Karnataka state in India has many beautiful hill stations. People living in the capital city Bangalore are blessed with n number of options for weekend getaways. Coorg is a little town near Bangalore and is fondly called as Scotland of India. Here’s an Itinerary to experience the best of Coorg in 3 days.
With the world opening up after a 2 years battle in the harshest of the pandemic, let’s hope things get better. Travelers are flocking in again and here’s a sharing of a practical itinerary to get the best of Coorg.
Why you should visit Coorg
The fact that Coorg is known as Scotland of India itself speaks a lot about it. It is known for its tranquility, coffee plantations, and rich culture. In Coorg, you can enjoy the scenic beauty of Western Ghats all through the journey. Roads in Coorg are surrounded by coffee plantations and pepper vines. It will be hard to take your eyes off the roads itself. All the big coffee players in the market have their plantations in Coorg including Tata Coffee which operates the world-famous Starbucks in India. Now you know where Starbucks coffee beans are sourced from in India.
Best Time to Visit Coorg
Coorg has tropical weather which remains pleasant throughout the year. Monsoons are a little fierce hence people should avoid visiting between the months of June to September. But if you’re looking for a leisure trip then you can just book a homestay amid the coffee plantation and enjoy the spectacular views of the valley during the monsoon.
The apt time to visit Coorg is between October to Feb, when you can enjoy the sightseeing as well as outdoor activities.
How to Reach Coorg
Coorg is approximately 270 KM from Bangalore, 150 KM from Mangalore and 118 KM from Mysore. It takes 5-6 hours from Bangalore and approx. 3 hours from Mysore & Mangalore to reach Coorg by Road. There is no direct connectivity through train or flight.
Coorg by Road
The most common and easiest way to reach Coorg is by Bus. Bus services are available from all major cities in Karnataka including capital city Bangalore, Mangalore & Mysore. Frequency of buses higher from Bangalore. Government and as well as private bus services are available. You can book through the KSRTC official website or Redbus.com. Please check the type of bus before booking, if images are not available on KSRTC try to google the same. The best option at cheaper cost would Airavat Club Class buses at 8 USD which you can book through the KSRTC website.
Apart from buses, you can also hire your own cab for 3 days which will cost you around 170 USD depending on the type of cab. If you’re traveling in a group, I would recommend you take this option as it will ease your commutation in and around Coorg as well.
There are many online travel agencies like Make my Trip, Yatra.com where you can easily book a cab.
Coorg by Train
There is no railway station in Coorg, the nearest one is in Mysore and Mangalore. So, you can reach the nearest railway station and then hop on the bus to Coorg. Mysore has more frequent buses to Coorg than Mangalore so it will be a better option. Plus, even if you have to wait for your bus in Mysore you can explore this little town as well.
Coorg by Air
Again, the nearest airports are Bangalore and Mangalore International Airports. Mysore also has a domestic airport but there are limited flights. Just remember you can catch the direct bus (FlyBus) till Mysore from the Bangalore Airport itself. Therefore, you don’t need to enter the Bangalore City which will save a lot of time for you. Cab services are also available, but the bus is a better and cheaper alternative. The same services are available at Mangalore International Airport as well.
Where to Stay in Coorg
There is a vast number of options available in Coorg from luxury cottages to beautiful homestays to budget hostels. Zostel and Manyana Hostels are one of the best options for budget accommodations. With prices as cheap as 7-8 USD per night for dorms, both hostels have a spectacular location and delicious food.
Zostel is located amidst coffee plantation, waking up in the morning would never be this much refreshing. There is a pond nearby the property, stroll around and breathe in the fresh air away from city chaos.
Avoid taking accommodation in the center of Madikeri Town and near the bus stop. Such hotels are usually expensive and are in the overcrowded streets. You will always find better options a little away from the main town. Find the right accommodation online if you don’t want to risk overspending. The map below can help you out with that as well.
About this 3-day Coorg Itinerary
Coorg has so many places in and around where you would love to spend time. But due to promoted tourism, there’s an increase in the number of tourists visiting Coorg and hence most of the places remain overcrowded. In this Coorg itinerary, I would mention the top places that are worthy of your time and effort. Also, how you can avoid the rush of tourists just by planning your day in advance. And then you can easily plan your own itinerary for Coorg based on your comfort and ease.
Dubare Elephant Camp
This camp has been started when woodcutting and logging operations were banned by the Government. There are around 100 elephants in the camp, and they are now being taken care of by people hired by the Government. Dubare Elephant Camp is a perfect place to experience the life of elephants. Here you can spend time with elephants, can feed them, get down in the river Cauvery to watch elephants taking bathe in the river (They charge 2 USD per person to get into the river with elephants).
