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.
– Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister.
Coorg or Kodagu as it is officially known now, is an astonishing land in the heart of the southern Indian peninsula. This unspoilt “country of million hills”, situated on the slopes of the Western Ghats, is India’s coffee bowl. The tiny district in the state of Karnataka is the biggest producer of coffee.
Madikeri or Mercara as it was known when it was once ruled by the British, is the district headquarters and situated at an elevation of 1,140m. Dotted with red-tiled bungalows, the town has an old world charm about it. The British who colonized Coorg and set up coffee plantations prior to Independence, compared Coorg to Scotland as both the places had grand and regal highlands with a sturdy mountain-dwelling race.
Geography: Coorg, a landlocked country, is not connected by train or air. It should be noted that Coorg is only a name of the district and there is no town by the name of Coorg.
Getting to Coorg: The only way to reach this nature’ s guarded resort is to motor down from Mysore, Mangalore or Hassan towns, all in the state of Karnataka or from Kannur or Tellicherry in Kerala state. Madikeri is 120 km from Mysore and 260 km from Bangalore.
Coorg, sandwiched between Karnataka and Kerala States, is well-connected by bus service and is two hours drive from Mysore. The drive is worth it as one could enjoy miles of greenery, thick forests, acres and acres of coffee estates and shimmering streams.
Stay: Coorg is dotted with several towns like Virajpet, Kushalnagar, Somwarpet, Gonikoppal and Pollibetta. Only Madikeri and Kushalnagar have reasonably good tourist facilities. Besides hotels and tourist cottages, there are a number of places which offer ‘ home stay’ facility located in around these towns.
Kodavas: The best thing about this scenic paradise is its people. Coorgs or Kodavas as the local clan is known, belong to a martial race and are famous for their hospitality. One should not miss a Coorg wedding which is unique. Coorg is a tourist paradise for nature lovers. No doubt, it has been often called the Kashmir of the south.
Climate: November to May are the ideal months to visit Coorg when the weather is pleasant. The South-West monsoon sets over the hills in June and the monsoon lasts for three to four months.
Tourist Spots: Some of the famous tourist spots are the Raja’ s Seat in Madikeri town, which commands a view of beautiful green hills and valleys, and Talcauvery, 44 km from Madikeri, a pilgrimage centre where the mighty Cauvery river takes its birth. The Rajiv Gandhi National Park (Nagarhole) is a wildlife sanctuary that is a must see for the tourists. The Park is located on the southern tip of Coorg. From Madikeri, the park is good three hours drive on serpentine roads, along lush fields and gurgling rivulets. Finally, Coorg is not the sort of place for the routine tourists, undertaking a ‘package tour’, but is for those who want to soak in Nature.