Coorg: The Land of Warriors:-
Though commonly referred to as Coorg; the official name of the district is Kodagu. Madikeri, capital of the district is named after Third king of Haleri dynasty; Mudduraja. He established this city, thus to be known as Mudduraja Keri, which over a period of time became Madikeri, later British pronounced it as Mercara.
Situated at 1525 mtrs altitude in western ghat, this town is surrounded by lush green hills and Coffee Plantations. Pleasant winter makes, it one of the most preferred hill stations of southern India.
Most interesting aspect of Coorg, is its different culture as compared to other south Indian territories. Right from the way of draping Saree, to cuisine, to lifestyle everything is very different. Coorgs are fighters, with military tradition. They have served in erstwhile British Army and now Indian Army. India’s some of the most noted Army Generals hail from this area, starting from Field Marshal Cariappa. Their favourite food is non-vegetarian and specialty is pork. It is the only community to have right to own and carry gun anywhere in India, they get gun licence by virtue of being coorgs and no other permit is required.
So if you plan to stay at Coorg, homestay is a better option to understand their culture and experience their cuisine. Unfortunately, no restaurants serve the original coorg cuisine here.
While you make plans to travel to Coorg, first decide which route you would take to travel. It is big area and you can plan to stay as per your convenience at various places e.g. Ammathi, Kushalnagar, Siddapur etc.
The interesting places to see in Coorg are as follows:
Towards western end of the Madikeri town is Raja Seat. King used to spend evenings here, watching sunset and breath taking view of the valley below; hence named as Raja Seat. It has beautiful garden and fun-park.
Built by Haleri kings on a hillock is the fort, with museum. Here you can see traditionally used artifacts and weapons. The fort also has two life size stone statues of elephants which belonged to kings. The rest of the fort has palace buildings, which now house government offices.
Built by Haleri King Lingraja- II, as repentance for killing a Brahmin, with Shivaligam brought from Kashi. Temple complex is nice with a pond next to it.
Royal tomb of king Virarajendra and his wife are situated on high ground. Other two tombs are of Lingaraja and Rudrappa; who were his guru.
Dubbare Elephant Camp:
At a distance of approximately 8 km from the Madikeri are Abbi falls; situated in lush green surrounding. The water falls from approx 70 ft height, and the whole place is scenic. However vehicles do not go up to top and you would have to take local rikshaw/jeep and then trek.
At a distance 15 km from Kushalnagar on Siddapur road, is Dubare forest with elephant training camp, situated on the banks of river Cauvery. This is training a camp where; rogue elephants are brought and trained. Plan visit to this place in early morning hours, to participate in elephant ride and bath. There is boating facility also available here.
Bylakuppe Tibetan Settlement and Golden Temple:
At Bylakuppe, is the biggest settlement of Tibetan in exile with big Namdroling Monastery and Padmasambhava Budhha Golden Temple. The monastery houses thousands of monks who come to learn Buddhism and the temple has approx 55 ft Buddha Statue. It is a must see place, where you suddenly see change of culture from the rest of the Coorg. It is on Mysore Madikeri highway just 2 km before Kushalnagar.
Situated on the banks of Cauvery is Nisargadham complex. It is protected forest area where you can see deers, elephants, rabbits etc. It is a place worth visiting near Kushalnagar. In case you plan to visit this place, club it along with Dubare and Golden Temple as they are close to each other.
Talacauvery and Bhagamandala:
Talacauvery is the origin of river Cauvery and is considered to be one of holiest places in Karnataka. Situated in Brahmagiri Hills, with dense forest around, this is a great place to visit. River emerges from Kundike and flows towards Bhagmandala ; where it meets two other rivers Suyothi and Kannike to form Triveni Sangam. This is known as Dakshin Kashi, with temples Bhagamandeshwar, Vishu, Subramanya and Ganapathy. Plan a day’s visit here(it is 48 km from Madikeri) and return back to base camp by evening as there is no place to stay here.
Besides these there are other attractions like Malahalli Falls, Harangi Dam etc.