Giving details of a recent trip to Coorg (Madikeri/Mercara) below; may prove useful for people planning a trip to the place
Coorg is a hill station in Karnataka, India.
We stayed at Honey Valley Estate (http://honeyvalleyindia.in/), located 3 kms from Kabbinakkad Junction at Yavakapady at 1250 mtrs MSL. It is managed by Mr. Suresh & Mrs. Susheela Chengappa, their son Sharath Chengappa and Jack, a Canadian. It is situated in the Western Ghats. We read a lot of good things about it on the internet and hence decided to try it out ourselves.
Honey Valley, which was one of the largest honey producers in India, opened to tourists in mid 90s after a Thai Sacbrood virus attack eliminated many of the honey bees there. The hosts now cultivate coffee, cardamom and pepper. They generate electricity in house. There are no TVs, fans or air conditioners. The rooms are very basic (this is certainly no 5 star accommodation) but are very neat and clean. There is a good collection of books that the guests can access.
Honey Valley people are also opening another property for tourists (named Chingara – http://www.chingaara.com/ ) near the existing property.
Coorg (Kodagu) District – 571 212
Tel: 08272–238339, 08272 – 200325
Our verdict: Honey Valley Estate is probably the best place we have stayed in all our sojourns in South India. Surrounded by hills and lush forests, this place is ideal for people who want to spend time away from busy city life and do not want to stay in a hotel in a commercialized part of a hill station. A lot of people come here for trekking as this place has access to about 18-20 trekking trails of different lengths, including the trek to Thadiyandamol, the highest peak in Coorg.
A few things that could have been better:
- Lots of power cuts. Make sure you carry a torchlight with you when you go out from the room, especially in the late evenings/night
- No wardrobes in the rooms
- They could explore the option of providing netted windows in the rooms. It gets very stuffy in the nights sometimes if you close all the doors and windows to keep out any insects.
Food at Honey Valley Estate was home cooked and hygienic.
- Breakfast – 8:30 AM to 9:00 AM
- Lunch – 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM
- Dinner – 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM
Tea/Coffee was available almost throughout the day.
The only other place we tried out for food was Hotel Mayura Valley View at Madikeri. The food there was decent and the place also looked clean and neat.
While traveling, it is better to have food in Mysore and/or Madikeri as you may not get good restaurants en route.
HOW TO REACH?
We used the following modes of transport:
- Chennai Central to Mysore Railway Station – Train
- Mysore Railway Station to Mysore KSRTC Bus Stand – Auto
- Mysore KSRTC Bus Stand to Virajpet KSRTC Bus Stand – KSRTC Bus – 95 kms – 3 hrs. Buses are available almost every 30 min from 6AM to 6PM
- Virajpet KSRTC Bus Stand to Virajpet Private Bus Stand – Auto
- Virajpet Private Bus Stand to Kabbinakad Junction – Private Bus – 23 kms – 1 hr. Kabbinakad Junction is a very small bus stop. The track uphill towards Honey Valley Estate is located right opposite the bus stop. Buses are available almost every hour. Best way is to call up Honey Valley Estate and check the bus timings so that you can also sync up the jeep pick up accordingly
- Kabbinakad Junction to Honey Valley Estate – Jeep – 3 kms uphill – 20 min (1 hour if trekked). The 3 km track is very steep at places. Cars cannot negotiate the track. Honey Valley Estate provides jeeps to transport their guests (Charges: Rs. 90 per trip uphill or downhill). Just give them a call and they will send the jeep to pick you up.
- Local sightseeing – Cab (We were taken for sightseeing by a guy called Rena in his cab. He was recommended by Mr. Suresh Chengappa. He was one of the best drivers I have ever travelled with and was also able to understand and speak (in parts) Tamil, Hindi and English, apart from Kannada and the local dialect. You can also hire an auto, but car would be a much more comfortable and safer option.
