Coorg also known as Kodagu is a district in Karnataka state, popular for tourism. The taluks that we covered in our week long trip are Madikeri, Ponnampet and Kushalnagar. Kodagu is rated as one of the top hill station destinations in India. Some of the most popular tourist attractions in Kodagu include Talakaveri, Bhagamandala, Nisargadhama, Abbey Falls, Dubare, Nagarahole National Park, Iruppu Falls, and the Tibetan Buddhist Golden Temple. Going on a cycling trip can take you to places you never thought of visiting and it is a great way to explore new places. The best part is that Coorg has some awesome cycling routes that offer breathtaking sights and sceneries, so taking off on your bicycle is a great idea if you want to leave the city for a while and pedal your way through picturesque routes for a much-needed break.
As most of us were from Pune, it was easy for us to book in advance. We all decided to prebook our bus tickets along with pre confirmation to carry our bikes along with us. This is very important that you tell them about carrying a bike in advance, as in most of the tourist buses, the luggage section is used as cargo.
We started from Wakad, Pune for the bus which started from Mumbai. And to our surprise when the bus arrived, we found no place left for our bikes to load. We had some heated arguments with the travel agent and he managed to get our bikes on the roof top of other bus heading to Mangalore. But finally, both us and our bikes reached Mangalore safely.
Morning 8.00 AM it was and we reached the bus depot. We had to wait for our bikes which was coming in other bus. We till then had our breakfast and the bus arrived. Loading and unloading of bikes on bus roof was another adventure. You need a team of atleast 3 to do it safely. We booked a room in a hotel nearby and decided to do some local exploration in public transport. We visited Panambur beach and port.
We started early in the morning today. The total distance of 110km was a mis of a rolling terrain and flats on the highway. The plan was to reach Coorg in one day, but looking at our speed and the heat, and not fully prepared to do 25km of ghat stretch at the end of the ride, we decided to make a halt at Sampaje base. We camped in a govt. school in the village. The villagers were quite helpful, and they offered us lot of help in getting the permission to camp in the school. We also took their motorbike to get some food from a nearby restaurant.
The total climb to Coorg is about 25km. The stretch is quite steep and it gets difficult with all that luggage loaded in pannier bags. We started in the morning around 7 and reached Coorg by 11.30 am. We continued pedalling to visit few places in Coorg like Raja Seat, Abbey falls. Had our lunch near Abbey falls and decided to continue till Mandalpatti as the city was crowded. Not aware of the terrain to mandalpatti, we could see only 4x4 on the route. This created some fear as we could see only uphill slopes ahead of us. It was getting dark and the region was completely deserted. We had to find an accomodation or a place to camp. There was rarely any restaurant and also no family was ready to give us some place to camp. Finally saw few local people who stopped by and asked about our plans. we immediately asked for help. They provided us with a contact who runs a small hotel cum accomodation. We confirmed with him and made our way towards the guest house.
As it was December month, it was quite cold at night. We managed to start today by 8:00 AM. Mandalpatti gate was just 2-3 km climb from the place. We had our breakfast at the entry gate and decided to keep our luggage at the same restaurant. Total offroad distance to the peak is around 4-5 km. We were familiar of riding on such terrain as it was quite similar to Rajmachi near Lonavala. We spent some time on the peak and decided to take a different route towards Pollibetta via Kote Abbe falls. it is a pleasant route with more of flat terrain. Today we camped at a coffee estate near Haleri. Thanks to the owner Siraj bhai for offering camp ground.
Camping in the middle of coffee estate, having black coffee right from the farm is on the todo list of many tourist visiting coorg. We were lucky to experience it for free. Siraj bhai suggested a route through Siddapura as we were to visit Dubare Elephant, Nisargdham today. The route was quite scenic with both sides of it covered with never ending coffee plantations by TATA group. It was getting dark and we wanted to find a camping ground for the night. We asked few locals, but it was difficult to convince them. Cycling is not so known to people of coorg and they are hesitant to offer place to stay also because of the COVID situation in the entire world. We took our last chance by asking a priest of a temple to let us stay in the temple surroundings. We were glad that we asked. He offered us not just a place to camp, ,but also finger licking super delicious dinner and breakfast.
Today was supposedly the last and the longest days of our expedition. And the thrill being, we will be riding through the National park. We started our ride around 8.00 AM in the morning and reached the entry gate of the park around 11.00 AM. But sadly we came to know that, cycles and bikes are not allowed in the park. We had no choice but to hire a jeep to cross the region. We hired a jeep for approx 1000/- for three of us and loaded our cycles in the rear and top of a 4x4 Thar jeep. This itself was an ultimate experience. We could only spot deers on our way. The jeep dropped us at the exit and we continued cycling on our destination for the day i.e Mysuru via Hunsur. After Hunsur, it get quite boring as it is a highway ride uptill Mysuru. We reached Mysuru around 6.30 pm where our 2 other friends were already waiting for us as they had taken a different route and reached a day before us.
Last night we had taken our bus tickets to Pune in a sleeper bus. The bus starts at 12.00 pm in the afternoon. So we had almost half day to explore. One of our friends rode to Nandi hills in the morning and visited Mysore palace. We decided to take rest and sleep for some more time. We finally boarded our bus along with bikes loaded in the luggage section of the bus. The bus dropped us at Wakad around 5.30 am in the morning and the expedition had come to an end with lots of memories to cherish for lifetime.
Coorg was an ultimate cycling experience. Green landscapes, tough climbs, tent stays, chill nights, great south indian food, good people and many such things to feel happy about.
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