Where: Madikeri, Kodagu district, Karnataka. ~260Kms from Bangalore.
Coordinates: 12.4 Deg N, 75.7 deg E
Route: Bangalore- Mysore- Hunsur- Kushalnagar- Madikeri
When: 27th-28th Feb,2010
Trip Meter: 703 Kms.
How: Me in my Bajaj Avenger, Vignesh in his Pulsar 180cc
Places of interest:
1) Madikeri : Raja seat, Omkareswara temple.
2) Talakaveri: ~50Kms from Madikeri at a height of ~1300 mts, is believed to be birth place of river Kaveri. So a beautiful temple and Brahmagiri dot the place.
3) Golden Temple,Bylakuppe: Maginificient Tibetan monastery. It comes on way to Mysore to Madikeri.Its 7Kms inside the main highway.
4) Bagamandala: ~40 Kms from Madikeri on road to Madikeri to Talakaveri. Talakaveri is 10Kms form here. It has a scenic temple, with “Monsoon” kind of architecture.
5) Abbey falls: ~8Kms from Madikeri.
6) Mandhalpatty viewpoint: ~20Kms from Madikeri. Has excellent views of surrounding hills. Check your vehicle before heading there.;-)
Other places of interest are Irrupu falls (~85Kms from madikeri), Nisargadhama (~30Kms from madikeri, on Mysore-Madikeri highway and immediately after Bylakuppe). Madikeri is also base point to visit near by national parks like Nagarhole, Kabini etc. and also do trekking.
Season to visit: 1) Monsoon, if want too adventurous.
2) Winter: November to mid-feb.
But tourists come here in big numbers in summer months to get relief from heat of plains. But I doubt, if it can give relief, because it is not at that great heights and most of natural forests have turned into coffee estates. When we visited, it was dry and hot (~30degC) but nights were cool.
At a height above 1100 mtrs, this is the largest town in Kodagu region. It is well connected by road with regular buses (including A/C volvos) from Mysore and Bangalore. It has good facilties with varying budgest of hotels, restaurants. It is famous for coffee estates, good view from Raja seat, Omkareswar temple and an old church.
Do have Coorg coffee in “Darbar Cafe” in main market. It is cheap and tastes great. I would rather suggest to dump those pocket emptying coffee shops and head to Darbar cafe to have good coffee.;-)
We started 4:30 AM from Bangalore in our respective bikes. We started early to avoid driving under hot sun.By 7:30AM we were in Mysore. We continued our journey with occasional rest of 1-2mins. Unexpectedly, roads were great even after Mysore. Infact, this was one of best roads I have seen in Karnataka in terms of quality. We had our breakfast in “Cafe Coorg” in Hunsur bypass, right on higway SH-88. Besides looks n ambience, price is also like CCD. But it was good. We met here with another bike guy, who was on his way to his hometown, Mangalore. So from here, he accompanied and guided us till Madikeri. We went pass Bylakuppe, Nisargadhama, Dabure and decided to visit those, on our return trip. By 11Am, we reached Madikeri. After bidding bye to our friend, we booked a room in “Tourist Lodge”, off Madikeri-Mangalore highway. The room was decent with clean bedsheets and bathrooms, TV and generator facililty.It was priced Rs 600 for one day and is certainly good for bachelors, unless one prefer luxury.
After taking rest for an hour, we headed to Abbey falls. The fall had little water, as it was a dry season. But its worth to see in monsoon. After spending 15-20 mins there. We headed towards Mandhalpatty viewpoint. The roads to mandhalpatty was a test for my bike and glad to say it passed. The roads are perfect practice place for riders wanting to ride in Ladakh. Last 15KMs track is a stoney road, with big pebbles not allowing tyres to remain footed to land. After an hour of drive, we reached Madhalpatty view point, Certainly, it was worth the risk and hope roads remain that way, so that least people visit there. I know, if people visit there, it will be just another trashed view point.
