Coorg - Madikeri, Siddapur & Polibetta

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Where I stayed
KSTDC Hotel Mayura, Raja Seat, Madikeri, Karnataka

Flag of India  , Karnātaka,
Thursday, June 11, 2009



Onward To Madikeri

At
this point it was a toss up whether to visit the nearby Ranganathittu bird
sanctuary and overnight at Mysore,
or proceed straight to Madikeri. We
decided to head for Madikeri by the recommended route via Hunsur, Periyapatana,
Bylakuppe, and Kushalnagar.  Bad choice! 

This
route is not particularly scenic and the road condition is poor in patches from
Periyapatana onwards.  Bylakuppe and
Kushalnagar which are much touted by the tourist leaflets for their Tibetan
settlements, are in fact grossly over rated and certainly not worth the
tiresome journey.  Near the turn off for
the Dubare elephant camp, we saw a hapless chained elephant being led through
the light bamboo thickets, presumably to the camp.  Another chained elephant could be seen in the
clearing behind him.  There was no trace
of the much touted "dense Coorg forests". 
The Nisarghadharma tourist complex can also be accessed via this
route.  None of these  “camps” and “complexes” appeal to us.   I
suppose families with small children and groups may like these type of
attractions.

Madikeri
itself is as grotty as any other small town
We tried our luck at KSTDC's Hotel Mayura near the Raja’s Seat garden,
the highest point of the town.  Rooms
were available for one night only, a blessing in disguise as it turned
out!  The 360 degree panoramic view of
the valley is nice but nothing extraordinary to travel such a distance for.  All the KSTDC hotel rooms offer better views
than those obtained from Raja’s Seat.   The hotel menu choice was limited but the meal
was piping hot, delicious, and most welcome at the end of a tiring days drive.  

Bird
song woke us the next morning.  The
weather was lovely, cool and breezy, with a very light drizzle.    We were delighted to discover wild pink
orchids [Aerides sp.] growing on the hotels trees.  Madikeri was not that bad, after all!

Breakfast
is included in the room rate at KSTDC hotels, and an excellent breakfast it was
too.  The manager informed us that the
room was available for another night but we decided we did not want to stay any
longer in Madikeri. 

Siddapur to Pollibetta - Along The Lush Plantation Trail

After
enquiries, we decided to proceed along the Chettihalli -Siddapur - Pollibetta
road which the KSTDC manager assured us was a nature lovers treat.  He was absolutely spot on.  This is the Coorg we wanted to see.

Coffee
plantations interspersed with tall evergreen trees and lush wild growth along
the hedges, line the road.  We walked
long stretches of the excellent road, enjoying the wild flowers, orchid laden
trees, butterflies and lush greenery.  It
was a thrill to see the uncommon and beautiful Clerodendrum Philippensis
growing in the wild. 

Now
and then it drizzled making the climate refreshingly cool.  The first stretch of real forest appeared between
Siddapura and Polibetta, with huge clumps of bamboo growth.  We did not see elephants but did enjoy a
delightful pair of Malabar Giant Squirrels frolicking in the tree tops above.  Just before Polibetta, is a huge timber yard
run by the Karnataka Forest Department. 
A mongoose like furry creature scampered under a pile of logs. We waited
for him to emerge but he did not oblige. 
Some workers were manually hauling huge logs onto a truck. 

By
the time we reached Polibetta it was pouring cats and dogs.  The monsoons had truly set in and we decided
there was not much point in staying longer
It would be worthwhile returning in the dry season to a plantation home
stay in this area.  Tata owns extensive
coffee plantations around Polibetta, very well maintained with neatly pruned
hedgerows.  They lack the character of
the wild hedgerows we passed by earlier.

From
Polibetta we joined the main road at Thithimathi, which is the northern end of
the Nagarhole sanctuary [Rajiv Gandhi NP]. 
A good stretch of this road passes through dense bamboo forest.  In the dry season, it must be fairly common
to see elephants and other wild animals along the road.  All we saw were some aggressive bonnet
macaque monkeys who looked like they were used to demanding food from passing
motorists!  We gave them some chips which
they eagerly devoured.  Just after this,
it started pouring torrentially almost al the way uptil Hunsur.  A solitary painted stork flew into a small
lake  along the way!

The
Kannur – Bangalore main road goes through
Virajpet, Thithimathi via Hunsur to Mysore.  From Polibetta one can join the main road
earlier at Gonikoppal and proceed southwards via Punnampet through the
Nagarhole forest upto the Iruppu falls – apparently worth seeing during and
post monsoons when the falls are in full force. 
There is a different route leading to Mysore from Iruppu.

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