Trip Meter

Bangalore - Srirangapatanam - Bylakuppe - Coorg - Talakaveri - Mysore - Bangalore


Highlights

  1. Tipu's mosque and 1000 year old Sri Ranganatha Temple in Sirirangapatanam
  2. Namdroling buddhist monastery in Bylakuppe and the jaw-dropping golden statues of Buddha
  3. Yellow butterflies and green trails near Harangi reservoir
  4. Can skip the picnic spot at Nisargadhama
  5. Ride across Cauvery to Dubare elephant sanctuary - surely a treat in your life
  6. Drive in misty coffee plantations of Coorg
  7. Origin base of river Cauvery - the over hyped Talakaveri
  8. Mysore palace in Dussera celebrations lit to its brilliance
  9. Cost trip - Rs. 1500 per head
  10. Mosque, temple, monastery, reservoir, elephant sanctuary, coffee plantations, mountains, water falls, river crossing, palace and festival celebrations - all in one trip!
Coorg (also known as Madekeri) is called the Scotland of India. Infact, when I was looking for a weekend getaway place, this was the phrase ("the Scotland of India") that tempted me to make my plan. Be sure, that it is not for nothing that this place earns the title.

For those of you who might be tempted to try this place after reading this travelog, here's some information about how to get there and what all to see that might come in handy. Coorg or Madekeri is a hill station on the Karnataka - Kerala border. It is about 250 km from Bangalore and is only accessible by road. We took a taxi from Bangalore (a Tata Indica should cost you Rs. 5 per km). That allows you to make your stops en-route to Coorg, especially at Srirangapatanam, Bylakuppe and Mysore. Staying at Coorg is cheap. You should be able to find a reasonable lodge/ hotel with double bed, attach bathroom and hot water for about Rs. 300 per night.

The trip from Bangalore to Coorg is an amazing journey and you will be surprised at the number and kind of places you will be able to see. From 1000 year old ancient hindu temples to buddhist monastery to reservoir dam to elephant training camp to waterfall to coffee plantations to river source to palaces. Phew! All this in just a two-day trip. Below is the list of places we visited on our tour.


Sirirangapatanam and Bylakuppe

The capital city of Tipu Sultan's kingdom, the town of Sirirangapatanam is about a 100 kms from Bangalore. There are more than a couple of places to see here. The Jama Masjid (also called the Tipu Masjid) is a blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles. Then there is the 1000 year old Sri Ranganatha temple which reflects the typical south Indian style of constructing temple complexes. Apart from this, you can see the place where Tipu's dead body was found in the war against the British, a couple of dungeons from the colonial era and also visit Tipu's summer palace.

Next stop on the journey - Bylakuppe. This is a tibetian settlement that grew over the last couple of decades. Apart from a large number of Tibetian colonies, you will find the magnificient Golden Temple and the Namdroling monastery here. Calm and serene, I was captured by the intricate paintings and the colourful art work on the temple exterior. And once I entered the main hall of the temple, my jaw dropped six inches as I stared at three statues of Buddha. Each of them was 60 feet high, done in copper and plated with gold. They were so huge and the sight so magnificient, I was left staring at them for many minutes without uttering a word.


Harangi Reservoir, Nisargadhama and Dubare

A few kilometeres ahead is the Harangi dam build on Cauveri river. All I can say is - it is huge and worth a visit. The landscape on the other end of reservoir is a sight to watch and enjoy. And while near Harangi dam, dont miss out the beautiful yellow butterflies in the green green forest trails.

Nisargadhama is a picnic spot with deer park, horse and elephant rides and rabbits. Of course, there are monkeys too. An exciting suspension bridge over a muddy river will lead you into a beautiful bamboo park. We could not take the elephant ride as the elephants here were missing. They had gone to Mysore for the Dassara celebrations.

Dubare had to be the high point of our tour. Elephant sanctuary on the bank of Cauveri river. This is a forest department owned camp where wild elephants are captured, tamed and bred. To reach this camp, you have to cross the Cauveri river in a motor boat or a coracle (small, light, bowl-shaped boats made with a frame of woven bamboos). The river in this part of the area is rocky with trees in between - something that would remind you of scenes from the movie 'Anaconda'. Awesome place!

There are 12 elephants in this camp. Again, 4 of them had gone to Mysore for the on-going Dassara celebrations. That left 8 of them behind. The interaction time with elephants is 8-10 in the morning and 4-5 in the evening. You can see the elephants majestically romp up to the river and have an evening bath. They are then fed laddoos, each no smaller than a canon ball. The Mahout will even let you feed this largest land animal (don't forget to tip him a tenner).

I fed Mythili, 85, a piece of jaggery (I bet she saw good days in the era of kings and queens). Ranjan and Ganesh, both 6, were active and naughty as hell. Then there was Gopi, 30, much larger and much wilder than you can think, who just romped to the laddoo kitchen, demanded his share of laddoos, and went back into forest without having a bath!

Dubare is a completely enchanting experience. Crossing the rocky river with wild trees in between, watching the elephants walk upto the river and play in water, feeding them laddoos and jaggery with your own hands! What else can one ask for?


Coorg, Abbi Falls and Rajas Seat

After leaving Dubare at around sunset, we set upon the mountaineous trail of coffee plantations to Coorg. Its a lovely route that leaves you wanting for more. Once here, I am sure you would not want to return. White water waterfalls, lush green plantations on mountain slopes, green paddy fields in the distant plains and a voilet orange sunset - it cant get more romantic than this.

We reached Coorg at night, looked for a lodge, had dinner and slept. We would have a long day ahead of us the next day.

Abbi Falls is a beautiful waterfall in private owned property. I have seen a higher waterfall in Lonavala but not this wide.

Make sure you get to spend atleast an hour at Rajas Seat. The view is simply why you would call Coorg the Scotland of India. They say the place is awesome at sunset. But we were here in the morning and the view was breathtaking, nevertheless.


Talakaveri, Nagarhole National Park and Mysore

Talakaveri is the place where River Cauveri originates in the mountains. Its about 40 km from Coorg and the trail to this place is through mountains of coffee plantations. Awesome route. But to be frank, I was sort of disappointed with the place itself. Maybe I expected too much. Talakaveri is all but a holy water tank and a temple beside it. And the hordes of pilgrims visiting it doesn't make it any better for a nature trekker. If you are short on time, you may give it a skip.

Nagarhole is the most visited place nearby Coorg. Known for its amazing wildlife, Nagarhole National Park is a popular destination with the tourists and nature lovers. We wanted to go too. But time and light were running out. Moreover, it doesn't do justice if you want to see the entire park in just one afternoon. So we decided to come back here later for a 2-3 day stay (Nagarhole National Park also provides for overnight stay in the sanctuary itself).

Skipping Nagarhole, we moved ahead to Mysore. It was dusk by the time we reached this little city soaked in tradition and customs. And it was Dassara week. So celebrations were in full swing. Plus, it was Sunday. So the palace was awesomely lighted. Boy, what a view it was to see the palace glitter in the light of many thousands bulbs.


So after seeing more than 10 locations and 800 km along the breadth of Karnataka in the last 40 hours, our little trail to Coorg came to an end. Just to give you an idea, the entire tour costed us about Rs. 1500 per head (expenses for travelling from Bangalore to Coorg in car alone amounted to Rs. 1050). Of course, Nagarhole and Mysore should be visited again in a different dedicated trip. But even Coorg left us wanting for more. One place I would want to return again and spend more time in solitude.



Tags: Drive, India

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