I am currently volunteering in Bangalore, in the south of India in a women empowerment NGO with LeaveURmark. And the workdays are tough, a good tough though, the tough I signed up for. That’s why all of us volunteers are hard, to work as possible in whatever is needed over here and possibly make an impact in the NGO’s we are working with. But don’t thing is all work and no play, on the weekends LeaveURmark helps set us up with awesome trips to unwind and revamp for next week.
This past weekend I went out to Madikeri, one of the main towns in the Coorg District; a very well deserved relaxing break from all the city craziness. Coorg is a well-known district due to its amazing outdoors and coffee plantations. You can take an overnight bus or train out from Bangalore and spend a Saturday and Sunday up on the mountains, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature. This is a very budget-friendly destination for starters you can find a return bus ticket for 700-800 Ruppees ( $10-12 USD).
From the bus station, about 400 mts in you will find the tourism office where you can get all the info you need but this is a small town if you just walk around you’ll find things to to. First figure out where you are going to stay; there are several lodges by the bus station for about $10USD for two people but I highly recommend walking out towards the plantations and stay there instead, away from the city. Walk out about 3km and you will begin to see several plantations and home stays. We were lucky to find the best home stay, called Allaranda (You can read more about it and check out more pics on our previous post “Wonder how coffee is made“, just follow link). But if you keep walking you will find several others. Our stay was about $30 USD for four people with breakfast included, again very budget-friendly. See below a list of 8 free or budget friendly activities to check out while visiting.
1. Abbey Falls
This is the number one attraction in town and for a good reason. A hike out through the jungle, through smaller waterfalls and rivers. You will have to hike up about 6km and you can take the main road up to Abbey Falls Rd.
The main activity here will be hiking just walk out towards the mountain and take your pick at any of the trails. I couldn’t really tell you what the name of our trail is but it is halfway from the city and about 3km before arriving at Abbey Falls. Take the main road but NOT Abbey Falls Rd, take the second road and follow it all the way to the end, the trail will guide you to a smaller waterfall and just follow the water.
3. Visit a coffee plantation
You will see signs along your walk for several plantations but we visited the one we ended up staying the night at, Allaranda Home Stay. The owners are the nicest and most passionate people about their plantation. They will give you a tour of the property and explain their whole process for coffee production and of course, let you sample their awesome roasted coffee.
4. Madikeri Fort and archeological museum
The fort is located about 1km from the bus station so, the opposite way of the plantations. Plan out to spend one day up on the mountains and another close to the city. The archeological museum is free and then you can take a walk around the fort and on the walls themselves to get some awesome views of the mountains. You can also check out the palace here as well as a small temple.
5. Raja’s tomb
This was my favorite of all!!! Beautiful well-maintained gardens with prayer rooms, the tombs and the tombs. There is also a beautiful lily pond and a ton of bamboos surrounding the area so you can just chill out by the shade or even plan out a little picnic. Raja’s tomb is up on a hill between the plantations and the fort so take the middle road, mercara and go up for about 3km.
6. Raja’s Seat
This is the most popular attraction due to its panoramic viewpoint of the coffee plantations. It is about 2km from the bus station past the fort and the temple. We were advised to head out here to watch the sunset but it is very often foggy so I recommend arriving there about at 5:00PM and chill out by the gardens while the sun sets. There is also a fountain show every sunday with music and lights and you are most welcome to join the dancing under the water.
7. Omkareshwara temple
The temple is about 1/2 km from the bus station, close to Madikeri Fort. You just have to cross the street to the opposite side of the fort and go down a couple of blocks.
8. Coorg Cuisine
This was the only activity we actually had to pay for. LUNCH! And this was a very traditional lunch, you must have Pandi, a spicy pork dish. If you are in Coorg you must try, don’t be scared but the spicy in front of it, just have some water ready though.