With a couple of free days on hand in the first week of December 2018 and a craving to experience some cool weather, I didn’t have to search much for a place! Close to Bangalore, easy access and a perfect time to experience the chill in the weather – Well, Madikeri beckoned!
This was not my first trip to Madikeri but this trip was different – it was my first independent solo travel – planning the itinerary, processing reservations and visiting the places. Reservations made for my stay at the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) property in Madikeri and after an overnight bus journey from Bangalore, I arrived in the wee hours of the morning. Stepping out of the bus into a mist covered bus stand in Madikeri, all I could do was hum ಮಡಿಕೇರಿ ಮೇಲ್ ಮಂಜು (Madikeri mel manju).
Kannada author, poet and lyricist Shri G.P. Rajarathnam described this simple town called Madikeri which is endowed with nature’s beauty and bounty in the most appropriate manner, in one of his songs ‘Madikeri Mel Manju’.
ಬೂಮೀನ್ ತಬ್ಬಿದ್ ಮೋಡ್ ಇದ್ದಂಗೆ
ಬೆಳ್ಳಿ ಬಳಿದಿದ್ ರೋಡ್ ಇದ್ದಂಗೆ
ಸಾಫಾಗ್ ಅಳ್ಳ ತಿಟ್ಟಿಲ್ದಂಗೆ
ಮಡಿಕೇರಿ ಮೇಲ್ ಮಂಜು…
Roughly when translated it means…
a seamless layer of fog over Madikeri
appears like the cloud embracing mother earth,
and the road seems to be painted in silver.
Well, getting back to my Madikeri visit – The cold and foggy streets were silent at 4.30 am. The nip in the air was what I was looking for and was lucky to experience it right away. Took a rick outside the bus stand and headed straight to the hotel – Hotel Mayura Valley View, my abode for the next 3 days.
Located in the lush western ghats in Karnataka state (India) at an elevation of 6000ft above sea level, Madikeri also known as Mercara/Coorg, is a land of magical landscapes, beautiful and brave people. Ruled by Kadambas, Gangas, Cholas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagar Kings as well as the rulers from Haleri dynasty at different periods in time it was later taken over by Tipu Sultan until such time Madikeri became a part of British India. Flanked by Hassan district in the north, Dakshina Kannada district to the northwest, Mysore district in the east, Wayanad district (Kerala) in the south, Kannur district (Kerala) to the southwest and Kasargod district in the west, this Kodava land in Kodagu stands tall and holds its ground and identity in its own way. The topography, festivals and functions, the way of dressing, traditions and culture, songs and dances, their homes, etc – all are unique to this place and the Kodava people (the natives of Kodagu).
Call it the Scotland of India or the Kashmir of Karnataka, this land of 4 ‘C’s – Coffee, Cardamom, Colonels and Cauvery, is blessed with picturesque vistas, misty mountainscape, gurgling streams and cascading waterfalls. The scenic drives through the mist covered curvaceous roads with coffee plantations on either sides, the sight of the rolling meadows afar, a tiled roof structure peeping out of the dense emerald green vegetation in the valley, a cloud caressing the hillock nearby and descending on the road, the paddy fields with stagnant water, the whiff of freshly ground coffee here and there and the pleasant weather…allures the tourists from within India and abroad to this charming little hill station. It is but natural that I am enamoured by this endearing town.
With varied opportunities of sightseeing and interesting activities that can be taken up while in Madikeri, it is almost confusing to plan what to do and what not to. I had almost 3 days at my disposal. I meticulously planned to enjoy the sightseeing as well my stay in the hotel.
Day 1: Local sightseeing and strolls.
Having snoozed a bit in the hotel room after an early arrival, I decided to take the day easy. Walking the streets of Madikeri and exploring the nearby points of interest was the only thing on my mind! A pleasant morning and a hearty breakfast in the restaurant with a view, my day had to be great. I walked down the street towards the famous Raja’s seat and further down to the Omkareshwar Temple. A large but simple temple structure with a huge holy water tank in the front is located in the heart of the town. The striking feature of the temple has to be the 4 minarets in the corners and the large central dome which showcases the influence of Islamic architecture. This picture perfect temple is a photographer’s delight.
