GETAWAY TO COORG – A VERITABLE HILLY PARADISE

Coorg, also known as Kodagu which means `dense hilly country’ is the one of the nicest and coolest places  for a short break from Bangalore or Mysore!  3-4 days is enough to explore this  delightful area in the middle of the Western Ghats,  surrounded with rolling hills, forests and coffee plantations. Though for those with more time can extend their stay to a week.  It is about  227 kms south west  of Bangalore and is best  travelled by road, which takes  5-6 hours .

Till a few years back, the drive used to be  much more adventurous after Mysore, as the road leading to Kodagu was a narrow, pebbled,  village road with huts and fields on both sides. You get a feel of rustic, country life with small mud houses, thatched roofs and bamboo hedges as boundary wall.  Corn, paddy and cotton farming is done here and kids love to watch  whiffs  of cotton wool floating around.  This being my second visit to Coorg, I was surprised to find a newly constructed road leading to Madikeri (another name for Coorg) which made our journey easier and faster.

As you enter into Coorg, long stretches of undulating landscapes carpeted  in every shade of green, covered with a gauzy stole of thin, white mist is a sight to behold. Coffee bushes, studded with red berries, pepper, cardamom, oranges, nutmeg, lemon grass is grown here as it has the most salubrious weather  and ample rainfall. No wonder this place is also known as Scotland of India.

The welcoming smile of the  friendly local people (who are a small group of warrior tribals), having a unique culture and distinctive dress . I am reminded  of one of my school teachers who belonged to Coorg and we kids were so fascinated by the way in which she used to wear her sari.

Since this region is covered with ever-green forests, animals  like  elephants, the Malabar Squirrel and tigers are found in this region. The famous Dubare elephant camp is located here. It is a wildlife adventure camp which serves as an information centre on anything to do with elephants .

A visit to this place is a must when in Coorg,  specially for animal lovers and of course  kids are so fascinated. The trip usually begins early  in the morning as these pachyderms are early risers. Children love it as they see the elephants being bathed and fed; they are allowed to scrub these mighty beings and  feed them ragi and jaggery. Since you’ve been so good to them, he’ll dress up in his `howdah’  and even take you on a 30 minute ride into the jungle !

Madikeri is also the birthplace of the mighty Cauvery river;  has numerous  murmuring streams, rivulets and waterfalls. Coracle ride  (a type of boat) on the river is quite popular with tourists. As the coracle moves languorously on the meandering river, one gets to experience nature in its varied form – vast expanse of blue sky above,  lush green forests on both sides and an occasional chirping of birds flying past.

There is lots more to do in Coorg, including fishing in the river, trekking in the coffee and pepper plantations or simply strolling in the lush, hilly surroundings. As we  bade  adieu to such a soul stirring place,  I would surely want to come back here more often to spend time in the midst of nature.

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