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Old 26th February 2012, 15:59   #1
Miel's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Bangalore
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Default A Weekend at Madikeri

I know that travelogues to Coorg and Madikeri are dime a dozen, but here goes yet another one!

Dear Moderators: If needed, please merge this thread with any other relevant Bangalore-Mysore (Zoo only)-Madikeri thread. IMHO, all travelogues to Coorg and Madikeri can be merged into one main chronologically ordered thread.

My better half hadn’t been to Coorg ever! That was the deciding factor for this journey. I had previously made a trip to Madikeri in 2008 with my friends. Back then we used a self-drive Santro hired from Hertz, Bangalore. This time, I had my own wagon – Tata Vista “Sedan Class” 2011.

I read up on countless threads to understand the road conditions, traffic conditions, places to see, and places to eat. My special thanks to the Thread Starters and Posters in the following threads:
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...oorg-kids.html (A drive to Coorg with Kids.)
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ore-coorg.html (A rejuvenating road trip from Bangalore to Coorg)
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...org-route.html (Information on Coorg route)

So, here goes my first travelogue.

Dates: 18, 19, 20 February 2012
Route and Waypoints: Bangalore (Indiranagar) > NICE Rd > Bangalore-Mysore Rd (SH 17): Bidadi-Ramnagara-Chennapatna-Maddur-Mandya-Srirangapattana > MYSORE (Mysore-Madikeri Rd SH 88): Elivala – Bilikere –Hunsur - Periyapatna – Bylakuppe – Kushalanagar > MADIKERI (entering from East)
Travellers: Miel and Wife

Day 1:

We started at sharp 5.30am. The roads were not entirely empty but the vehicles were fast moving. As we got off the NICE Rd on SH17, we spotted a KL registered white Verna with a Team-Bhp sticker going ahead of us. Whoever you are mate, we tried to tail you but you were too quick for me.
We reached Kamat Loka Ruchi at 6.30am for breakfast. There were 3 cars already in the parking lot. After hot idli-vadas, we continued at 7.05am. By then the Kamat parking lot was fast filling up. About 15mins into the drive we noticed a rather neat looking restaurant, Vaishali, on the left-side after Chennapatna. I made a mental note to check it out the next time.
The Mysore-Bangalore route is the same old speed-bump infested highway. It is necessary to stay focused on the road ahead and watch out for unmarked bumps, bullock carts and slow moving cargo trucks. We reached Mysore ORR Jn, slightly before 8.15am and proceeded to visit the Mysore Zoo.

Mysore Zoo
We reached the Zoo at 8.35am. There was only one other car in the zoo’s parking lot. The animals and birds were busy at breakfast (literally).
The Mysore Zoo is definitely a must-see Zoo, which is amply demonstrated by the large crowds it attracts. One of the reasons we decided to visit the zoo early in the day was to avoid the noisy study tour groups and endless trains of gleeful school kids who would soon clog the pathways. The path through the zoo is 2.71kms long. The zoo has quite an interesting collection of animals and birds from different parts of the world. They have a massive Aviary, but it was closed for maintenance. The birds were hosted in a separate section though.
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We exited the zoo at 11.15am and drove on to Hunsur. Café Coorg at Hunsur is a good place for lunch. It looks like a Café Coffee Day, but other than the very striking resemblance even in the smallest details (which seems intentional, but in a good way) it has no relation whatsoever. The place is neat, with the same look and feel of a large CCD, and also has decent washrooms. A sumptuous Non-Veg Thali costs Rs.130/-. You can have Irish coffee, sandwiches and pastries too.
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After lunch we got back on the road at 1.00pm. The roads were well maintained all the way from Hunsur, excepting a few bad patches at Piriyapatna and some unmarked humps around Bylakuppe.
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We reached Madikeri at 2.20pm and checked-in at our stay, the Hill Town Hotel, at 2.35pm. After a short nap, we walked around the town in the evening, checking out the many shops which were selling various spices, honey, coffee, home-made wines, and also numerous trinkets and souvenirs. After dinner at the hotel and a couple of glasses of wine, we hit the sack.

Day 2:
After breakfast at the hotel, we headed to Cauvery Nisargadhama at 9.00am. After a few photo-ops enroute, we reached Nisargadhama at 9.40am.
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Cauvery Nisargadhama
Nisargadhama is an island formed by the Cauvery River and is a nature park of sorts. The main attractions here are a Deer Park, an Elephant Ride, and several tree houses. You need to cross a suspension bridge (it is a footbridge) to enter the park. Though the park now looks like an overgrown jungle, it is still a welcome change from our urban concrete jungle. The entry fee per adult is Rs.10/- and the parking fee is also Rs.10/-.
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Boating is now suspended, with the paddle boats lying in disuse. I feel that the place is in dire need of some Tender Loving Care! The place has endless scope as a nature theme park. For starters, they can raise the entry fee and use the extra cash for improved and timely maintenance.
Having spent enough time breathing-in nature, and also shopping at the souvenir shops outside, we exited Nisargadhama at 12.20pm. We enjoyed tasty Kerala-style Biriyani at Shanti Bites restaurant, which is right across the road from Nisargadhama.

The Buddhist Golden Temple
After lunch, we proceeded to the Namdroling Nyingmapa Buddhist Monastery at Bylakuppe. I missed the turn to the monastery and had to come back.
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The Tibetan Settlement in Bylakuppe is one of the largest in India. The monastery and the Golden Temple is a couple of kilometers off the highway. All along the road to the monastery, we saw many Tibetan shops, eateries, small Buddhist temples and scores of monks in their unmistakable maroon-yellow robes. The Buddhists buildings are marked by a mix of red, yellow, green and white prayer flags. We also spotted several displays of the "Free Tibet" slogan of the Tibetan Independence movement.
We parked the car in the parking area to the right of the monastery entrance. The entrance to the monastery grounds is free, but parking costs you Rs.20/-.
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After visiting the peaceful and serene Buddhist temples inside the monastery, we lazed under the shade of palm trees beside the Golden Temple. There are several curio shops outside the monastery. Though the prices they quote maybe seem reasonable to city dwellers, you can still bargain to your heart's content. We bought an elegant wind-chime from a tiny shop just within the monastery gates. This shop is managed by the monks themselves, and the wind-chimes were 40-60% cheaper here.
After the Golden Temple visit, we headed back to Madikeri.

Sunset at Raja’s Seat
The Sunset at Raja’s Seat is an event that shouldn’t be missed. We reached Raja’s seat a little after 5.30. Entry fee is only Rs.5/- per adult. We parked the car a little away from the park, and maybe so, did not have to pay any parking fee.
The Raja's Seat is a small garden with a four-pillared squarish structure at one corner. The erstwhile Kings of Kodagu used to come here with their queens and consorts to view the setting sun. The place gives you a panoramic view of the valleys below Madikeri, and also an enchanting view of the sun descending to set far away beyond the hills. The latter natural event seems to be quite popular with both tourists and locals alike. There is an amphitheatre to watch the sun set, which is where most people assemble to take group photos.
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After the sunset, we went for a joy ride on the Toy Train next door. Sometimes it’s fun to be a child again!
The long day outdoors had made us very hungry and exhausted, and hence dinner tasted extra delicious.

Day 3:

We woke up late, as the final day was set aside exclusively for the drive back to Bangalore. We checked-out at 11.05am, stopped for a 45min lunch at Café Coorg, and reached our home in Bangalore at 5.10pm.

Change is what we all seek. Change is what this weekend was all about. And it was a pleasant one too. Nothing more!
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