Thursday, October 8, 2009

Coorg and Chikmagalur - Coffee and Greenery at its best

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We left Kolhapur in the morning and continued driving to Karnakaka. By 4.30 p.m we reached Bankapur and then took a right turn towards Shimoga leaving NH 4. The road conditions soon worsened. Still we enjoyed our ride thru Karnataka. It is surprisingly green, with really simple people and not so good economic condition.
As we started towards Shimoga, we moved through lush green fields, small villages with very different style of construction than what we had seen in Maharashtra. It was late in the night while we reached Chikmagalur via Shimoga, Bhadravati, Tarkere and Kemmangundi route. We checked in a budget hotel in the main market and slept.
on the way to Shimoga - Ultimate capacity utilization
Bright Colours on Auto rickshaw and homes
Style of Construction with flat stones and mud mortar - in villages

Time for Evening tea and snacks in the village
The next day morning we scanned entire area looking for homestays. Chikamagalur has some of the finest spots in the mountains as homestays and farm houses. Still they don’t get much business as this place is not really glamorized as Madikeri. If you really want to see nature at its best and wish to have peaceful holiday then Chikmagalur is the recommended place. It is also ideal place for writers, painters and honeny moon travelers.
There is a cave in the mountains near Chikmagalur where Baba Budan used to stay - The mountain is called as Budangiri. He was a muslim saint who went to Mecca for pilgrimage. There he first tasted Coffee and he brought some seeds for his own consumption while coming back. He used to grow coffee beans near his cave. Later British found him and sensed business opportunity. Thus, began commercial production of Coffee in India. Chikmagalur is hence credited as the first area where coffee was grown. In the higher altitudes the coffee quality comes much better and it is called “high grown coffee”. There is also a hindu temple on this hill and annual fair takes place with much fan fare. In case you visit Chikmagalur do not miss opportunity to trek this hill. This is the best view of surrounding area, that one can get.
The mountain and where Baba Budan used to stay in the cave.

View of surrounding area from the highest point in Chikmagalur at Baba Budan cave
As coffee plants need shade for better growth, in all the coffee estates there are trees. This has made around Chikmagalur is lush green. Thus you can generally have a small can trek in the coffee estate and enjoy clean air.
Another interesting aspect of this coffee economy is that it is not treated as agriculture but as industry. Thus land ceiling act does not apply coffee farming. The land holdings are hence big, ensuring enough greenery around a homestay. The farmers are also pretty rich and their homes have all the modern facilities. Many of the homestay owners have started this business to kill enjoy company of guests more than to make money and thus their service standards are very high.
Kemmangudi hill station and water falls are close by and spending a day over there can be fun.
Flowers of Coffee which smell like Jasmine
After staying at Chikmagalur for 2 days we moved to Madikeri, capital town of Coorg District. Official name of the district is Kodagu but nobody used that name. Coorg, is a well known and highly glamorized place. It is also very commercial, at least Madikeri town is.
Madikeri, is named after Third king of Haleri dynasty; Mudduraja; who established this town. It then came to be known as Mudduraja Keri. Which over time was called as Madikeri, later British pronounced it as Mercara. It is situated at an altitude of 1525 mtrs in the mountains of western ghat, this town is surrounded by lush green hills and Coffee Plantations. With its pleasant winter makes, it is one of the most preferred hill stations of southern India. Besides it is closer to Bangalore and Mysore and as such there is a lot of business here.
Most interesting aspect of Coorg, is its different culture. Unlike other south Indian cultures; their way of draping Saree is different. They like to eat pork and their way of cooking is also spicy. On the other hand they are Hindus; who otherwise do not eat pork in other parts of the country. Coorgs are fighters, with military tradition. They helped British in establishing rule over Sourthern India and since then serving in army became a profession. Even now they serve Indian Army in large numbers. India’s some of the most noted Army Generals hail from this area, starting from Field Marshal Cariappa. Since days of British they have been granted special privilege to own gun. It is the only community to have right to own and carry gun anywhere in India, they get gun license by virtue of being coorgs and no other permit is required. Hence in most of the families you would find a gun in the house. It is also a tradition to fire rounds on important family celebrations.
So if you plan to stay at Coorg, homestay is a better option to understand their culture and experience their cuisine. Find them on www.mygreatstay.com Unfortunately, no restaurants serve the original Coorg cuisine hence you would not be able experience the same in hotels.
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:
Raja Seat:
Towards western end of the Madikeri town is Raja Seat (king’s 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.
Raja Seat - Madikeri
View of Coorg Valley from Raja Seat
Madikeri Fort:
This fort is in town of Madiekri on a hillock, with museum. Cars can go on top and altitude is not very high anyways. Visit the museum to see traditionally used artifacts and weapons. The fort also has two life size stone statues of elephants which belonged to kings. The story is that once in the feet of rage; the king killed these elephants and later as repentance created their statues. The rest of the fort has palace buildings, which now house government offices.
Omkareshwar Temple:
Haleri King Lingraja- II once killed a Brahmin. And in act of repentance built this beautiful temple with Shivaligam brought from Kashi. The Temple complex has pond inside.
All these destination are fairly close to each other and it is possible to see all of them in a day.
Abbi Falls:
Aapproximately 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.
Dubbare Elephant Camp:
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 in South India; 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.
Nisaragadham:
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.
If you plan to visit Coorg just make sure that you take out enough time. This is not a place which you can enjoy while in hurry. Stay at Homestay and enjoy nature for at least 3 days. This is nice weekend gateway for people from Bengaluru and Mysore.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

hey, which homestay did you stay in Chikmangalur? Can you suggest some budget one's?

Nits

Kishor said...

nature craft is a good homestay at reasonable price

Sai, VU2SGW said...

Worth reading, enjoyed each and every write up. Keep up the good work dear friend. God bless.

The Analyst said...

Accomodation options in Coorg are homestay. It is always a good option to stay a home stay in Coorg and enjoy the nature around. Some good homestay can be found in Coorg, Karnataka

synthesis said...
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synthesis said...
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dazank said...

Hi, I would like to know what place would you recommend between coorg and chikmagalur ? We want to go to either one .. but are unable to decide :) Please help.

Nishitha KM said...

Hii...Informative post.Thanks for sharing with us.I liked the way you put up the information.I am panning to visit br hills resort and also bandipur resorts this weekend with my family. because their facilites,sevices offered at low cost,Wildlife Safari really really awesome..

dimpy roy said...

Nice post on Chikmagalur and Coorg. Presented as dowry to the younger daughter of the legendary chief of Sakrepatna, Rukmangada, Chikmaglur city is historically known as the 'town of younger daughter'. Amidst low lying hills and verdant coffee plantations, the town is also home to the Kondadarama Temple, which is a symbolic blend of Hoysala and Dravidian styles of architectures. Check out all best budget hotels in Chikmagalur also.