Once you explore the nearby places in Madikeri for a day’s excursion, as noted in my previous article ( Photographer’s Guide ) it’s time to explore other areas that are sure to thrill you. Let’s look into some photogenic and must-visit places in Coorg for a serious photographer.

Mandalpatti (famously known as Mugilpete)

Coorg’s best-kept secret for a long time is this charming place called Mandalpatti, also known as Mugilpete, that’s around 20km from Madikeri town. Only a 4×4 (4-wheel drive) vehicle takes you to the peak of this mountain as the terrain is extremely rough and adventurous. It’s a magical land with an uncluttered view of lush-green mountains as long as your eyes can see. It’s a photographer’s delight.

You have to be sure of the weather conditions and should pack some warm clothes as the temperature dips quite drastically at the top of the mountains. And the wind can be ruthless too. Don’t be fooled by the mild temperatures in Madikeri. It’ll not be the same in Madalpatti. Be well prepared with warm clothes, a good umbrella, a good shoes (maybe a trekker shoe, if you have) especially if you are going there in Monsoons or winter. Typically, monsoons would be the best time to visit for avid nature lovers and photographers.

Photo Tips
I think Mandalpatti (or Mugilpete) is one of those places where you can point anywhere you like, and you’d end up with a good-looking photograph. The only issue is that it’s mostly foggy during the rainy season and might be so in the winter season too. But, what’s more interesting is you get to make some moody shots that give you some interesting shots. Especially the lush green setting makes it enchanting.

Try to carry a lens (or lenses) that can cover ultra-wide perspective (16-24mm lens) to a telephoto end (70-200mm lens). Instead of capturing everything at once, try to choose and pick portions of the mountain range that shows sweeping curves and some texture which adds great interest.

photographer's guide

Photograph: Prathap DK

 

Include the muddy, winding roads running through these mountains that act as leading lines creating an illusion of depth. A contrasting lush green surrounding would yield some surreal shots.

photographer's guide

Photograph: Prathap DK

 

Hebbe Falls

Hebbe falls is not as famous as Abbi waterfalls, but is a gorgeous waterfall that’s much wider and calmer. It’s around 8 km past Mandalpatti on a rough and bumpy road. Only a 4×4 (4-wheel drive) vehicle is recommended on this route. It’s a must visit for nature lovers and especially photographers. Because, it offers various viewpoints, that are missing in Abbi falls, and also you can go close to the water that gives you a lot more opportunities. But beware of the leeches when you get close to the water.

There is no board or fencing that gives direction to this place. So, make sure to hire a Jeep or ask the locals for directions.

Photo Tips
This waterfall is a bit more unique than most waterfalls. It’s very wide giving you a panoramic view and a lot of smaller waterfalls. Though you can’t reach close to the waterfall itself, the pool of water gives you excellent options to photograph swirling water stream. Take a wide-angle long exposure shot where you turn the water silky smooth and also use the traces of swirling water in the foreground to create interest. Don’t forget to carry a sturdy tripod and 10-stop Neutral Density filter to get the silky smooth effect.

In case you don’t have a Neutral Density filter, you can try to shoot on a gloomy day when the light is distributed and low. This allows you to shoot at a slower shutter speed of 1 to 5 seconds, yielding you pleasing results.

photographer's guide

Photograph: Prathap DK

 

You can also consider taking a panorama. For a stitched panorama, use a normal (50mm) or a telephoto lens (70-200mm) so that you can get a wider view (after stitching) but restrict the height in order get rid of the bland/plain sky in the background.

Another interesting thing about this waterfall is it’s a combination of smaller waterfalls than a single one (depending on the water density). The dark, sculpture-like, rocks stand in extreme contrast to the bright waterfalls giving you fantastic opportunities to make some close-up shots that are sure to impress the viewers. One example is this photo in which the central rock structure resembles a human face.

photographer's guide

Photograph: Prathap DK

 

The other interesting viewpoint is from the bridge, where you enter/exit this place. The entire Hebbe waterfall is nestled with a thick green forest making it a beautiful view to enjoy and photograph too.

Mallalli Falls

Mallalli falls is a rage for the bikers and trekkers, but not so with most tourists, at least at the outset. But, if you want to witness the beauty, elegance, and force of nature all at the same time, you have to visit Mallalli falls. Though it’s far from Madikeri town and takes about two hours, it’s worth a visit for any nature lover. Photographers just can’t miss this at all. It’s breath-taking and offers many possibilities for making amazing photos.

Note that there aren’t many places to stay except a few homestays. So, if you have a family, you might have to consider a day trip. I suggest at least two days for photography.

Photo Tips
Mallalli waterfalls offer many photographic opportunities. So, you are better off carrying lenses from an ultra-wide lens (16-24mm range) to a telephoto lens (70-200mm range). Don’t forget to take your sturdy tripod (and a 10-stop Neutral Density filter, if you have) to get the silky smooth effect.

One of the best things about Mallalli waterfalls is that you can take photos from the top and also from the bottom of the falls. This gives you plenty of choice for making different compositions. I especially like the view from the top as you can see the enormous waterfall that looks tiny amidst sprawling mountain range. It’s a sight to behold and creates long-lasting memories.

photographer's guide

Photograph: Prathap DK

 

Then there’s a well-paved path to go to the bottom of the falls offering you quite a number of viewpoints too. At times, you feel like you are lost in a thick rainforest as you walk down, making it adventurous. During the monsoons, you can make the best of the situation as green foliage stands out against the wet pathway.

photographer's guide

Photograph: Prathap DK

 

When the sprinkling water soaks your body and soul at the base of the waterfalls, you’ll experience the force of nature at its best. The gushing water and the loud noise of the water falling from several meters on to the behemoth rocks will leave you awestruck. It’s one of those places where the Mother Nature dwarfs our significance in this life, “hopefully” leaving us as humble as ever.

photographer's guide

Photograph: Prathap DK

 

Conclusion

There are more photogenic and famous places around Coorg such as Nisargadhama, Iruppu Falls, and Golden Temple to name a few. Except for Nisargadhama, all these places are a bit far apart. If you have at least four days to a week, you should explore all of them. Together, they make Coorg one of the most visited tourists’ destinations in Karnataka.

As a professional nature photographer, here’s my best advice to you. As a photographer, you should never hurry and rush from one place to another like a tourist. You should spend several hours to days to get one good photograph. It’ll allow you to experience the place and hone your skills to make a better photograph. There’s no point in making photographs just for the sake of it. You are trying to create memories, and you are at Mother Nature’s mercy. If you are patient enough, you are sure to be rewarded.

Have fun and have a great time in Coorg.