Coorg Travel Blog: I hadn’t expected much from Coorg apart from curvy broken paths, lush forests, and a quiet homestay. 4 days to Coorg seemed stretched.
Sure, it was a bit of a stretch. But it gave us ample time to go slow on our itinerary and the places we visited. 3 days should be enough to get around the little place, but take a little more time to feel that meadow whispering and the comforting wispy raindrops.
Over everything, I believe the homestay was the best part. Hell, I wouldn’t mind just staying there for 4 days without visiting places. What I’m trying to imply is that, Coorg isn’t about the places you visit.
Any place you go in Coorg is simply bound to be heavenly. Never mind, I can think of an exception. Anyway, here goes my Coorg Travel Blog :)
Coorg Travel Blog: The Beginnings
From Bangalore, the most convenient way to Coorg was via car. It’s around 250km (5 hours drive) from Bangalore. Coorg doesn’t have its own train station. So most people usually get to Mysore by train and then take buses to Coorg.
Since we were 6 people (and didn’t want the travel hustle), we got ourselves a rental Innova for the trip from Bangalore. The plan was to leave late September on an early morning.
So we all packed and stayed over at a friend’s place for the night. I was surprised how we were up and ready, considering we played Nerf late over midnight. But hey, it was a Coorg trip after all!
I did, however, forget my toothpaste in the rush of packing though.
Driving to Coorg from Bangalore
It’s a pretty straight forward route without any ghats (mountaineous regions) as such from Bangalore to Coorg. You pass through Ramanagara, Mandya, Srirangpatna, and the famous Mysuru.
I’ll not get through the route – there are better blogs than this one for that. But like most people do, we stopped at a restaurant in Mysuru for breakfast. The whole ride was sleepy until Mysore, but then the day started to lighten up.
We made it to Madikeri by afternoon and began hunting down our homestay. As expected, the homestay was stowed away by a super-narrow muddy road that we were scared to put through with the rental.
But as soon as we got there, our faces lit up. It was the coziest little space!
Our Homestay in Coorg
We stayed at Chettali at an airbnb cottage called the Wild Vibes Cottage… whatever that meant. But the place should be the best part of this Coorg travel blog. There was only one cottage which was right next to the owner’s house and he turned out to be a wonderful host.
It was basically a farmhouse with panaromic views of his 20 acre farm from our veranda. There was a neat parking shed for the Innova beside his Mahindra buggy.
It was raining lightly when we approached. So we sat at the veranda all silent and simply looking out at the coconut trees, banana leaves, little plants, and the farm beyond with agriculture we, software engineers, hadn’t an idea of. But it was worth the silence.
In the coming days, we played hide and seek turning all lights off, made up horror stories for that one friend who’d poop his pants if we pushed further and even got a campfire by the cottage.
The sweetest part was our owner’s German Shepherd ‘Toby’ – he’d stick by around late night when I sat alone by the porch. He was good company.
For budget travelers, I’m glad that Zostel is available in Coorg, they have amazing backpacker hostels. Check out Madikeri Zostel here!
Making Cofiya Restaurant our Go-To-Place
As nice was our silence paradise at the homestay’s verandah, our hunger didn’t keep us waiting for long. Recommended by the homestay itself, the nearest restaurant (an average-priced one and a little over budget-friendly) was the Cofiya Restaurant.
We were famished from the whole drive and the food here is pretty good – with reasonable rates! We went straight for the heavy butter-chicken and kebabs. Man, did it hit good.
You see, Madikeri does have plenty options for great restaurants. Some notable ones were Coorg Cuisine, Tiger Tiger Kodava, Raintree Restaurant, Ambika Upahar (Udupi Veg restaurant), and Thaliya.
But hey, this was the best one in Chettalli. We ordered food from here the following night because no other place really delivers. I don’t think Uber Eats works that well here. I’d recommend it too if you were here!
The Vintage Cars Museum
A Vintage Cars Museum in a Raja’s Seat known for tea plantations? Really? I didn’t expect much from the place but I was also curious at the same time. And so we went. The route to the museum itself is something wondrous.
I played the Jurassic Theme Park as we approached the museum at Nellihudikkeri because that’s what the muddy route and forest felt like – ‘Scary’.
Getting our 100 rupees per head ticket, we entered a somewhat average-sized shed. And boy was I glad we made it here!
We were the only visitors here and we were late. We had barely half an hour to get by, but it was sufficient. I saw many unappreciated reviews on this place, but I found it totally worth it. I’ll write a full review on it later :)
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Walking the Chiklihole Reservoir
The Vintage Cars collection put an end to our day. It was late evening and we didn’t wish to risk driving at night. So we began our day again the next morning and our first stop was Chiklihole Reservoir.
