Coorg(Kodagu), Karnataka, India

Coorg lies in southwestern Karnataka, at the southern end of the Western Ghats. Its name is probably a corruption of the Kannada kodagu ("steepness"). Its 4,104 sq km area is rugged and hilly with a high rainfall and a climate tempered by its altitude. The thickly forested hills often exceed 5,000 ft. Notable summits, all above 5,300 ft, include Tadramol, Pushpagiri, and Kottebetta. Coorg is drained by the upper Cauvery River and its tributaries, which in legend have some of the life-giving properties of the Ganges. Rice is cultivated on the valley floors. Coffee plantations occupy hillside clearings. Other crops are tea, cardamom, rubber, pepper, and millet. There are orange groves in the south and evergreen timber forest in the west.

Coorg was an independent kingdom from the 9th century. A Hindu dynasty ruled almost continuously from the late 16th century until overthrown by the British in 1834. The region became a province (a state after 1950) of British India and because of its ruggedness was sometimes referred to as the "Wales of India." Administered by the chief commissioner of Mysore from 1881 to 1947, Coorg was absorbed into Mysore in 1953. The main towns are the district headquarters, Madikeri, Somvarpet, Virarajendrapet, and Ponnampet. A local hero is the former Field Marshal in the Indian Army, General KM Cariappa. [Adapted from Encyclopedia Britannica]


In 1681 Mudda Raja selected the central but inaccessible site of present day Madikeri for the capital of the independent Hindu dynasty of Coorg. A fort built in 1812 by Raja Lingarajendra II and the hilltop Omkareshwara Temple overlook the relatively quiet town. Raja's Seat, a picturesque little garden, commands a panoramic view. [Adapted from Encyclopedia Britannica]

Tile rooftops (more)

On series of ridges at 1200 m

View from Raja's Seat

Madikeri town square

Madikeri fort (1812 CE)

Former church, now museum

Built by Raja Lingarajendra II

Now the municipal headquarters

Complex near the fort

Omkareshwara temple (1, 2)

Built by Raja Lingarajendra II in 1820 CE. Legend has it that the king put to death a Brahmin who dared to protest against his misdeeds. The spirit of the dead man began to plague the king day and night. On the advice of wise men, the king built this temple and installed in it a Shivalinga procured from Kashi and thus freed himself from the curse.

Temple tank

The tank has common carp fish, introduced to reduce organic matter buildup

Temple with tank

Blend of Keralan and Islamic architectural styles

Temple visitors

Tibetan Settlements Around Bylakuppe

Southwestern Karnataka is also home to the largest Tibetan settlement in India outside the Himalayan belt. Both recent refugees from Tibet and those born elsewhere, live here in a landscape and climate that is a far cry from Tibet but, as one monk pointed out, with one crucial consolation: they live without fear and practice their faith in freedom. With the cross-border migration of thousands of monks in recent decades, India also seems to have emerged as the destination for higher Tibetan Buddhist studies. But unlike most Tibetan settlements in the Indian Himalayas, the monasteries here appear to be larger and more opulent (more ostentatious at any rate). The shiny Namdroling monastery even has gigantic gold-plated statues of Tibetan deities which, in contrast with its own teaching, must provoke awkward questions in the mind of many a visitor.

Namdroling Monastery

Padmasambhava vihara (more)

Left (right) of entrance

Inside the monastery (more) About the statues: 1, 2 3

Garden around monastery

The monastery exterior is being renovated

Chanting monks (more)

Filming monk

The Golden Temple (more)

Pilgrims from Ladakh

The Golden Temple (more)

Inside the Golden Temple (1, 2)

Gold-plated Avalokiteshwara

Paintings inside (more)

Sera Je Monastic University

Monastery building

Buddhist temple / university

Main entrance

Inside the monastery (1, 2)

Sera Mey Monastic University

Complex gateway

Buddhist temple / university

Steps to the main entrance

Murals at the front entrance

The wheel of samsara

An allegorical illustration

Gathering hall (more)

Praying monk in doorway

Butter sculpture

An isle in the monastery

Monks' residence

Village around the monastery

Sera Thekchenling Lachi Cultural Society

Main building

Assembly hall

Painting left of the shrine

Painting right of the shrine


Hardhong Khangtsen monastery

Inside the monastery

Ngagyur Nyingma Nunnery

A Buddhist monastery for women monks

Monk rolling a gas cylinder


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