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Road Trip to the South of India Part 3: Shimoga to Coorg

We are leaving Kerala in 2 days. On Saturday early morning, we will start the next drive from Kerala to Bangalore. This journey is going to take us to various cities and small towns, and hopefully, there are going to be lots of delicious street bites along the ride. We will also pass through a national park where we might even be able to spot some wild animals like we did earlier in 2010 road trip in this very same route.

So before we are heading on a long drive again, I want to update the parts of our trip that we have finished so far— a drive from Shimoga to Coorg, a day in Coorg, and a drive from Coorg to Kerala. There are also a mini post like the Golden Temple and a trip to Dubare Elephant Camp. Many Kerala rendezvous posts will have to wait until we get back home in Pune. I want to put all of them up on our blog as soon as possible. I’m not sure how much I can do in two days, but I will try to get the Coorg to Kerala post online before we left Kerala.

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Just so you know, every posts from this trip are going to come out in videos on Youtube as well. They are taking longer for us to put them together so the video series would be up in a couple of weeks from now. To get in touch with us while we are on road is twitter (@Testerfly), facebook and instagram (@tesathome). I constantly tweet and instagram every little update on the places as long as I have the network on my phone.

Now back to the road trip. I’ve hinted you about a very interesting surprise in our hotel, Jewel Rock, Shimoga, in that morning we left for Coorg. See being the constant travelers to some of the isolated terrains in India, we’re not strangers to staying in the budget hotels where time to time, we came across insect invasions— we had dealt with mosquitoes, ants, little bugs and even roaches from the bathroom drain, but never the bees! Yes, a swarm of bees were our surprise we, not in a million years, expected to share a room with. When I woke up at 5am that morning and went to the bathroom, I heard suspicious buzzing on the ceiling. Being a push over and being positive are two different things, a sane person would make a complaint to front desk right away, but I started to laugh uncontrollably. I woke my Sadik, who found the situation amusing as well, up and show him what was happening. So apparently, our room is facing a small garden in front of the hotel where these little guys are living, and when we turned on the light in the morning, they were lured in. I told my husband, “You have to love traveling so much for sharing a room with a swarm of bees doesn’t bother you.”

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The hotel invited us for a quick coffee and breakfast snack, but we declined the offer and got on the highway, SH 68, taking us to Bhadravathi. When the rays of light were trying to push through a murky silver sky, Shimoga was still sleepy. The air was cold, the crowds disappeared, the business houses’ doors shut, and that vibrant rush of this colorful city absent.

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I love this stretches of our journey where we seemed to be the only one on the roads. There was no traffic, only a few local wagons moving on their paces, the cattle strolling on the sidewalks and the illuminated landscape stretching beyond our sights.

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At the town of Tarikere, we took a right to stay on SH 57. From here we could notice the mountains and hills elevated from in the distance. Soon we reached Chimagalur where the coffee plantations lined between the twisted road.

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We stopped for a hearty breakfast at a roadside restaurant (I can’t remember the name of the restaurant right now, but I will add that when I find it in my memory) which is a part of homestay facility tugged above the hill and between coffee plantations on the left of state highway. Potato fritters, banana pepper fritters were on the menu.

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I have never eaten a better banana pepper fritters anywhere else. It was hot and crispy on the outside; the peppers were smoky and very fresh and crunchy on the inside. It’s not at all spicy, but pungent and kicking your tongue like a flavor bomb. Potato fritters are scrumptious. Humble and comforting. We also order spiced omelet prepared by fresh homegrown eggs from chicken in the estate.

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The overpowering aroma of fresh roasted coffee beans made waiting for coffee intolerable. 2 cups of coffee for me and Sadik, and a cup of warm almond flavored milk for Yaseen. All these and the gorgeous mountain view plus a bottle of packaged drinking water is Rs. 320. That’s a really good deal for this kind of pampering.

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Feeling full and satisfied, we were on road again. We got the sunshine on our shoulders, the kisses by forest breezes, our eyes lingering on the views of mountains and everlasting greeneries. We got the big smiles on our faces, the best ones we have ever gotten. Our sky was blue. And we started to forget about the destination. I had my boys with me and the winds as my guide; where else I needed to be. The destination would always stay at the same spot; what we really needed was to make every step of our journey count.

