“It is a special bond that spans years -Through laughter,worry,smiles and tears.A sense of trust that cannot be broken.A depth of love sometimes unspoken.A lifelong friendship built on Sharing,Hugs , kisses,warmth and caring.Mother and daughter their hearts are one-A Link that can never be broken.”
The Trip to Coorg was planned to spend some time with my daughter who is pursuing her M.B.A in Bangalore .She could not join us for our annual vacation since she was busy with her internship. Over a phone call she informed me that she will be free for a couple of days and immediately the thought came to my mind of planning a short trip to nearby Coorg.We accordingly planned a four day trip Friday-Monday to Kodagu or Coorg which is located on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats.Coorg is one of the ideal holiday destinations in and around Bangalore. It is blessed with salubrious climate through out the year. The lush greenery all around along with a number of waterfalls makes the place very scenic.
I booked the air tickets from Mumbai, our Hotel and the cab to pick us up from Bangalore –Coorg-Bangalore. I had booked an Toyota Etios as we were only 3 of us .I was very happy of leaving the hot and humid climate of Mumbai to be in the cool lush green surroundings of Coorg with my daughter and spending some quality time with her.We reached Bangalore Airport at 10.30 in the morning,was picked up by the cab driver at 11 and set out to pick up our daughter from her hostel. After picking her up, we had lunch at Thalassery Restaurant – a typical vegetarian meal/thali served on a banana leaf.The food was yummy, quantity unlimited and the rates pocket friendly.The drive to Coorg from Bangalore is 6 hours ,the roads wind through lush green trees and one can see many coffee plantations on either side. We had a lot to catch up with our daughter as we were meeting her after almost an year.Her stories of college ,friends, hostel life kept us enthralled and the 6 hours of the drive was well spent.We reached our destination “The Cassitta in Kushalnagar at 9 pm. Since we were reaching late, I had ordered Fish Fry,Dal, Rice and vegetable curry for Dinner and requested them to keep it ready. we were however surprised to find that very high rates were charged in the bill. We therefore decided to either eat out or get something packed for Dinner for the remaining days.
We had a packed itinerary and so left early from the hotel.Our first stop was at the Dubare Elephant Camp which was only 20 minutes from the hotel . The timings are 9 – 11 in the morning and 4.30 – 5.30 in the evening. I had read that one could trek in the forest with a guide but on enquiring learnt that it has been stopped. On enquiring about rafting,learnt that the water level being low, only still water rafting was available which was as good as boating . So we dropped the idea and opted to cross the Cauvery river on foot and reach the camp which was the exciting part.
My daughter held my hand throughout as the stones were slippery and at places the water was quite deep. The place was very picturesque. The camp has many elephants which are trained under naturalists. A trained Naturalist is at hand to explain the various aspects of Elephant history, ecology and biology. The visitors can not only observe and learn but also participate in various activities involving Elephants like bathing and feeding the Elephants.The entry fee is Rs 20 per person.For feeding and Bathing it is Rs 100 per person. After entering the camp we were informed that there are about 150 elephants .At the entrance to the camp, I was somewhat saddened to observe the majestic Elephants demonstrating certain commands by the mahouts to entertain visitors .
We enjoyed feeding the elephants which was a novel experience and I admired the way the elephants took the feed transferring from the trunk to the mouth. I took some photographs and proceeded to watch the elephant bathing It was amusing to watch the elephants enjoying the pampering and attention by the visitors.
After spending half an hour we decided to return back as the area of the camp was spread over a large area .There are cottages and lodges inside the camp.One can go on a jeep safari or elephant ride.
Our next stop was Nisargadhama which was a short drive from Dubare camp. It is 29 km from Madikeri, 3 km from Kushalnagar, 7 km from Bylakuppe & 12 km from Dubare Elephant Camp (close to the main road between Madikeri – Kushalnagar). Cauvery Nisargadhama is an island formed by the River Cauvery in Kodagu district of Karnataka. It is one of the most scenic tourist places in Coorg and also a famous picnic spot.
This island was developed as a tourist spot in 1988 by the Forest Department. Spread over a sprawling 64-acre land, the island is filled with thick bamboo groves, sandalwood and teak trees
The island is accessible through a hanging rope bridge.
This island also features Deer park, Rabbit Park, Peacock Park and Orchidarium. The Island is perfect for a family picnic with the children. It is also an ideal destination for those who love nature and to spend time by themselves. It is a very good site for watching parakeets, bee eaters, woodpeckers and a variety of butterflies.
Elephant rides and Boating are the major attractions here. Tourists are also allowed to get into the water at a few safe points along the river. There are tree top bamboo cottages and forest department managed guest houses for accommodation. There is one small restaurant as well. We walked down to the backwaters, visited the deer and the rabbit park.We saw few deers but could not sight any rabbit.