The distance from Mysore (KSRTC bus stand) to Honey Valley Estate (via Hunsur , Gonikoppal, Virajpet, Kabbinakad Junction) is about 120 km
PLACES TO SEE:
I have grouped the places for sightseeing below according to their locations in Coorg and have given brief descriptions. More details for each of these can be found on the internet. The places in each of these groups can be covered together in one trip. All of these places can ideally be covered over a span of 3 days. We went to 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 15 in the list below and covered them in one day.
COORG – CENTRAL
1) Abbey Falls – About 10 min walk from the place where you can park your car. One has to climb down many steps to reach the falls. There is a viewing platform and a suspension bridge. We were told that water is there almost throughout the year. The flow might be less during summers.
This place can get very crowded on weekends. The best view can be got from the suspension bridge located bang opposite to the falls.
2) Raja’s Seat – The Kings of Kodagu apparently came here to spend their evenings and to get a good view of the valley. There is a musical fountain that is operational late evening. One can also view the sunset from here.
3) Gaddige (Raja’s Tomb) – Gaddige houses the tombs of Kings Virarajendra and Lingarajendra. There were three buildings here and the interiors were cool despite the high afternoon heat outside.
4) Omkareshwara Temple – This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The construction is influenced by Islamic architecture.
5) Madikeri Fort – This was initially built using mud and later using stone. It houses, among other things, a small museum.
6) Mercara Palace
7) Madikeri Market
COORG – EAST
8) Dubare Elephant Camp – Located at Dubare on the banks of the river Kaveri, this place is owned by the Forest Department and captures and trains elephants. One has to cross a small water body by motor boat to reach this place. If you go early, you can watch the elephants getting bathed by their mahouts. Elephant rides are also available.
9) Harangi Dam – Best time to visit might be during the latter half of the year when there is more water in the dam.
10) Nisargadhama – This is a small island on river Cauvery and features boating, a very short elephant ride, a deer park and a bamboo groove.
11) The Golden Temple at Bylakuppe – A beautiful Buddhist temple. The complex around the temple is full of Tibetan monks (or should I say monks in the making). There is a Tibetan shopping complex just outside the temple. Cars can be parked in the space behind the complex.
COORG – WEST
12) Bhagamandala & Triveni Sangam – Shri Bhagandeswara temple is located at Bhagamandala and just opposite the temple, across the road, is the triveni sangam where three rivers are supposed to meet (one of them being invisible). This temple, like some of the other ones in this district, also seemed to be influenced by the Kerala style of temple architecture.
13) Talacauvery & Brahmagiri – Talacauvery, 8 kms uphill from Bhagamandala, is the place in Brahmagiri hills where river Kaveri originates. River Kaveri is worshipped as a Goddess here. There is a small pond in the temple complex here which is supposed to be very close to the place of origin. The river emerges from the pond as a small spring and resurfaces some distance away from the temple complex. The temple houses shrines of Lord Shiva and Ganesha. There is a flight of about 250 steps from the temple complex that leads to the Brahmagiri peak from where one can have a good view of the area all around.
COORG – SOUTH
14) Nalknad Aramane (Palace)- This palace was built by a local ruler called Doddaveerarajendra. It is not very far from Kabbinakad Junction.
15) Padi Igguthappa Temple – Igguthappa, according to the temple priest, is the God who provides food to the people of Kodagu (iggu = food, thappa = provider). The main diety in this temple is Lord Subramanya (as Lord Igguthappa). The priest told us that this temple is very special to the people of Kodagu. People offer tulabhaarams here. Please check the temple timings before visiting. It opens at about 6:30 PM in the evening. This place is about 10-15 min drive from Kabbinakad Junction.
16) Iruppu Falls – These falls are located further down from Madikeri towards the South and one has to trek quite some distance to reach the falls.
17) Nagarhole National Park – One of the famous wildlife sanctuaries in South India.
18) Chelavara Waterfalls – Located about 10 kms from Honey Valley