The itinerary for your Coorg tour depends on at least three things – how long is your stay, where do you stay and also your interests.
Let’s see the duration factor first.
You need at least 3 days for a leisure tour of Coorg. A 2 day itinerary is a bit packed, but still reasonable. Having said that there are many tourists who visit as a day tripper from the nearby cities, though it is very hectic. Coorg is a lot about soacking yourselves in the ambient than sight seeing. To that extend serious travelers stay for longer periods and do the sight seeing at a slower phase.
So having decided the duration, the next job is to pick and chose the attractions that you want to visit. Coorg has many ‘themes’. Wildlife, Nature, Adventure , Religious places, Historic sites , Homestays, Plantation tours and so on.
Baring the ones who are highly focused (say those going to Coorg for Trekking ), a general itinerary would be mix of all the above. Of course your taste would influence the list, especially if your tour is shorter.
That is the case it is not easy to suggest a standard itinerary for Coorg, though there are a set of popular attractions that invariably makes it to a typical tour plan. The Attractions in Coorg are scattered all around and, in some cases, beyond the district.
A good deal of your time will be spend in the travel from one attraction to another.
One smart thing to do while touring Coorg is to visit certain places in the beginning or at the end of the tour. This is especially true if you are traveling by private vehicle. There area number of attractions in Coorg, that are far from Madikeri, the main tourist hub of Coorg, but are on the main route that connects to district with other major towns.
Let’s take a few routes as practical cases. Madikeri, the biggest town in Coorg is the easiest to reach and popular among the tourists due to obvious reasons. The stretch from Kushalnagar to Madikeri has many attractions lined along the way. This is the route the tourists coming from the direction of Mysore would take.
The first thing is the Tibetan settlement at Bylakuppe, a few kilometers before you cross the Kushalnagar town. It’s a short detour from the Myosre – Madikeri main road. Ask for Koppa junction, from where you’ve to leave the highway. Keep aside about 2 hours for the Bylakuppe trip before you join the highway again.
The second item apt for a detour from the highway is Kaveri Nisargadhama some 3 km from Kushalnagar. This is a picnic spot set in a thickly wooded island formed by the Cauvery.
Thanks to its location for those who are on the SH88 (Madikeri-Mysore) these two are typically the first (or last ) items in the Coorg itinerary. If you are backpacking , take any bus from Madikeri that goes via Kuskalnagar (most of the Mysore bound buses will do). Request to drop you near Nisargadhama or Koppa (for Bylakuppe). From Koppa take a auto rickshaw to Bylakuppe.
Further ahead some 4km after Kushalnagar town is Gudde Hosur cross, the left road to Siddapur will take you to Dubare Elephant Camp and the Valnoor game fishing camp near to it. The right will take you to Harangi Reservoir.
While Valnoor is mostly visited by angling (fishing) enthusiasts, Dubare on the fringes of the forest is a popular picnic like destination and is one of the flagship attractions of Coorg. Harangi is a small dam with obvious attractions.
Without any deviations, the highway otherwise crosses Suntikoppa (a tiny market town) and hits Madikeri. Attractions like Madikeri Fort, Raja’s Seat , Omkareswar Temple, Raja’s Tomb etc are in the Madikeri town.
Raja’s Seat and The Omkareswara Temple are ideal places for visiting in the evening. Keep them in the itinerary accordingly so that during the day time you can visit a couple of more places.
Abbey falls is a good short excursion trip from Madikeri. Its about 10km (30 minutes) from Madikeri town. Abbey falls, is a 2-3 hours affair the least. The trek to the falls ( and back!) takes some time. If you leave for Abbey by noon, you can come back to Madikeri town and visit Raja’s Seat and then Omkareswara Temple before calling it a day.
By the way don’t get to the water at Abbey as it had many fatalities in that past. If that’s not a deterrent for you, remember that water is contaminated with drains from Madikeri town!
Bhagamandala and Talakaveri are often visited as a day’s tour from Madikeri. Bhagamandala is about 40km west of Madikeri and Talakaveri is another 8 km or so of drive on the ghat road. If you start in the afternoon from Madikeri, you can visit both the places and start back by sunset, or even early.
Other option is to set out from Madikeri early in the morning so that you can visit the temples (both at Bhagamandala & Talakaveri ) when it is opened during the morning hours. After noon & evening can be reserved for the less hectic attractions around Madikeri town.
Or take to return path to Madikeri from Bhagamandala via Kakkabe after visiting the Padi Igguthappa Temple and Nalknad Palace. It’s quite hectic a route along the mountainous countryside.
And finally when you make it to Coorg, you find everything changed in one stroke. The air is cold and misty. The smell is predominantly of coffee, but still with a hint of dried ginger, cardamom and orange in that order.