Shyam’s excited voice awakened me on a damp morning in Coorg. “It’s beautiful outside. Wake up.”, he said.
As I walked into the porch of our cottage, I noticed the wet trees and the damp ground. It had rained heavily last night. At a distance, smoke was coming out of the kitchen chimney, and, the tall trees in the estate were covered in a hazy mist. Bright flowers adorned the walls and there was a whiff of coffee, pepper, and fruits in the air. I sat there with my coffee, listening to the trees that were making strange noises. Trees, it turns out, can make all sort of noises as if trying to converse with each other.
That morning was beautiful.
That morning was like a scene playing right out of Ruskin Bond’s book.
Kodagu a.k.a Coorg is filled with little gems at every nook and corner and to have an authentic experience you must choose the right accomodation.
While Kushalnagar has a lot of commercial resorts and hotels which have great reviews, the lack of local culture and food in Kushalnagar can be disappointing. Another popular town is Madikeri, but, it is usually very crowded. Skip the resorts and hotels if you want to have the authentic Kodagu experience.
Personally, I loved the northern parts of Coorg where you can truly experience the traditional life of the region.
The winding roads through the woods take you to some of the untapped parts of Coorg that are calm, green and beautiful.
Green Pastures, Coorg
We found Green Pastures on Booking.com, a cozy homestay that is nestled amidst coffee estates and tall, tall trees. Tucked somewhere in the northern part of Coorg, the homestay is straight out of a fairy tale.
We stayed at the Green Pastures homestay for the entire duration of our stay. The beautiful cottage is very minimalistic and is set up amidst lush coffee plantations. The homestay has 3 rooms that are equally spacious and has all the basic amenities. The decor was simple, it felt like home and I appreciate that. We were the lucky ones as we had the entire cottage for ourselves.
Shyam & I felt at home the moment we reached Green Pastures. And, I think that is what homestays should do to you – make you feel at home. We spent most of our time amidst vegetation and coffee plantations, with no one around – it was just perfect.
This piece on Green Pastures will not be complete if I do not mention the hospitality of Hemant and Tripula – the owners of the homestay. They are a lovely couple and they make a sweet team. Hemant and his wife were one of the best hosts we’ve ever met. They did all they could to make our stay comfortable and memorable. Hemant helped us plan the activities for the day, hire a vehicle if needed etc., while Tripula served us the best coffee and hot finger-licking food all day long.
The experience of living in that cottage amidst the estates is something I am going to cherish for a long time to come.
Talking about coffee, I think, Coorg produces the best coffee in India. In fact, the best coffee beans are exported to European nations so what we get in India is not ‘the best’. How sad is that? However, your homestay will serve you the best of the best coffee which they save for their personal use and their guests.
Truly, the journey of coffee from a seed to cup is an art.
Coorg is not high on ‘tourist places’ but like I said Coorg is filled with little gems at every nook and corner. And the best way to find out about these hidden gems in by talking to the locals or the people at your homestay. Come without an itinerary and discover Coorg the way you like it.
If you were to ask for a list of ‘things to do’ in Coorg, I’d say
– Wake up early and explore the coffee estates.
– Fall in love with the intoxicating smell of the plants, fruits, rain and COFFEE in the air.
– Get drunk on coffees. Ah, that chocolatey goodness.
– Try out the local, home-made fruit wines. Check with your home stay owners for their in-house fruit wines. Most families have their own recipe and it is nothing short of a legacy. I loved the fig wine that Hemant Sir’s mother makes.
– Offroad in the nearby jungles and waterfalls.
– Go on two wheeler rides inside the woods.
– Get wet in the rain.
– Eat local. Enjoy the sumptuous Coorgi cuisine.
– Take hot water baths.
– Catch up on some old movies.
– And, SLEEP. To sleep in that wilderness is something else.
That was pretty much what we did during the entire duration of our stay. But, I am going to leave you with just this. I’ll tell you some of my favorite and not-so favorite sights from Coorg. Read on.
