Coorg district that lies in southwest Karnataka, is most renowned for its mist-covered mountains, aromatic coffee plantations, and unique culture. Locally known as Kodagu, this gorgeous hill station with its rolling green hills and vales is famous as the Scotland of India. There are many alluring places to visit in Coorg from gushing waterfalls to spectacular viewpoints and lovely river islands. Tourists find themselves charmed as much by the beauty of the place as by its people the Kodavas who are ethnic warriors. Coorg is also a great destination for those who love the outdoors or for those looking for adventure.
If you are planning your next holiday to Coorg, here is our pick of the top 10 best places to visit in Coorg:
The Raja Seat in the town of Madikeri is one of the must-visit tourist places in Coorg and is famous for its spectacular views. Known as the seat of kings, this spot was the favorite of the erstwhile Kings of Kodagu who along with their queens would enjoy the breathtaking views of the valley from here. Four pillars, bridged by arches on a raised platform, comprise this seating area.
The best time to visit the place is during sunrise or else at sunset. The early morning rays of the sun penetrating the mist-shrouded valley below make for a spellbinding sight. The high cliffs and green mountains beyond, add to the charming view. At sunset the valley and hills reflect the crimson rays of the setting sun, adding a magical moment to the scene. This spot is arguably one of the most scenic in South India.
The area around is now beautifully landscaped with flowers and fountains. There is also a delightful toy train that takes visitors around the garden area.
Travel tip: You can also visit the Gandhi Mantap adjacent to Raja’s Seat, where the remains of Mahatma Gandhi lie.
The pearly white Abbey Falls against a green canopy of trees, makes for a stunning sight, especially during the monsoons when the falls gush voluminously. Located about 8 km from Madikeri, capital of the Coorg district, these Falls are among the most popular Coorg tourist places.
You can take a car till the entrance, after which a short walk through aromatic coffee and spice plantations brings you to the base of these Falls. Don’t miss the sight of these falls from the pretty hanging bridge that sits right opposite the falls. During monsoons, you are likely to get drenched from the spray while standing here. The cascading waters that rush down 70-feet, form a pool at the bottom. The water from the pool then streams downwards to join the Cauvery River.
Travel tip: The pool at the bottom is tempting to swim in; however, it is
advised to avoid swimming here. In fact during monsoons, it’s forbidden to do so.
Dubare Elephant Camp
There are numerous Elephant camps across Karnataka where you can interact with and watch elephants go about their day-to-day activities. The Dubare Elephant Camp is one of the major elephant camps and is among the most famous ones. Situated next to the River Cauvery and amid thick forestland, it provides an ideal location and natural habitat for elephants, and a tranquil place for tourists.
Visitors can enjoy riding on the elephants, bathing the elephants, and feeding them. Trained naturalists will explain the behavior and other aspects of elephants, as well as detail you on the ecosystem around and other wildlife. Tourists can opt to stay in the luxurious cottages within the camp for a few days, and fully involve themselves in the lives of these beautiful animals.
You can also indulge in many other activities while here, like trekking, catching fishing, rafting, and sailing on the river, as well as sighting a variety of wildlife and birds.
Pro-tip: Most of the elephants in this camp are trained for the Mysore Dasara festival.
The Mandalpatti Viewpoint is among the popular Coorg places to visit, for locals, as well as trekkers and visitors. Situated on a hill at a height of 4050 feet the Viewpoint offers lovely panoramic views of the city and verdant surroundings. Nestled in the Pushpagiri Reserve Forest the spot is a favorite one for picnics and nature lovers.
At a distance of over 20 km from Madikeri, you can reach up to 3 km of the viewpoint. Hereafter you can opt to trek the last leg or else take a jeep to the top. On the trek up you may encounter some wild animals too, along with mesmerizing views. The convenience of reaching this spot makes it a favored place for many. Yet the place is totally non-commercial and you will not find any shops or any kind of structure at the viewpoint. Only the cool breeze, the beauty of nature, and the spellbinding views keep you company here. This is a great place for photography lovers, as it provides many photo-opportunities.
Travel tip: Be sure to carry your food and water requirements with you, as you will not get anything at the Viewpoint or on the trek up.
Chettalli, a picturesque village about 16 km away from Madikeri, is marked by verdant rolling hills and coffee plantations. Situated at a height of almost 2000 feet this tiny village has breathtaking views.
Bike riding is one of the most popular things to do in Chettalli and also a great way to explore this scenic place. The pleasant climate of the place and undulating hills make it perfect for bike rides.
Besides its charming landscape, there are some alluring sightseeing spots too. The lovely Madekri Falls, the ancient Kerala Bhagavathy temple, and an interesting Coffee Research Station make for engaging options. Chettali is also renowned for its cardamom cultivation and has a Central Horticulture Experimental Station which is one of the largest of its kind in Asia.
Travel tip: This place is lovely during the summers as the weather is cool. However, do carry light woolens with you as the temperatures can dip even then.
The Namdroling Monastery is distinguished by its golden roof-top and intricate architecture. This Monastery is the largest teaching center of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in the world. These two factors make the Namdroling Monastery one of the top places to visit in Coorg.
Situated in the small town of Bylakuppe the Monastery is about 35 km from Madikeri. Locally the monastery is also known as The Golden Temple. The Monastery is colorfully and beautifully decorated inside and is well worth visiting. The Monastery is home to almost 5000 monks and nuns. The sprawling building has lodging quarters, a junior high school, a religious school, and a hospital. There are many restaurants nearby serving authentic Tibetan food.
