It is our family tradition to go on a holiday without any planned destination or any confirmed hotel booking but 9 out of 10 times we have been lucky to get a welcoming accommodation and each time we have explored and visited serene places devoid of the chaotic crowds. One such memorable journey was to Srimangala in Coorg or Kodagu the cool mountainous region carpeted with coffee plantations at an altitude of 1100 metres.
Coorg is 250kms from South Bangalore. COORG is the crowning jewel of Karnataka and the coffee courtyard of India. Although it is the tiniest district in the state of Karnataka It is the largest producer of coffee, pepper, cardamom, honey and oranges in India.
We started off to Coorg on a sunny Saturday morning we took the Bangalore Mysore highway which has excellent roads, after crossing the historical city of Srirangapatna we took a deviation to the right leading to the Hunsur bypass route which runs for up to 23kms before we enter the Nagarhole forests (make sure you enter the jungle before 6pm or else it is closed from 6pm-6am). The jungle drive was wonderful and exciting as we encountered many animals from a very close range like deer, elephants, wild boars, bison, giant squirrels that is sometimes hard to find even during a planned jungle safari. After the exit from the jungle we took the Kutta road which leads to Srimangala.
Point to be noted: Make sure you finish your breakfast/lunch before turning to the Hunsur bypass road as there are no decent food joints available on that stretch you can however get tender coconuts.
Srimangala is a small town near Virajpet which is slightly hidden from the buzzing tourists. Coorg is almost synonymous with Madikeri the big town of Coorg the most sought after destination for Bangaloreans hence we avoided visiting popular places as it was bound to be crowded.
We had chosen a humble home stay rejecting all the typo resorts overdosed with city cultures. What is the fun of a holiday if you don’t connect with the local culture and local food, in-fact locals are better equipped to guide us about the many unexplored places.
The owner Mr.Bose Madappa was an ex-army personnel and the lady of the house Rekha was an amazing cook. We were flooded with a range of delicacies so much that I never wanted to get out of the house.
I regard Coorg as the Punjab of South India as most Coorgis join the armed forces just like their Punjabi counterparts.
We were given two rooms in the upper floor of the duplex house which had a spacious balcony like terrace opening to a spectacular jungle view. All I needed to do to relax was to just sit there and listen to the creek creek sounds of nature.
The next day we went around exploring the nearby places. We walked up to a stream plucked many wild berries, pepper, jack fruits and cotton. Our host who had accompanied us showed us a unique variety of fruit which I had never seen in my life. It is called as ‘Anjili Chakka’ or ‘Ajjin Chekke’ the cousin of jack fruit but it is much smaller than a regular jack fruit. It is only the size of a mango the interesting part is when ripe the fruit is so soft that it can just be split open with our hands like a chikkoo fruit and it is embedded as one bunch like grapes all attached to the stalk of the fruit. It is like ambrosia absolutely delicious and juicy. While heading back home it was dark but we were led by the glow worms that glowed on the bushes on both sides of the road defining the pathway for us in the dark.
The Coorg style roti:
The locals add rice flour to cooked rice(I realized that it was left over rice only when I asked for the recipe) and knead it into smooth dough and make huge rotis that are roasted on an earthen tava or pan. These rotis are very filling and sustains you for a long trek.
Some other places of interest around Srimangala are Iruppu falls, Bramagiri hill trekking, Nagarhole forest safari.
Places to be seen in Coorg are:
- Bramagiri Wildlife Sanctuary
- Omkareshwar temple
- Talakaveri the birth place of River Cauvery
- Elephant Dubbare
- Raja’s seat(hill view point)
- Gaddige(tombs and other monuments)
- Abbey falls(must see)
- Bylekuppe(Tibetian monasteries and Gompa of Sera)
- Valnur fishing camp(you can view many unique birds here)
- Harangi dam
- Beelur Golf Club in Somwarpet
- Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary(home to rare and endangered species of birds) in Somwarpet
- Mallalli Falls(near Pushpagiri)
- Madikeri Fort
- Nalknad Palace in Madikeri
If you are a traveler with an aptitude to find unique places and an eye for identifying serene spots you don’t need the list above except the local map as even Google mama(uncle) doesn’t work in most of these dense patches. Happy holidaying! Many times all these 6point or 10point packages are far below the enchantment of exploring the beauty of untouched serene places.