Walk up the street from the Omkareshwar temple and explore the Madikeri fort complex which houses a temple, palace and a church turned archaeological museum. Centrally located in the town of Madikeri, this fort founded by Mudduraja in the 17th Century, was under the control of Tippu Sultan for quite some time and later taken over by the British. Strolled inside the palace and walked the wooden pillared corridors around an open courtyard. A short visit to the museum and later a leisurely walk along the fort ramparts offered a peek into the bustling town of Madikeri. Today, this fort complex houses state government offices.
Around noon, as I planned to return to the hotel and rest a while, I gathered that there was a Kodava event being held at a ground near Gandhi Mantapa, closer to Raja’s seat. Lucky me! A wish to watch a Kodava event and people in their traditional costume came true. It was the 28th Annual Kodava (Codava) National Day celebrations. Women looked gorgeous in their distinctive style of draping the saree and colourful scarves. Men dressed in their traditional attire Kupya secured with the silk band/sash and accessorized with the sheathed dagger/knife, looked handsome. A procession was taken out on the streets of Madikeri with men, women and children actively participating in the walk followed by a few interesting traditional rituals and dance. Kodavas are of the martial race and the inhabitants of Kodagu region.
Back in the hotel for lunch and some much-needed rest, I ventured once again only in the evening to spend time at the Raja’s seat. A beautiful garden with a viewpoint to watch the sun go down, Raja’s seat is considered to have been a favourite place of the rulers of Kodagu to watch the sunset.
Day 2: A day of drives – Mandalpatti and Temple circuit.
The day began at 5 am with a drive to Mandalpatti to watch the sunrise. A must do activity when in Madikeri, especially, if one is a morning person. Around an hour’s back-breaking drive (one way) in a pre-booked 4×4 jeep, I set out to Mandalpatti. Famed for its unhindered panoramic views of the mountain range, Mandalpatti is part of the Pushpagiri wildlife sanctuary. Entry to the viewpoint starts only after 6 am. A further 10 mins drive towards the base of the viewpoint and 5 minutes walk up the hill in the cold weather is a heady experience. Watching the sun rise over the hillocks and ascending high in the sky from this viewpoint is thoroughly enjoyable. The biting cold and breezy place with captivating views makes up for all the hardships one has to go through to reach the viewpoint!
After an early start to the morning, I was back in the hotel for breakfast and another drive to cover a few other interesting places for the day, I planned to visit Bhagamandala, Talacauvery, Igguthappa temple and the Nalknad Palace. Around 45 kms away and located close to each other, these temples and places of interest can be covered easily in a day.
Comfortably perched in the car I booked for the day from the hotel’s Travel Desk, I drove off to the Bhagandeshwara temple in Bhagamandala. The temple is situated near the confluence of 3 holy rivers or the Triveni Sangama. A well-maintained and beautifully distinctive temple this, it tops the must-visit temples around Coorg.
River Cauvery/Kaveri, revered as their mother goddess and worshipped by the Kodava community, is believed to take birth or originate at this place known as Talacauvery located in the verdant landscape of Brahmagiri hill. A huge archway to the birthplace of the river, a small temple and the tank inside the complex where the river is considered to have originated, and further the trek path towards the viewpoint, all attract many a visitors to this place.
A short drive away is the temple of the lord of rains and crops, Igguthappa! Locals visit this beautiful temple on a hillock near Kakkabe and offer their prayers. Interesting mythological stories are associated with this shrine.
Last on the list of places of interest was the Nalknad Palace. Also known as the Naalnad aramane in Kodava language, this palace was built between 1792-1794 by the Kodava king Dodda Veerarajendra. A typical malnad styled tiled roof, pillared facade and intricate wood-work structure this, it has many rooms, painted ceilings and some secret stairs leading to a safe room. The location of this palace in a hillock with thick vegetation is intriguing. The rustic and well-maintained palace after the restoration work is a protected monument under the aegis of Directorate of Archaeology and Museums.
Back in the hotel just before the sunset and reminiscing the day’s journey, it was a time to spend some leisure moments in the restaurant sipping a hot cup of coffee and watching the sun go down.
Day 3: A quick run-up to a monument nearby.
Was the trip coming to an end so soon? It was time to pack up and start my journey back to Bangalore. But the bus was at 11.00 am. I still had a few hours to enjoy my stay and visit yet another interesting monument nearby. Gaddige, popularly known as the Raja’s tombs, is just a kilometre and half away. The twin structures which depict the Indo-Saracenic architecture is believed to be housing the tombs of the popular Kodava Dynasty rulers Dodda Veerarajendra and his wife Mahadeviamma, a tomb of Lingarajendra and the other for the guru of Veerarajendra, Rudrappa. Beautiful large central dome and the turrets with Nandi in the corners makes for an interesting sight. One can spend hours in this scenic as well as a peaceful place.
