#NotAChickTrip

If you’ve been following my recent Instagram and Facebook posts, you must be familiar with the hashtag and the fact that I went on a lovely trip to Coorg some weeks back. Coorg is a region which will give you natural beauty, immersive cultural experiences and quite a few monuments as well. I went on this trip with 3 people, all quite different from each but with the same love for travel. Aditi is my former roommate and loves relaxing on vacations and is admittedly high-maintenance. Delice and I attended college together and she’s the most talkative person you will ever meet and is the only person I know who is both terribly naive and immensely wise at the same time. I met Richa through Delice and while we were in college together, we became close after the trip; she’s incredibly adjusting and always up for new experiences.

Our day by day itinerary is as follows:

Day 1: We took a flight from Bombay to Bangalore, reached Bangalore in the evening and checked into Hotel Kadamba Guestline, which is right above Kengeri bus terminal, which is where buses to Coorg start from.

Day 2: We took an early morning AC bus to Madikeri. It takes 6 hours to reach, including stops and tickets can be booked on the KSRTC website 1-2 days before the journey. We reached Madikeri by lunchtime and checked into our hotel. Our hotel staff suggested that we cover the local sightseeing circuit in Madikeri that day since we just had 4-5 hours at hand. This circuit includes:

  1. Abbey Falls
  2. Raja’s Tomb
  3. Madikeri Fort
  4. Omkareshwar Temple
  5. Raja’s Seat

Out of all these spots, I’d only recommend Abbey Falls and Raja’s Seat, the rest are mediocre. Abbey Falls is a good sight but since we went in April, we couldn’t witness the waterfall in its full glory. What stood out that day was Raja’s Seat. Tip: Raja’s Seat is a sunset spot so by the time you get past the garden and reach the spot where there’s a railing in front, you’ll realize that the area is very crowded. If you walk to your left for a minute, you’ll find a very simple trail which, if you follow for 10 mins, you’ll reach a spot away from the crowd, where you can enjoy the sunset in solitude. The trail is not tough at all and should definitely be taken if you wish to get away from the crowd.

We made a quick stop at Beans N Brews for coffee. We ended our day with a meal at New Paris Hotel in Madikeri. It’s a simple place with delicious biryanis and hot lemon tea, which is a Coorg specialty.

Day 3: We woke up early to go to Mandalpatti for sunrise. It is roughly 25kms from Madikeri so you need to take a jeep but you can hike the last couple of kilometres. Mandalpatti is not very crowded, there were barely 10-12 people in the whole area when we went, so the whole experience felt surreal. On one hand we could see the sun rising and on the other hand we could see the clouds coming through the mountains. It was beautiful. I’d suggest sitting here for some time and enjoying the calm.

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We’d booked a coffee tour in a town named Siddapur, which is an hour from Coorg for that day. Since we wanted to travel like the locals did, we took a local bus that was available at the Madikeri bus stop. It took us an hour to reach Siddapur from where we went to Kasturi Estate by auto.

Kasturi Estate is run by a lady named Kushi and her family. Kushi also runs this organization/collective called The Giving Tree, which aims at promoting sustainability and spreading the importance of giving back to the environment. She offered us spiced buttermilk, fresh mulberries and bella Coffee, which is coffee with jaggery, another Coorg tradition. Being there, in that vast, green estate was the closest I’ve felt to nature. Kushi also told us about the man-animal conflict and the need to be aware about the problems the environment faces. I’d definitely recommend this coffee estate tour.

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Kushi suggested that we go to this place called Porcupine Castle for lunch. She said it had great views and was a good place to chill. Since there were not many other options in that town we went there. The restaurant only has a buffet which does not have even 1 local dish, the food that was available was horrible, the view was mediocre and the price was steep- 750 plus taxes for the buffet that did not include a single beverage. This place was a total rip-off. Post this, we boarded a bus to return to Madikeri.

In the evening we went to Ainmane, which is a beautiful cafe in the Madikeri market. Their coffee menu is huge and you can customize your coffees, they sell great varieties of dark chocolate and their ambiance is amazing. They also have good snacks and cookies. We ended revisiting this place and it was one of our favourites.

We went to Coorg Foodlands for dinner. It was a decent place that served local curries and Akki Roti, which is a roti made from rice.

Day 4: I woke up early in the morning and went for a walk by myself. Madikeri is very green and you can spot beautiful, colourful flowers all over the city. I enjoyed the walk because the weather was perfect, it was crowded and I could walk in and out of any lane. At one point, I reached a dead-end where all I could see was banana plantations against the backdrop of the mountains, engulfed slightly in fog. It was one of my favourite experiences of the trip.

Once everyone woke up, we went to Dubbare Elephant Camp. It is 1.5 hours away from Madikeri and the elephant bathing process stops by 10 so you need to leave early. Once you reach there, you have to cross the river, which in April was like a stream. It’s a 20 min walk because there will be a lot of people, and most of the rocks are stable. Once you reach the other side, you can see the elephants, ride on them and take part in the bathing process. Since we weren’t aware of the time restrictions, we couldn’t make it in time for the bathing but nonetheless, this was a good experience.

We made a quick stop in between to try quad biking, which was a thrilling experience and one you should definitely try, if you haven’t already.

Post that we went to the Tibetan Colony in Kushalnagar, where we feasted on thukpa and momos. The area is worth walking around and has some interesting memorials of the Tibetans’ struggle.

