Walking along the streets of one of your ‘must-visit destinations,’ have you ever felt let down? Have you ever questioned, ‘is this what the hype was about?’ With so much information just a click away, the possibilities of being lured into something seemingly desirable, are higher than ever. While we all do our research before planning a vacation to a lesser tread but much hyped place, one never knows what they are really getting into as long as they visit it.
Coorg was in my bucket list for as long as I can remember. Therefore, the first hamlet I wanted to experience after moving in to South India, was Coorg. My friends and I decided to take a flight till Bangalore and reach Coorg by road. After a bitter sweet journey of 6 hours, lunch and certain site seeing on the way, we reached our homestay, which was situated on a cliff amid lush greenery and vast valleys.
Yes, lush green valleys, pristine lakes, quiet roads, rolling forests are what I expected from Coorg on my first visit there in July 2017. My second trip in March 2019 was an eye-opener in many ways. Did it match the picture I had created in my head, due to all the hype?
Here are some of the attractions that Coorg is hailed for, and my opinion about them.
When researching for the trip to Coorg, all the articles and guide blogs that I came across elaborated on how cozy the hamlet is, how heavenly the waterfalls look and how enchanting the view from the various view points is. I have to admit, the local sites were beautiful but did they live up to all expectations I had after reading and listening to the best possible things about them? Well, I was disappointed.
Let’s start by pointing out that the Abbey Falls that is described as a waterfall from paradise, did not live up to the hype. The trek down to the falls was slippery and rocky, although there were heavy rains, the density of tourists seemed ever-growing. It is a short-plunge fall with frothy water, which looked beautiful, but the stray voices of the tourists stationed and packed around the fence, cacophony of the vendors selling various munchies and the sheer crowd, completely spoiled the experience.
Totally drenched in the rain by now, we decided to move ahead. We visited the Namdroling Monastery and felt an instant gush of calmness. The huge and grandly decorated statues of Buddha will give you an idea of the profound love for architecture that prevails there. The greenery around and the occasional sound of the bells transported us to a different zone and we sat in the temple meditating, more than the stipulated time.
Overall, it’s a thumbs up for Namdroling Monastery. Probably the only saving grace.
The various temples, including Talacauvery did not look very different to us from one another. Now, we must submit that the view from the Talacauvery temple and some other temples on the way was breath-taking, with huge hills and treetops hidden in cotton candy clouds, but the similarity of it soon turned into monotony. Same goes for the much hyped Raja Seat. Oral history suggests that this view point is the place where the king of Coorg visited to unwind himself by looking down the rolling vast valley and dense forests.
The area around the Raja Seat is made into a lovely park, with various flowers around it, narrow pathways, perfect for photography. But the view was no different than the ones we have been seeing till now. So that’s pretty much it. For the particularly adventurous travelers, there are provisions of river rafting and trekking etc., since ours was a short stay-cation, we did not plan on anything that would exhaust us.
The Madikeri Fort also turned out to be a disappointment with nothing extra-ordinary to experience. If you are one who loves forts and rocks, you might want to give it a quick visit. But it is definitely not a big loss if you choose to give it a miss.
The Madikeri market during July appeared to be no less than a mall road of a large hill station. There was a certain coziness even in a hugely crowded market. The clean, narrow roads, the cloud packed surroundings and the constant drizzle, made shopping an extra-ordinary experience.
The weather of Coorg is very tricky. If you go by Google, or certain guide blogs, you will be disappointed. The best time to visit Coorg is during the monsoon or the winters. I know what you are thinking at this point, aren’t hill stations an escape from the maddening heat waves that sweep through the plains during summer? If you are under impression that Coorg is a cozy hill station that will save you from summers, you can’t be more misinformed.
The Madikeri market, that swept us off our feet in July, seemed like a punishment in March 2019. The burning hot climate, the dry as desert roads and surrounding, dust and smoke from the large and small vehicles packed around the junctions, made it nearly impossible to hit the streets for shopping. So if you are looking for a monsoon destination, Coorg might be a decent choice, but it definitely does not have a hill-station vibe.
Food & Shopping:
One aspect of Coorg that does not get much attention or recognition is its food. The Coorgi Pork Curry, is a delicacy that is a rage among both South Indian and North India travelers. The rice rotis served with this local curry is perfectly soft and crunchy on the edges that compliments the curry wonderfully. It would not be an over-statement to submit that Coorgi spices are nothing short of magic, the aroma of the spices is straight out the heaven and will never give you heart-burn even if you over-stuff yourself with all the gravy-goodness.
Strolling around the Madikeri market can be described as a picnic for your nose and treat to your eyes. Fresh coffee beans or powder, jar packed, will demand your attention, whole spices and their heavenly aroma will stay with you for quite sometime. You will not be able to get over the chocolates and cakes of Coorg. It will be a good idea to pack as much cakes and chocolates as you can because chances of getting them in other parts of the country are slim.
Apart from these, there is not much to shop in Madikeri, although we got Banana silk sarees from government outlets, but that was pretty much it.
I took my first trip in July and there were rains, heavy rains. Everything about the place looked mesmerizing, the weather was moist and nippy, something, we were dying to experience. Rolling vast valleys, damp air and the fresh flora and fauna seemed straight out of a dream. As smitten as we were by the weather in July we never really gave a thought to the fact that the other aspects of the place didn’t really live up to the title Scotland of the East, which was the biggest reason I chose Coorg over anything.
The second trip in March proved to be an eye opener when we realized that our idea of Coorg being a cozy hill-station has been shattered because of the hot and humid climate.
There is still much to discuss before I wrap it up, but the essence of my experience in Kodagu (Coorg) is all this. If you are a traveling to Coorg from a distant zone and have high expectation from the place as a hill station because of all the online reputation it has managed to secure, you might be disappointed.
Nonethless, since we believe in tasting the tea from your own cup. Why don’t you experience this South India hamlet and let us know what you felt about it. Have you already been there? What did you feel about it? Let us know!