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Tourist Places To Visit In Madikeri (Mercara)
Madikeri, a hill station and the capital of the Kodagu in Southwestern Karnataka, is not a mere tourist hill station that you’d want to go sightseeing, shopping or trekking in. The hill station town is steeped in rich history of battles and kings and the monuments that they had built, some of which still stand as silent sentries, nestled amidst the lush green valleys and slopes of the hills. You’d be surprised to discover that the beautiful little town and its precincts will not only keep you entertained, but also enlightened. Here are some of the most interesting tourist places in Madikeri and its environs that you ought to visit.
The Madikeri fort, which surrounds a Palace, was built by King Mudduraja in the latter half of the 17th century. It was later reconstructed by Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysuru, who renamed the site as Jaffarabad. The Fort went through a series of reconstructions by the British and Lingarajendra Wodeyar 11, the King of Kodagu. The Fort, parts of which function as government offices today, is an example of ancient architectural splendour. The ancient St. Mark’s church built inside the Fort in 1859, presently houses the Madikeri Fort Museum, which has on display various artefacts including artillery and weapons used during the reign of King Mudduraja and Tipu Sultan.
The Madikeri Fort on Stuart Hill is open on all days from 9 am-5.50 pm.
Omkareshwara Shiva Temple
Situated in the heart of Madikeri town, the Omkareshwara Temple is an example of Hindu, Gothic and Islamic styles of architecture. The temple was built in 1820 by King Lingarajendra 11 and legends say that the king had to atone for the death of a Brahman, by installing a Shiva linga that was brought especially from the holy city of Kashi. The main temple has a central dome with four minarets and a perfect pond with an Islamic styled minaret- mandapa in the middle. It’s lovely to see the varieties of fishes frolicking in the pond. While visiting the Omkareshwara temple, pray do visit the Anjaneya Gudi or Hanuman temple inside the premises.
The temple is open from 6.30 am-12 noon and from 5 pm-8 pm.
Gaddige Rajas' Tombs
Set right in the middle of a green carpeted plain on a hillock are the tombs built for the Kings of Coorg. You can visit the tombs, built in the Indio-Sarcenic style of architecture, of King Lingarajendra built by his son Chikkavirarajendra in 1820 and the tombs of the King Doddaveerarajendra and his queen. There are smaller tombs for the royal priest and the brave officer Biddananda Bopu, who died in the battle with Tipu Sultan. Just about a kilometre away from the Madikeri main bus stand, the tombs are worth a visit, to muse over the past and to spend time in the well manicured garden surrounding the tombs.
Built in 1861, the Raja’s Seat boasts of a beautiful garden set on top of a hill, with a mandapa where long, long ago, the king relaxed after a weary day at the royal durbar. The Rajas presumably loved to watch the sunset from this pinnacle. The Raja’s Seat is one of the most popular tourist places in Madikeri for it offers an awesome view of the surroundings-the hilltops and the valleys and the slopes where the coffee plantations are. With a well maintained garden of large trees and flowering bushes, the Raja’s seat is a place you really must visit. There is a musical fountain in the garden and the best times of the day you can spend at the Raja's Seat are sunrise and sunset.
The Raja’s Seat is about 1 km from the Madikeri bus stand.
Dubare Elephant Camp
Set on the banks of river Cauvery, the Dubare Elephant Camp trains elephants with the help of trained kumkis and the local Kuruba tribes. The ones that have finished their training are sent to participate in the Mysuru Dussehra Elephant Procession popularly known as Jamboo Savari. Its fun to share your day with the elephants and watch them being fed or bathed in the river. There are ferries to cross over to the other side of the river where the camp is and there are cottages near the camp which will accommodate you during your stay there.
The Dubare Elephant Camp is about 20 km from Madikeri on the Kushalnagar Siddhapur road. The camp is open throughout the year
If you are a history buff, then you’d love visiting the Nalkunadu aramane or Nalkunadu Palace. The Palace stands as a monumental memory to the long standing battle between the kings of Kodagu and Tipu Sultan. The Palace is said to have been built by King Dodda Veerarajendra in around 1792-1794 AD, as a base to fight against the increasing incursions of Tipu Sultan. The last king of the Kodagas, Chikka Veerarajendra took refuge in the Nalknad Palace before the British sent him into exile and took control of Kodagu.
Built predominantly as a hideout in a thick sheltered forest, the Palace is small but stands out in terms of the architectural woodwork that goes into its construction. The Palace is near a village called Yekavapadi, about 37 km from Madikeri.
Mandalpatti or Mugilupeth is the most scenic spot about 20 km from Madikeri. At an elevation of about 4,050 ft, Mandalpatti in the Pushpagiri Reserve Forest range is one of the moist sought after touristy places of Kodagu. You are allowed to the top through a check post beyond which you either take a jeep or trek the rest of the way. There is a watchtower at the topmost view point and gazing at the Pushpagiri mountain ranges from the viewpoint is breathtaking.
Enroute from Madikeri to Mandalpatti, you can stop at the Abbey Falls, which is one among the numerous waterfalls in Kodagu district. The Abbey Falls are perennial waters and it’s lovely to watch the frothy waters gushing down the rocky crevices. The Abbey Falls are about 17 km from Madikeri on the Mandalpatti Road.
There is a large Tibetan settlement in Bylaguppe, established by Lugsum Samdrupling in 1961. The Namdroling or Golden Temple Monastery in the settlement was built in 1963 by Drupwang Padma Norbu Rinpoche.
The Monastery that belongs to the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism has many young resident monks, Lamas and nuns and a steady stream of tourists who wonder and marvel at the beautiful ornate architecture, the well maintained gardens. You can find more monasteries in the vicinity i.e. the Sera, Sakya and Tashi Lhumpo Monasteries, dotted around the settlements. There is a restaurant inside the complex that serves Tibetan food and stalls where you can buy souvenirs. Visit the Namdroling Monastery, for it fills the mind with a serene tranquillity and peace. The Namdroling Monastery is 34 km from Madikeri, towards Kushalnagar.