My colleague Paddy has a native place at Madikeri. He has been traveling to Madikeri at least once in a month. Most of the times, he went over the weekend to meet his mother, who stays at his ancestral house. Most of the times, he drove alone either due to school schedule of his son or his family were already there at Madikeri during school vacations. Whenever he was traveling alone, he invariably asked if I wanted to join. I had heard a lot of stories about Madikeri and its famous coffee plantations and spice estates as well as untouched natural beauty. It does have a rich historical connection. A trip to Madikeri was indeed somewhere on my bucket list.
Finally, I succumbed to the lure of exploring the Scotland of Southern India and, on one Saturday I embarked on the Mission Madikeri and hit the road along with Umesh and Paddy around 8.00 a.m. Umesh had been my partner in crime on many of my junkets before to explore the southern countryside. We had already made a couple of trips together to Tuticorin, Madurai, and Ramnagaram.
We were on Mysore highway by 9.00 am after traversing through typical morning traffic at Bengaluru despite being a Saturday though a bit shallow. Even for Umesh, it was the first trip to Madikeri and Coorg.
Madikeri is a small hill town in Karnataka nestled in the Kodagu or Coorg district known for its coffee plantations and spice estates. It is about 120 km from Mysore and 136 km from Mangalore. It is about 5 hours’ drive from Bangalore. The nearest rail and air connections are at Mysore. A couple of flights have put Madikeri on the air map to nearby cities. There is a Shatabdi Express train run by Indian Railways which connects Chennai with Mysore via Bengaluru. Madikeri is famous for Coffee plantations homestays, Kaveri's river's origin, and Field Marshal Cariappa. I will also take the liberty of calling Madikeri as Kashmir of South India.
The historical connection goes back to many centuries. Over a while, Madikeri has been ruled by Kadambas, Cholas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagara Dynasty, and Haleri Dynasty. Haleri Dynasty ruled from 1600 to 1834 AD when it became part of British India. Haleri King built the fort in Madikeri and made it their capital.
For Bengaloreans, Madikeri is the most preferred weekend getaway. If you have been in Bangalore for a while but have not been to Madikeri, then you have missed something in your life. If you happen to be traveling to Madikeri on a long weekend, there is a very high probability that you will find your entire Bengaluru neighborhood at Madikeri.
After a few small coffee-breaks on the way, we reached Madikeri around 2.00 p.m. traversing through abundant green surroundings and rich vegetation. It seemed as if a manicured green carpet had been rolled out to welcome the travelers. The charming beauty was captivating. It reminded me of the countryside view I saw from the train window while traveling from London to Manchester a couple of years back. We continued straight towards Talakaveri, which is about 40 km further up towards the Kerala border. Talakaveri is the place from where Kaveri River originates. We were famished by the time we were at Madikeri and were looking for a good eating joint. Paddy told us to wait for some time and mentioned about a good countryside restaurant at Bhagmandala place located 9 km before Talakaveri.
After getting down at Bhagmandala, when I looked at the restaurant, the sight was not encouraging, and I regretted the decision for not having lunch while at Madikeri. We still went inside as we did not have any other option nearby. The only option that we had was to stay hungry and wait till we reach back Madikeri, but that would be dinner time. We were in no condition to wait that long.
I must admit the food was delicious... typical Kannada food. It was much more than what Paddy had described before. I think if I have to describe this food, the adjectives will run short but I will try using the adjectives like lip-smacking, scrumptious, delectable and finger-licking food. I hope this conveys the thoughts we had after eating the food. Maybe we were famished to the core, and food might have felt like that. However, to be fair, I will not take away the credit from the cooks who prepared the food. One quick advice to anyone traveling to this part would be to eat from small eateries as they typically provide authentic local cuisine.
Although Talakaveri is the origin place of Kaveri, the river is not visible at this place except for a small pond. Bhagmandala is the first publicly accessible place where Kaveri River is seen though it is still a creek. There is a small temple on the alongside the river banks. This temple and the river are thronged by the devotees looking to get a holy dip. This temple occupies an essential place in the local folklore.
After spending some time at Bhagmandala, we headed to our ultimate destination... Talakaveri.
Few of the places which can be explored in and around Madikeri though roaming around Madikeri and surrounding areas is in itself an uplifting experience.
- Madikeri Fort
- Abbey Falls
- Raja’s Seat
- Omkareshwara Temple
- Cauvery Nisargadham
- Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary
- Iruppu Falls
- Chelavara Falls
- Coffee Plantations
- Spice Estates