It is peak summer in the south, when the sun is at its harshest. The monsoons are some time away, and the skies are cloudless. But not much to worry in Coorg, referred to by some as the Scotland of India.
Comparisons apart, you know you are in beautiful country by just driving around. And this is my first bit of personal advice: When in Coorg, have a car to drive around.
Weaving in and out of the highways and smaller roads connecting coffee estates spread out as far as the eye can see, I could just keep moving indefinitely in slow motion. It is mostly quiet, air is clean, weather pleasant and the scenery to stand and stare at for a long time.
I may have just missed the coffee blossoms season when white flowers sprout on all coffee plants, and may have been too early for the picking season, but the estates looked inviting nonetheless. If only some of them served coffee to drink that takes longer to prepare than instant Nescafe or Bru.
My hopes rose when I saw a sign for a ‘Coffee Pub’ at Karagunda village on the road from Madikeri to Talacauvery. Turned out to be a shop being run by a 6-member Rajarajeshwari Self Help Women’s Association selling coffee (beans and ground at Rs. 250 a kilo) – they roast, grind and blend it themselves.
They also sold honey (Rs. 150 / kilo), juices (mint, bitter orange, lime – all at Rs. 150 a liter), bitter orange pickles (Rs. for 100 grams), black pepper (Rs. 70 for 250 grams), cinnamon and other spices grown at their farm. Bought some pickles and black pepper – they were as unadulterated as they could be without use of preserving chemicals.
Saroja Kallappa, the lady running it, said the grinding machine was financed by the Coffee Board. Contact her at +91.8272.245158 / 245866.
Likewise, Coorg is dotted with shops selling similar stuff – hopefully, all fresh and almost chemical free direct from the farms. Certainly much better than what you would get in the big cities.
Did manage to spot some farms where the white coffee blossoms could still be seen – they were either late comers or had a longer life span.
I also noticed many signs for homestays – many a plantation owner have converted their bungalows for guests to stay. Owners earn additional income while tourists get a feel of the countryside and the region staying with locals. Beats impersonal hotels and their concierges who make for very poor guides.
I didn’t stay in any homestays in Coorg but did so in Wayanad in Kerala later. Now I know what kind of places to stay in next time. Only downside: homestays do not welcome last minute guests. It happened to me in Chikamagalur, and I had to stay in a seedy hotel.
But heck, when in Coorg, you never complain for too long. Coorg is Coorg, not Scotland of India.
Ajay Jain is currently on the Great Arabian Sea Drive, starting from Delhi and following the coastline all the way from Gujarat down to Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Follow all updates on:
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