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District focus: Kannur, Kerala

In which region in India can you find the following features? White sandy beaches with a blue sea dotted by small islands? Beautiful beaches with hardly any tourists at all? Asia’s longest driveable beach? A Subrahmanya temple with a beautiful stepwell? A mirror made with polished metal and no glass? History of Kerala’s most influential Islamic dynasty? A school dedicated to folk music and dance?

Of course, the answer is in the title of the post itself. The coastal Kannur district in northern Kerala’s Malabar region has all of the above as you will see in the remainder of this post.

Geography of Kannur district

Kannur district is on the west coast of India. So it has the same weather as India’s major west coast cities, e.g. Mumbai, Kochi, Mangaluru, Panaji. The weather is humid and tropical. Winters are mild. But as with the entire west coast, Kannur district too is blessed with plenty of rain during the 4 months of monsoon from June to September. Besides there is a second wave of rain during October – November.

The layout of the district is also similar to the other west coast regions we have seen in other posts: Konkan in Maharashtra and Uttara Kannada in Karnataka for instance. The west of the district is bordered by the Arabian sea and the east is bordered by the western Ghat mountains. To the south of Kannur district is Thalassery and one of Puducherry’s enclaves: Mahe. To the north of the district is Kasaragod district. The highways to the east of Kannur ascend sharply over the western Ghats and lead to the forests and lakes of Wayanad district.

People of Kannur

All the three major religions of Kerala, i.e. Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, can be seen in sizeable numbers in Kannur district. From our observations around the district, none of the three religions can actually be called a minority. This is because Kannur was one of the first districts (alongside Kozhikode) all around India to receive Arabic traders for spice trading and Christian missionaries for education and peace.

Kannur has a variety of occupations, but the major ones are agriculture and fishing. Industries based on the two take up more than half the share of the local revenue generated. Despite the beautiful things to see in Kannur, tourism is yet to catch up. This is true in all of north Kerala, also known as Malabar.

A common trend is Kannur is for youngsters to migrate to OPAC countries (Mallus refer to them as Gulf) like Oman, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. They spend several years in these countries, earn a decent income and send money back home. During their visits from Gulf, they bring expensive gifts for their near and dear ones. One amusing thing to try with a Kannur youngster is to point towards any expensive thing they own and ask where they got it. “My uncle got this for me from Gulf”, “My daddy bought this from Muscat”, “My brother gifted me during his visit from Dubai”, will be the most common answers.

The most spoken language in Kannur district is the state language Malayalam. Varying dialects are spoken in regional pockets such as Kavvayi island. English is also well-spoken due to education by Christian missionary schools. While Hindi isn’t spoken very well in the interior areas of Kannur, the coastal areas, like Kannur city itself, are fairly comfortable with the language. But it’s not a language that you would want to use for deep conversations with the locals.

Some history about Kannur

Kannur has seen two major dynasties come and go. The Muslim dynasty by the name of Arakkal, was famous for its influential Begums (queens), rather than Badshahs (kings). Kannur was also part of the Hindu Malabar kingdom, before it joined hands with the other two Malayalam speaking kingdoms – Kochi and Travancore – to form the unified state of Kerala.

The city and the district were called Cannanore by the British. The name continued to be used post independence, but was recently replaced by its original Malayalam name, Kannur. This happened when the state went on a renaming spree, reclaiming plenty of original names, i.e. Cochin – Kochi, Calicut – Kozhikode, Alwaye – Aluva, Alleppey – Alappuzha, Palghat – Palakkad, Quilon – Kollam. The name for the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram, was reclaimed from Trivandrum several years ago.

Tourism in Kannur

Here is what we have to say about Kannur. Enjoy it while it LASTS. Right now, NONE of northern Kerala’s hotspots, Kannur district included, has received the limelight that the ‘typical tourist Kerala’ has received. The websites, tourist packages and brochures focus on Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Alleppey house boats, Munnar and Thekkadi. Pilgrims focus on Sabari Malaa and Guruvayoor.