The pictures of the place looked far more interesting than the actual place. Partially because the waters weren’t flowing when we visited. But the panaromic views is definitely something.
We took a long walk across to the other end of the dam. Yep, I later learned that this was a dam. The unique shape here is what brought visitors. Unlike a traditional damn with stiff gates, this one had a semi-circular inflow of water that made it such an attraction.
Also, the Chiklihole river was a tributary of Cauvery river. Of course, when I visited, I hadn’t a damn idea about the place. We were busy clicking pictures of the serene forests that hugged the river from all directions.
Though the nature paradise was worth it (it’s free btw), I’d recommend looking up the timing for the water flow – that makes the attraction a whole lot better.
Walking Nisargadhama Island (Delta)
This ought to be the most popular places of Coorg. The delta is surrounded by the Kaveri river near Kushalnagar. I hadn’t researched on the place and crossing the shaky bridge kept my hopes high.
Walking through the park, we found a small bird sanctuary, deer enclosure, and little streams of the river passing through. The delta that the locals refer to as the ‘Nisargadama Island’ stretches out a good 64 acres.
Some key things to do here were boating and elephant riding. But we never moved from watching super-calm deers and the mucky streams from afar. Somehow, the Nisargadhama Island was just boring to us.
And boy was it overcrowded with seasonal tourists – the park felt like a festival. The only fun part was the rope-hanging bridge over the strong current streams. We tried to shake it, but it didn’t work all too well.
Diving into a Buddhists Monastery
Our next stop was the Namdroling Monastery Golden Temple, 5 km away from Kushalanagar. None of us were Buddhists – hell I barely follow a religion.
Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but dive deep into the depths of prayers, the enigmatic structures of the gigantic gold-plated statues.
The temples themselves were something to ponder over – for there were so many minute paintings all linked to one another and completely unique. If I’d gone alone, I bet I’d have stood a couple hours at each wall.
The monastery was Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery. Fun fact, this is the Bylakuppe area. Bylakuppe also happens to be the second largest Tibetan settlement in the world.
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There were rows of quarter-type rooms with red and orange clothes hanging out the windows right around the compounds of the colorful Golden Temple. Now it all made sense. Today an estimated 70,000 Tibetans live in Kodagu at these settlements.
While the place was simply too beautiful for words to descibe it and its significance was endless, I just hoped there was better organization.
Being a super popular destination, it made a mess of footwear right at the entrance that the staff here struggled to control. Apart that, make sure not to miss this one out!
For budget travelers, HostelWorld has amazing dormitory-style stays. Now Coorg has quite some availability at affordable rates. Check it out today!
Stopping by the 5th Generation
When there’s a popular place, there’s bound to be those classy expensive cafes around. On our way to the Golden Temple, this art cafe, the 5th Generation Coffee at Kushalnagar had caught our eye. So we stopped here for a snack.
I wouldn’t recommend visiting as such. The cafe was, as expected, overpriced and okayish for the stuff we tried. But neither did we mind it. We wanted a plush ambiance for the evening, some soft music and fancy lighting and we got it.
We got ourselves some sizzling brownies and wedges (probably). Anyway, the evening landscapes of the tent-shaped cafe came out pretty though. Here are a couple random shots.
Trudging the Roads of Coorg
This is an odd add-on but here me out. People visiting Kodagu never stop complaining about the terrible roads. I agree with them.
Make sure to drive slow. Not for safety, but to find the little hidden waterfalls as you zigzag curvy roads and pass low-key stream bridges. The destinations are sweet. But these are the little parts that make most of Coorg.
Don’t miss it out. However for a heads-up, you’re bound to find more of these waterfalls during the rainy season. We were lucky to find these every morning we drove out of the homestay.
Trekking the Scotland of India
The Mandalpatti Peak. Calling Kodagu the Scotland of India amused me. The coffee plantations embracing the mud roads of Madikeri are pretty, but I was sure that’s not what Scotland had in store.
But then we visited this place here, the Mandalpatti Peak. I’d say that I never expected to see something this pretty in Karnataka.
This is best known for the jeep riding adventure where you book local buggys to take you to the main view point. But one of our group, thoroughly having skimmed through Madikeri’s itineraries, urged us to trek the place instead.
As we drove through narrow pathways to the Forest Department Checkpoint, the local buggy drivers tried stopping us, saying we couldn’t proceed with own own vehicles and had to get ourselves a buggy.