On my way back, the strong whiff of freshly ground coffee wafting across the streets drew me to this shop. With a kilo of coffee powder packed, I returned to the hotel to complete the final packing of my camera bag. Within no time I found myself waiting for my bus at the bus stand. The cool breeze and the pleasant memories of the places I visited kept me in good company until I hopped on to the bus and comfortably perched in the window seat. How perfect was this trip, I kept thinking. Madikeri is a cozy place for those romantic at heart, a welcome holiday spot for families looking for some time with family away from their routine lives, a thrilling abode for trekkers and hikers who seek to embark on some adventurous trip, a paradise for nature lovers who want to spend time in the luxurious lap of nature and a safe town for solo-travellers like me who enjoy exploring the place alone. Still seated in the window seat of the bus, watching the tall trees and the clouds as I drove down one the most bewitching hill stations, I wondered when my next trip would be to this place again!
Connectivity to Madikeri
Nearest airports – Bangalore and Mangalore,
Madikeri is around 260 Kms from Bangalore and 140 Kms from Mangalore. It is well connected by road. Government Buses and private buses ply regularly on these routes. One can reach easily via Mysuru by road. Nearby towns are Hassan, Sulia in the state of Karnataka and Kannur, Kasargod and Thalassery in the state of Kerala.
Driving in your own vehicle to Madikeri would be an enjoyable experience.
Madikeri is yet to be connected by rail.
Being a popular hill station, Madikeri offers a varied choice for travellers of all budget. Hotels, homestays, stays in coffee plantations are easily available.
My stay was at the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) property Mayura Valley view Madikeri. Located in close proximity to the bus stand and all local points of interest, the hotel proved to be a great choice. The Deluxe suite I stayed was a luxury. Most of the rooms have a good view of the valley. The rooms and dormitory in the hotel are maintained in excellent condition. After a pleasant & value-for-money stay experience, I would highly recommend this property.
The multi-cuisine restaurant with attached bar serves great food and drinks and draws visitors from not just the people staying in the hotel but outside too. The open deck area of the restaurant is the highlight of this hotel. Mornings and evenings are best spent sipping your favourite drink and enjoying the Madikeri climate with a view of the clouds floating at distance in the valley or the sun setting behind one of those mountains creating drama in the sky!
The helpful staff at the reception ensured that I had a delightful stay. Ample parking space and helpful Travel desk make the travelling in and around Madikeri easy and comfortable. Complete details of the Hotel, amenities and the tariff can be accessed from their website link Mayura Valley View Madikeri.
Interesting activities and Sightseeing
The quaint town of Madikeri is an ideal holiday destination for people of all interests. Popular activities apart from the places I have covered in this visit would be a visit to the Dubaare elephant camp, Tibetan settlement and the Namdroling monastery and Nisarga dhama. Innumerable treks and nature trails in Madikeri enthral the souls which seek solace in the lap of nature. Chikli hole, Harangi dam are other places of interest which have gained popularity in recent times. Visiting and watching the many attractive waterfalls in and around Madikeri is the most sought-after activity during monsoons.
Travelling within the town is easy with local rickshaws. Taxis and government buses ply on a regular basis to the distant places of interest.
But even the restless soul that I am, I would highly recommend staying back in the hotel room and enjoy a restful laid back day or two. Breathe in the pure air and soak in the warm sunrays of the early morning. Fill your tummy with tasty treats sip in a hot cup of Coorg coffee and just while away your time.
Right time to visit
Madikeri is a place that can be visited throughout the year. A respite from the busy city life and a luxury to spend time with oneself amidst the grand nature. Climate is cool and pleasant from October till April.
Monsoon magic in Madikeri is to be experienced to believe. Waterfalls and the lush green landscape is best watched during monsoon. Trekking and nature trails are popular from October till the beginning of March.
Enjoy a visit during the festivals in Kodagu to experience the local traditions and food fare.
Points to remember
- Madikeri is a neat and clean city. Do not litter and throw garbage.
- Photography is prohibited inside the temples. Enquire before taking pictures.
- Travel safe and bring back good memories along with coffee powder, honey, homemade chocolates and spices.