Kodagu, or Coorg district is situated on the lowest part of the Western Ghats in Karnataka. Prehistoric evidences suggest that the district was occupied during Megalithic and Neolithic age. Dolmens and burial grounds have been found in Doddamalthe and Sulimalthe villages.
Though the history of Kodagu from the beginning of the millennium to the 9th century is still uncertain, however, inscriptions from the 9th century reveal that a major trench has been formed due to some wars in the region.
In the 9th and 10th century, the southern part of Karnataka was ruled by the Gangas of Talakad, and under them, the Changalvas ruled as their feudatory in the eastern part of Kodagu. The rest of the Kodagu was ruled by the Kongalvas, the feudatories of the Cholas. They patronised Jainism, as evident from the 10th century Jain sites at Mullur. The Jain Basadis were built by Pocchabbe, the queen of Kongalva II, according to the inscriptions in the temple premises.
|Inscriptions at Mullur|
The time from 12th to 15th centuries saw several battles fought between the Gangas, Cholas, Chalukyas, Vijayanagar and the local palegars. In the late 16th century, the Keladi Nayaks of Ikkeri established their stronghold here and started the Haleri Kingdom. The Nayaks ruled for a period of 200 years, and the towns Madikeri and Virajpet, derive their names from the rulers Mudduraja keri and Virarajendrapete, respectively. Dodda Vira Rajendra (1780 - 1809) is one of the notable rulers from the Kodagu region, who also built the Nalknad Palace. The story starts after the death of Lingaraja I in 1780, Hyder Ali took control of Kodagu region and imprisoned Lingaraja's sons in Gorur fort, in the pretext of taking care of them. For the next few years, the Kodavas drove Hyder Ali's men out of Kodagu and established self proclaimed independence. In the late 18th century, following Hyder Ali's death, Tipu Sultan succeeded him, and transferred Lingaraja's sons to Periyapatna fort, close to the capital at Madikeri. In 1786, Prince Dodda Vira Rajendra escaped from the fort and declared himself as the king of the Kodavas which was welcomed by the community. He tried to reclaim Madikeri from Tipu Sultan and waged several battles with him, however, barring Madikeri, he won most part of his kingdom. He built the Nalknad palace in the middle of the woods to chalk out a strategy to drive Tipu out of Madikeri. The Kodavas later decided to side with the British to overpower Tipu Sultan, and in 1791, Tipu Sultan was ousted from Madikeri and Dodda Vira Rajendra regained the entire Kodagu. In the mid 18th century, the British annexed Kodagu and named it 'Coorg' and it came under British rule until India gained independence in 1947. In 1956, Coorg was merged with the Mysore State which later became Karnataka.
Kodagu enjoys a distinct culture in the diverse state of Karnataka. They worship several deities including the river Cauvery, which originates at Talacauvery, Iguthappa, and other Gods which descend to Earth on some form or the other. Kodagu costume is also well known across Karnataka, where the women drape the saree in a distinct way. The men traditionally sport a headwear which is unique to the Kodavas.
Souveneirs of Kodagu:
Kodagu speciality lies in the varieties of food, which is a delight for non-vegetarians. Pandi Curry, or Pork Curry and Kadambattu (Steamed rice) is prepared in Kodagu style, is savoured in this region.Like other places in the Western Ghats, coffee is grown in Kodagu, specially in Somwarpete. Coffee arabica is also grown in some parts of southern and western Kodagu, the historical area of coffee production.
Places of Interest:
1. Madikeri: The capital of the Kodagu region, Madikeri is also the biggest city in Coorg. Madikeri offers several attractions to the visitors like the Raja's seat, a popular recreation place for the Kodagu rulers with panoramic views of the hills. Madikeri Fort, initially built in the 17th century by Mudduraja, was later rebuilt by Tipu Sultan, and was further renovated by later rulers of the Haleri dynasty. The Madikeri Fort also houses the British era St Marks church, which now houses the Madikeri Fort Museum. The Omkareshwara temple, known for its unique architecture built by Lingarajendra in Karavali and Islamic style to keep the invadors at bay. The beautiful Abbey Falls is also located just outside Madikeri town. Around 1.5 kms north of Madikeri is the location of the Tombs of Gaddige, which houses the tombs of the Kodava kings, built in the 19th century. The tombs are built in Indo-Sarcenic architecture and also has a Shiva temple in the premises.
|Church inside fort|
2. Nagarahole National Park: The national park is located partly in Mysore District and partly in Kodagu district. Not far from here is the Irupu Falls.
|Nagarahole National Park|
3. Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary: Covered with dense evergreen forest, Brahmagiri hills is a natural habitat for several species of wildlife including lion-tailed macaque, elephant, gaur, tiger, jungle cat, leopard cat, wild dog, sloth bear, wild pig, sambar, spotted deer, Nilgiri langur, slender loris, bonnet macaque, common langur, barking deer.
4. Talacauvery: Tucked in the dense forest of Talacauvery Wildlife sanctuary is the birthplace of the river Cauvery, which originates from beneath under the Earth, which flows underground before emerginf out at a distance. Talacauvery also hosts a variety of wildlife, like the Albizia lebbeck.
5. Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary: The beautiful hills of Pushpagiri Wildlife sanctuary are home to variety of rare species of wildlife. Pushpagiri and Kumara Parvatha are the two major peaks in this belt. Kumara Parvatha is a popular trekking spot and severl travellers camp on their way to the peak.
6. Kotebetta: Kote betta traslates into 'Hill Fort', a fort like appearance which the hill gives to the viewers. This place is also a popular hiking place for adventure lovers.
7. Tadiandamol: This is the highest peak in Kodagu, with the popular Nalknad Palace at the foothills. The panoramic views of the Western Ghats is enjoyed by the trekkers and nature lovers alike.
8. Waterfalls: Several waterfalls are perennial in Kodagu, however, during monsoons, more waterfalls emerge due to the rains and produce a spectacle. Some of the known waterfalls in the district are Abbey Falls, Irupu Falls and Mallalli Falls
9. Bhagamandala: On the way from Madikeri to Talacauvery is the pilgrimage place of Bhagamandala, known for the Triveni Sangama and the ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, established by the Sage Bhaganda, hence called Bhagandeshwara. The temple was renovated by Dodda Vira Rajendra in the 18th century.
|Bhagandeshwara temple, Bhagamadala|
10. Mandalapatti: A spectacular view point, located around 35 kms from Madikeri, is a popular trekking place offering breathtaking views of the hills and a waterfall.
11. Mullur: At the edge of Kodagu district is the small village of Mullur, where an ancient Jain Basadi built in 11th century by the Gangas with inscriptions is the major attraction.
|Jain Basadi, Mullur|
12. Honnamana Kere: This is the biggest lake in Kodagu district and is located around 7kms from Somwarpet. According to a legend, the lake is named after Honnamma, the youngest among an influential man's daughters-in-law, who sacrificed her life for the welfare of the village.
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