We then went to the Namdroling Monastery, which is a huge monastery in Bylakuppe. It was beautifully maintained and very peaceful. Again, this is a place where you need to sit down and take in the vibe to enjoy the experience.

If you’re hungry or thirsty, make a quick stop at Buddha Cafe nearby, like we did. The place has amazing smoothies and coolers.

We reached Madikeri at around 6pm and suddenly decided to visit Raja’s Seat again. Since that was a Saturday, by the time we reached the hidden spot that we’d discovered previously, we realized that it was also super-crowded. Since the experience wouldn’t be as great with the crowd, 2 of us took a completely different route, a slightly steeper one and climbed for 10-15 mins till we reached a point where we had a good view. At this point, my jeans were dirty, I was sweating and my hair were a mess but I felt so happy. The satisfaction we experienced at that point was incomparable.

We went to Fort Mercara for dinner and feasted on mushroom curry, rice hoppers and Akki roti that night.

Day 5: This was meant to be a day for souvenir shopping and relaxation before we left for Bangalore but I randomly suggested that we go to Mysore since it was on the way to Bangalore.

There’s a lot to do in Mysore but the places we could cover in 4-5 hours were:

1)Chamundeshwari Temple

2) Mysore Palace

3) St. Philomena’s Cathedral

All these 3 places were beautiful and although it was very hot and the places were super-crowded, we loved them all.

We stopped at Vinayaka Mylari in Doora in Mysore. I’d read a lot about it and was dying to go there. The place is as simple as it can be but the dosas are as delicious as they can be. We feasted on Mysore Sada and Mysore Masala dosas. They are undoubtedly the best I’ve had in my life. This is a humble family-run establishment operating since 80 years. Must, must visit!

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We reached Bangalore in the evening and headed to Caperberry in UB City Mall to pamper ourselves after the hectic day. The service was excellent, the vibe was cosy and the food was lovely! They have a great cocktail menu and this was the perfect meal to end our trip with.

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Logistics:

Take a flight from Bombay to Bangalore (Round trip 5-6K) or to Mangalore(Round trip 7K)

Buses from Bangalore to Coorg cost approximately 1.5K Round trip. We chose Airavat buses and were satisfied with the service.

Zostel Coorg is a great stay option, so are AirBnbs and Coffee estates, depending on your budget. The hotel we stayed in wasn’t up to the mark, but if you’re going to spend most of your time outside, go for a basic hotel in Madikeri.

Meals in Coorg are not expensive. Apart from the one bad meal we had, we had most of our meals for approximately 200-250 rupees per head. Go for authentic local places and visit as many coffee places as you can. ‘

Autos work in Coorg and you can easily bargain with the auto drivers, although most of the drivers we had quoted fair prices.

What to Eat:

Coorg is famous for pork curry which my friends loved. I’d suggest mushroom curry, bamboo shoot puffs, lemon tea, Akki roti and rice hoppers. And the coffee, I couldn’t get enough of it.

Where to Eat:

New Paris Hotel, Fort Mercara, Coorg Foodlands, Coorg Cuisine. We’d read a lot about this place called Capitol but it look slightly dingy and unwelcoming and one of my friends was apprehensive so we decided to skip it.

More spots:

Chelavara Falls, Iruppu Falls and Haringe dam.

Our trip was beautiful and so memorable. It gave me experiences that taught me so much, like being proactive when it comes to preserving the environment. But a great reason why this trip was a success was because my co-travellers were up for almost everything, adjusted with each other and respected each other’s wishes.

Here are their takeaways from the trip:

Aditi: I had my apprehensions before the trip. I’m not very adventurous but after Coorg, I’m a new person. I did everything I was worried about like hiking, eating at places I’d never imagined and staying in hotels I otherwise wouldn’t stay in. I came back a stronger person and I have to thank the 3 ladies with me who made it all possible. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. Now all I want is to find a new place to explore!

Richa: I had started the trip without any expectations and I think it’s the best way. It’s amazing how I have a different bond with all the 3 people I travelled with. Paripsa and I can connect on just about anything, look at each other and burst out laughing. I’m getting amused by how slow Delice can be at times but I loved her. I met Aditi for the first time on the trip but it took only a few hours for us to know each other well and we bonded on a completely different level throughout the trip. Right from falling while crossing the river in an attempt to help Delice to finding our sunset spot by going that extra mile to the spontaneous Mysore visit to the delicious food we had, this trip has given me weird, crazy and beautiful memories. I honestly cannot reduce this tour to a single memory because there were too many special ones.

Delice: Our trip was perfect because we did all that we could in the time we had. Coorg is a beautiful place but the people were a surprise for me! We met some really nice people along the way. The most mesmerizing moment for me would be the sunrise. Besides, I’ve never had such good coffee, that too repeatedly for so many days!

I’m the kind of person who will want to see everything I can. Even when I’m tired, I’m happy because that feeling of accomplishment, of satisfaction, of knowing the different things you’ve seen, experienced and learned is one that only travel gives. Fortunately, I was accompanied by people who were seeking the same feeling. As I write this, my palm is itching because I’m craving that feeling again.

What makes you happy, even if it tires you? It may be your work, food, a place or any form of exploration. Chase that feeling. Be Khanabadosh and visit Coorg, you might find that feeling there, just like we did.

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