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Things To Do In Madikeri (Mercara)
The mountainous regions, the gushing waterfalls and the idyllic plains of Madikeri offer you ample scope for a lot of outdoor activity. Madikeri is a 1,150 m high table land which slopes down gently towards Kushalnagar. The area has an abundance of forests, grassy glades and lofty peaks and to top it all, a tropical climate under whose cover grow a variety of medicinal herbs, wild flowers, teak, coffee, tea, plantain, areca nut, cardamom and ginger. The hill tops are grassy forested areas while the lowlands are used for cultivation.
Away from the grimness of commercialised concrete cities, Madikeri offers an untainted fresh holiday amongst nature and the simple people- the Kodavas of Coorg. Read on to know what are the things you can do in Madikeri.
Tadiandamol is the highest mountain peak in Madikeri and the third highest in Karnataka. The Nalknad Palace lies at the foothills of this peak, which at an altitude of 1,748 m. It is one hot favourite trekking spot in Madikeri. There are two routes to the Peak - the Nalknad Palace and the Honey valley Route. Fix up a nice sunny morning for the trek and you’ll be back to the base by sundown after a wonderful walk through lush shola forests, waterfalls and an expanding peak view of the coffee plantations in the plains.
Quad Biking is a favourite adrenaline rush sport that is so popular in Coorg. You will find Quad Biking centres in Madikeri that can arrange for an exhilarating ride for you. You get a wonderful feel, sitting astride the all terrain vehicle and zipping off through the coffee plantations and up and down the undulating slopes of the mountains, with the fresh mountain breeze on your face and the possibility of spotting wild animals like wild cats, rabbits and monkeys on the way. Anyone who can ride a two wheeler can without difficulty, quad bike. So, that makes quad biking a family treat.
You have the advantage of an organised safari by jeep around the Kodagu ranges. It’s a nice way of exploring the countryside and to learn about the wonders of pristine nature at its best. Some of the places where you can arrange for a jeep safari are Mandalpatti and Kabbe Hills in Madikeri. The beautiful Kabbe Hills are about 30 km from Madikeri and the jeep ride takes you along the most picturesque landscape, complete with tiny villages, lush plantations and waterfalls, especially the hidden Falls of Chelevara, one of the most beautiful Falls of the Kodagu region.
The native Kodavas of Kodagu are basically agriculturalists and they deem their local gods as the protectors and saviours of their lands and themselves. You can visit the Paadi Igguthappa temple in Kakkabe where Lord Karthikeya, the son of Lord Shiva is worshipped as Igguthappa - the God of rain and crops. The Igguthappa temple plays a significant role in the culture and traditions of the Kodava society. The temple has been renovated recently and its architecture, simple yet impressive, speaks volumes about the skills of the people of Kodagu. Kakkabe is about 33 km from Madikeri.
If your typical day dawns with a piping hot cup of fresh filter coffee, one of your favourite haunts in Madikeri should be visiting the coffee plantations. You could stay in a home stay within a plantation and go on a Plantation Tour to discover how coffee beans are grown and processed, till they hit the market. If you’re in time for the harvest, you could help in picking the ripe coffee berries. And not just the coffee plantations, check out the pepper and the aromatic cardamom plantations on a guided tour.
With a repertoire rich in traditions and history, the Kodavas of Coorg celebrate festivals that are primarily a thanksgiving to the gods who protect them and give them a bountiful and prosperous year. Chants of ‘Poli, Poli, Deva' (God! Give us a bountiful harvest) ring in the air as the Kodavas celebrate Huthri or Harvest festival in the months of November –December.
It would be lovely to participate in the Madikeri Dussehra, a fascinating 10 day festival, complete with Karagas (a traditional rural dance) and the procession of huge decorated mandapas or floats on the ninth day, with illuminated figures of Gods and demons. In September the Kodavas celebrate Kailpodh, a commemoration of their weapons that had been used in the past for their livelihood-hunting! The Kailpodh includes a grand feast which signs off with rural sports and games on the plains.
There are a lot of interesting things you can buy in Madikeri markets, products that are fresh and cultivated locally. You can buy Arabica and Robusta varieties of coffee beans or powdered coffee and a bevy of spices and nuts like cardamom, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla, star anise, cashews, figs and raisins. You could find them all in Madikeri’s Friday Market and of course, honey, Mandarin Oranges and Tea which are synonymous with Coorg.
If you are a wine aficionado, try out the varieties of wines in Madikeri. The local wines come in flavours of ginger, betel leaves, coconut palm, passion fruit, flowers and pineapples apart from the regular ones. And then the silk saris! You can buy the popular soft Mysuru silks and the speciality of Coorg - the soft Banana Silk Sari, made from the fibre of Banana plants. If you are stopping at Kushalnagar near Madikeri, you can shop for sandalwood oil, Tibetan artefacts and timbre carvings.
Check out the amazing varieties of homemade chocolates in Madikeri too. Visit the Choci Coorg right opposite the bus stand in Madikeri and on Abbey Falls Road for yummy chocolates.
You can also buy the traditional Kokkethathi pendant, which is worn on a chain by the married women of the Kodavas of Coorg. It’s a beautiful crescent shaped pendant with floral patterns and tiny gold balls on the border.