…we drove through anyway. Yeah, they tried lying to us.
We stopped at the checkpoint parking space and begun walking by the muddy roads along which jeeps passed by. The drivers shot us dirty looks. We grinned back; We only paid Rs. 50 per head for entry at the Forest gate. The jeep would cost us Rs. 1500 (minimum).
Full credits to our sweet team member who stopped us from getting ripped of! Also, it isn’t easy to get a private vehicle inside this checkpoint. The forest officials cared about the cleanliness here.
We even paid extra for the disposable bottles we carried which would be refunded later (if we still kept the bottles, of course).
The Main Viewpoint is Shitty
The whole muddy route to our destination was far too dangerous to walk – the buggies that were trying to kill us weren’t helping. So we trekked the smooth green hills.
To hint, imagine Mandalpatti Peak as the original Windows XP wallpaper. 360 degree views of even untouched hills layered with an unreal blanket of flowing grass. I felt we were walking through the Teletubbies set.
But the trek itself took around 4 hours and the inclines made it tiring (we returned twice faster as we hadn’t any more pictures to take). It wasn’t super difficult yet not easy as Channagiri trek near Bangalore either.
We were fortunate for not having a sunny day. It was cool and windy throughout. The only downside was the main destination.
The trek was fascinating and we expected more from the main destination. But this place had no grass and the mist covered any view in range. We exchanged glances. The trek was just better than the destination.
Brunch and Board Games
We made it back to Mandalpati, Hammiyala’s Forest parking point by 2:00 pm. As luck would have it, the car’s battery was out. So we pushed the damn vehicle down the slope (with one of us in it) to fire it up.
And it worked! We headed to the first moderate-appearing cafe we could find for we were starved. But hell, was the food was pricey. But we hadn’t any energy for cafe hunting so we settled in anyway.
The cafe turned out to be a cozy place with board games, foosball, and air hockey. After an expensive brunch, we stayed in till evening.
We called it a day here.
Checking out the Dubare Camp
Coorg travel blog. To visit Dubare Camp, it’s a hustle. We had come here the day before but the line was so long I thought it was Tirupati. So we decided to come early the next morning before 9 am.
We were one of the first in-lines the following day to get on the boat across the Kaveri to the main Dubare Elephant Camp. I was aware of having the chance to see elephants. And we did. While only one was in view in the first enclosure, I realized the dozens of elephants spread across the fields.
For some reason, while people laughed and took pictures of the elephants that were made to walk, wave at them, and taken to bathe, I didn’t feel all great.
The elephants were chained and stood for hours under the sun. Some on one end were helping out with logging a structure. It didn’t feel right to pull out my phone for pictures.
However sad it seemed, when I researched later it seemed that Indian elephants at Dubare are treated well and they take care of the injured elephants here. Elephant logging has been banned in India so since all the elephants are ‘unemployed’, they now sit in the hands of tourism.
I still haven’t decided what to make of it.
White Water Rafting!
Post Dubare, we snuck in a restaurant for a quick cheap lunch. It was our final day and we had time for one more attraction.
The river rafts sat opposite to the road from our restaurant at Dubare’s riverfront. Some people drifted in the waters with paddles stretched out. But it just didn’t seem intimidating for its speed. Our boat to Dubare was faster.
So the other spot for rafting in Coorg was the Barapole Left Tributary. Finding this a little more acceptable, we all were in for an adventure. It was another 1.5 hour drive from Dubare (around 60 km).
There were barely other visitors at the agency we had contacted earlier. I wasn’t sure about the water currents and I never trusted local agencies on their word for it. They typically tend to say, “Yes, the rapids are great today!” for barely moving water.
Coorg travel blog: But when we held up our paddles and moved down one rapid after another, the intensity was actually satisfying. I recommend the Barapole river rafting! The currents weren’t as strong as my Dandeli rafting trip, but it didn’t disappoint me.
Tailpiece to Coorg Travel Blog
Later that evening, we decided to stick with Maggi (or instant noodles for non-Indians) for dinner. There wasn’t a kitchen in the cottage. But the host was kind enough to let us on his open-terrace kitchen at his bungalow.
My friends together, maggi, and Toby sitting by me felt like home. The host, a man in his fifties who was wealthy but with visible desolation in his eyes, invited us in to have dinner along with him. We talked a while of his farmland, culture, and his son.
Later that night, everyone went to bed while I sat at the veranda with Toby for hours before going to bed. It was time to leave after all. We left Madikeri early the next morning :)