Natural Splendors of Karnataka
With the best part of the Western Ghats passing through Karnataka, this is a land of breathtakingly beautiful natural landscapes and roaring waterfalls. The spectacular views from romantic hill stations and sights of torrents of plunging waterfalls make Karnataka the perfect backdrop for nature lovers and eco-tourism enthusiasts.
Karnataka has its share of several lesser known hill stations; take your pick from sandalwood forests, coffee plantations, trekking trials, waterfalls and wildlife. Nested in the Western Ghats, these hill stations present a spectacular view of dense forests, deep valleys, and magnificent sunsets.
Just 260km from Bangalore, is the picturesque capital of coorg (also called kodagu), Madikeri. The town is located in a beautiful hilly setting surrounded by the densely forested slopes of the Western Ghats. With its picture-postcard scenery of clusters of red tiled-roof houses, bustling bazaar and old-world charm, madikeri is one of karnataka’s most popular getaway.
Attractions in madikeri include 19th century Madikeri Fort, the Omkareshwara Temple, built in 1820 and Raja’s Seat, situated on a hilltop, where the kings of Mysore spent their evenings watching the golden sunset. Near the town, there are several majestic cascades, including the Abbey Falls and Iruppu Falls.
Other breathtaking destinations in Coorg are:
Nisargadama – a breathtakingly beautiful island just 2km from Kushalnagar. Talacauvery– the source of Cauvery River.
Bhagamandal – the confluence of three rivers: Cauvery, Kanika and Sujyothi. Virajpet– a small town, reputed to be the largest producer of honey in Asia. Bylekuppe– one of the largest Tibetan settlements in South India and renowned for its monasteries and handicrafts. Dubare Reserve Forest– famed for its amazing variety of avian fauna, an elephant training camp, and angling on the river Cauvery. Tadiyendamol– the tallest peak in Coorg from the summit of which you can see the distant Arabian Sea.
The Kudremukh (Horse Face) Range 95km south-west of Chickmagalur town and 350km from Bangalore overlooks the Arabian Sea. As yet ‘undiscovered’ by tourists, kudremukh is a trekker’s paradise with verdant forests, rivers, grassy slopes, waterfalls, rare flora, caves and ancient ruins. the best time to visit is just before the monsoon rains. Around kudremukh, ganga Moola is a scenic place located in the Bhagawathi Forestwhere the three rivers Tunga, Bhadra and Netravathi originate. A shrine to Godess Bhagawathi and a 1.8m high varaha image inside a cave are the chief attractions here.
Situated at an elevation of 826m in Shimoga District, Agumbe has spectacular sunsets, sparkling streams, verdant vistas and an unspoilt rustic ambience. Forested trails lead from here to a jungle pond called Emkal Kere, a hillock called Nishani Gudda and to Barkana Falls. There is also a 14th Century temple with Hoysala-style sculptures. Agumbe is 305km from Bangalore.
The Baba Budnagiri Range rings the erstwhile summer retreat of the Mysore maharajas, kemmangundi. Located 245kms from Bangalore at a height of 1434m above sea level, it is beautifully laid-out with ornamental gardens and enchanting mountains and valleys view. The spectacular sunsety view from the Raj Bhavan is a photographic delight. For adventure seekers, there are peaks to scale and intricate jungle paths to explore. Around kemmanugundi, Kalhatti Falls start at the Chandra Drona Hill and fall from a Height of 45m to flow before the Veerabhadreshwara Temple. A short trek away is the Hebbe Falls.
The 1895m Baba Budangiri Peak near hewre is named aftera Muslim saint, who lived here in the 17th century. The Inam Dattatreya Peetha here is venerated by Hindus and Muslims with the annual jatra or urus being the biggest event here.
Located about 31 Kms from Teerthahalli, Kundadri Hill is a gigantic monolithc rock formation. Surrounded by dense evergreen forests, it is a lovely place for trekking. Camping in the open at kundadri Hills under a full moon is an exhilarating experience.
Situated 100km from Shimoga and 36km from Hosanagara is the Kodachadri Range. On the western side, the hill descends steeply for about 1220m, meeting the forests of Udupi district. Kollur, a nearby town, is the ideal base to explore these hills. Mookambika Nature Camp is 4km south of kollur.
B R Hills
The BR Hills take their name from the Ranganatha Swamy Temple that sits at the edge of a granite precipice more than 1000ft above dense forest. A champak tree believed to be more than 2000 years old is worshipped by the Soligas tribe of the area. Besides many trekking trails, the area also has several coffee estates, tribal hamlets and the Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra.
An idyllic retreat of the British and Tippu Sultan before them, Nandi Hills is today the most popular weekend getqway for the residents of Bangalore. Activities available here range from leisurely strolls to paragliding. Two ancient temples dedicated to Lord Shivas are found on the hill, one at the foot and the other at the peak.
Amrita Sarovar is the main source of water supply to the hill. Magazine is a rock where arms and ammunitions were kept during Tippu’s reign. Tippu’s Drop is a sheer drop, once used to execute prisoners
The kodagu region has several of trekking trails. Simply follow the mountain paths doted with little shrines-some beside waterfalls, and others n the banks of rivers. Interesting trails include one in the Brahmagiri Range where a trail leads from the Iruppu Falls to the Brahmagiri Peak. Another trail leads to Pushpagiri (1712m), Kodagu’s second highest peak, through the village of Heggademane north of Madikeri. The best season to trek is between October and the beginning of February.