Coorg, also known as Kodagu, is a district in Karnataka, India. It is one of the most well-known hill stations in India and has been inhabited since ancient times. The history of Coorg dates back to the 3rd century CE, when the Kadamba Dynasty ruled the region. During this time, the region was known as Kushalnagar, and it was ruled by the Haleri dynasty from 1600 to 1834.
The Haleri dynasty was instrumental in establishing Coorg as an independent kingdom. In 1834, Coorg was annexed by the British East India Company. The British period saw a period of development in the region, and Coorg was declared a princely state in 1834. In 1947, Coorg was integrated into the newly formed Indian Union, along with the other princely states.
Today, Coorg is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, with its lush green landscape, stunning waterfalls and beautiful temples. It is also known for its vibrant culture and cuisine, with traditional dishes like pandi curry, akki roti and kadubu being popular among tourists. Coorg is home to many ancient temples, including the famous Omkareshwara Temple and the Bhagandeshwara Temple.
In recent years, Coorg has become an important center of coffee production, with its plantations producing some of the best coffee in India. Discover the history of Coorg and ancient sites, given below.
Bylakuppe, located 6kms from Kushalnagara, is the second largest Tibetan settlement in India after Dharamshala. Home to thousands of Tibetan refugees who have escaped Chinese occupation in Tibet, the settlement is filled with agricultural areas, Tibetan monasteries, tourist-friendly eateries, and handicraft shops.
The centerpiece of Bylakuppe is the stunning Golden Temple or Namdroling Monastery, a 40-foot tall monument featuring handcrafted decorations, prayer drums, prayer wheels, and breathtaking Thangka paintings depicting the incarnations of Buddha and Vajrayana Buddhist deities. The area is also home to various educational monastic institutions, such as Sera, Tashilunpo Monastery, Sera Mey, Sera Jay Monasteries, and other buddhist universities.
Rajara Gaddige is a must-visit for tourists exploring Coorg. It is the mausoleum of the former rulers – Doddaveerarajendra, Lingarajendra and Rajaguru Rudrappa. The two structures, which are the tombs of the king and his queen, exhibit Indo-Sarcanic style with the central domes supported by four pillars.
Furthermore, the right tomb is of King Lingarajendra, built in 1820 A.D. by his son king Chikkaveerarajendra, while the left tomb was constructed by Royal priest Rudrappa in 1834 A.D. Other notable sites at Rajara Gaddige include the burial location of two royal officials – Biddanda Bopu and his son Biddanda Somaiah – who died while confronting Tipu Sultan. The spot is only 1 km away from Madikeri.
Madikeri Fort has an interesting history and one of the best places to visit Madikeri. Built in the late 17th century by Mudduraja, the fort was initially made from mud. Tipu Sultan eventually rebuilt it using stone and added secret underground passages. Within the fort stands a sculpture of a tortoise bearing the initials of King Vijayarajendra and two life size stone replicas of royal elephants which were killed by King Veera Raja.
In 1855, the British built an Anglican Church inside the fort, in the place of a temple of Virabhadra. This church has stained glass windows and was constructed in Gothic style. Subsequently, in 1933, a clock tower and a portico were added. The two-storied fort is a 110 feet long structure.
Madikeri Fort has been converted into a museum by the Archaeological Department of India, which houses a variety of historic artifacts. A section of the museum is dedicated to Field Martial Cariappa. Other attractions within the fort include the district prison, the Kote Maha Ganapathi temple and the Mahatma Gandhi Public Library. The Kote Maha Ganapathi temple is a major site during the Madikeri Dussera Festival.
Raja’s Seat is a renowned landmark of Madikeri in the Coorg District. It is a beautiful flower garden, with magnificent fountains that dance to the beat of loud, melodious music. The garden gets its name as it was the favourite spot of the Kodagu Kings, who used to spend time here with their queens.
The site is marked with a brick and mortar pavilion, held up by four pillars and topped with archways. This structure pays tribute to the the kings and queens who frequented the garden.
The Kodagu Kings were enchanted by the luscious green gardens and the rolling mountains draped in mist. Perched atop a higher level than the cliffs and valleys below, Raja’s seat offers a stunning view of the landscape.
Witness the majestic beauty of a sunrise or sunset in the valley, with the golden light bathing the horizon in an enchanting glow. For added delight, the kids can also hop on the Toy train for a fun ride.
Bhagamandala is an important pilgrimage spot for Hindus, located at the confluence of the Kaveri and its tributary Kannike, with the mythical river Sujyothi joining them from underground. This sacred river junction is also known as Triveni Sangama. Devotees take a dip at the Bhagamandala before continuing their journey to Talacauvery.
Near the Triveni Sangama stands the renowned Sri Bhagandeshwara temple, where Bhagandeshwara, Subramanya, Mahavishnu and Ganapati are worshipped. The temple complex is built in Kerala style. During Tipu Sultan’s rule from 1785 to 1790, Bhagamandala was renamed Afesalabad.
In 1790, King Dodda Vira Rajendra restored Bhagamandala to an independent Kodagu kingdom, thus restoring its former glory. Bhagamandala is 33kms from Madikeri, and is connected to Virajpet and other places in Kerala.
Talacauvery is a revered pilgrimage for the Hindus, located at the Brahmagiri hills. Believed to be the origin of the Kaveri river, this place is situated 1276m above the sea level and has a tank at the spot where the river is thought to have originated. Devotees take a holy dip in the tank on special days and there is also a small temple dedicated to Lord Agastheeswara near the area.
Legend has it that Kaveri was held captive by Sage Agasthya in his Kamandalu and Lord Ganesha, in the form of a crow, toppled it off the hill, allowing the river to gush out. One of the biggest draw for pilgrims is Bhagamandala, 8kms away from Talacauvery, which is the confluence of the three rivers, Kaveri, Kanake, and Sujyoti.
There are temples devoted to Ganapathy, Subramanya, and Vishnu near the area. Every year during October/November, an annual festival is celebrated which sees thousands of pilgrims come together to witness the gushing of the fountainhead. The region also becomes very attractive with thousands of lights lit in the temples. Apart from being a spiritual place, Talacauvery is also a tourist spot with breathtaking views of the Western Ghats.
Located at the heart of the Madikeri hill station, the Omkareshwara Temple is a unique Hindu temple with influences of Islamic architecture. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple was built by King Lingarajendra in 1820, during the reign of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. The temple features a dome at the center and four turrets at the corners, resembling the structure of a dargah.
There is also a Shiva Linga at the entrance of the temple and a water tank with a mandapa in the middle and a causeway connecting it to the main building. The temple got its name as people believed that the Linga present here was brought from Kashi by the King.
According to the legend, the king had killed a Brahmin to achieve his political goals and, in order to appease his disgruntled spirit, he founded the temple and installed the idol. An inscription on a copper plate is visible on the entrance door. The temple is unique in that it combines the architectural styles of both Hinduism and Islam.