Everything to the north of Guruvayoor, i.e. Kozhikode, Kappad, Mahe (although in Kerala’s landmass, it is part of Puducherry UT), Thalassery, Kannur, Wayanad, Palakkad, Kasaragod, Malappuram and Kotakkal Ayurveda are conveniently blindspotted by tourist packages. The tourists you will see around Kannur’s beaches are local Malayalam people or a few foreigners who have got wind of the sparseness of Malabar.

Enjoy Malabar while you can. It is only a matter of time before tourism catches up. But what should you enjoy? Here goes.

Beautiful beaches with white sand, blue water and forested islands

Here are some of the beaches you should see.

Dharmadam: is the southern-most beach in Kannur district. It is on the geographical border of Thalassery and Kannur districts. The beach has views of small tree-lined islands off the coast. It is possible to use a local fishing boat to explore these islands.

Thottada: is in our opinion, the most beautiful beach in north Kerala. It is just south of Kannur city (about 20 km away from city centre). The sand is rich, thick and white, a pleasure to walk on without footwear. The water is azure and clean. To exploit the beauty of the beach, small sea view wooden & bamboo cottages have come up at the area where the beach sand ends. A feature of Thottada beach is that it is a little walk away from the main road, where you’ll need to leave your vehicle. A small river runs parallel to the beach. The authorities have not bothered to build a road bridge, but only a pedestrian bridge to cross the river. So people who are too bored to walk, leave this beach alone.

Payyambalam: is the city’s own beach, similar to Mumbai’s Juhu, Chennai’s Marina and Thiruvananthapuram’s Shankhumukham. The beach is at the northern end of the city, an area which is fast developing with skyscrapers.

Ettikulam: is a beach about 16 km to the north of the city and is great to watch for its multicoloured fishing boats. The beach is just south of Ezhimala, a hill that contains a lighthouse and belongs to the Indian Navy. Ezhimala is off limits for civilians.

Muzhappilangad / Edakkad drive-through beach

If you have ever fantasized about drag-racing your car by the sea or drawing shapes with your vehicle’s tyres on the beach sand, then Muzhappilangad beach is the longest beach in all of Asia to do so. At Muzhappilangad, a 5 km stretch of firmly packed sand and gentle waves are perfect for any car. But a powerful SUV can do more. While low ground clearance cars should stay away from the salty sea water, SUVs can splash around in the gentle waves to create special effects. The southern end of the beach is at Muzhappilangad village, while the northern end at Edakkad. So the beach is referred to by both names.

Driving our car through Muzhappilangad / Edakkad drive-in beach.

There is a nominal entry fee to take your vehicle into the beach, but going by foot is free.

Kavvayi island

Kavvayi is a group of islands off the coast of Payyanur, a town north of Kannur city. The islands are formed by the backwaters of the Perumba river at its mouth. Kavvayi is inhabited. The islands are connected by several road bridges and also by ferries. The jetty point on the main land is at Kotty, about 3 km from Payyanur city.

Backwaters of Perumba river seperate Kerala mainland from Kavvayi islands.

We found it fun to drive on the road on a narrow strip of land between Payyanur and Kavvayi’s main island. On both sides of the road are the backwaters of the river. Kavvayi has a few beach resorts, river side resorts, eco park and a few houseboats on the backwaters.

Driving from Payyanur to Kavvayi, with water on both sides.

Arakkal dynasty museum

Arakkal were long-time Muslim rulers of Kannur. They had fine taste for teak furniture and special mirrors which we’ll talk about in a minute.

The Arakkal museum used to be one of the several residences of the Arakkal rulers and overlooks the Arabian sea. The national highway NH-66 Mumbai – Kanyakumari coastal highway passes right by the Arakkal museum and you cannot miss it.

Arakkal dynasty museum

Inside the two storeys of the museum, you will see really rich-looking teak furniture sets patronised and used by the dynasty. The teak pillars of the museum are also artful. The staircase to go between the storeys also consists of teak stairs.

But the best exhibit in the museum is the Aranmula mirror, a special mirror that is made of metal. No glass is used. The metal is polished by hand until it becomes perfectly reflective like a mirror. While you can see small hand-held Aranmula face mirrors at museums in Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Nilambur teak museum, the one at Kannur is a full body height dressing table mirror.

Full body length Aranmula mirror at Arakkal museum.

