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Coorg

Coorg or Kodagu, as the people of this little district in Karnataka call their land, is a different facet of India: unsullied, beautiful, green, and exciting with the lovely blue Western Ghats, dense forested valleys, gurgling mountain streams and waterfalls. It is the land of coffee bushes resplendent with red berries, cardamom fields covered with white and purple blossoms, old silver oak trees laden with huge hives, and of a sturdy handsome people called the Coorgis who charm by their hospitality and cuisine, their intriguing customs and the reverence with which they worship their river, the Cauvery.

Nestled in the Western Ghats, near Mysore in the Indian state of Karnataka, Coorg is the birthplace of the River Cauvery and home of some of India/’s bravest soldiers like General Thimayya and Field Marshal Cariappa. Hiking across the country, or simply motoring down mountain trails in Coorg, the visitor encounters panoramic views of the morning mist rolling down thickly wooded hill slopes and undulating paddy fields and neat rows of coffee bushes resplendent under the blue skies.

While addressing a public meeting in Madikeri (the district headquarters of Coorg), the late Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru remarked ”Coorg has given great Generals to the Indian Army. It is noted for its choicest coffee and if I am permitted to add one more to these specialties, I can mention that Coorg is famous for its beautiful and comely women.”

Sightseeing:

Madikeri Fort:

The fort was initially constructed of mud, only to be replaced later by a stronger one in stone by Tipu Sultan, who ruled for a brief period over this region in the 18th century. Tipu’s fort is an essential feature of the town even today.

Inside the fort wall stands the palace of the Lingayat rulers. It is a simple double-storey structure, quite unlike the grand palaces one sees elsewhere in India. Two elephants, built of cement and mortar, stand in the compound. The elephants have an interesting story behind them. The king use to be woken up every morning by two of his favourite elephants trumpeting under his window. One day he sent word to the mahout that he wanted to sleep late. The order never reached the man and he brought the elephants at the usual time and woke up the king. The king was furious. He had the elephants and the mahout killed. Later he regretted his action and got images of the elephants constructed. They are not much to look at, but then one shouldn/’t be looking for sculptural excellence in Coorg.

Raja’S Seat:

If you have come away to enjoy the natural beauty in Coorg, come to Raja/’s Seat, a favourite spot of the kings from where one can see the sweep of the mist-covered blue hills and valleys with green fields. The kings used to sit here every evening enjoying the sunset and beauty of Coorg. Today, the area around Raja’s Seat has been developed into a public garden.

Omkareshwara Temple:

The Omkareshwara Temple, dedicated to both Shiva and Vishnu, is almost 200 years old and is a surprising blend of Islamic and Gothic styles.

Abbey Falls:

The picturesque Abbey Falls, which is 8 km from Madikeri, is a good place for picnics. However, no regular transport is available to this place and private arrangements need to be made for a trip to the falls.

Iruppu Falls:

Iruppu, 91 km from Madikeri, is a well-known pilgrim centre, associated with Rama, hero of the Ramayana. A Shiva Temple stands on the bank of the River Ramathiratha. On Mahashivratri day, thousands of pilgrims take a dip in the river.

Excursions From Kodagu:

Central Orange and Coffee Research Station:
The Central Orange and Coffee Research Station, 24 km from Madikeri, is on the Madikeri-Siddapur-Virajpet road and is run by the government. The best months for a visit to this centre are March and April as it is coffee blossom time in Coorg. One can see the coffee bushes sheltered from the sun/’s direct rays by tall sentinel-like trees over which dark green pepper vines trail. Stretches of these now-white flowers exude a heady fragrance and their collective magnificence is an unforgettable sight. When the blossoms give way to berries, the bushes are cropped. The cherry red fruit is then pulped, the separated coffee seeds dried and sent to the curing works.

Nagarhole National Park:
The Nagarhole National Park (93 km) provides excellent opportunity for wildlife viewing. Here, one can see the swift-footed spotted deer, bison, elephant, wild boar and jackal, different species of monkey, and with luck even the mighty tiger. Nagarhole, the game sanctuary, covers an area of 284 sq km with tropical and deciduous forests. The state transport corporation provides transport inside the sanctuary.

Talacauvery:
Talacauvery is 47 km from Madikeri and 9 km from Bhagamandala. Located 145.7 metres above sea level, it is the source of the River Cauvery. It is believed that on Tula Sankaramana day usually on October 17, the spring gushes forth with extra velocity.

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