The camp is situated next to Cauvery River and you’re supposed to take a boat to cross the river. It opens at 9 AM and gets closed at 11:30 AM, you have to stand in the queue and wait for your turn to take a ferry ride to the camp. The cost of the ticket is 1 USD per person. It is advised to reach the camp by 8:30 AM as the queue gets longer later. If you reach the camp early, it will also mean that you can enjoy more before the tourists’ rush comes in.
Also, just be a little responsible and gentle while playing with elephants. These animals are forced to live in camps, although the camp area is huge but doesn’t match with the natural habitat and freedom of elephants. Your kind behavior can help them to feel a lot better.
Coorg has rich cultures, apart from the local cultures they give equal respect to foreign culture as well. There’s a town called Bylakuppe (5KM from Kushalnagar and 35 KM from the main town of Madikeri), a hub for Tibetans. And here you’ll find the famous Namdroling Monastery, also known as The Golden Temple. Bylakuppe is the largest settlement of Tibetans in India after Dharmashala and the largest teaching center of Nyingmapa, a lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. This Monastery is also home for around 6000 monks who’re peacefully living here.
Namdroling Monastery is an excellent example of Tibetan architecture. It is spread over an area of 80 sqm and has 40 feet high statues of Guru Padmasambhava, Buddha Shakyamuni, and Amitayus. The main shrine is in a huge hall where hundreds of monks pray together. Walls of the hall are covered with beautiful paintings and murals from Tibetan & Buddhist mythology. I meditated for a while sitting inside and trust me it helped me to cleanse my entire aura.
Take a stroll around the Monastery and get ready to explore the market and food joints nearby.
Tibetan Market for Food & Shopping
Just outside the Namdroling Monastery, there is a shopping complex and a lot of cafes where you can hog on Tibetan food. In fact, inside the Monastery premises as well there are cafes and shops. Interestingly, all the money collected through monastic enterprises- shops, guest houses, and cafés thereafter go towards the welfare of monks living in the monastery.
But the shops outside have better prices for the same things that you will buy within the premises. And if you decide to explore more in Bylakuppe there are many other markets where you can find cheaper deals. As Namdroling Monastery is the most famous landmark in Bylakkupe, prices are a little higher. You can pick up prayer flags, prayer wheels, dreamcatchers from the shops. Many souvenirs are also available, take few as a token of memory from this beautiful place.
Cafes in Bylakuppe
Namling café inside the monastery premises is really nice, we had ordered a lot of food and beverages. Ginger Lemon Tea, Vanilla Frappe and veg burgers were the best. This café has the cutest ambiance. Just sit back and enjoy the surroundings. With so many monks around you, this place seems to be another world.
There are many other eateries where you can enjoy authentic Thukpa and Momos (momos are classic dumplings stuffed with ingredients of your choice and are now very popular street food in India). At a distance of 4 KM from the Monastery is Potala Kitchen, one of the famous restaurants in the Tibetan region here. I tried varieties of dumplings here and left with satisfied taste buds. Just you to know this place had a long menu of 7 pages with Bhutanese, Tibetan and Indian dishes. Sadly, I was not aware of many of the dishes and hence decided to binge eat Momos only.
Also, you will love the fact that there are only a few tourists and most of the people are wrapped around in red and mustard robes, the monks.
Chiklihole Reservoir for Sunset
After spending time at Bylakuppe, move on to Chiklihole Reservoir for witnessing the sunset. It’s a 30 minutes’ drive from Namdroling Monastery. This reservoir was so beautiful, and the view of the sunset was even more. It is advisable to check the sunset time on google and reach the dam 15 minutes prior to capture the pictures or maybe for a stunning time-lapse.
The clouds, colors of sky and sun, all had their reflection in the water of the reservoir as if someone just painted a replica of the sky in the water. What a view it was!!!
Trekking- Tadiandamol & Mandalpatti
Coorg houses few of the Karnataka’s highest peaks. The scenic beauty of Coorg makes trekking a good idea. And if you were already smitten by encounters on day 1 then I must tell you much more is waiting for you. Mandalpatti and Tadiandamol are two of the best options. Tadiandamol is Karnatak’s 3rd highest peak, standing 1748 meters high, and is very popular among the trekkers.
For Tadiandamol you have to trek although the peak whereas in Mandalpatti you can choose to take jeep as well to reach the peak. Both the places have their own charm, and good weather is just cherry on the top.
This trek is 12 KM long, to and fro distance from the base point. Trek starts at the base of the hill at Nalkanad Palace. The terrains are quite steep right from the beginning so brace yourself to take on the challenge. I would recommend starting the trek between 8:30 AM & 9 AM since it is a popular trekking point people will start pouring in and you would miss the tranquility at the top. Make sure that you have a healthy power breakfast before you start. Carry a travel water bottle, a lot of snickers and other quick bites to keep yourself charged.
