Travel Guide: Coorg, Karnataka

    By Amrita Das.

    As the roads wound up after the plains of Mysore, a slow slumber came upon me. Woken up by the concluded songs on my iPod, the scene from the bus’ window had changed drastically. From the crowded streets of Mysore, I now only saw lush green plantations of Kodagu.

    Travelling to Kodagu, better known as Coorg, during the monsoons may not be the best time. But it brings different aspects of nature together. There is much to see in this beautiful district, situated in the Western Ghats of Karnataka.

    Surrounded by acres of greenery
    Surrounded by acres of greenery.

    Understand sustainability and hike through Mojo Plantation

    Mojo Plantation sees a higher percentage of rain than other parts of Coorg, and Dr. Sujata and Dr. Anurag Goel started Rainforest Retreat as an attempt to create a fully sustainable environment. The plantation grows pepper, orange, lemon, passion fruit, vanilla, kokam, pineapple; along with the pre-existing cardamom and coffee. The 25 acres of land provides a complete bio-diverse ecosystem. Taking a plantation tour will help understand the nuances of this self-sustainable land and the techniques of organic farming.

    A corner in Rainforest Retreat
    A corner in Rainforest Retreat.

    Alternately, the plantation tour can be combined with a hike to Galibeedu and further upward to the Shola Forests. The sholas are thick, evergreen plants that are typical to the Western Ghats. The hike is not strenuous though parts of it tend to be steep. High gumboots help to keep leeches away while walking through the swampy terrain. If you are lucky, you may see the elusive blue-purple Neelakurinji flowers blossom.

    After a hike, seeing Neelakurinji in Shola Forests.
    After a hike, seeing Neelakurinji in Shola Forests.

    Experience a non-traditional homestay

    The definition of homestays is quite flexible in Coorg. Every accommodation tends to be one though the services and amenities are that of a guesthouse or a small hotel! A fleet of homestays can be found in and around Madikeri town centre.

    Coffee Trails Coorg in Virajpet is one of the many non-traditional homestays, though the simplicity and cleanliness are very welcoming. It is spacious and serves authentic Coorgi food. Apart from having a blend of healthy walks around the vicinity, the view from the rooms is breath-taking. 

    The view from Coffee Trails Coorg
    The view from Coffee Trails Coorg.

    Shop for chocolates, coffee, cardamom or Coorg silk

    There is something for everyone in this scenic district. The shops in Madikeri are marginally more expensive but have everything that are quintessential souvenirs from Coorg.

    If spices are of your interest, there are assorted gift boxes across all shops. However, if you are looking for separate spices such as only cardamom, a plethora of them can be found too.

    As a lover of saris, it would have been blasphemous for me to ignore the famous silk native to this land. They are affordable and make great presents for women who fancy traditional saris.

    Needless to say that Coorg is synonymous to coffee. I was amazed at the smooth and light quality of their coffee. Both filter and instant coffee are available at variable quantities.

    The chocolates of Coorg Greens are fantastic. Hesitant to share them, it was a good idea to purchase extra packets!

    Chocolates on display
    Chocolates on display.

    Devour the spicy Coorgi cuisine

    The delightfulness of this curried but tasty cuisine continues to stay with me. From the kadambuttus (rice balls) to rasam to the traditional Coorg chicken curry, this cuisine seems to balance the flavour in the curry quite easily with contrasting accompaniments.

    Coorg is very famous for pandi curry, which is a pork curry cooked with Indian spices like cinnamon, red chilli, cloves and the necessary curry leaves. Taste of Coorg in Madikeri is a popular choice for this dish. There are other options to try this curry in the smaller and local shops in town.

    Kadambuttus for breakfast
    Kadambuttus for breakfast.

    Be mesmerised by the sunset from Raja’s Seat

    Madikeri is famous for a number of common sights like the Abbi Falls and the Omkareshwara Temple, though Raja’s seat is probably the most spectacular of them. This lovely site is believed to be the place where the kings of Kodagu would spend most of their evenings watching the sun set. This continues to be a beautiful spot with a large garden around it and the sky changing its colours every minute of the evening.

    Low hanging clouds at Raja’s Seat
    Low hanging clouds at Raja’s Seat.

    Best time to visit

    Coorg is accessible and suitable to visit through the year. In the monsoons, areas around Talacauvery and regions which receive high rainfall remain shut. If trekking is your priority, waiting for the rains to subside is a good option. Coorg sees a large influx of visitors during the chilly winters.

    How to get there

    The bus services to and within Coorg are excellent. KSRTC bus services from Bangalore ply daily and the journey takes about 6 hours. Within Coorg, private buses are frequent, affordable and extremely well connected.

    Bus tickets to Coorg can be booked online here.

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    Is Coorg on your winter wishlist?

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