St Angelo Fort

St Angelo is a sea fort that was built by the Dutch during their rule in southern India. There are multiple levels of ramparts, defunct cannon guns, walkways both inside the fort and on its perimeter and a magnificent view of the Arabian sea and some of the beaches around Kannur.

Inside St Angelo fort.

Kerala Folklore Academy

While not inside the city sprawl, the Kerala Folklore Academy is located 16 km to the east at Chirakkal village. The word Chira in Malayalam means a lake and true to the name, the academy is located at the bank of the shallow swamp water lake which is home to migratory birds. While the lake itself is interesting, it is the institution on the eastern bank that is more so.

Museum gallery inside Kerala Folklore Academy

Kerala Folklore Academy is an institution that teaches traditional Kerala dance, music and play forms. The institute has its own museum with displays of folk stories, performance dresses, masks, props and instruments. While casual tourists are not allowed inside the classrooms, you may be able to see a few practice performances that are routinely done in the central courtyard of the academy.

Peralassery temple

Equidistant from both Thalassery and Kannur cities and to their east is Peralassery village. The highlight of this village is the Subrahmanya temple, where Lord Subrahmanya or Kartikeya is worshipped as a serpent. As per Hindu mythology, Lord Subrahmanya is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and freed the world from the evils of demon Tarakasura.

But a feature outside the temple is more interesting than the temple itself. A fresh-water pond with a seven-storey stepwell is extremely eye-catching. In fact, a photo of this stepwell on TripAdvisor was all we needed to peel off the NH-66 highway between Thalassery and Kannur to take a detour to visit this beautiful work of architecture.

Stepwell at Peralassery temple.

The pond is below ground level. So you enter the stepwell at its seventh storey and descend your way to the level of the pond through the main staircase. Or for fun, you can use one of the several criss-crossing staircases across the levels. To the north of the pond is a Shiva Linga. Inside the pond, we can see colourful fresh water fish. The fish are considered sacred and it is common to see worshippers feed them rice grains.

Dressing rules in Kerala temples are quite strict. Many prohibit entry without dhoti and saree. Peralassery is among the lenient ones as you are allowed to wear western clothes, so long as they cover your shoulders and legs. But since we were roaming at the beaches around Kannur on a warm day and our decision to visit Peralassery was impulsive, we were not prepared. Our attire was tee shirt and shorts (Hari) and a knee-length and sleeveless frock (Priya) (See our reflection on the Aranmula mirror at Arakkal museum). ‘In your dreams!’, Kerala temples would say, so we didn’t even try. Our attraction was the stepwell… and that we got to see!

Reaching Kannur

Kannur is a well-connected city in Kerala. It has several transport options available.

By Air

Kannur is served by the airport at Mattanur, a suburb of the city. There are regular flights to Kannur from New Delhi, Kozhikode, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Hubballi and Goa’s Vasco. International flights are also available from several destinations in Gulf, the most connected ones being UAE’s Dubai and Oman’s Muscat.

By Rail

Kannur is a railway station on Southern Railway’s Shoranur division. By extension, it is one of the major stations on Indian Railway’s Konkan railway stretch that covers the beautiful coastal route of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala. All major trains connecting Kerala to Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, western and northern India halt at Kannur, including special trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duronto, Humsafar and Tejas.

By Bus

Kannur’s bus depot, situated right outside the railway station to its east, has services to all major cities in Kerala, the most common connections being Kozhikode, Kasaragod and Thrissur. Interstate buses ply to Karnataka’s Mangaluru and Udupi.

Self-driving

Reaching Kannur by drive is quite straightforward since the city lies right on a major national highway. No detours or deviations. The NH-66 (erstwhile NH-17) west coast highway starts at Mumbai’s Panvel suburb and runs straight to Kanyakumari. It goes like so: Mumbai – Panvel – Alibaug – Ratnagiri – Malvan – Panaji – Madgaon – Karwar – Honnavara – Udupi – Mangaluru – Kasaragod – Kannur – Thalassery – Mahe – Kozhikode – Kochi – Alleppey – Thiruvananthapuram – Nagercoil – Kanyakumari.

