Abode of clouds

A lesser-known destination of Madikeri is Mandalpatti where sky-high hills are covered with magical mist. Sunrises and sunsets here are phenomenal, writes B V Prakash

Mandalpatti. PHOTOS BY AUTHOR

Often described as ‘Switzerland of India’, Coorg is a district known for its hilly terrain, dense forests, waterfalls and unique temples. There are at least half a dozen tourist spots like Bylakuppe Tibetan Monastery, Dubare Elephant Camp, Cauvery Nisargadhama, Abbey Falls and so on. But in recent times, a new charming destination is gaining popularity and is being listed as an important sight not to be missed. Mandalpatti Viewpoint, not far from Madikeri, is a thriving tourist attraction. Virtually little known for long, Mandalpatti shot to fame after the popular Kannada movie Gaalipata was filmed here. The place is also known as Mugilupete or ‘abode of clouds’, as it was named in the movie. Now, this spot has indeed become a star attraction for visitors.

Up, up & away

During our last visit to the town, we had earmarked an extra day to make it to Mandalpatti. Perched atop a range of rolling hills and deep valleys, Mandalpatti, at 4,050 ft, is the ultimate viewpoint offering a 360-degree view of the spectacular landscape. The highlight of the place is the blissful mood it gets into, particularly at sunrise and sunset. As such arriving in Madikeri by the night, we at once called up Harish, the jeep service provider, and fixed the programme for the next day. As per his suggestion, we would leave at 5 in the morning to be able to reach the spot, some 30 km away, in time. It was still dark and cold when the jeep arrived, we were on the way soon.

As had been informed beforehand, the road to Mandalpatti is anything but a ragged trail battered to the core. After the recent deluge, the huge landslides have left their scar and the driving is all the more backbreaking. Only jeeps and 4WDs can venture up this terrain. There are two approaches to Mandalpatti which lies to the north of Madikeri. We skipped the road via Abbey Falls having been to the place many a time. Also, the water would hardly be copious at this time of the year.

The other road passing through Makkanduru and Hattihole is slightly longer but better. Nevertheless, the journey shook us off from the sleepy mood. Reaching the parking lot, we quickly moved up the short trail to the hilltop duly paying the prescribed entry fees at the check-post. Hordes of people had already gathered and were scrambling up. At the summit, we were simply blown off our feet by the stupendous views that opened up all around. The popularity of the spot goes by the ethereal beauty the surroundings have with a sea of rolling hills and the white fluffy layers of mist like waves.

Sunrise at Mandalpatti.
Sunrise at Mandalpatti.

Stunning beauty

The deep ravines that run down from the edge of the plateau are packed with seemingly impenetrable dense forests. In each direction, towering peaks soar with prominent ones like Kumara Parvatha or Pushpagiri, Kote Betta, Nishani Betta, etc. As the sun rose over the horizon, it was as if a huge light was lit over the whole valley. With the clouds painted with golden lines, it was truly an awesome sight. After a delightful experience of viewing breathtaking vistas and scrambling all over the place for a couple of hours, we made it back to Madikeri.

Nishani Motte

With half a day more at our convenience, we chose to climb the Nishani Motte Peak that loomed large in the northwest. Also called Nishani Betta, the 4,100-ft-high hill can be approached from different starting points each with its own difficulty level. The easiest route being from the town Gaalibeedu, 12 km away from Madikeri. We headed there in an auto. The driver was friendly and tried his best to leave us as near the foothills as he could, thereby reducing a third of the trekking distance which is 7 km to the peak. The initial path is a motorable road through coffee estates and a few houses. Soon, it was just the two of us with the trampling of the dry leaves being the only sound to be heard. At the top is a wide plateau with deep valleys to the east and west. As the sun went behind the distant hills, we retraced our steps.

Having visited a heavenly viewpoint and trekked up a beautiful peak, the experience was, for sure, pleasant and rejuvenating. 

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