there. The lush green hills all around presented a pleasant picture with the clouds drifting by.

 

Golden Temple Monastery

Golden Temple Monastery is a beautiful Tibetan monastery in Coorg. The monastery built in 1972 houses over 7,000 monks and students. We were surprised to know that the Tibetan settlement at Bylakuppe, Coorg is the second largest Tibetan settlement outside Tibet.

Golden Temple Monstery

Murals -n Golden Monastery Tibet

The tall statues of Buddha, Padmasambhava, and Amitayus are grand and imposing. The altar is nicely decorated with flowers, candles and incense sticks. The colourful murals on the walls of the monastery depict gods and demons from Tibetan Buddhist mythology.

We purchased some decoration pieces from the monastery before leaving.

 

Finally from Coorg, we headed towards Mangalore, carrying with us a few boxes of home-made chocolates, some spices and honey, along with the pleasant memories of the place, which will stay with us much longer after the chocolates and spices get consumed.


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Readers Comments (92)

  1. Coorg is an amazing place. No words to describe it. In college my friends did a motorbike ride of a 1000 kms to this place. Sadly I couldn’t do it when my friends went and I am yet to visit this place.

    Reply
  2. We were supposed to visit Coorg this summer, but sadly it got cancelled. Maybe, next year.
    Great narration, Somali and stunning pics. By the way, why is the elephant chained?
    Have a wonderful week!

    Reply
    • Thank you Kiran. Hope you go next year. The elephant is chained for safety reasons. There was an incident last year when an elephant had gone berserk. To avoid such incidents they put a chain around the big elephants. Have a nice day. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Couple of years back I had visited and it was the Orange Country resorts and I can recollect every bit of the travel and description you have made.
    Yes, the evening cultural activity in the the resort is what they try to present the culture and tradition of the locals and it was indeed quite fascinating to hear their part of the story. The elephant camp, it was enjoyable see the elephants from very close quarters, and the Tibetan Monastery was serene and rich with the decoration, yes, I never knew it was second largest establishment…
    I also visited the Kabini Forest, I don’t know whether you combined the package, it is equally fascinating to be part of the forest and the ride a boat on the river diving the two forest and see the animals all across. Thanks for the lovely post, nostalgic for me…
    😀

    Reply
  4. The post kind of rejuvenated me! Great post Somali. Have a good day😃

    Reply
  5. Very nice blog. You’ve given us a birds eye view of the whole area. Brought back many happy memories of our visit to this heavenly place almost 25 years back.

    Reply
  6. Photographs and descriptions are excellent Somali. We were planning our holidays. You have made our task easy.

    Reply
  7. Its a good travelogue. Inspiring enough to visit. You remembered the names and places so meticulously. Thats amazing. Flawless write up!!

    Reply
  8. bhudeb chakrabarti June 24, 2015 @ 2:21 pm

    Kodagu ( formerly called Coorg ) is the most picturesque place of Karnataka .
    I never saw Coorg .However since my school days I had the picture of Coorg
    in my imagination .Later during my service in CRPF I had some friends from
    Coorg who had martial traditions .You have written a wonderful travelogue on Kodagu
    (Coorg) and beautifully described Madikeri( formerly (Mercara ) and other places .
    I particularly liked the elephant story . All the photographs are excellent.

    Reply
  9. Coorg – been part of my places to visit for such a long time! 🙂

    Reply
  10. I’ve been there. It’s a great hill station. Beautifully narrated with lovely pics. Loved the close up of flowers very much.

    Reply
  11. Lovely pictures Somali. I have always wanted to visit Coorg but have to still make it happen:)

    Reply
  12. Nice concise post.
    Did you not try the local coffee?

    Reply
  13. The Beauty of Coorg is a unique feature of the Place itself.. Brings back my memories of visiting the place staying in Orange County for 2 days.. Right Post of the Season!

    Reply
  14. I have been there thrice, yet not completely satisfied. 🙂
    Loved seeing your captures.