If you are driving from a western state such as Gujarat, western MP (e.g. Ratlam or Indore) or interior Maharashtra (e.g. Pune), you should join the NH-66 at Mumbai, Panvel, Alibaug or Ratnagiri. If you are driving from north, central or eastern India, then join the Grand Trunk highway at Delhi, Agra or Nagpur. The highway continues from Nagpur to Hyderabad and then Bengaluru.

At Bengaluru, take the highway that runs as Bengaluru – Madduru – Mysuru – Coorg – Subrahmanya – Mangaluru and join the NH-66 to reach Kannur. The Coorg route itself is a pleasure to drive on.

Roads from Tamil Nadu join various cities on NH-66 via the following highways: Coimbatore – Palakkad – Thrissur – Kozhikode, Trichy – Dindigul – Pollachi – Valparai – Chalakudy – Thrissur – Kozhikode, Madurai – Theni – Munnar – Kottayam – Kochi. If you are driving from Chennai, then the Coimbatore – Kozhikode route is your shortest one.

Conclusion

Kerala is a widely advertised state for tourism. But most tourism focuses on southern Kerala for places like Kochi and on western Ghats for places like Munnar. The Malabar region in general and Kannur district in particular have been ignored. But that can act in your favour as you can use this blog post to enjoy a leisurely and crowd-free getaway. You will thank us later 🙂

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District Focus: Coorg, Karnataka

Filter coffee is a favourite beverage in two states in India. Tamil Nadu is the highest consumer of coffee. But the consumption is not matched by the production. Another state, Karnataka, produces far more coffee beans than Tamil Nadu does. The hilly and forested district of Coorg produces more coffee than any other region in India. Apart from coffee plantations, Coorg has so many things to see. In this post, we will see what makes Coorg a great destination for your next travel.

Geography of Coorg

The name Coorg is British. The original name of the district is Kodagu. The headquarters of the district is at Madikeri or Mercara. Coorg is a land-locked district and is bordered on three sides by districts of Karnataka. The Dakshina Kannada district is to the north of Coorg. Mysuru district is to both the east and the south. To the west, Coorg is bordered by the Kasaragod and Kannur districts of Kerala.

Cauvery river that flows through south Karnataka and central Tamil Nadu starts at Tala Kaveri in Coorg district. The river is a major part of Coorg and features several eco-parks and other landmarks along the river side. There are also several waterfalls that form smaller rivers joining Cauvery.

Other than urban areas like Madikeri and Somawarapeta, the rest of Coorg is covered in evergreen forests of the western Ghats. This makes for a great wildlife preservation opportunity. Promptly, the Karnataka government has a tiger reserve at Nagarahole, a reserved forest at the border of Coorg and Kerala.

People of Coorg

The natives of Coorg are classified as tribals and speak Kodava language. Nearly all of them are fluent in the state language Kannada, while a handful of them have also learnt the language of Dakshina Kannada, i.e. Tulu. Malayalam and Tamil are also spoken by the people in the southern part of the district. Hindi is spoken sparingly, mostly by the people related to the tourism industry.

A Kodava (native of Coorg) using the contours of a tree stump to turn it into a work of art.

The people of Coorg are mostly farmers, with coffee being the most commonly grown crop. Industries related to agriculture makes up the majority of occupations in Coorg. Tourism is also a big industry in Coorg. While the district was a getaway for the people from Mangaluru, Bengaluru and Mysuru in the past, these days people from around India have discovered the charms of Coorg and have made it a must-see destination.

Here are the most interesting things to see in Coorg district

Nisargadhama eco park

Forest cottage at Nisargadhama

Driving from the Mysuru-side, Nisargadhama is one of the first places you’ll reach. Nisargadhama is an eco park on the bank of Cauvery river. It features bamboo plantations, walking trails, elephant ride, tree houses and cottages that can be booked for overnight stay. It is relaxing to walk along one of the trails that are parallel to the river. The town nearest to Nisargadhama is Kushalanagara.

Tala Kaveri

Tala Kaveri is worshipped as the source of Cauvery river. There is a temple dedicated to Goddess Kaveri. Tala Kaveri can be reached from Coorg’s headquarters Madikeri.

Harangi dam

Harangi dam is the first dam along the course of the Cauvery river.

