Kodagu or Coorg as it has been known now. Though just a hill station known to exist 250km from Bangalore holds a great glory and advent amount of culture. This was not just a fun-filled or relaxation journey, it was filled with lots and lots of knowledge about a culture that is not known to many people.
Being from North India, I never heard of Kodagu as a culture (that too being a part of this very country). It was just when I started living in Bangalore and got to know the difference between Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Mallyali, did I get to know that a small population of people(around 1,50,000) still are preserving their diminishing culture. I met some locals from Kodagu in Bangalore who would always talk about their place, their food, their dance, their music, the winds, the spices, coffee(you know they are obsessed when you hear them).
Just as a culture enthusiast as I am, I couldn’t let this experience go off. I spent two days with my four friends in Coorg and it felt like I am living the stories narrated by my friends from Coorg.
This post will more be an FYI than just experience sharing. What to have, what to expect, where to live etc.
How to reach Coorg?
The easiest way is to take a flight to Bangalore from anywhere around the world then take a bus from Bangalore to Coorg. Don’t search for the options of train, they don’t have a railway station.
Where to stay?
A Google search would show you enormous number of resorts and luxurious hotels but my suggestion would be to take a home-stay and look into the way people live there. Some nice home-stay owners may even offer you their local food. Even if you don’t book a home-stay, you’ll find a plenty of them where you can just walk-in, pay and live.
Local Language of Coorg
Landing onto the soil of South India and all your inner Northie know is that now communication will be in Tamil language. But hell no!! Though Kannada(not Tamil!) is the official language of Karnataka, there are many regional languages that has not been recognized.
Kodavas(locals of Coorg) speak an entirely different language(that even your algorithms cannot decode) – Kodava Thakk. The language is know only to the locals and there is no inscriptions provided. It has been transferred orally from generations.
Costumes of locals
I guess this is the first place where even males have a very complicated costume. Here you can see in the picture, the black colored coat is called Kupiya. During marriage, white Kupiya is worn by Groom.
And don’t even talk about women’s saree which is equally as complex. Mind it, it’s not your regular saree. The pallu instead of going back comes forward(thanks to River Kaveri again). And ya, they are obsessed with snakes, you’ll see their jewellery completely inspired by snakes.
Local Food of Coorg
Again Southie and love for rice plus the localites of Coorg are great fans of pork. Their very popular dish – Pandi Curry(pork with black masala), is traditionally eaten with Akki Otti(rice Chapati) and rice. Some of their regular menu include Kadamputtu(rice balls), Noolputtu(rice noodles), Paputtu(rice cake), etc..
People here also enjoy jaggery coffee and trust me it’s super delicious.
Where to go?
Sight seeing in Coorg is basically a foreplay with direction and time. Every place is far away from the main town Madikeri. Our itinerary went something like this:
This alluring picnic spot is the best start of the journey. It’s a beautiful island situated 28 km away from Madikeri surrounded by Cauvery river on all sides. You can spend some time admiring the nature, playing in river, boating, feeding deer, eating or just listlessly roaming around.
Here, you can see many instances of Kodagu culture in form of statues – men and women wearing the traditional dresses and the early occupations people here were indulged in.
The Golden Monastery
Even if you are not a great fan of Buddha or an atheist, I still suggest you to go there and admire the architectural beauty. Its radiant colors are sure an escape if too much greenery has taken a toll on you. Not getting much into history and coming to the point, the 40 feet Buddha structure and a large yet symmetrical prayer room is the man attraction of the place. Just a suggestion – DON’T DRINK TEA at this place, it’s the worst.
It’s just like any other dam in India. But the way to Chikli Dam is one giving a shot for. It lies in the way of Elephant Dubare so spending a good 15 minutes won’t harm.
Elephant Dubare Camp
This is one sort of an interesting place for elephant lovers (certainly not me). It’s an elephant conservation camp. You need to take a boat to reach the main camp. Here, you can get indulged in many activities like elephant ride, feeding the elephants, photography, elephants can give you light shower (if you pay them) or you can give a nice bath to elephant.
This is basically a garden on the edge of a hill. It has a very amazing viewpoint from where we could actually see the clouds running. We reached there at 6 in the morning in search of tea and sunrise but what we got was a lots and lots of clouds and no sun.
As we moved up the Brahmagiri hills, we got craze stricken with all the clouds surrounding us. We couldn’t help but run with our arms wide open in the magical environment created by clouds, rain drops, serenity and smell of MaggieJ. With Winds, a little too cold and visibility, a lot less, River Kaveri decided it to be its birth place. You can see the origin of river Kaveri in a small squared pond also labeled as Holy Water on the site.
Back of the temple is a nice small garden where you can just sit and relax(or click pictures). We also got to know that there is a trekking area near the temple but because of rain it was closed at the time we went.
One of the interesting things about this place is, it is on the Kerela-Karnataka border. So as we reached top our cellular carriers greeted us with ‘Welcome to Kerela’.
Bhagamandala temple lies in the way of Talakakveri. It is considered a pilgrimage spot for people of Kodagu. Near this is triveni sangam, a place where three rivers meet.
You can spend 15 mins here.
Its magnificent view is enough to take you into its awe. Lush greenery, valleys, flowers, light showers, hills and bumped roads make it a beautiful and adventurous trip up to the trekking area. To go up the hill you will have to take a jeep costing around Rs. 1500. To reach top you need to trek for around 200m with literally 5m visibility. It is all covered in clouds and you can feel the rain drops hitting your face every now and then. Once you reach the top you’ll feel the high velocity winds forcing you to fall down the hills. It is one amazing experience though we were exhausted fighting the winds.
If you want to go in and play in water then don’t get your expectations too high. It is completely barricaded because of some death accidents. So, what more can you do here is click nice pictures and leave.