The places you must visit when in Coorg
Kotebetta is the third highest peak in Coorg and offers some stunning views of the Western Ghats. If you have time, you can trek up to the Kotebetta Peak or just go driving amidst the lush landscape. Trust me, you wouldn’t have seen so much greenery and mist ever. Spend some time here because the place is usually covered by mist and it clears out only for a few minutes and that’s when you get to see the mountain ranges around.
Most importantly, don’t forget to offroad at Kotebetta to find some stunning, hidden waterfalls. Be safe, though. 🙂
Bisle is a small village in the heart of India’s most spectacular rain forests. Bisle View Point is the best place to see the different mountains ranges of the Western Ghats and the rivers separating them. The view at Bisle is simply stunning.
You can combine your trip to Bisle with Mallalli Falls. The Kumaradhara river which is the source for Mallalli Falls is in full force during monsoon. The best part is that it is devoid of all the crowd and tourists. After a bad experience at Abbe Falls, Mallalli definitely stole my heart. You need to hike for about 20 minutes to get to the base of the falls and it is a beautiful hike. Must visit if you are in Coorg.
If you are visiting the places mentioned above, you would drive through SH8 and SH27. If not, definitely go for a long ride on these highways. These roads touch Somwarpet and other northern parts of Coorg that produces the most amazing coffee. And, has the most pristine estates and cottages.
Other places that are worth a visit are Chiklihole Reservoir in Kushalnagar, Thala Cauvery, Brahmagiri Peak, Makalagudi Betta View Point and Abbe Falls. Plan your visit to Thala Cauvery and Abbe Falls on a weekday to avoid the weekend rush.
Now, let’s talk about a few places that weren’t my favorite. Cauvery Nisargdhama, Dubare Elephant Camp, and River Rafting. Personally, I feel these places are created to attract tourist. There is nothing ‘Coorgi’ about it. It’s just crowded and way too dirty. I’d give this a skip any day.
Like I said before, come to Coorg without an itinerary. Get spontaneous, step away from the crowd, stay in a homestay and I am sure you will fall in love with Coorg, just the way I did.
A short video from our trip –
Travel Tips for Coorg
1. The best season to visit Coorg is September – October.
2. Carry raincoats, umbrellas, a lot of easy-to-dry clothes if you are traveling during the peak monsoon i.e. June – August.
3. Gumboots are a must if you plan to offroad, trek or hike. Beware of the leeches, they get stuck irrespective of precaution you take. These nasty beings also creep inside the gumboots.
4. If there is something you’ll miss the most about Coorg, it would be the coffee. So, make sure to get your supply of coffee from Coorg.
5. Homestays are a wonderful way of experiencing the real life of Coorg. Give those star hotels and resorts a skip.
6. The homestay owners can be your local guides by arranging for coffee tours and guide you to some offbeat places in and around. Get chatty with the locals and they’ll tell you a lot about their culture. Like how firing a gun is a very special part of Coorgi traditions and every household in Coorg owns a licensed gun.
7. Lastly, I’d like to say respect nature, the forest, the wilderness. Western Ghats has been listed as one of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and has a rich biological diversity. Nature gives us a break from the city-life and all things nasty. The least we can do is to respect nature? Read more below.
What you see here is the beautiful Abbé Falls. Gushing in full force, this monsoon. . What you don’t see in this picture is the numerous wafer wrappers, leftover food in styrofoam bowls, used tea cups and a truck load of plastic. . Why do we need to do this to our country? I saw similar scenes in Khardung La, Pangong Tso, Dal Lake, Apharwat Peak (which is 16000 feet above sea level), Kaas Plateau – Basically everywhere. . Personally I feel that food and beverages should be banned in a natural setting like this. Not only does it disrupt the natural habitat, it also makes the place look sick. It just spoils the natural beauty. . I wish we were collectively more responsible about the cleanliness of our country. Glad things are changing, but, we have a long way to go. . What do you think about food and beverages being sold at such natural, beautiful locations? Let me know what you think.
Now your turn. Tell me, have you been to Coorg? What did you love the most about the coffee country? 🙂
Also, you may visit ‘The Store’ which is a personally curated compilation of all my favorite things & products that I use on a day-day basis. I am sure you will find something useful for yourself.
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