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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Coorg – The Soul of Western Ghats

Take a trip to Coorg to walk in the hills, write poetry, smell the wet earth or just lie back and let the world go by.

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Pradeep Chamaria
Pradeep Chamaria
I am a photojournalist. Love to travel to unknown and unexplored vistas. Since 1992, I make places desirable for other travelers through experiential Travel Writing.

INDIA. Coorg, Karnataka: It’s a lovely drive-through miles-long stretch of Tobacco farms to Yavakapadi village in Coorg from Bengaluru via Mysuru. It started drizzling and the rains blanketed the area with a magnetic mood as we drove past after the hilly town of Virajpet, the first major town on the road in the Coorg district.  The romance was in the air, magnificent nature was everywhere and I wondered why I did not make a visit before.

Tobacco Fields Enroute, Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

The hill stations in the Western Ghats like Coorg are great favourites nowadays. Coorg is not a town and is a tiny district in Karnataka with Madikeri as the Dist. Headquarters. The area is easily accessible from Bengaluru, and Mangalore. The region is very popular amongst people from nearby places, and all kinds of fun-seekers, young couples, honeymooners, and families frequent the place for short holidays.

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A trip to Coorg to walk in the hills, write poetry, smell the wet earth or just lie back and let the world go by, whatever you do – the Coorgi magic works on you. Once in Coorg, I found myself sliding into an altogether different frame of mind.  The sound of the waterfalls outside my hotel room and also of bugs (especially the Shikado) created a musical concert scenario — the experience was incomparable.

Shkado, Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

Largest coffee growing region

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Despite being Karnataka’s tiniest district, Coorg is the largest coffee-growing region in India. A guided plantation walk through a coffee estate in a plantation is essential to trace the journey of the wonderful brew from berry to cup. The blossom to brew experience of coffee is one of its kind walkthroughs into the journey of the world’s favourite beverage through various stages of processing and is an insightful and fascinating session where you roast and blend your own signature coffees from berries and beans. 

Glowers, Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

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Read Also: “Coffee – From Blossoms To Brew”

If you have come to Coorg looking for an ideal weekend getaway, you will be at a loss, as the destination offers lots of adventure activities, namely, a small trek, outing on the river Cauvery to the Elephant training camps at Dubare, another small trek to experience the Abbey falls at Madikeri and also the views of lovely landscaped paddy fields and nature from Raja Seat top at Madikeri.

Landscaped Paddy Fields from Raja Top, Madikeri, Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

Activities

Coorg (Kodava in local language) has been internationally recognised as one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in the world.  The best way to appreciate the surviving bird life and natural beauty is a leisurely trek through the region. During the short trek I went for, clouds and mist played hide and seek and gave me opportunities to record the images on my cameras. It is actually Coorg’s relatively untouched natural wilderness that makes it one of the best places in the world to get lost. We were perched at 1,100m on the top of a rain-slope in Coorg’s the Western Ghats.

Elephant Calves, Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

The next day I ventured out for local sightseeing and Dubare elephant camps was the first halt. I had to cross river Cauvery on a boat to get to the other bank to watch the elephants bathe and then eat their staple ragi offerings.

At Dubare Elephant Training Camp, Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

It was quite an amazing Elephant Interaction program at Dubare Elephant Training Camp. The early morning visit allowed us the chance to give the wonderful creature a bath in the Cauvery and feed it gigantic balls of ragi and jaggery followed by a ride in the adjoining jungle. The young elephants also entertained me with their childish acts of trunk fights and stealing ragi balls from their mothers.

Abbey Falls, Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

After bidding bye to the elephants I drove to the Abbey falls. Being a mountainous region, Coorg has some stunning waterfalls. Abbey Falls near Madikeri is easily the most popular. After getting slightly wet with the water mist of Abbey falls, my cab driver brought us to the Raja seat top part and advised me to at least have a look at the valley views below.

Coorgi food

Coorgi Food, Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

The landscape was stunning, the setting of the paddy fields below and the small huts on the sides of the hill were stunning. Reflections in water in the geometrically shaped paddy fields were a treat to watch. During the night I savoured some of Coorg’s signature dishes Pandi (pork) curry paired with Kadambuttu (steamed rice balls). I also tried a few more unique combination dishes including vegetable pachadi (raita), bemble (bamboo shoot), bollari (gourd), and kumbla (pumpkin) curry.

Bring the poet in you out

It was till cloudy in the evening, and I sat enjoying my cup of hot Coorgi coffee, sipping my coffee slowly and thought about my trip. It certainly was one of my best outings to the Western Ghats. At the Ghats, nature works on you, no matter what you do – and I guess my experience was nothing different.  

Flowers, Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

Coorg is a place that makes you think. It is a place where during the still of the night when you are alone listening to nature, strange memories conjure up in your mind. It is a place where life is calm, laid back, and stress-free. It is a place where the air is not tainted with pollution and the only sounds you hear are of chirping birds, raindrops pattering on the window sill.

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