Harangi is the first dam along Cauvery river’s path. It is to the east of Tala Kaveri. The dam features an eco-park and a few walking trails. Harangi can be easily reached from Kushalanagara.

Dubare elephant camp

Also near Kushalanagara, Dubare elephant camp is an elephant training camp by the riverside. The camp also features a resort where one can stay overnight. Activities in the area include watching trainers work with the elephants and taking coracle rides in the river. The elephants at Dubare get to enjoy one special occasion every year, which is to take part in the Navratri procession in Mysuru.

Namdroling monastery

Young monks at Namdroling monastery, Bylakuppe.

In the village of Bylakuppe near Kushalanagara, we can visit the Buddhist monastery Namdroling. It is one of the biggest Buddist teaching centres in India, with 5000 lamas (male and female), living in the monastery. The monastery was started by those on exile from Tibet, as the government of India gave them a various parcels of land for their refuge, one of them being in the forests near Cauvery river.

Waterfalls

Abbe falls, Coorg

There are four waterfalls worth enjoying in Coorg district. Abbey waterfalls is very close to Madikeri town. This is also the most popular and crowded waterfall. The Abbey falls are enclosed inside an eco-park with entrance fees and can be reached by taking a staircase. The falls can be seen from a viewing platform.

Chelavara waterfall, Coorg

The second waterfall, Chelavara, is on the Ghat road descending from Madikeri towards Mangaluru. This waterfall is quite obscure and you won’t find many visitors here. In fact, people who drive from Bengaluru and Mysuru completely miss this beautiful spot. Only those who drive from Mangaluru or Udupi get to see this fall since it is on their way. In contrast to Abbey, you won’t find any complex with entrance fees, staircase or viewing platforms. You need to park your vehicle on the shoulder of the highway and tip toe your way through a very short forest trail to reach the fall.

Stunning view of Mallalli waterfall, Coorg.

The most spectacular waterfall is Mallalli. This waterfall is on the highway that goes from Madikeri to Hassan and is at the northern end of Coorg district. There are two views for the waterfall. The first is from the entry to the hiking trail. From here you can see the falls from a point above it. It takes a small hike downhill to reach the base of the waterfall, which is another way to view the fall.

There are several of these butterflies, known as Blue flutter, near Irpu waterfall.

Irpu waterfall is on the border of Karnataka and Kerala. It is part of the Brahmagiri / Aralam forest reserve. Irpu waterfall can be reached by taking the Madikeri – Nagarahole road. Irpu waterfall area is known for its colourful butterflies.

Nagarahole forest reserve

Spotted deer while driving through Nagarahole reserve forest.

There are two ways to enjoy the Nagarahole reserve. The first way is to take a canter / jeep safari for a fee early in the morning. The canter / jeep rides will take you through forest trails inside the forest where your own vehicle cannot reach. This is usually a good way to spot animals that are deeper in the wild, e.g. tigers, wild elephants, gaurs, etc. One more way to explore Nagarahole is to simply use the tar road inside the reserve to travel from here to Hunsur in Mysuru district. Of course, this drive is free of cost, only requiring that you enter your name and vehicle registration number at the forest gate near Kutta village. You cannot use your vehicle to go into forest trails. But even from the tar road, you have guaranteed sighting of spotted deer, langurs, wild goats, boars and a variety of birds.

Raja’s seat

Sunset viewpoint at Raja’s seat park

Raja’s seat is a park built by Raja Doddaveerarajendra of Kodagu. The park is so named because of a special seating chamber that he prepared for himself. The seating chamber overlooks the beautiful view of the Ghats of Coorg that ascend from Dakshina Kannada side. There is a better place to enjoy this view though. At one end of the park is a railing that gives you a clear view of the afore-mentioned view. The view is especially spectacular during monsoon.

Apart from the view, the Raja’s seat park has flower beds, lawns, walking paths and fountains.

