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Not just a coffee break

As we found out, there’s a lot more to Karnataka’s Coorg district than the brewed beverage that it’s famous for

travel Updated: Oct 26, 2012 19:02 IST
Collin Rodrigues
Collin Rodrigues
Hindustan Times
Coorg Pork Curry,Harangi Dam,Valnur Fishing Camp

Kodagu in Karnataka, better known by its anglicised name Coorg, is famous for the vast coffee plantations that dominate the landscape. The coffee agroforests (as the plantations are called) here are considered to be one of the world’s best. Even international giants like Nestle, have facilities in the district. Most of the plantations are open to the public and can be visited with a guide. We went with our driver, Kumar, from our hotel in Kushalnagar. The picturesque town, whose roads are lined with coffee plantations, is located on the Mangalore-Mysore highway where the main town of the district, Madikeri, also lies.

On Kumar’s suggestion we headed to a local aqueduct, which is used to carry water from the Harangi Reservoir to Periyapatna and other areas around. A narrow stretch on either side of the aqueduct is used by two-wheelers to travel to Mysore. The view of the Kaveri river and adjoining lush greenery is breathtaking.

Above the clouds
Kumar also drove us to the Brahmagiri hill where Talakaveri, the source of the Kaveri, is located and marked by a temple inside a tank. On a rainy afternoon, the roads along the hillside, which is 1,276 m above sea level, were misty with clouds. The panoramic view of the mountainous area surrounding the Talakaveri is straight out of a Yash Raj film set in Switzerland, minus the snow. Also, on your way back, you can shop for local spices and, of course, coffee at the stores lining the serpentine streets.

Also worth a visit is the Kaveri Nisargadhama, an island that houses a deer park. A suspended bridge leads visitors to a patch of bamboo,sandalwood and teak trees.
A guesthouse run by the forest department, and made up of bamboo cottages, is located right by the river’s banks.

Abbey Falls, located in the Western Ghats, is another popular tourist spot.

We also visited the Dubare Elephant Camp, which houses elephants from the Karanataka Forest Department. Here you are allowed to touch and feed the pachyderms with hay. Tourists can also indulge in still water rafting for a mere R600 per person. With fewer rapids and almost no turbulence, the rafting is favourable even for kids.

Beautiful Buddha
Another important aspect of your visit to Coorg could be the Bylakuppe Buddhist settlement of Tibetan monks. This is one of the two settlements of Tibetan refugees in India, who came here after 1959. The area has been given on lease by the state government. It’s a unique world, made up of the Tashilhunpo and Namdroling monasteries, Buddhist universities, monastic institution Sera and the majestic Golden Temple, which is reminiscent of Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor.

Three massive statues in gold plating — the Buddha in the centre and Guru Padmasambhava and Amitayush on either side — occupy centre stage at the temple. These are flanked by equally huge thrones, with framed pictures of the Dalai Lama and the monastery’s head. Painted murals, dragons on the walls and gongs complete the interiors of the temple.

Getting there
Take a flight from Mumbai to Bangalore. While Mangalore is closer to Coorg, unfortunately, it has fewer flights. From the Bangalore airport, luxury buses will transport you to Satellite Bus Stand. From here you can take a bus that first takes you to the Majestic Bus Stand and then directly to Kushalnagar and Madikeri.

Other places of interest
* Harangi Dam
* Valnur Fishing Camp
* Omkareshwara Temple
* Madikeri Fort and the Raja’s Seat
* Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary
* Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary

Must try
* Coorg Pork Curry
(Pandi Curry) is in special tamarind sauce gravy.

The dish is very popular in the region and a must try for all food connoisseurs

First Published: Oct 15, 2012 16:06 IST