Located in the Western Ghats, Kodagu (also known as Coorg) is noted for its natural scenic beauty. On a clear day, one can even view the distant Arabian Sea from Tadiyendamol, the tallest peak in Kodagu. A rugged mountain terrain interspersed with lush cffee and cardamom plantations, paddy fields, and scattered hamlets, Kodagu is the birth place of river Cauvery. In the days of the Raj, home-sick Britishers called it ‘Scotland of India’.
Madikeri, the district headquarters provides an excellent base from which to explore Kodagu. Situated at 1525m elevation, it is a charming, old-world town with a bustling bazaar and a panoramic view of the plantations. The 19th century Madikeri Fort with its stone ramparts was built by the reigning kings of the time. While the palace houses all the important government office; the fort now accommodates the prison, a temple, a chapel, a small museum, the district central library and court. Virajpet, another small town in Kodagu is reputed to be the largest producer of honey in Asia.
Built in 1820 by Lingaraja, the Omkareshwara temple is a stone’s throw from the Fort. It houses the shrine of Shiva featuring a blend of Kerala-style architecture, Gothic elements and Islamic-style domes.
The Raja’s Seat, on top of a hill, offers a panoramic view of mountain ranges and green valleys. Favored by the Kodagu royals who spent many pleasant evenings watching the spectacular sunsets, it is now a favorite tourist spot. Amidst the coffee bushes and all trees entwined with pepper vines, in a private estate, Abbey Falls offers a splendid backdrop for picnics. These falls are most impressive during the monsoons.
The river Cauvery originates at Talacauvery in Kodagu. According to a legend, Goddess Cauvery makes her appearance once a year in the form of a bubbling spring. On the Tulasankrmana day (October 17th) thousands of pilgrims flock to the river’s birthplace to witness the water gushing up from the spring at a pre-determined moment. It is said that a bath in the bubbling water on the sacred occasion gives long-lasting physical and spiritual benefits.
Bhagamandala is the confluence of three rivers, Cauvery, Kanika and Sujyothi. The Bhagandeshwara temple, standing in a large courtyard surrounded by Kerala-style temples is particularly striking. Bhagamandala is known for its apiaries and Kodagu honey.
The Sri Rameshwara Temple, believed to have been dedicated to Lord Shiva by Lord Rama itself, is a place of pilgrimage. It is a favorite haunt of picnickers and pilgrims, especially during the Shivaratri festival.
For a good view of wildlife, visitors can visit the breathtakingly beautiful Cauvery Nisargadhama Island carved by the Cauvery River. 2km from Kushalnagar, this sprawling 64 acre nature resort has a deer park, orchidarium, elephant and boat rides, and bamboo tree houses for wildlife viewing.
15km south of Kushalnagar, the Dubare Reserve Forest is famed for its amazing variety of avian fauna, an elephant training camp, and angling in the river Cauvery. Bird watching trips and elephant rides are also organized into the forest.
Harangi Dam, also near Kushalnagar, is ideal for weekend picnics and short walks. On the banks of the river Cauvery, is the Valnur Fishing Camp. Fishing permits are issued by the Coorg Wildlife Society. Valnur is also great place for bird watching.
The location of two of the largest Tibetan settlements in South India, Bylekuppe is on the outer fringes of Kodagu. The landscape is dotted with several Buddhist monasteries- the important ones being Sera Jhe and Sera Me. The Mahayana Buddhist University is located at Sera Jhe. The other important monastery here is the Tashi Lhumpo Monastery, renowned as the seat of Panchen Lama. The Namdroling Monastery with its 40 ft high idols of Buddha and his disciples are the other attractions.
Abbey falls, tucked between coffee and spice estates, offers a splendid backdrop for picnics. These falls are most impressive during the monsoons. Not far from the Rajiv Gandhi National Park (Nagarahole), the Iruppu Falls plunge down 170 ft. in two distinct stages from its humble origins in the Brahmagiri range. A forest trail leads from here to the Brahmagiri Peak in Southern Kodagu.
Tadiyendamol is the tallest peak in Kodagu and on a clear day provides a view of the distant Arabian Sea. In the heart of the Tadiyendamol range, in Yavakapadi village is Naalkunaadu palace, constructed by Dodda Veera Veerendra, King of Kodagu, in 1792.
Two of the best golf course in Kodagu can be found at Madikeri and Polibetta. Madikeri has a smooth 9-hole golf course spread amidst quiet pastoral surroundings. Polibetta in South Kodagu has a beautiful undulating 9-hole golf course.
In September- Kodavas get out their guns, knives and hunting implements- which are cleaned, polished and offered for worship on the occasion ofKeilpodhu. Men show off their firearms and marksmanship and invoke the blessings of gods upon their weapons.
Huthri– meaning the new rice crop is also the name of the festival that takes place in the months of November or December. The ceremonious cutting of the new paddy crop by the head of the family falls on a full moon night.
Held in auntumn, Dussehra in Madikeri is celebrated with a procession of beautifully lit temple cars vying for the coveted prize for the best decorated temple car.