Madhalpatty provided excellent “bluish” and misty view of surrounding hills.After an hour of photography and enjoying sight seeing, we headed our way back.BTW, there is Rs 25 per person entry fee to Madhalpatty view point, taken by forest department.
By 5PM, we reached our room, took some rest and then went to explore Madikeri. We went to Raja seat (300mts from our hotel, Rs 5 entry fee per person), which is a kind of view point. King of Kodagu seated and enjoyed views from here. But now, i guess view is certainly not the same. The evening musical fountain show in the park, was good and was certainly better than “Vridavan garden’s musical fountain”. At least here you can have close by view of fountain. The show ran for around half an hour and we shot almost all of the show.
After the show, visited near by temple, market and had tasty Coorg’s “BIG COFFEE” in Darbar cafe for just Rs 12. Who said inflation is high??? The quantity was so much, we didnot have our dinner.
Next day (28th Feb), we woke up at 5Am and checked out by 6AM. We headed towards Tala Cauvery, about 50KMs from Madikeri. The early morning mist and quality roads, ensured an excellent drive to Tala Cauvery. We reached their by 8AM. The early morning arrival ensured a peaceful temple premises. After offering prayers to deities, we went atop of Brahmagiri hills, which is just 200 steps above the temple. Brahmagiri, is the highest peak in the region and so has great views of surrounding hills. Our luck, we reached during the best time. Mist was below our height levels and so we got views of hills, something like shown in TV. It was indeed eye refreshing.
After an hour, we decided to head back to Bangalore (original plan to visit Kudremukh, but decided to skip, because of small incident). On way we stopped at Bagamandala, home to a silent, neat and clean temple of Monsoon architecture. By 10AM we were heading out of Madikeri and Sun was picking up. By noon, we reached plains and it was very very hot. We decided to have lunch in Kushal nagar (original plan was to have some Tibetan food in Bylakuppe).By 2PM we reached Bylakuppe. The moment, one takes off from highway towards Bylakuppe, one starts seeing Tibetan culture, with colorful flags tied to trees, 3rd language being Tibetan and some of the houses in Tibetan architecture style. What is amazing to see is population of Tibetan people, the manner they have integrated with society, but still retaining their culture to great extent and richness of these refugees. Last was the most amazing one, because generally in India, refugees are the most poor people. But here everyone looked above a middle class family standards. I think we Indians have a lesson to learn from here. Its of efficient use of money that is donated and good administration. We reached the main monastery and it was crowded with all tastes of Tourists, Tibetan monks, families of monks. The monastery was splendid in architecture and art. The main temple, had 3 Gold coated idols and monks were carrying out their prayers. One thing was sad to see: Insensitivity of Tourists towards praying monks. People were making noise & their flashing cameras complety disturbing the holy atmosphere here. It was kind of making mokery of a culture and place.Instead of being a holy place, it had turn out to be an adventurous place for tourists.
The place certainly can give one, taste of Tibetan food.But we didn’t had, as our bellies were already filled.I think best time to visit this monastery is early morning, when it will be least crowded with tourists.
I think monastery administration should take some steps, to ensure some discipline among visting tourists. Entry fees, limiting visit to temple during prayer hours are some of the steps that can be taken.
Anyways, it was good to see How India is mixer of many culture. It was really heart warming to see, these people living a comfortable life (devoid of life threats etc.) 10000 KMs away from their actual home, that too with little fear of surroundng culture over running them. Yes, with genration their culture will change with interaction with surrounding culture, but only to give birth new tradition, practicesa and culture. I do for see, Tibetan culture, does find a home here.
Finally, with this debate raging in mind we headed back to Bangalore. By 5PM we reached Mysore and by 8PM we reached our respective homes. It was a nice unplanned trip, with good view points to visit, quality drive through out and seeing a culture whose origin lies 10000 Kms from here. Hope to re-visit the same places again, some time soon,may be in monsoon.