Kodagu is one of the most picturesque places in South India. More popularly referred to as Coorg, this region is an impressive attraction in Karnataka. Madikeri (sometimes also called Mercara) is the capital of this region and the origin of the Cauvery River that forms the soul of south Indian civilization. Despite being a centre of great importance in southern history, Madikeri in particular, and Coorg in general, retain an air of unself-conscious beauty, waiting to be discovered by the next tourist who drives into the heartland of green along the western ghats. Bound by the mesmerising beauty of the Arabian Sea, Coorg is perfect for those who seek some away time from the hectic ways of urban living.
Thick dense rainforests, greenery all around, sweet aroma of black pepper and cardamom, rich coffee plantations, and cool hilly terrain – Coorg is indeed the hidden jewel of South India. The austere serenity of Coorg can only be rivaled by its colourful and vivid culture – a glorious marriage of natural beauty and human endeavour. Despite witnessing a heavy footfall of tourists in the past few years, Coorg remains largely unpolluted and unspoilt. The views and the natural beauty of the region are simply breathtaking. Not for nothing is Coorg referred to as the ‘Scotland of India’.
How to Reach Madikeri?
By Road – Like most other south Indian towns, Madikeri is best connected by road. State transport buses and private coaches connect Madikeri with various big cities and important centres in the region such as Bangalore, Mysore, Kassan, Kasaragod, Kanhangad, Kannur, and Thalassery.
By Rail – Madikeri has no train station. Mysore Railway Station is at a distance of about 120 kilometres from here. Kasaragod Railway Station, 106 kilometres away, and Cannanore Railway Station, some 110 kilometres away, are other important rail junctions that serve visitors to Coorg.
By Air – Mangalore Airport (136 kilometres from Madikeri), Bangalore Kempegowda International Airport (256 kilometres away), and Calicut Airport (180 kilometres away) are some of the nearest international and domestic airports.
Places to Visit
Madikeri Fort –The original Madikeri Fort was built back in the 17th century. Tipu Sultan built a second fort on the site and renamed it Jaffarabad. Later, structures were added by Lingarajendra Wodeyar II from 1812 to 1814. The fort later fell into British hands who added a clock tower. It is a historic legacy of the region and is now looked after by the ASI. Do not miss the museum in the fort.
Abbey Falls – About 7 kilometres from Madikeri is the beautiful Abbey falls where mountain streams fall in a wild torrent to join the Cauvery River. The beauty of the falls can be best enjoyed from the hanging bridge which has been constructed over the gorge. The rainy winter season is the best time to visit the falls.
Omkareshwara Temple – This shrine, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is located right in the heart of Madikeri town and was constructed by King Lingarajendra Wodeyar II in 1820. The installation of the deity here is believed to have brought the king relief from a curse and the temple is still the site of prayers and temple rituals.
Raja’s Seat – The Raja’s Seat is a viewpoint that offers stunning views of the rugged landscape and green valleys. The sprawling paddy fields and the long winding road to Mysore make for great pictures and memories.
Cauvery Nisargadhama – The origin of one of south India’s most important rivers, Cauvery, is at a distance of about 30 kilometres from Madikeri. Tala Cauvery, as it is called, is also considered a holy place by the locals. The route from Madikeri to Tala Cauvery is a beautiful one peppered with scenic viewpoints.
Gaddige or Raja’s Tombs – The Gaddige are royal tombs built to enshrine the mortal remains of the Kodavas rulers of the region. The tombs present a strange blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles. The tombs belong to King Doddaveerarajendra, King Lingarajendra and the Guru of King Veerarajendra.
Best Time to Visit Madikeri
The temperatures in Coorg are mild making it a very attractive destination in the sweltering summer months between March and May. This, however, is the dry season when the streams dry up and the beauty of the Cauvery is lost. Monsoon lasts between June and November and the region experiences torrid rainfall. Winter is the best season to visit Coorg and Madikeri. Between December and February, expect light showers and cool winds. Madikeri is a delight about this time of the year.
What to Buy?
Do not forget to bring back some of the excellent coffee that is grown and processed here. Sweet-smelling spices grow here in plenty, and local wine is delicious. The indigenous cuisine is delightfully different from the rest of south India and is worth a try despite being slightly on the spicier side.
Fairs and Festivals
Like the rest of Karnataka, Dasara is the festival celebrated with much pomp in Coorg as well. The Navratri or nine nights of Goddess worship are also the times when many fairs and events are held here