Culture, India, Karnataka, Offbeat, Weekend Getaways
Comments 38

Coffee and Conversations in Coorg.

Coorg farm stay, Coorg photos, Coorg blog, Karnataka rice paddies

The whiff of coffee awakens me on a damp morning in Coorg. I lazily walk into my balcony, to witness silver butterflies dancing above the coffee plantations and the forest bathed in warm sunlight. I don’t know it then, but this is just the beginning of my love affair with Karnataka’s coffee country.

When our bus arrived at Hattihole the previous evening, a gentle mist had engulfed the rivers, rice paddies and sleepy hamlets. Watching the rains lash the forests through my glass windows, I tried my first ever Coffee Spa; scrubbed with grinded coffee beans and massaged with hot oils, ninety minutes of aromatic coffee bliss!

Meriyanda nature lodge, Meriyanda Coorg, Coorg resorts

Morning view of the forest from my balcony.

When the sun finally emerges, we walk along acres of coffee, cardamom and pepper plantations, down to a river with a hanging bridge built by the village folk. Walking on its delicate planks, our local Kodava (Coorgi) guide tells us about the indigenous traditions and culture of Coorg, the Kodava food and berry wines still made in village households. Only a single restaurant in Madikeri (called Coorg Cuisinette) and a handful of homestays now serve local delicacies like bamboo shoot, kidney beans and pork curries.

Coorg photos, Karnataka villages, hanging bridge, coorg forests

Who needs an engineering degree when necessity is the mother of invention?!

Eager for a taste of traditional life in the region, we move to a small family-run farm stay along rice paddies, in a typical Coorgi village. This is a local family’s endeavor to create an organic oasis; huts furnished with bamboo artefacts and earthen pots, lampshades carved out of pumpkins, rice paddies sustained without fertilizers or pesticides, an indigenous waste water recycling technology, and delicious food that is entirely organic, including the oil, rice, vegetables, and even fruits.

Coorg farm stay, Coorg organic, Coorg ecotourism

View from our balcony on the farm.

Coorg food, Coorgi food, Kodava food

Rice dumplings, ajvain chutney, organic veggies and phulkas for dinner!

Sitting in the breezy lounge of the farm, Narendra, our host, talks about how much Coorg has changed since the British planted its first coffee plantations. Spending his childhood on these estates, he ultimately became a coffee trader and later a coffee broker, all the while, trying to perfect the art of making coffee from seed to cup. When we finally taste his organic in-house brew, we are reminded of the quaint cafes in small Italian towns!

We spend lazy afternoons on the farm, splashing in the rice paddies in gumboots and a traditional bamboo rain protector, and cycling in the surrounding villages, with maize fields swaying in the backdrop. On hearing about our love for the roads less travelled, Narendra drives us through his favourite coffee trails in Coorg, enchanting us with stories of the Kuruba jungle tribe, who tame wild elephants by feeding them weed! He introduces us to a hobbyist beekeeper who makes the tastiest honey I’ve ever tried, and gives us a glimpse into the lives of monks, at lesser known monasteries in the neighboring Tibetan camp of Bylakuppe.

Karnataka villages, Coorg village life, village life India, Coorg farm stay

Cycling along the maize fields in a typical Coorgi village.

Coorg sunset, Karnataka sunset, Coorg villages, Coorg farm stay

Sunset over the rice paddies on our last evening in Coorg.

Over our last cup of coffee in Coorg, Narendra asks us what we’ll miss most about his homeland. With a pause, I say, the coffee and conversations.

Have you been to Coorg? Share your stories from the coffee country!

We were hosted by Meriyanda Nature Lodge on the first leg of our Coorg trip. Meriyanda is a forest retreat with a nice coffee spa, but the lack of local food on their menu and staff disinterested in the local culture was disappointing.

During the second half of the Coorg adventure, we stayed at Narendra’s Organic Farm, a family run farm-stay near Kushalnagar, which I highly recommend for a true Coorgi experience.

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38 Comments

    • Thanks Sunil! I almost did, but went further in Karnataka to the coast instead. Hoping to come back to Wayanad in October 🙂

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    • Yes, Wayanad is a must-do. Will never forget my visit there last November. 🙂 Eager to visit Coorg now. I can almost smell the coffee after reading your post!

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    • Glad that perception’s now changed, Pete. The Brits got both tea and coffee to India, and there are lots of coffee plantations and such in Coorg and Wayanad (north Kerala). Got to try a coffee homestay!

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  1. Wow. This is such a beautiful place in Coorg. The food looks simple yet healthy. Loved the pic of rice field and the sunset! Sheer bliss!

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  2. udayD says

    the paddy fields, the sunset backdrop make a hauntingly beautiful image. Fond memories of an evening spent in Wayanad are brought back by these pics. wish u stretched ur short stories a lil longer(say 1 page per pic) for a long lazy read.. 🙂

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    • Glad you liked the photos, Uday! It reminded me a bit of Wayanad too. I thought attention spans have decreased, so I must keep my posts short. For longer reads, you must wait for my book 😉

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  3. richa pandey says

    nice pics ! n i loved reading about coorg .Thanks to your beautiful, vivid description you truly enliven our imaginations about this lovely place by reading about it only.eagerly waiting for your next blog ! 🙂

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    • Thank you Richa, glad you liked it! I’ve had almost no connectivity on the road the last 2 weeks 😦 Got so much more to share. Shall be posting soon.

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  7. veena says

    hi shivya, i read your article on coorg i am proud to say i am narendras sister staying in bahrain. i was thrilled to see d photos on your blog both on coorg and bahrain. i just loved your blog.

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  8. Hey Shivya nice post on Coorg! I had been there recently. I opted for a homestay just a few kms away from Madikeri. It was an experience to remember. Actually one good thing about being in Coorg is that you can enjoy sight seeing points and plus indulge in some adventure activities too;-) Your post just refreshed my memories of Coorg;-)

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  9. Mohan says

    HI.. nice pics.. specially “Who needs an engineering degree when necessity is the mother of invention?!” …

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  10. Shruti says

    loved your pictures! can you tell me where was the bridge picture taken? what location? i am planning to visit coorg and i can’t get over that picture!

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  11. KALYAN ROY says

    Wow , what a way to celebrate life as you are doing . Hats off to you Shivya . Read your blog on Coorg … amazed by your vivacious write ups and vivid descriptions of the Coffee trail. Live life Kingsize as you are doing … Cheers

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  12. Simbu says

    Where exactly did u stay in Coorg? Can you leave your boarding details, so that I can go there too?

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  13. Coorg is one of my favorite places in the world. Well I hope to write about my stay in Coorg in a while. I love coffee and conversations, it’s homestays, it’s landscapes. It was a place taken during school excursions, now I go when I find time from work. Great photos, nice articles.

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