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We had google navigator on the phones, and the internet connection even in the most remote area, but getting lost is always a part of a good journey. Have you ever fought with your navigator? We did! Hehe, true story. Our navigator seemed to always take us to the rough and bad (condition) roads so we decided to double check with the locals. We diverted to another route and got lost at some point where our navigator app decided to stop working. I sort of made a joke that she (our navigator apps) was mad at us so she stopped helping. Somehow, we made it out of the mess with the help of an online map.

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There were many routes we could take to get to Madikeri, Coorg, where again for a hundred times; we didn’t know where to spend a night. Our lunch was only a quick bite at Café Coffee Day in Kushalnagar. We decided we needed caffeine more than food at this point. We had some sandwiches, ice tea, frappe, flavored drink and some chocolate parfait for lunch.

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I don’t know what is it with us that we never worry about booking the hotel before we get to the place. This is always a habit. Maybe we really just don’t mind sleeping anywhere as long as we’re together, maybe it’s recklessness, or maybe it’s only laziness, but it is what it is, we’re just not the properly-book-hotel-and-travel kind of people.

We reached Madikeri around late afternoon when we still didn’t keen to make a call to book a hotel until we ready to hit the bed. We strolled around the city and went sight-seeing instead. With so much enthusiasm, we made it to the fort of Medikeri, the museum, the famous Raja Seat view point, the waterfall, etc. I will cover our walk in Coorg later in another post.

By the sun down, we decided to look for the hotel. We found a nice little place called Sun Valley just below the town, basically resting in the forest. I will tell you more about our stay at this hotel in the next post and in the videos.

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Supper was at a restaurant in town. They had everything from Chicken Shawarma, Coorg dishes, typical Kerala meal, a little north Indian dishes and western dishes like fried chicken, burgers and sandwiches. We ordered Biryani (this is just one dish I had to order wherever I go), chicken 65, which was absolutely delicious. Yaseen had some chicken strips and fries which he smothered in ketchup and devoured. We also got some burgers to go for late night snacks.

You don’t need air conditioned room in Coorg. It’s really cold at night. We curled and cuddled in the blankets and slept so full underneath the thousands stars in the deep black sky. But later that night, it started to rain, thunder humming on the other side of the mountain. I love listening to raindrops bouncing against the roof of the forest. Such a cozy night…

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I’m going to conclude this post by telling you how grateful I am to be able to travel, to see these amazing places and to meet so many interesting people along our journey. When I travel, I get inspired, and it fills me with love and ambition. My novel, the Poison Spoon which was initiated in Nanowrimo is getting another push again. I finally determined to finish the whole piece soon. This is going to be my first non-paranormal material. And it’s especially made for the love of south India, foodies and happy travellers.


12 comments to Road Trip to the South of India Part 3: Shimoga to Coorg

  • Haha and I thought having large spiders, moths etc. as room guests was bad enough. Lovely photographs and narration.

  • Ohh lady!!! thanks for refreshing all those sweet memories of my trip…love you for that

  • Glad that you are enjoying and making us all enjoy as well. Loved the feeling of being alone on a road, i guess in all metros this can only be a dream.

  • Awesome! I loved the post Tes 🙂

  • Tushar

    Tes, what a lovely blog! We are doing Pune to Coorg via Shimoga in Diwali. It’s still one month to go and your blog just made the wait even harder 🙂 I have a query – I am not clear of the route you took after Chikkamagaluru. As your last break was at Kushalnagar, my guess is you took Belur-Hassan-Arkalgud-Ramnathapura-Kushalnagar. Is that right? Google shows a different route, which although scenic, may not be in a perfect shape.

    • Tes

      You are right. We took a longer route because we expected to avoid some traffic. When we went that time, the road was okay, but very small. Let me know about your trip. Can’t wait to hear about it soon 🙂

      • Tushar

        Tes, We had a fabulous road trip to Coorg (and then onto Bekal, Murdeshwar, Amboli & back to Pune). We too took break at Shimoga, and took the road via Chickmanglur (avoided Hassan, and took shortest but scenic path). The whole road was via coffee estates, and I will definitely do this trip just for the driving pleasure of it. Thanks a lot for your blog. This was our first long road trip with kids, and your blog definitely helped reduce our anxiety and gave a sense of what to expect esp. on the internal roads. I am looking forward for your next travelogue, thanks once again 🙂

        • Tes

          Tushar, I’m so happy you guys had a great time. When I first traveled with my kid ( that time he was 3 months old) I was slightly nervous, too. But after one trip, I realized there’s nothing to be worried about and it’s actually so much fun having him around all the time. I hope your family keep having fun and sharing your stories with us again and again 🙂

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