When a place is referred to as the Scotland of India, it needs no further introduction. Coorg is a tranquil, little town in Southern Karnataka, cradled in the Western Ghats. It is famous mainly for its austere sights, varied wildlife, world-class coffee and the Kodavas, the ethnic warrior people of Coorg.
In recent years, the place has been gaining popularity as one of the most-visited tourist destinations in India. If you haven't visited Coorg already, here are 16 reasons why it should be the next place you visit:
1. Abbi Falls
It's amazing how you can find peace and tranquillity in the middle of the rapturous sounds of a waterfall. Several streams combine on the steep slopes of the Western Ghats to form the Abbi Falls. From here, the water flows into the Cauvery river. The Kali Mata temple near the falls warrants a visit!
2. Puthari festival
Puthari literally means 'new rice' and is the name of the harvest festival in Coorg. Celebrated at the end of November or the start of December, Puthari features a lot of song and dance celebrations, and is indeed a memorable experience for tourists.
This hill station is called the Kashmir of South India and with a compliment like that, one does not need more reasons to visit the place. You don't find too many places that are so pollution-free and serene. It is the perfect romantic getaway!
4. Omkareshwara Temple
Built by Lingarajendra II in 1820, this temple of Lord Shiva is a mix of Gothic and Islamic architecture. The Shivlinga installed at the temple was brought all the way from Kashi. It is all the more fascinating because the temple has an Islamic architectural style. With its central dome and four minarets, it resembles a Muslim Dargah.
You will be surprised to know that Coorg has the biggest Tibetan settlement in South India. When you visit Bylakuppe, make sure to go to the Namdroling monastery, buy handicrafts and enjoy authentic Tibetan momos.
One of the few reasons to be grateful for British rule in India. They introduced the coffee plantations here and now, Coorg is one of the highest producers of coffee in the country. Coorg coffee is famous for its blue colour, clean beans and fine liquoring qualities which makes it sought-after all over the world. In season, the whole place has the refreshing smell of a coffee shop.
7. Coorg Cuisine
Local legend has it that Kodavas are descendants of Alexander the Great. They are pure non-vegetarians and their meat is cooked with a lot of coconut, spices and curry leaves. Some of the famous Coorg dishes are Pandi Curry, Atti Payasa, Kadubu and Baimbale!
8. Kodava Hockey Festival
Hockey is a craze in the Kodava community of Coorg so one of the families in the community hosts this famous hockey tournament every year. It is recognised in the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the biggest field hockey events in the world. Over 50 Kodavas have represented India in hockey and 7 of them have participated in the Olympics.
9. Dubare Elephant Camp
There is something about elephants that brings out the child in us. Karnataka is famous for its elephants and the Dubare training facility is a delightful experience for any animal lover. And it's not just elephants, one can also spot leopards, gaurs, bears, peacocks and partridges in the surrounding forests.
The Mahseet fish in Coorg attracts a lot of professional anglers from all over the world. Angling season is from November to March. Apart from having fun at the various fishing camps, one can also enjoy the picturesque views!
An island near Coorg formed by the Cauvery river, Nisargadhama can be accessed by a hanging bridge. The place is perfect for vacations and boat rides. The 25-acre island is full of bamboo, teak and sandalwood trees and is a home to animals like deers, peacocks and rabbits.
12. Madikeri Fort
A place for the history lovers, the original Madikeri Fort was built in the 17th century by Mudduraja and was rebuilt in granite by Tipu Sultan in 1790. Near the fort is a museum that exhibits a lot of Tipu Sultan's possessions as well as artefacts from the British era.
Bhagamandala is where Cauvery and Kanika confluence while a third river Sujyothi joins from the underground. Pilgrims come to take a dip at the sangama (confluence). The Bhagandeshwara temple complex houses three temples - Sri Bhagandeswara, Sri Subramanya and Sri Narayana - all believed to be over 10 centuries old. There is a lot of history waiting for you at this site!
14. Talakaveri Wildlife Sanctuary
Home to a host of animals including tigers, leopards, jackals, porcupines, giant flying squirrels, cobras, pythons and elephants, this wildlife sanctuary located near Coorg gets its name from Talakaveri, the origin of the Cauvery river. It is also an ideal place for trekking. The best time to visit is between November and April!
One can enjoy these single or two-seater gliders at Ponnampet near Coorg. An instructor will educate you about the basics and once you take off, you can enjoy a bird's-eye view of Coorg. These hand gliders can go up to a height of 5000 feet and also reach a top speed of 100 km/hr. The view while gliding is nothing short of majestic!
16. Tadiandamol Peak
At 5724 feet, Tadiandamol is the highest peak in Coorg and the ideal place for a trek. Just a few kilometres from the peak is Padi Igguthappa temple, one of the holiest temples of the Kodavas. The trek is long and weary but the peace and quiet at the top is definitely worth all the effort!
Like I said earlier, being hailed as the Scotland of India is no mean feat. So if you haven't been to Coorg already, the next time you pack your bags for a trip, you should be heading to Southern Karnataka!