Madikeri, also known as Mercara, is a lush hill station in the Coorg region of Karnataka. Situated at a height of more than 1500 m above the sea level, the natural splendor of the town has made it famous as the ‘Scotland of India’. Tributaries of the River Kaveri run through the town.
Madikeri’s misty hills, waterfalls, dense forests and vast tea and coffee plantations have made it a popular holiday destination. Madikeri is the heartland of Coorg kings who ruled the land since the late 17th century.
The Kodagu (Coorgi) people were the earliest inhabitants of Madikeri and for centuries they lived as agriculturists. Since the late 9th century, a number of famous royal dynasties like the Gangas, Cholas and the Hoyasalas ruled the land. The kings of Haleri are believed to have been the last royal family of the region.
The River Kaveri is sacred to the Coorgies. With reverence to the ancient river, they proudly call themselves as children of the Kaveri. They are regarded as skilled agriculturists and are equally famous for their hospitality. During the Kaveri Shankaramana Festival, people from all over Karnataka gather at Talakaveri, about 50 km from Madikeri to take a holy dip in the waters.
Kailpoldu is a harvest festival that is celebrated every September. Here men worship their weapons and agricultural implements and indulge in sports and outdoor activities. Puttari is another festival that is celebrated during the rice-harvest season. Coorg cuisine with its Panndi curry, Koli Barthad and Kaipulli is famous all over India.
Some of the popular attractions of Madikeri are the Abbey Falls, Rajah’s Seat, Omkareshwara Temple, Madikeri Fort, etc. Madikeri is known for its forest honey as well as select grades of rubber, teak and cocoa.
Three wildlife sanctuaries – Bahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary and Tala Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and one National Park – the Nagarhole National Park, provide habitat and protection to the many varieties of animals, trees and herbs. To explore the region comprehensively and according to one’s preferences, several Madikeri holiday packages are provided by various tour agents and operators.
Madikeri offers tourists endless opportunities to indulge in adventure activities and water sports like trekking to Thandiyandamole and Pushpagiri which are the highest peaks in the region. Trout and mahaseer fishing can be done at Valnur Fishing Camp near Kushalnagar. The best time for fishing in Madikeri is from October through May. Elephant rides at Dubare Elephant camp and white water rafting in Upper Barapole river are other things to do in Madikeri.
The cuisine of Coorg, and thereby Madikeri, comprises mainly of non-vegetarian delicacies.The staple food of the area is fragrant rice, which is known as sannakki and is cooked in various different ways like aaki oti (rice chapatti), kadambuttu (rice balls) and nool puttu (rice noodles).
Aaki oti is generally served with either pickle made from tender bamboo shoot or mudrakani-bengal gram chutney. Nool puttu is mostly eaten with Coorg’s special chicken curry. The unique pork dish, which is the speciality of Coorg, is served with kadambuttu. Some of the popular vegetarian delicacies are baimbale curry, kemb kande curry, kumm curry, therme thopp curry and mudure kanni.
Shopping in Madikeri mostly consists of local handicrafts that can be purchased from shops along the streets. Madikeri has numerous shops, where tourists can purchase coffee, tea, cardamom and other spices. The Friday Market is a good place to buy perfumes, sandalwood oil, bidriware, rosewood and sandalwood carvings, ethnic jewellery etc.
Madikeri can be reached by flights, trains and buses. The nearest airport is over 130 km away at Mangalore. The nearest international airport is at Karipur in Kozhikode of Kerala, which is 180 km away from Madikeri.
The city does not have its own railway station. However, it can be reached from the railway terminals of Mangalore, Hassan, Kannur and other places. Mysore Junction and Mangalore Junction railway stations are the two major railheads that can be used to reach Madikeri. Mangalore Junction Railway Station is located around 155 km away from Madikeri and can be reached within 2 hours and 50 minutes. Taxis charge between INR1500 and INR2500, while buses charge INR50.
KSRTC buses as well as private buses provide services to Madikeri from nearby cities in the region.These buses connect Madikeri to Bangalore, Ooty, Tirupathi, Mumbai and Kasargod. KSRTC operates Rajahamsa Executive bus, Volvo 6×2 Multi Axle Inter City bus, Deluxe, Semi deluxe and Express buses to this station.
For travelling within the town, walking is considered as the best option. The only available mode of transportation within the region is taxis. Tourists can avail taxis for sightseeing in and around the hill station. Taxis charge around INR1000 to INR1200, for commuting within the region.
Madikeri hotel options range from budget to luxury ones. For backpackers and budget travellers the best hotel options are near the fort and Raja’s Seat. There are also a number of homestays in and around the region.
Madikeri’s climate is moderate and pleasant. The temperature in winters is mostly in the range of 15-20° Celsius. The river-forests-hills combination keeps the summer temperature between 25-35° Celsius. The monsoon season fills the waterfalls and the channels of the Kaveri which draws a lot of tourists. September-March is the best time to visit Madikeri.