Coorg is famously called Scotland of India.
Well, I have been always skeptic of such titles – ABC of XYZ. It always seems a bit like trying too hard. I believe that if a place or anything for that matter is good enough it would make a name for itself. May be such titles are created to drive imagination or just to draw people to it. But these names just keep on popping up.
So when we had planned our trip to Coorg, a part of me (the skeptic part) wasn’t much excited. But then again I haven’t been to Scotland (yet) so I don’t have anything to compare against. Which meant the other part of me (optimistic one) was looking forward to it. In the middle of January, we might have timed the trip to Coorg (Kodagu district in Karnataka) just perfectly.
Unlike other hill stations, Coorg is not a single location. It is a big district. So, all the attractions are literally in different towns. You have the Tibetan camp in Kushalnagar, Waterfalls near Madikeri, Elephant camp near Karadigodu and Nagarhole National park near Kutta. The distances between these towns are large 80-100 km, so the time spent on road is also on a higher side. Ideally you shouldn’t try to squeeze too much in a single day and spread out you travel. Or, more prudent option might be to just stay in a single area and enjoy the smaller offbeat attractions around.
Coorg is laid back coffee district with beautiful vistas to admire. We found so many options to stay within a coffee estate, something which is usually hard to find. We preferred staying at homestay as the benefits were three-fold:
We got unrestricted access to pristine coffee plantations;
The brewed coffee itself was awesome;
The home-made authentic Kodagu cuisine was finger licking delicious.
Talakaveri is one of the most popular tourist spot in Coorg. And why wouldn’t it be as it presents a combo of the natural beauty with religious pilgrimage. Talakaveri is deemed to be the origin point of river Kaveri. It is believed that Kaveri originates from a pool here which makes it a pious location and important for pilgrimage. At the same time, the less religiously inclined people could climb over 300 steps to reach the hilltop which offers beautiful panoramic views of the valley and the hills. You get unhindered views of beautiful hills untouched by human interference. We climbed the hilltop barefoot (remember the temple below) so we had to be a bit careful on the rocky patches of the hill.
We skipped Abbey falls and opted to ride to Mandalpatti view point. The journey itself is an experience in itself. The only way to reach the view point is to ride a 4×4 vehicle. The road to the view point is partially unpaved with stretches of very steep uphill (and downhill) paths which could only be covered by a 4×4. We hired a taxi there to take us there and back. It was a roller coaster ride with us jumping all the way in the back. The view point had beautiful sights of the valley and wonderful photo spots.
The homestays served us authentic Kodagu cuisine. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes were finger licking good. The breakfast and the meals all were super tasty.
These are family waterfalls with facilities provided for easy access to stream and changing rooms. People of most ages can go there and bathe under the waterfalls without worrying about safety. The path to the waterfall is completely paved and even over the rocks metal pathway has been created. You may not get the adrenaline rush but could enjoy the cool water splash nevertheless.
Coffee plantations and products
Stay in a coffee plantation. Take long walks in the plantation. Drink the local brewed coffee. Buy coffee and chocolate products. Get drenched in the coffee world. The coffee is delicious and the atmosphere is wonderful. The Kodagu region has limited spice plantations, but you get some good spices. Also, you may try the local brewed wines of different flavors.
Sri Bhagandeshwara temple
On the way to Talakaveri, the driver would most likely stop at this beautiful temple. Step inside the temple courtyard and you may feel you are not in South India. The architecture and the structure of the temple is completely different from the other temples we had come across. It was a refreshing experience for us.
Sunset point at Rajah Seat
Too crowded! These two words sums up this attraction. We visited Rajah Seat to view the sunset and were greeted by huge crowd. The park and the sunset view point both were completely packed. We hardly got a spot to view the sunset which was fine, nothing great. As the name goes, this was the spot where the king used to come to view the beauty of the valley. But you wouldn’t get that luxurious view.
Dubare elephant camp
Way too much hype. The camp trains and takes care of elephants. It also provides the elephants for the famous Mysore Dasara parade. Which is cool! The activities offered here include elephant bathing, feeding and riding. That’s all of it! Facilities and setup are very bare minimum for visitors. We have had much better rides and feeding experiences in Kerala. The camp can be only reached by crossing the river. And the best part of our visit to Dubare camp was crossing the river on foot (which gives a good idea of the camp experience)
Nagarhole national park
We went for two safaris: the first in the morning and among the last in the evening. However, we didn’t get any good sightings. Even in the morning we couldn’t watch many birds. The best part was watching a parade of elephants. It was a family where the elders were protecting the child. We know that safaris are all luck driven, but we had expected a bit more. We didn’t get anything more than the herds of deer.
Go to Coorg for relaxing in the coffee plantations and admiring the sights on the drive. In the end, we were satisfied with our trip but not over the top, so may be the skeptic in me just got an edge over the optimist. But still we wouldn’t compare it to Scotland till we have visited the latter.
Do you have a story to tell about your Coorg experience? Drop in a comment or send us a mail. We will definitely reply. All the interesting tales will be published in a special feature.