    Reply
  15. Wish to go there someday. Beautiful pictures 🙂

    Reply
  16. You are awesome 🙂 keep the same.. Inspiring-posts

    Reply
  17. I have been to Ooty a couple of times (had too many home-made chocolates there) when i was in Bangalore, but missed this place.
    I heard it is awesome, as is apparent from your description also. Maybe some other day…

    Reply
  18. Well described informative post Somali…loved your clicks

    Reply
  19. Thanks for letting me re-live my trip to Coorg. Staying in coffee estates was always a high point for me. Also, the little rafting expedition near the Dubare elephant park . Keep sharing.

    Cheers

    Reply
  20. Aww that baby elephant is so cute!
    I love Coorg, it’s one of my favourite places. Especially the golden temple.

    Reply
  21. what a beauty !! Coorg is now being a hot destination for travellers and tourists. It has a lot of scenic point to visit. It is great to see Coorg through you camera .

    Reply
  22. Awesome Post!!!! 🙂

    Reply
  23. Lovely post.This post bought back our memories. Coorg is the first post on our blog.First road trip before 7 years. Did u get the chance to go to Abbey falls? Thanks for bringing back those memories.

    http://www.srikri.com/

    Reply
  24. I would love to visit Coorg! Beautiful pictures Somali.

    Reply
  25. Great post! Amazing pics!!

    Reply
  26. I always wanted to go to Coorg but could not visit so far. Nice pictures.

    Reply
  27. I’ve heard so much about Coorg, about the scenic beauty, home-made chocolates and spices. This post made me know a few more things…. beautiful account and loved the pictures..especially of the flowers…. 🙂

    Reply
  28. Coorg is beautiful n I can go there anytime 😛 Great that you liked it and covered Madikeri n Dubare. I haven’t been to these two places as everytime I am smitten by the coffee plantations and the waterfalls 🙂

    Reply
    • Plantations and Waterfalls have a charm of their own Roohi. Luckily we get to see some around Lonavla , but seeing the elephants from such close quarters was an awesome experience. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day . 🙂

      Reply
  29. SHIVANGI MEHTA June 25, 2015 @ 10:45 am

    the description and the photos are lovely…….

    Reply
  30. One of those places in Karnataka which has a bit of everything for everyone 🙂 .

    Reply
  31. I love Coorg. I stayed in a back to nature kind of resort which had no conventional electricity or mobile connectivity. It was refreshing. I did not like the Monastery much but enjoyed the Abbey Falls. Lovely travelogue, Somali.

    Reply
    • Thanks Rachna, No electricity and mobile connectivity sounds almost like attaining Nirvana. I had a similar experience in some ashram in Gangotri but that was long back. I guess worth trying out once in a while to disconnect with city life and connect with self.

      Reply
  32. yayyy…been here and done that…love Coorg, Mangalore airport reminded me of the landing its like you landing on a flat plate…coming to Coorg it used to be our frequent getway when I was in Bangalore…nice post Somali 🙂

    Reply
  33. Super awesome this is. I have been looking forward to going to Coorg since a long time, you definitely covered good number of places…! Awesome captures too… 🙂

    Reply
  34. I’ve been around Mangalore a couple of times but never visited it really. Its such a beautiful place. The pics are wonderful and reading this I really wanna visit it 🙂 South India is so beautiful in general.

    Reply
  35. Coorg was an amazing experience. Nature and sight seeing with a spiritual connect and history. Must visit.

    Reply
  36. Coorg is my favorite getaway destination! Amazing write up 🙂

    Reply
  37. Some familiar sights there. 🙂
    Elephants and water make such a great combo. I love how playful they get they get into the water. I can see you loved your Coorg trip.
    I’ve been to Bylakuppe a few times; didn’t know that was the second largest settlement of Tibetans outside Tibet. Thank you for that info.

    If you’d like to visit Kodagu of the early 20th century, you must read Tiger Hills. I loved the book. 🙂

    Nice write up, Somali. 🙂

    Reply
    • Thank you Divya (now that I finally know your name :-)) for letting me know of Tiger Hills.
      I have a penchant for knowing about the historical background of places. So will definitely get hold of it.

      Reply
  38. Hi Somali, i was already following your blog, but did not know how I missed this post. Thanks for stopping by my post!

    Reply
  39. Coorg is beautiful indeed.. and your write up is amazing..

    Reply

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