I had started at 9:30 AM, reached the peak at 12:15 PM and started descending at 1 PM and reached back at the base point at 4:20 PM.
Weather changes drastically during the trek, at one point it will be raining while at others it will get all sunny. Do carry your sunglasses, raincoat and a cap to cover yourself as per the weather conditions. Pack light in a small backpack, it will be difficult to climb otherwise.
After covering some 3KM you would reach the Shola Forest checkpoint. They charge 2 USD per person as a fee to enter the forest area.
Well after you enter the forest area, the trek gets a little difficult. I have usually seen treks that require ascending and descending both but at Tadiandamol you majorly have to ascend only. Nonetheless, view compensate for all the pain. After reaching the top you will clearly see yourself walking through the clouds.
There would be mist, clouds and breathtaking views of the hills surrounded by Shola forest.
Mandalpatti is a must-visit place near Coorg. This place is called Mugilu-Pete in the local language which means the Market of Clouds. And Mandalpatti is actually a place where you will find yourself surrounded by big cotton clouds. It is indeed a hidden gem of Karnatka with lush green surroundings and majestic views from the hilltop. The best part about Mandalpatti is it is not commercialized yet which makes it a perfect place to cut loose from city chaos.
Located 20 KM from the main town of Madikeri, you can cover 17 KM by vehicle, but the last 3 KM has to be covered either by trekking to the top or by jeeps of the forest department. One jeep will carry 5-6 people, although with my personal experience I would suggest trekking to the top. As you ascend to the top views will leave you astounded. You will need approx. 5-6 hours to cover Mandalpatti
Please note that there are no shops & food joints nearby Mandalpatti hence carry all the necessary things with you. You can have a little picnic on the hilltop but ensure that you don’t litter around. Also during monsoons, the terrain gets really muddy and it is not advisable to visit here.
I highly recommend adding Mandalpatti in your Coorg Itinerary.
The last day of the itinerary can be kept more of a leisure type and you can explore the main town and market of Madikeri. There are many tourist places within the main town, but I’ll tell you the places that are worth visiting despite being too crowded.
Omkarhswar temple is dedicated to Lord of Shiva of Hindu mythology. It is famous for its Gothic and Islamic mix of architecture. Temple is situated in the center of the main town. Try to reach early in the morning by 8 AM to enjoy the serenity around the temple. There’s pond just outside the temple where people can to feed the fishes. Spend some time reading the architecture of the temple and just soaking yourself up in the aura. Please note you might not be allowed to click pictures inside the temple.
From Omkareshwar Temple head towards Talacauvery, which is the origin point of river Cauvery. On the way to Talacauvery have breakfast at South Indian restaurant, there are many of them. It will take around an hour to Talacauvery. On reaching Talacauvery you will find a huge arch at the gate amidst the Brahmagiri hills. Talacauvery is famous for two things, firstly for the temple dedicated to Kaveriamma (Mother Cauvery, yes in India people worship all the rivers) and secondly for the majestic views of the Brahmagiri hills.
Temple premises are huge with a pond and the Cauvery is said to be flown through it after originating from the hills. Behind the main shrine, the building is the staircase which leads to a viewpoint. You have to climb around 400 steps before you can get a panoramic view of the Brahamagiri Hills. The view is just so surreal and peaceful, I believe places near temples have an aura that calms you down and makes you feel alive. Sit back and relax, click some good pictures and head to your next destination.
Coffee Plantation Visit
If you’re in Coorg, then your visit is incomplete without visiting Coffee Plantation. There are many coffee estates in and around Madikeri Town where you can visit the plantation and learn about the process of coffee making. Tour lasts for at least an hour. Although you can such visits online, I would suggest you inquire local people about the same. They will advise you on the best ones at cheaper charges than what you will find online. Also, by doing so you don’t need to worry about the timings and can plan according to your own convenience.
Getting Around Coorg
Well, Coorg doesn’t have any subways and metro trains so people either take private cabs or public road transport. Local buses and auto-rickshaws are readily available from the main town of Madikeri. Although you might have to wait longer for local buses as the frequency is not very consistent. But remember if you’re traveling to offbeat places like Chiklihole Dam you have to book auto rickshaw as conveyance will not be available.
Also, private cabs are available in Coorg which will charge around 21-25 USD per day. The plus point is you can save a lot of time which otherwise will be wasted in waiting for a local bus or negotiating with an auto-rickshaw driver.
If you’re traveling in a group, I would highly recommend booking the cab from Bangalore city itself. Usually, a 4-seater cab will charge 0.5 USD per KM plus 4.2 USD per day for the driver (this does not include any toll charges). For a three-day trip, it will cost around 170 USD including everything- fuel, driver charges, and road toll fees.
So next time when you’re in South India don’t forget to visit Coorg and now that you have a comprehensive Coorg itinerary you will see and do just the best things.