The Namdroling Monastery hosts several ceremonies throughout the year. One of the most popular festivals celebrated here is the Losar Festival or the Tibetan New Year. During the 2-week festivities, traditional Lama Dances take place, as well as solemn processions. The place is also decorated with gigantic Thangkas along the sides of the building.
Travel tip: Make sure you dress modestly when visiting the Namdroling Monastery and maintain calm and decorum when inside.
At an elevation of 5200 feet, this is one of the highest peaks in Karnataka. It is a highly popular trekking destination for locals and visitors alike. The mesmerizing valley views from the top and especially during sunset, make the trek more than worthwhile.
The trek to Brahmagiri peak usually starts from the Iruppu Falls. These Falls are one of Coorg sightseeing attractions and make for a lovely sight as they cascade down the rocks against a green backdrop. The trek is a moderately easy one and is recommended to be done over two days. Starting out from Iruppu Falls you stay overnight at Narimala Forest Camp. The next day you complete the last leg to the peak, and then begin the return journey.
Just below the Brahmagiri peak also spreads out the Brahmagiri Sanctuary over an extensive 181 sq km. Animals like tiger, leopard, elephant, sloth bear, wild dog, wild pig, jungle cat, spotted deer, sambar, Nilgiri langur, among numerous other animals, inhabit the sanctuary. You can spot many smaller animals as you trek uphill, including a wide variety of birds, reptiles, and other creatures.
Travel tip: Permission for the trek should be taken from the Range Forest Officer at Srimangala village beforehand. You can hire a guide for the trek from near Iruppu Falls.
The imposing Madikeri Fort stands on an elevated ground in the center of the town of Madikeri. This stately structure originally built of mud in the 17th century was later rebuilt with granite under Tipu Sultan. The Fort continued to see renovations and additions through the years under different Kings and later under British rule too.
Today the Madikeri Fort is one of the key tourist attractions in Coorg. It is known for its majestic architectural design. Near the entrance stand two large-sized elephant structures built of mortar. The Palace inside the fort is 110 feet in length and is a two-storied building. There is a sculpture of a tortoise inside the palace and a clock tower.
There exists a square-shaped stone mantapa inside the fort at an elevated level, which provides splendid views of the surroundings. The mantapa is believed to have been the favorite spot of the Kings. There is also a stately Anglican Church built in Gothic style with stained glass windows. It has now been converted into a museum. The Fort has within its precincts the Kote Maha Ganapathi Temple, the Mahatma Gandhi Public Library, and also houses the District Prison. The Fort is also said to have some secret passageways.
Travel tip: The Fort is open on all days of the week except Mondays. The Fort timings are from 10 am to 5.30 pm. There is no entry fee.
Nagarhole National Park
Covered in forestland the Kodagu district has three national parks, among which the most famous is the Nagarhole National Park. This Park is also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park and sprawls across 247 square miles, stretching across the Coorg and Mysore districts. Counted among India’s most well-kept parks, it is one of the top sightseeing places in Coorg.
The Park lies bordered by the river Kabini and many serpentine waterways weave their way through the park giving it the name of “Nagar” (serpent) hole. Tropical and deciduous trees cover the park and some of the popular varieties include Teakwood, Rosewood, Silver Oak and Sandalwood.
The Park is most famous for sightings of the Indian Tiger and the Asiatic Elephant. Other popular wildlife sightings include Leopards, Sloth Bears, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Four-Horned Antelopes, Wild Dogs, Wild Boars, and Barking Deer. The Park also boasts a variety of birds from large groups of waterfowls that can be spotted on the River Kabini, to various woodland birds as blue-bearded bee-eater, scarlet minivet, Malabar whistling thrush, Ibis, Honey Buzzards, Woodpeckers, Painted Stork, and Common Kingfisher. These are a few from the 250 bird species that can be found here.
Note: The Park usually remains closed during the monsoons from June to September. So the best time to visit is between October to May.
Nisargadhama is a pretty island afloat on the Cauvery river. Carpeted with lush bamboo groves, teak wood, and sandalwood trees it is about 30 km from Madikeri. The island is accessible by an intriguing rope bridge. This 64-acre island is a delightful place for picnics and nature lovers. It also holds many engaging options for children. This scenic place is one of the key Coorg tourist places.
You can go boating, wade into the waters at certain shallow marked places, and go for elephant rides. You can also view a variety of colorful butterflies and birds like parakeets, woodpeckers, and bee-eaters.
There are some pretty river-side cottages, including one on bamboo stilts, for a stay. The forest department runs these cottages and you need to contact the Conservator of Forests, Kodagu circle, in Madikeri for your booking. There are a children’s park, a deer park, and even an orchidarium on the premises, as well as a small restaurant.
Travel tip: The timings to access the island are from 9 am to 5 pm. The entry fee is also very nominal. You can club your visit here with Dubare Elephant Camp which is 12 km away.
Other places to visit in Coorg
Besides the above, there are other tourist places in Coorg that are worth visiting. For instance the Omkareshwara Temple and the Tadiandamol Peak. If you are going during the monsoons visit the Harangi Dam, Perumbadi Lake, and the Iruppu Falls. If you visit during winters or during the Gowri Festival, this a good time to see the largest lake of Coorg – Honnamana Kere Lake, as well as the Honnamana Temple nearby.
Coorg is an all-year destination due to its pleasant weather. However, the best time to visit Coorg is between October to March. At this time the weather is cool and sunny, and perfect for outdoor activities.
So which of the above places to visit in Coorg are on your list?