Madikeri fort

While it served as a fortress for the rulers of Coorg, the Madikeri fort today is a museum that exhibits some artefacts from around Coorg. Of special importance is a chamber dedicated to two army heroes, both of whom are from Coorg district: General Thimayya and Field Marshal Cariappa. Both of them were instrumental in monumental moments for the Indian Army. Field Marshal Cariappa formed the structure of the Indian Army after India received independence. The unification of several princely states, especially the defying Hyderabad, between 1947 – 1950 was effective due to Cariappa. He can be attributed as the one who made the slogan ‘Jai Hind’ official for the Indian Army. General Thimayya was instrumental in India winning the 1962 Indo-China war and the Indo-Pak wars in 1965 and 1971.

Gaddige / Raja’s tomb

The citadel of Madikeri fort, now a museum

Gadige monument is at the northern end of Madikeri town. It features two twin Hindu memorials built partly in Muslim style, especially the dome. The memorials belong to Raja Doddaveerarajendra and Lingarajendra, There is a smaller tomb for the royal priest Rudrappa.

Coffee estate home stay

Home stay in Coorg

Staying in a coffee estate home stay is a unique experience in Coorg. There are several estates. The ones near Madikeri are usually booked quite soon. You should look for estates near Kushala Nagara or Suntikoppa. These areas are less crowded and may offer deals on their estate homestays. Homestay hunting in Coorg is unorganised. Many of the best homestays are in secluded villages with little public transport and you may have to walk / drive a lot to find the best ones. If it is your first time to Coorg or you don’t have time to explore homestays on your own, then you can use a tour operator to book a stay. Alternatively, you can check sites like Make My Trip or Clear Trip for deals online. Not many homestays have a listing online, but you can still find some really good ones. From the Internet, we found a great stay called Forest Flower on a village road forking off the main highway between Suntikoppa and Madikeri. There was no traffic on this road and the ambience at the estate was very peaceful.

What to eat

Home made chocolates: In Coorg, you will find several shops with home-made white, brown and dark chocolates. There are even chocolates with mixed flavours such as pista, orange, apricot and fig. Indulging in good quality home made chocolate is a fun experience in Coorg.

Oranges: Like Nagpur, Coorg has its own variety of oranges that are easy to peel, aromatic and tangy. The oranges are very seasonal and are available after November.

Filter coffee: Coorg is the home of filter coffee and you should give in to your caffeine cravings while you are here. In fact, Amalgamations group, the company that owns Cafe Coffee Day, sources all of its coffee beans from a variety of plantations in Coorg district. They own some plantations, while at the same time they also have contracts with others’s plantations.

What to buy

Coorg clay masks

Coffee: The most obvious choice is coffee beans or roasted coffee powder. While at it, you can also purchase a decoction filter vessel or a French press, which are necessary to make concentrated coffee decoction from roasted beans or powder.

Home-made chocolate: We have already spoken about this from the last paragraph.

Spices and essential oils: These two product categories are common and abundant in good quality across all the hill stations in the Western Ghats of south India, be it in Karnataka, Kerala or Tamil Nadu.

Honey: Coorg is home to several apiaries and you can get different types of honey drawn by different breeds of bees from different forest flowers.

Fruit wine: There are no grapes in Coorg, but the locals use different fruits to make wines. We tried a wine made of passion fruit.

Clay handicrafts: There are several types of tiny handicrafts made of baked clay. Coorg masks are quite popular.

Getting to Coorg

Coorg is not connected by air or rail. You need to disembark at nearby cities and continue in road transport, which is the only form of transport available in the district.

Here are the options.

Air: The nearest airports are Mysuru and Mangaluru. From both cities, you can take a Karnataka Saarige (Karnataka State Transport Bus) to Madikeri or Kushala Nagara.

Rail: The nearest railway stations are Mysuru, Hassan and Mangaluru. Madikere or Kushala Nagara can be reached through Karnataka Saarige.

Road public transport: Bengaluru – Coorg buses use the highway Bengaluru – Madduru – Mysuru – Hunsur – Kushala Nagara – Madikeri. So you can take a state bus from Bengaluru / Mysuru. From coastal Karnataka, buses are available from Mangaluru and Udupi. If you are travelling from interior Karnataka, e.g. from Chikkamagaluru or Shivamogga, then there are buses available from those cities and they take the highway via Hassan.

