There is an explicable joy in staying at a plantation – green paddy fields, enticing mango orchards, flowering stretches of mustard or dwarf coffee plants. Coorg let’s you experience this joy, without hordes of tourists clambering at your heels!
Coorg is situated at an altitude of ~3500 feet. As we Indians like to say ‘It is a hill station!’. A lot of local tourists gravitate towards Coorg during the summer months of April to June to escape the heat of the plains. In the winter months of November to March, Coorg is cold, but not even close to the temperatures that the European winter throws up; minimum temperatures do not drop below 10 degrees Celsius. It is perfect time to bask in the sun and enjoy the local coffee. Summer and winters are typically considered to be the best time to visit Coorg.
Us being us, decided to visit the town in the rainy season (July to September). This is typically considered off season – and we wonder why? As we approached Coorg, we were transported to another world – misty hills, lush greenery, patter patter rain drops, chirping of birds… Nature in all her bounty!
There is a reason why these months fall under the off season category – it rains…a lot! The roads aren’t very well maintained and getting to Coorg can be a challenge. Once you are there, you may not be able to step out for a while if you want to stay dry. This is the not the best season to travel with toddlers. But if you have teenage kids, there is plenty to do! And off course, if it’s just the two of you – Coorg in the rains is a poet’s dream come true!
Green, misty land is some distance away…
There is no airport in Coorg. Mangalore, Bangalore and Mysore are airports around this destination. From the airport to your destination in Coorg – there is only one mode of transport – road. You can either ask your hotel to arrange for the pick and drop or speak to private taxi owners at the airport of in the city that you land.
The road route from Manglore, while shorter, is not really the best. There are loads of twists and turns and it is prone to blockages during rainy season. Bangalore to Coorg is the route that most people follow, which is widely recommended. Another option, which might be even better than landing in Bangalore is landing in Mysore. However, Mysore has limited flight connectivity, which is the deterrent.
Shelter from the rain – where to stay?
There are hotels and homestays in Coorg to suit every budget. The luxury hotels include Vivanta by Taj, Orange County and Tamara Resort, which are on the expensive side and will cost at least USD 300 per night for a room in peak season. For those who want to visit the place on a budget, there are plenty of homestays that will cost you less than USD 80 per night. These charming places are typically in the coffee plantations and let you interact with the locals as well.
A one-off luxury vacation is always welcome!
We decided to spoil ourselves silly in this trip and stayed at the Vivanta by Taj. We have stayed in leading five star chains across the globe – nothing beats Taj hospitality. Every request that you make is honoured – assuming you haven’t asked for the Moon and realise that they are not genies!
The property is built on an area of 180 acres, of which, only 35 acres have been constructed as yet. It is an ecofriendly property and there is no air conditioning in any of the rooms – we did not even feel the need to have one! The rooms are air cooled in summers; and in winters – simply close the windows! Every room is an independent cottage made using natural materials – looks a little run down from the outside but meets every five star standard on the inside. Highly recommend this place!
What to do?
Here is what we did to enjoy our time at the Taj property :
- Cycling tour in the forest: It was a lot of fun to get back on the bicycle and make our legs work. Riding through the coffee and cardamom plantations was a wonderful experience
- Nature walk: The Taj property had a naturalist who took us along to explore the forest. Don’t expect to see any mammals. Enjoy serenity on this walk and hear the leaves rustle as you take every step.
- Birding: Within the first few hours of being at the Taj, you will suspect that there is a school boy who is following you and whistles each time you step out! It’s the malabar whistling thrush – a dark blue /blackish shy bird. I also went for a birding walk and chipped a hello to the woodpeckers, kingfishers and finches.
- Pampering in the spa: Excellent treatments and great service. If you wish to spend some extra money, this is the place!
- More for kids: Obviously, we didn’t really venture here, but there are a lot of activities for kids – pottery, game room etc
Food… Food… more food… And off course drinks!
I did a short two hour course on Thai cooking with the head chef at Taj while Ankur did a bar tending course – I enjoyed the drinks.
Vegetarian food was no problem at all. In fact, I was on a lactose free diet then- the chef ensured that my diet was maintained! Must try, if you are in Coorg, is coffee made the traditional way – thick with the sweetness of jaggery. I could dunk myself in it!
The trip to Coorg was fun and Ankur wants to go there again during winters. However, the next destination that I want to visit in South India is Munnar – to watch the Kurunji flowers bloom in 2017! As always… send me an e-mail if you need any further details. Glad to help!
Let the travellers’ tribe grow!