By the end of September, I’d almost geared up for the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) that was shortly to commence in Mumbai. I even confirmed my 7 days leave with my boss. But a brief conversation with a close buddy from Goa set my mind thinking. I was mainly hungry for a break from my routine work schedule. So if I wanted a break, why not accept my friend’s invitation and drive down to Coorg? So with a heavy heart, I dropped the idea of attending MFF and packed my bags to see Kodagu (Coorg), a district in Karnataka that’s pretty famous for its scenic beauty and local coffee. But let me admit – neither of us had our research in place. Not even the route we were taking to reach Coorg. Truly, adventurous? Not at all! We were just being susegad Goans.
Alright! On a serious note – the moment I read articles on the tempting coffee Coorg produces and the delicious pork cooked with exclusive coorgi spices, I was convinced that my first adventure trip will not go in vain. The excitement began to grow, and I was way eager about my trip.
As soon as I stepped out of the car at Madikeri, the breeze whispered something into my ears, and the very next moment I was hugging my sweater. Within a couple of minutes we found ourselves shelter in a 3BHK bungalow in the heart of the headquarters. After giving ourselves an hour to freshen up, we were out on the street, hunting for the best restaurant that’d serve us Coorgi pork. Coorg Cuisine was lucky enough to have us grace their restaurant for lunch. We ordered for pork, rajma, mutton curry, steamed rice and rice rotis. The rajma turned out to be very delicious and the pork burnt our tongues with its spicy nature. That was the first and last time we ate pork in Coorg. Even though I’m not a mutton fan, I must admit that it was delicious.
The one item that was never ignored during any of our meals was coffee! I could roam all over with a flask, hoping it would automatically refill every time I poured myself a cup of coffee. However, I had enough to quench my thirst for coffee. Our breakfast had a stable menu of idli and medu vada on all three days that was at its best. I’m quite surprised; mutton doesn’t get its due coverage. It seems to be one of Coorg’s top food items. The one food item that’s undoubtedly disappointing is cottage cheese (Paneer). Every restaurant served us an edible form of rubber. And that really saddened me. Just for that time, I missed Mumbai.
On all three days, we started our journey around 10 am. On day two it was the much hyped Abbi Falls that we visited, followed by the breathtaking track to the Mandalapatti Hills. The journey through the ardous mountainous roads got us swinging from one end of the jeep to the other. But when I was on top of the hill I didn’t mind the bumpy ride. It was worth it. I was surrounded by hills on all sides. While some had their tips covered with clouds, other hills glowed with the rays of the sun. They looked so pretty in different shades of green. It felt amazing to be on top of the world.
On day three, we had plans of visiting the Elephant Training Camp at Dubare, but were unsuccessful due to our timings. However, we went river-rafting for about half an hour. It was fun rowing the boat. Some of my friends had thoughts of going swimming, but the water was quite cold. We then headed to Nisargadhama, an island surrounded by river Cauvery. It looks more like a picnic spot surrounded by bamboo trees. You need to cross the hanging bridge to reach the forest with tree-top shelters and eventually the Deer park. Once again we were unfortunate with the Elephants due to our bad timing. There was not much to see here, so we immediately took off for Bylakuppe, also known as mini-Tibet. This place is very famous for the Golden Buddhist Temple that houses 7000 odd monks who are pursuing their monastic education. We weren’t very lucky, so we didn’t get a chance to enter the Temple. Check out the place for amazing ethnic Tibetan artefacts. We then tried to make it to the Harangi Dam, but our eventful day was interrupted when we halted to ask for directions. We were told that no one was allowed to visit the dam. So we reversed and took the road going back to Madikeri. It was evening, so we thought of dropping by Raja Seat to witness the sunset. The weather was getting cold now. Nevertheless, we got the scene where the sun was setting, but was blocked by a huge cloud. That was one of the best moments I had in Coorg. The rays reflected on the mountains through the cloud making it an amazing experience. If you think our day was coming to an end; no, it wasn’t. We then went to a store that was selling all kinds of Coorgi specialties that included spices, honey, chocolates, masalas as well as coffee. We made our purchases and headed to our bungalow. Visiting this store was the best decision, because on the following day the whole of Coorg was deserted due to the agitation regarding river Cauvery. It was our last day at the hill station. Somehow we managed to reach the Bangalore-Pune highway by 8 pm, and then sped to Goa.
In my conclusion, I’d say Coorg is quite an over-hyped place. The food is not economical. It costs more than it costs in Mumbai and Goa. The scenic beauty is fabulous. Stop your car in front of any person belonging to that place, and they will never refuse help. It’s quite funny how they responded in Hindi. We’d roll up the windows and try to talk in their accent, and then continue laughing for the rest of our journey. However, Coorg is a lovely getaway if you want a break from the hustle-bustle of the city. Just rent out a cottage, sip on some coffee, visit local places and allow nature to talk to you.