Trees in Nisargadhama
Our next stop was at the Golden Tibetan Monastery. The Tibetan Monastery or the Tibet Camp as locally called is located around 6 kms from Kushalnagar town towards Mysore. This Tibetan settlement at Bailkoppa or Baylkuppe is the the second largest Tibetan settlement outside Tibet. There are over 7,000 monks and students at the Tibetan monastery. After the Chinese took over Tibet, the refugees settled at Bylkuppe near Kushalnagar and the Buddhist Monastery was re-established here in 1972. It houses over 7,000 monks and students today. The monastery not only attracts large number of young Tibetans seeking enlightenment and education, but also draws many tourists from all over India and abroad.Bylakuppe Tibetan settlement consists of a number of small camps close to each other and has a lot of monasteries and nunneries. Most famous among them are the large educational institution Sera, the smaller Tashilunpo monastery and Namdroling Monastery or the Golden Temple more commonly known.
The 40 ft tall golden Buddha statues are the major attractions of Bailkoppa. The statues of Buddha, Padmasambhava, and Amitayus are the notable ones. The walls of the temples and the institutions are decorated with colourful paintings depicting gods and demons from Tibetan Buddhist mythology. The altar is decorated with flowers, candles and incense sticks.Apart from the calm and peaceful surroundings there are shopping centers near the temples where one can shop for traditional Tibetan items like costumes, statues, carpets, jewelery etc. There are many shops selling spices and home made chocolates. I bought some chocolates and spices.The cardamom,cloves and Cinnamon have a delicious aroma. My tip – buy the spices. The chocolates were not all that good.
We spotted many shops selling home brewed Wine at almost all the tourist spots. Coffee is synonomous with Coorg so we found many shops selling coffee powder. Before proceeding further we had lunch at Hotel Crown Grand in Kushalnagar.The food was good but the service was not so prompt.We ordered all the favourite dishes of my daughter.
After lunch we set out to Talcauveri – the origin of River Cauvery . As our car drove through the winding roads we enjoyed the drive with lush greenery on both sides of the road. My daughter made a video of the entire drive.
It was raining when we reached and the whole place was covered with mist which gave a ethereal ambience to this holy place of the Hindus. The name Talcauveri implies the source of the river Cauvery. As per Hindu mythology, the river Cauvery is one of the most sacred rivers in India. Talcauveri is at a height of about 4187 feet on the Brahmagiri hill slopes marked with Brahma Kundike or Tirth Kundike. A small spring of water originates from this place and hence it is referred to as Talcauveri.
There is a big tank and a shrine that have been constructed close to the Tirth Kundike at this holy place. The devotees take a bath in the holy waters of Talcauveri. There are two temples , one of Lord Shiva which houses an ancient linga and the other of Lord Ganesha. The linga is supposed to have been installed by Sage Agastya.
By now we tea addicts wanted a cuppa very badly. There were quite a few tea and snacks stalls in the area and along with tea, we relished some onion & chilli pakoras.
On the way to Talcauvery we also visited the famous Bhagandeswara Temple in Bhagamdala.The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva as Bhagandeshwara and his sons Subrahmanya and Ganesha along with Lord Narayana (Vishnu). The shrines are built within a large prakara (compound). The shrine of Ganapathy (Ganesha) is in the outer enclosure and the other three are in a line in the inner prakara.
We reached our hotel in the evening around 7 and after resting for a while, we picked up dinner from a nearby restaurant in Kushalnagar.
Day 2 ( Trip to Madikeri)
After having a south Indian breakfast, we set out to Madikeri at 0830 and on the way we stopped at Abbey Falls. Nestled near Madikeri,
Abbey Falls is surrounded by a blanket of greenery. To reach the waterfall, you will have to drive up to its entrance and then cover a short distance on foot. As you make your way to the waterfall, you will be greeted by lush plantations of spice and coffee. The roar of the water along with the aroma of the plantations is a delight in itself. The brilliant view of the waterfall from the hanging bridge running opposite to the waterfall is a sight to cherish. Guarded by tall trees with pepper vines for company.
Abbey Falls sparkles as if a stream of white pearls is running down a green wall at a great speed. But if you happen to be standing on the hanging bridge right after the monsoons, the voluminous waterfall will leave you soaked by its spray of water.After clicking many photos and selfies (my daughter is very good at it)J we started our climb to the parking where there are quite a few tea stalls and having a cup was the calling.
