Are you stuck in Bangalore this festive season, perhaps away from home? All your friends probably enjoying with their families back at their hometowns? Well then, you’re not alone.
“Good things come to people who buy flight tickets”, let’s just modify it to train or bus tickets.
Yes, even if you think it’s impossible, I will prove to you that it isn’t. You can actually enjoy a great weekend with just Rs 1000 in your pocket, away from the hustle and bustle of the city’s mundane.
So, if you’re bitten by the travel bug, got 1k in your pocket, have the will (and energy) to explore and are willing to travel 260kms in a non A/C state bus, eat budgeted street food and walk about 20kms –read on!
If you’re in a college in Bangalore and craving for those Goa trips that keep getting cancelled, Coorg would be a great alternative – be it solo or group.
I booked my tickets on Yatra.com. The Ashwini travels non A/C bus ticket from Majestic bus stop to Madikeri bus stop will cost you Rs 500, while the return ticket is Rs 300 only. Since it was quite an impromptu trip, I couldn’t really check prices of other means of transport but I think at such a short notice, this would be your cheapest option.
I boarded the 10:30PM bus on the 29th of September at 10:30PM. The bus arrived at the Madikeri Bus stand at 5:30 AM in the morning. The temperature there was about 18’C, it was extremely foggy and the beautiful winding roads were barely visible.
We deboarded the bus and headed towards Raja’s seat which is 1km from the bus stand. It should take you a maximum of 15mins to walk down and that’s the best option because on your way, you can see the Madikeri fort and museum, the Madikeri post office and also satisfy your hunger at a roadside stall with delicious egg bhurji maggi or bread omlette that come for Rs 40 each. You will also find fruit and flower vendors on the roads.
I had no clue that Coorg too had pretty amazing graffiti depicting swachh bharat abhiyan!
The Raja’s seat is a pleasant spectacle of refreshing layers of greenery, chain of high and low-rise-mountains attired with mist ; the Garden is one-time-favorite of the Kodagu kings who used to watch the setting and rising sun, and spend time with their queens here. The structure is a small square in brick and mortar of four pillars bridged by arches and enhanced by beautiful surroundings. Built on a high level ground with a commanding view of the cliffs and valleys to the west, the mist shrouded valley below offers a rare sight. The golden light of the setting sun is a splendor to watch, if you are lucky enough and it’s not foggy.
From Raja’s seat, you can view the sunrise and sunset. The timings for this are 5:30 AM to 7:00PM. There is a toy train adjacent to this that opens from 9:00am. The tickets for adults and children come for Rs 10 and Rs 5 respectively.
Sadly, we missed the sunrise because of the fog but don’t worry – you might not be as unlucky.
We walked back to the Madikeri bus stand and boarded an auto rickshaw to the Abbey falls. The waterfall is located between private coffee plantations with stocky coffee bushes and spice estates with trees entwined with pepper vines. Ideally, they should charge Rs 300 for a round trip with 3 people in one vehicle, if it’s 4, they shall charge Rs 50 more. (If they ask for more, try and negotiate!) Need not take a cab since it’s quite a waste of money as they charge exhorbitantly. (About Rs1200 for the same)
The Abbey falls entry ticket will cost you Rs 10 per person, vehicle parking extra. Enjoy the view of the water rushing down the bed of rocks. There is a bridge (that is currently out of order) right across the falls that gives an enthralling view of the falls.
You should ideally spend 30 mins over here.
After this, head back to the bus stand and board a state bus to Cauvery Nisargadhama which is about 30kms from there. The bus ticket will cost you Rs 28/- per person and buses depart every 30 minutes from here. It takes about 45minutes to get there and the bus will let you deboard right in front of the national park. The path leading to the National park is filled with shops selling home made chocolates, coffee, handicrafts, local wines etc.
Entry fee to the national park –Rs 10 per person.
Inside, there is a deer park, a rabbit park, an elephant park, boating does not happen during these rainy season months, a very small zip lining for Rs 100 is conducted inside(that is a waste of money), a feature film room shows documentaries from 10AM to 5PM and obviously you can walk around the entire area. To cover the whole park, you would need about one and a half hours.
Again, outside the national park you will find autorickshaws waiting. You can go for rafting to Theppadakandi, Guddehosur. They have options for both still water and white water rafting. 1km rafting and 5km rafting options are available costing Rs 150 and Rs 500 respectively.
Note – If this is the first time you’re going to raft, go for it. If not, (supposedly if you have rafted in Rishikesh at the Shivpuri river rafting) don’t go for it because this isn’t half the thrill.
Next, head to the Dubare elephant camp, that is about 9kms from here. The timings are 9AM to 11:30AM. You can ride an elephant, take pictures and even shower them or shower with them. Charges start form Rs 100 and escalate to Rs 800 per person.
You should be done with the above activities by 1PM.
Now you can go visit a Tibetan monastery with magnificent architecture which is also known as the “Golden temple”. A prayer is conducted every day from 1 TO 2pm everyday. It dates back to
Ask the autorickshaw person to drop you off at the nearest bus stand from where you can go back to Madikeri. Again, it would cost you Rs 28 per person.
You must be quite hungry after having walked for so long!
There aren’t too many good places to eat in Coorg. However, on communicating with localites, I dug out some information on it. The Coorg cuisine restaurant just opposite to the Madikeri post office, about 500m from the bus stand should be your place to munch on some traditional pork dishes. It has been running successfully for 12 years! Sad part, the average waiting time is about 45 mins. The food was undoubtedly delicious, economic and filling.
You can choose to rest outside the restaurant for a while or
Walk 200m more and visit the 17th century Madikeri fort built by Mudduraja in 1790 and museum. The museum mostly has artifacts from various forts in Madikeri dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, photography is restricted. Entry is free of cost.
The madikeri forts covers an area of about 6,000 sqft and overlooks the breathtaking views of the entire city. It’s a very good spot for taking pictures, the lush greenery centering the age old fort with stone laden paths and beautiful meadows is completely worth your time.
If you walk down about 600 m more from here, you will reach the Omkareshwara temple. It is one of the oldest temples in coorg.
Dasara is quite a hyped festival out there in Coorg, the crowd is almost equal to the durga puja crowd of Kolkata!
And there were no less than 10 places celebrating it as the streets and almost every road side shop went bridal with fairy lights and looked more beautiful than ever.
Last but not the least, the trip which I thought I would be lucky enough to take solo, was completely shattered because three of my friends tagged along and I was kind of glad they did.
Just before boarding the bus, we stopped for dinner at the Abeos restaurant that is just 100 m from the bus stand. You must try the lasagna and the hot chocolate there!
That was the end of our trip!
Do give it a thumbs up if you think it was beneficial to you. If you want to know about anything more, contact me here – Chaitali Mandal.