A Weekend Trip To Coorg
Coorg is famous for its natural beauty and lush green cover. And the climate? Coorg weather is the reason why many Kannadigas rush to Madikeri and the other towns in the foresty district. So how do you plan a weekend trip to Coorg? Here’s all you the info you need.
In this blog post, you’ll find everything you need to know to plan a trip to Coorg in Karnataka, India, including details on where to stay in Coorg, what to eat, which monuments to visit, where to go trekking, and how to do a fun road trip from Bangalore to Coorg on a budget!
Coorg, The Scotland of India
Coorg is often called ‘The Scotland of India’ because of its misty landscape, great weather and lush green natural beauty. And Coorg is officially known as Kodagu and its often considered as the best hill station in Karnataka.
Kodagu or Coorg is actually a large district with many towns in it like Virajpet, Gundlupet, Madikeri, Bhagamandala, Kushalnagar. It is also home to the Bandipur, Nagarhole Reserve forests and the Brahmagiri Rainforest too. If you want to do a weekend trip to Coorg for the first time, then the best place to start at is Madikeri.
What is the best time to visit Coorg?
Coorg weather is mostly pleasant and chilly throughout the year, except in the summer when the temperatures can soar during daytime. June to March are perfect for visiting and sightseeing in the towns. The monsoon brings heavy rainfall in Coorg and results in flooding, landslides and destruction often, so it may be worth wile to avoid July-August if the weather is not good. October to February will always be great to visit and especially so, if you want to go trekking in the nearby mountains. The usual Coorg temperature hovers between 15ºC to 33ºC depending on the time of the day and the season.
We visited in February and the weather was very pleasant. But if you like greenery, then September may be the best time to visit.
Road trip through the Western Ghats
Consider driving to Coorg either by car or bike, because the roads pass through very scenic spots. The Nagarhole National Park and Bandipur Forest are the best wildlife parks where you can get lucky to see tigers and elephants. And there are numerous fields and villages enroute to admire the simple, rustic lifestyle in rural Karnataka. Reaching Coorg from Bangalore also takes only 5 hours!
If you are driving into to Kerala, you might also pass through the Brahmagiri Forest Reserve which is even more picturesque but animal sightings are far fewer. However you might still find a Malabar Flying Squirrel hopping between the canopies.
Check out the best hotels and homestays here
Explore Madikeri and admire its tourist spots
Madikeri is the most popular town in Coorg and is the starting point for sightseeing in the region. There are many hotels and resorts in Madikeri and restaurants, cafes and street food can be found all over the town. There are a few spots in Madikeri which are worth visiting like Raja Seat, Omkareshwara Temple, the Madikeri Fort and Abbey Falls.
Raja Seat is the central view point in Madikeri and offers one of the best panoramic views of Coorg. There’s a balcony overlooking the endless forest cover as it merges into the misty skies at the horizon. There is also a flower garden, a fountain and a few street food stalls selling yummy bhel puri, home-made chocolates and spiced mango slices!
Tip: Visit Raja Seat in the earlier half of the mornings or later in the evenings at Sunset to enjoy the best views of the valley.
Pray at the Tala Kaveri Temple
Tala Kaveri is the origin of the Cauvery (Kaveri) river, the lifeline of southern Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The river starts as a rock spring high up in the mountains of the Western Ghats and there is a temple sanctifying the spring. Besides being a pilgrimage spot, the temple is often engulfed in the clouds making for a beautiful view.
There is a small fee for vehicles entering the are, but parking is free. Go before 5 pm, though. Expect to spend around 30 minutes here.
Check out the best hotels and homestays here
Chill out at Nisargadhama
Nisargadhama is in Kushalnagar, another small town in Coorg. It is a government-run recreational park created on an island in the Cauvery river. A hanging-bridge connects the park with the entrance counter (ticket is INR 10). And in the gently flowing river below, you can go paddle boating in INR 50 for ten minutes.
The park has abundant bamboo foliage and a small dear park as well. Although elephant rides are organised, we recommend skipping the cruel act. There is also a small beach on the river banks where visitors can play in the water!
Expect to spend about 2 hours in Nisargadhama.
Tip: If you want to interact with Elephants, visit the Dubare Elephant Camp. It is close to Nisargadhama. Being a government run elephant rest house, the elephants are cared for better here and the fees you pay here goes to the sustenance and protection of the tuskers. Check out their schedule here.
Go trekking in the Western Ghats
The best part about staying in Coorg is how easily accessible the trekking spots in the Western Ghats are. Although it is not advisable to trek this in the monsoon considering the landslides and the leeches, all other months are perfect for a trek. Treks can last between 4 hours to 8 hours and sometimes overnight as well. There are multiple companies organising group treks starting from INR 500 (USD 7). These trips include the services of a guide.
The most popular treks by levels of difficulty are:
- Easy: Mandalpatti (from Madikeri)
- Medium: Nishani Motte (from Bhagamandala)
- Hard: Kumara Parvatha (from Somwarpet)
Check out the best hotels and homestays here
Visit Namdroling Monastery
This is one of our favourite places in Coorg! Set up in 1963 by a disciple of the Dalai Lama, Namdroling Monastery is the second largest settlement of the Tibetan Lamas in India after the one in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh. It is home to over 5,000 monks and nuns.
The Namdroling Monastery is located in Bylakuppe, another small town near Kushalnagar.