Next we proceeded to Raja’s Tomb. Gaddige or Gadduge is an impressive structure with dome and is Open in the Forenoon and in the evening. There are Two royal Tombs in this Place .Built in the Indo-Sarcenic style , Windows are made with Bronze. These monuments with domes and minarets, hold the moral remains of Kodava’s royalty and the court dignitaries. The centre tomb is of Doddaveerarajendra and his queen. To the right is the tomb of Lingarajendra, built by his son Chikkaveerarajendra in A.D.1820. To the left is the tomb of Royal priest Rudrappa, built in A.D 1834. Nearby are buried two royal officials, Biddanda Bopu who died fighting Tipu Sultan, and his son Biddanda somaiah. It Is 1 Km from Madikeri [HQ] Town. There is a garden all around the Tombs where we clicked many photos.
About Madikeri Fort : The Palace of the erstwhile kings is located inside the Fort which now houses the offices of the Deputy Commissioner. The brick and mortar Palace was built in 1814 by Lingarajendra Wodeyar II.The strong fort of Mercara explains the tale of bravery and battle. In the inner Fort, a temple of Virabhadra was removed by the British in 1855 who built an Anglican Church in its place.
The Church, in Gothic style, with colour stained glasses has now been converted into a museum. The museum, run by the state archaeology department, is a repository of many antiques of Coorg. The original mud fort was rebuilt in stone by Tipu Sultan. Two life-size elephants made of mortar, catch the eye of the visitor on entering the Fort. The other buildings inside the fort include the Mahatma Gandhi Public Library, the Kote Maha Ganapathi temple and the district prison. The two-storied lofty and spacious structure is 110 feet long. The British renovated the structure twice and in 1933, a clock tower and a portico to park the commissioner’s car were added. This temple also forms one of the major temples list competing for Madikeri dassera festival.The fort is in ruins and not maintained at all.The only saviour is the museum inside the Church where we saw many artifacts donated by Field Marshall Carriappa.
We lunched at restaurant Coorg Cuisine.The food was good but the prices are a bit on the higher side. We ordered Kodambattu – Steamed rice Dumplings,Akki – rice roti and Koli or Chicken Curry and Fish Fry.Those who enjoy spicy food will enjoy the Koli curry.We tried the bamboo shoot curry but found the flavour very strong. Pork dishes are very popular in Coorg – the panda curry or pork curry being a very popular dish. The restaurant is small and on the first floor so one may miss – Keep the GPS on ! In the evening it opens at 7 and there is crowd waiting outside which is testimony to its popularity.
Our next stop was at the beautiful Mandalpatti.
The fog-covered awe-inspiring mountains around Mandalpatti, is located 20 km from Madikeri, is perhaps the most unexplored region of Coorg till recently. Going there, by no means was a great feat to talk about and the walk up could be achieved in little more than an hour’s time. What fascinated us was the drive to get there. The uneven roads and the steep climbs ensured that nothing but a vehicle with 4 x 4 drive was used. The drive was bone shattering and we were thrown back and forth and had to literally hold on to our dear lives.
While the jeep ride satisfied the thrill-seeking heart, walking along the tracks satisfied the soul. The mesmerizing views took our breath away with every turn unveiling new rows of hills. The birds whistled as if responding to our tunes, the butterflies and dragonflies flew around, tempting us to go after them. While all these actions were underway, the background remained stunning with the green hills following us all along.There was a strong breeze and the hills were covered with mist. I quickly wore my warm jacket.
When we finally reached the destination, we were rewarded with a 360 degree view of Pushpagiri mountainWe trekked higher and were spellbound by the view. We spent about an hour, wanted to spend some more time but the driver of the jeep was in a hurry
to ferry more passengers. The ride to and fro cost Rs 2000. After a roller coaster ride down we were relieved to get off the jeep On the way back we visited Raja’s Seat
Being a Sunday, it was very crowded – you can give a miss to this place.The driver dropped us at the gate, parked somewhere else and we wasted almost an hour to locate him and as a result we reached our hotel quite late. We picked up dinner on the way and had a relaxing dinner in the Hotel.We chatted till late at night as the next morning we were leaving for Mumbai.
We had an early south Indian breakfast, sat in the beautiful garden of the hotel and plucked some cherries from the trees. Tasting fresh Cherries straight from the tree was a novel experience for us Mumbaikars
Our stay in Cassita was comfortable and its location is good.They have rooms as well as cottages. I had booked a triple sharing room as the cottages are only twin sharing. We found the room to be a bit small for sharing by three adults.The staff is good and co-operative.
With a heavy heart we dropped our daughter to the hostel in Bangalore and proceeded to the Airport to catch our evening flight to Mumbai and with memories to cherish we reached home late night.
“A Daughter is just a little Girl who grows up to be your Best Friend”
How to get there:
The Distance from Bangalore Airport to Coorg is about 245 kms and takes about 6 hours by road. Cab rates vary between Rs 10 to 11 per km. Minimum charges are for 300 km per day plus Rs 250 to 300 per day as Driver’s allowance. Please check the reviews of the Cab company before you book.