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Coorg: Nature at its Finest
Lush, misty hills, scattered villages and hamlets, and dense sandalwood forests might make you second guess where you are. That’s because The Scotland of India is unlike anywhere else in the country. The stunning landscape consists of everything from sprawling tea and coffee plantations to meandering rivers, and with nature at your doorstep, there’s no shortage of things to do. Coorg is known for outdoor pursuits of all kinds, and while bird watching, white water rafting and fishing are all excellent ways to appreciate the beauty of the area, sometimes simply choosing a hilly path and seeing where it takes you is the best way to go. But the secret is out of the bag, and hotels can book up fast, so plan accordingly for a once in a lifetime trip to Coorg.
Exploring is Best Done Outside
Nature is certainly thriving at Nagarhole National Park. Part of a protected area consisting of Bandipur National Park and several other nature reserves, Nagarhole has perhaps the best opportunities to see wildlife. Animal sightings could include tigers, elephants, leopards, spotted deer and the Indian wild dog ( dhole ), and an impressive variety of birds that also call the park home. There is also a lake and several smaller bodies of water, so pack a lunch and make a day of it. Another one of Mother Nature’s marvels that is sure to make the memory books is Tadiandamol Peak. It’s the highest peak in Coorg at 1,748 metres, yet it is accessible to both the novice and more advanced trekker. The hike can be completed in a few hours, and the views at the top shouldn’t disappoint.
For a truly unforgettable experience that puts nature front and centre, the Dubare Elephant Camp allows guests to interact with retired logging elephants. Managed by the state Forestry Department, elephant bath and feeding time are just a small part of the interactive adventure. Learn about these gentle giants from a naturalist, and on your down time, explore the surrounding forests for a chance to see leopards, crocodiles, sloth bears, peacocks, and other camera-worthy wildlife in their natural habitat. If a day or two in nature just doesn’t cut it, fully immerse yourself with an overnight in the forest or jungle. When searching for a hotel, consider nature lodges, river camps, wildlife resorts and other accommodation suited for the eco-tourist.
Temples and Rivers: A Perfect Pairing
While being in nature is a spiritual experience in itself, you can’t leave Coorg without visiting the many temples and monasteries that are an important part of local life. Fortunately, at Omkareshwara Temple, you can also get a dose of nature during your visit. It’s located on an island in the Narmada River, which happens to be one of the most sacred rivers in India. In addition to learning about the history of this Hindu temple dedicated to God Shiva, you can keep a lookout for birds and other creatures that live in the river or that stop by for a drink.
Sri Bhagandeshwara Temple is also a top spot to visit, particularly because it is considered a sacred place due to it being at the confluence of three rivers. Annual pilgrimages are common here, and while it’s typically a serene spot to spend an hour or two, it can get busy at certain times of the year. Sri Bhagandeshwara is also a great place to stop on the way to Talakaveri. It’s about an eight-kilometre trip to reach Talakaveri at the origin of the Kaveri River. This is also an important site for pilgrimages, and people often travel great distances to visit the two temples dedicated to Shiva and Lord Ganesha. Just as you might have been craving a sojourn in nature, the area near Talakaveri is known for wellness retreats and luxury spas – a change from a typical hotel room if you want to spoil yourself.
Join the Celebration
There are three annual festivals in Coorg that will provide an extra twist to an already memorable vacation. The Keil Poldu Festival occurs during the first week of September and is associated with the Kodava people defending their harvest from wild pigs and other animals. Sports competitions, lavish feasts and a display of weaponry make this festival one to consider. The Huttari Festival is another lively period in Coorg, and it might be the grandest of all the festivals. It coincides with the late November and early December harvest and usually falls on a full moon. Locals give thanks for the bounty that they are about to receive, and it involves a stunning display of offerings at nearby temples. Another major festival is the Cauvery Shankaramana festival which means Return of the River Goddess. It is held at Talakaveri in mid-October, and this revered festival may be the busiest of them all.