Mandalapatti peak, Neelakuranji flowers Coorg - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Mandalapatti peak, Neelakuranji flowers Coorg

Mandalapatti was main agenda on our last week's Coorg trip. A once in a 12 year flower, referred to as Neelakurinji had bloomed in Coorg around Mandalapatti area but with weekend curfew in place we were unable to plan a visit. Mid september weekend curfew was lifted but the flowers were about to die down. We decided to take a chance, visit and see whatever is available, as next option would have been to wait for another 12 years.

After reaching Coorg, checking in and freshup we left for Mandalapatti, our main destination for the day. Mandalapatti hilltop was about 18 kms from Madikeri city center, hence not too far. 

On the way to Mandalapatti I was tempted to divert to a small hill and to our surprise we saw the neelikuranji flowers there. Could get good view individually but as a whole the shine of all purple flowers was gone. Very little was left. 
After spending some time at this random unnamed hill we drove towards Mandalapatti, we were stopped by the local who quoted a price of 1800 INR for the jeep ride top to Mandalapatti. We knew this price is high so we decided to proceed on our own. At a junction I should have turned left, but turned right and reached Green Meadows homestay. From here jeep rides are available to Mandalapatti. Here we could team up with another family and pay about 200 Rs per person, making the trip 3X cheaper than earlier. If I had turned left I could have drove till the parking area with only last 4 kms left for hiking or jeep ride.

After a bumpy jeep ride we arrived at Mandalapatti parking area, turned left and entered the unmaintained road full of mud, slush and rocks that only 4 wheel drive vehicle with skilled/confident driver can negotiate.

The checkpost: Forest department has a checkpost enroute- any plastic bottles, chips/snacks packets need to be deposited here and collected on the way back.
An entry fee needs to be paid. Another 20-25 minutes later our back breaking off road ride ended and we were given 30 minutes to go to hilltop and return.

What all to do at Mandalapatti:
Enjoy the view
Hike further to few other hilltops (another 1 km or so)
What facilities are there at Mandalapatti?
  • An unmaintained toilet is available. Not in great condition but can be used for emergency.
  • Hilltop has an observation deck, few benches to sit
  • No other shops or facilities available
  • Few shops selling tea/snacks exist at vehicle parking area (4 kms from peak)
On the way back driver stopped for 10 minutes at a spot where some Neelakurinji flowers were still left.
How to reach Mandalapatti peak?
Refer map below (online link here). You have to plan your travel to Mandalapatti. If you have a vehicle you can reach till Mugilupet Inn location shown in map here, which is about 4 kms from the Mandalapatti peak. Last 4 kms you can hike or hire a 4x4 jeep or ride in your own vehicle (if 4x4) or bike if you are confident. Alternatively you can hire a jeep from your hotel in Madikeri itself or from various spots along the way such as Green meadows Homestay shown on the map. These options are explained below in detail to help you plan better.
Option 1: Drive + Jeep rental
Drive as far as you can (till the entry point where offroading begins) and negotiate a rental with a 4x4 jeep driver for remaining journey. You will be taken till hill top in a jeep (4-5 kms), you will be given 30 mins to visit the viewpoint and return. Rental is at jeep level- if you want exclusive jeep you have to pay full price, or you can try team up with any other family/team there and share jeep rental
Option 2: Drive + Walk
If you are ok to hike 8-9 kms total (4 kms one way), you can park where the road ends and hike up the 4x4 trail till Mandalapatti peak. You can take all the time you need, stop at will and save some money also. But if you are pressed for time you will be losing half a day in this.

Option 3: Drive + 4x4 Drive
If you have an offroad capable 4x4 vehicle (like Thar, Fortuner etc) or confident enough to ride uphill on a bike, you can dry driving all the way.  Of course be ready for extra expense if some vehicle parts breakdown.

Option 4: Jeep rental from city
Your hotel might be able to arrange a jeep for you, for your journey to Mandalapatti right from the hotel. Ideal if you don't want to drive or don't have a vehicle. Of course, cost will be higher and advance planning needed.
Many bikers attempted to ride till Mandalapatti hilltop. A few succeeded, others decided to park at various spots along the way and walk remaining distance. A few fell down and got up. So depending on your confidence level you can try riding. Better wear proper safety jacket, helmet and knee guards. Having a friend would be of help in situations where some push will be useful.

Watch a small video

On the way to Mandalapatti as well some locals/jeep drivers may stop you and offer jeep ride. Their quote will be usually higher. Better to take from designated places where rates are better known and you may get someone to share if required.

Mandalapatti is NOT the highest peak in Coorg. That credit goes to #1 Tadiyandamol (near Kakabbe) #2 Brahmagiri (near Iruppu falls) and #3 Kote Betta.

Nearby: Kote Abbi falls is what we visited next. Ended up driving back on the same road for a while. Should have planned better and driven till Mandalapatti parking lot instead of getting on the jeep at Green Meadows Homestay.

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