Self-drive: Following highways lead to Coorg district.
Bengaluru – Madduru – Mysuru – Hunsur – Kushala Nagara – Suntikoppa – Madikeri. This highway is the best if you are travelling from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, interior Maharashtra and also the rest of India. This is most commonly used route to reach Coorg. You will need to drive on this highway anyway if you intend to cover Nisargadhama, Harangi dam, Dubare elephant camp or Namdroling monastery.
Shivamogga – Bhadravati – Chikkamagaluru – Belur – Hassan – Gorur – Arakalagudu – Shanivarasanthe – Somawarapete – Madikeri. This route is the best if you are driving from Belgaum, Bijapur, Davanagere, Shivamogga or Chikkamagaluru. Mallalli waterfall is situated on this route.
Kasargod –  Subramanya – Sampaje – Madikeri or Kannur – Taliparamba – Iritty – Kunnoth – Virajapete – Madikeri are two routes you can use if you are driving from Kerala. The second route is close to Nagarahole and Irpu waterfall.
Mangaluru – Putturu – Subramanya – Sampaje – Madikeri is a route you should follow if you are driving from coastal Maharashtra, Goa or coastal Karnataka. This route in our opinion is the most beautiful since it involves ascending a Ghat from sea level to about 3800 feet and involves many beautiful waterfalls, valley views and hairpin bends along the way. The Chelavara waterfall is on this route.

Getting around Coorg

Your personal vehicle is the best option around the remote places in Coorg. Buses only cover the main highways, i.e. to Mysuru, Hassan and Mangaluru. Places like Dubare camp and Namdroling monastery are tucked away in little hamlets off the highway. So are places like Mallalli fall. If you were to use mass transport, you can only cover Nisargadhama and Abbey fall.

Taxis and auto rickshaws are available within the towns and villages of Coorg, but you will realise that your expenses shoot up very fast if you intend a comprehensive coverage of the district like ours.

Conclusion

Nestled in the Western Ghats and caressed by Cauvery river, Coorg is a district that is worth a visit and stay of at least 2 nights. You can stretch your trip for upto a week, keeping 3 days for sight-seeing and another 3 just to laze in a coffee estate homestay. You will come away from Coorg’s forests and streams completely recharged.

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District Focus: Ratnagiri, Maharashtra

What if I tell you that you can see all of the following things in a single district inside India: the birthplace of a famous freedom fighter, pristine beaches, Olive Ridley turtles, alphonso mangoes, cashewnut plantations, gorgeous mountain ghat roads and sea-side temples. The district’s name translates to a ‘mountain of jewels’. That would be Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, a district that lies between the sea and the mountains and has some of the richest people in the country, courtesy the export of Alphonso mangoes. Continue reading

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District Focus: Uttara Kannada, Karnataka

Uttara Kannada is a district to the north-west corner of Karnataka. It is just to the south of Goa. Typical of all the regions to the west of the Indian peninsula, Uttara Kannada district is bordered by the Arabian sea to the west and by the Western Ghat mountains to the east. Such geographical diversity makes Uttara Kannada rich in places to explore, be it sandy beaches, waterfalls, rivers, rock formations or mountains with tropical forests.

Continue reading

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District Focus: Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh

Perched high atop the snowy mountains of the north-eastern Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh is the district of Tawang. The district spans from Sela pass and ends at Bum La pass bordering China. It is one of the few districts in Arunachal Pradesh that practices Buddhism. Tawang is one of the most beautiful regions you will see in India. Continue reading

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District Focus: Spiti, Himachal Pradesh

Previously little known, Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh has gained popularity among backpackers during the last few years. This is because Spiti has some unique places. After all who can resist a place that has the world’s highest post office, the world’s oldest continuously running Buddhist monastery and an embalmed mummy of a Buddhist monk? Continue reading

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District Focus: Satara, Maharashtra

We know that India has plenty of cities, towns and villages which are beautiful, historic and friendly. But what about entire districts which are packed with things to see and do? For instance, plenty of Indians often talk about travelling to Coorg or Kullu-Manali. These aren’t single towns, but entire districts enriched with beauty. One such district is Satara district in Maharashtra. The district lies at the foot of Sahyadri mountains and is blessed with two major river beds. Satara district is home to exotic fruits like the strawberry. To see the unparalleled beauty of Satara district, one must visit it during monsoon in July-August. Continue reading