After the Tibetan uprising in China, the monks fled from Tibet to reach India. One clan stayed in Dharamshala and another came down to Karnataka where the local government donated a forest land to the monks. The land was eventually cleared and a bamboo temple was built.
Today, a large shrine called the Golden Temple stands in the Monastery and is absolutely stunning with its towering Gold Buddha statues and the stunning design of the temple building.
Expect to spend atleast two hours exploring the Monastery, the Golden Temple and the Gardens.
There are two cafes within the Monastery serving traditional Tibetan food to the monks and visitors. There are many restaurants outside the monastery, run by families of the monks which serve authentic Tibetan noodles, fried rice, momos and more.
Best time to visit the Namdroling Monastery and the Golden Temple:
The monastery opens at 7 am every morning with prayers upto 9 am. At that time, visitors can only admire the outside of the Golden Temple as the prayers cannot be disturbed. We suggest going there by 8 am to see the monastery when it is less crowded and enter the Golden Temple just as the prayers are completed.
Stay at an authentic Coorgie Homestay
No visit to Coorg is complete if you don’t stay at a traditional Coorg Homestay. Although there are many in Madikeri and other towns, our favourite town for a stayover is Bhagamandala. It is offbeat, and because its a pilgrim town, very few tourists arrive here. The pilgrims arive on day trips and generally return in the late afternoons allowing for a calm evening and amazing early morning experience of walking around the misty pathways!
We stayed at the Annapurna Homestay, run by a kind, elderly couple just a few hundred feet from the Sri Bhagandeshwara Temple. Enjoy home cooked meals and snacks, gaze at stares in a clear sky, sleep in a warmly wooded room in the cold weather and wake up to the chirps of the birds on a misty morning. The house is over 60 years old and has retained its structure ever since. See more here.
How to travel to Coorg
If you are wondering about how to reach Coorg, there are many easy ways to travel to Coorg in India:
Air: The International Airport in Bangalore is located 290 kms away from Coorg. Buses and Taxis connect the airport the towns. The Mysore airport is about 99 kms away from Coorg.
Train: There is no train station in Coorg connecting other major cities. It is best to take the train to Mysore and then a bus or taxi to the towns in Coorg.
Bus: State run KSRTC buses are known for their excellent service at very affordable rates. With tickets from Bangalore starting at INR 300 (USD 4), it is an extremely comfortable, yet cheap option to travel to Coorg. Internal buses are also very cheap to use and are not always crowded.
Taxi: The most comfortable and expensive option is to hire a taxi from your city to Coorg. Not recommended unless the distance in under 300 kms (like from Bangalore) and you are sharing the ride with friends or family.
Road Trip: Our recommended way of visiting Coorg! Worth the experience because of all that you can see on the way and inside Coorg, especially where you would have otherwise had to rely on taxi rides. Many roads in Coorg are hilly and you’ll need small vehicles to get through. Fuel for a road trip from Bangalore should cost around INR 1,000 one way.
Where to stay in Coorg?
Coorg hotels are numerous and there are many Madikeri resorts too! In fact Madikeri has many homestays scattered in the surrounding valleys too. There are a few hotels and resorts in Kuhalnagar and Virajpet as well. We recommend staying at The Annapurna Homestay in Bhagamandala. For a more luxurious stay, check out the collection of star hotels and resorts like Tamara, Ayatana and more.
Check out the best hotels and hostels here
Travel costs, food and safety
Coorg is reasonably cheap to explore. The tickets to most of the major attractions and parks are only a few rupees (around INR 10 to INR 50). Nature parks are free to enter. Homestays charge as little as INR 400 (USD 6) for a bed and a fulfilling breakfast meal! Local transport is cheap too unless you take taxis to visit the attractions and parks, or to the trekking spots – but its best to share it with fellow passengers.
Cafes and Restaurants charge similar to Bangalore and te dishes are of good quantity too. Veg meals start for as little as INR 50 in the local lunch houses and offer tasty cuisine like leaf meals and akki rotti with tomato curry. Coorg is also popular for its pork dishes, homemade chocolates and coffee estates. Make sure to buy some coffee and chocolates before leaving. Stalls are present nearly everywhere, even on the highways!
Coorg is quite safe. Couples and even solo female travelers can explore the district in peace. The locals are generally helpful and Kannada and Coorgie are spoken everywhere and most locals can speak Hindi as well.
Suggested itinerary for Coorg
The minimum time required for a satisfying experience is two days. Starting early in the morning from say Bangalore should get you to Coorg by noon time. On the third day, leave by 3 pm to go from Coorg to Bangalore and you’ll reach before 9 pm.
Day 1: Visit Bhagamandala and Talakaveri and explore the local view points. Dine in the village restaurant and sleep in the homestay
Day 2: Reach Madikeri after an early breakfast and spend some time at Raja Seat and other attractions nearby. Shop for chocolates and coffee, and have yummy snacks at the local food stalls. Later, head to Nisargadhama or Dubare Elephant Camp (check the schedule for visiting the elephants). Have dinner at the Tibetan restaurants in Bylakuppe, which is very close to Nisargadhama.
Day 3: Start the day early with a visit to the Namdroling Monastery. After witnessing the prayer session, have breakfast at the cafe in the monastery or outside the gate. Later visit a coffee estate or factory in Kushalnagar before lunch. Alternatively, you can have lunch on the way back through Mysore.
If you have more questions, or want to come to Coorg with us, write to us or leave a comment below!
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