COORG – a travel guide
When you actually get there, it's incredible that a place like Coorg, (or Kodagu, it's official but not frequently used name,) should be off beat.
It has all the ingredients but one for making it is as a major tourist destination. It is quite accessible from
What, then, is the missing ingredient, you must wonder. There are no pani puri stalls. No, I'm joking, of course. That too, I mean, but primarily, their economy is not tourist dependant. Which is why its marketing is so laid back.
Times are changing, however. A few enterprising people have set up resorts which are doing fabulously well despite near zero advertising. But hang on. A travel guide is required by law to first give some history and background.
History and Background
Coorg is a bit like the indomitable Gaulish
It remained a small, independent kingdom for most of recorded history repelling all and sundry till Tipu Sultan got emotional and tried to wipe it out circa 1785. Then they shook hands with the British, who too wanted Tipu defeated and thus paved the way for an almost English life style that continues to this day.
They have impeccable table manners, speak flawless English and are extremely reserved with strangers. Not hostile or anything, but not chatty like your
The people themselves have exotic theories about their origin. One is that they are descended from Alexander the Great’s Greek soldiers. Not much proof, alas, but interesting anyway. Their features, language and customs are distinctly different from other inhabitants of Karnataka. So there's an anthropological mystery waiting to be solved here.
Their language is different too, a mixture of half a dozen regional languages that outsiders find difficult to follow. But best of all is their culinary style which is distinctive in the method of preparation as well as uniqueness of ingredients. I suppose I had rather not write too much on this topic lest I drool into the keyboard and gum up the keys. Its happened before.....
Stand in your shower cubicle and say “Beam me up, Scotty”. If that doesn’t work, fly in to
Get to Chennai, using any of a dozen airlines or my LearJet (provided, of course, no one’s taken it to
Way 3:- (Most picturesque)
Get to Mangalore. This is user friendly only from Mumbai, unless of course my Learjet is available in Chennai. You can take a cab from there. Coorg is about 3 hours away through lush plantations and forests. You would be well advised to remember the caveat about the Toyota Innova on this route because it is even more of a butt conditioner. This one can condition your butt to the consistency of chocolate mousse (or strawberry mousse, depending on race). The road is really pretty though, winding and verdant
Where to stay
I wouldn’t really know, because I have always imposed on the princely generosity of Sundeep’s in-laws (Sundeep is Sheela’s brother. His wife hails from Coorg and her family have an incredibly beautiful coffee estate.) But the
Where to eat
Hotel East End, Madikeri serves the best Coorg cuisine. Try their chilli chicken, its awesome. The food is spicy and goes beautifully well with Kingfisher beer. (But then, what doesn’t?) The real mccoy is the Chilli Pork (or Chilli Fork, as it is sometimes pronounced) but my dear wife, bless her heart, opines that, in my case, it would count as cannibalism.
What to do
Apart from eat, drink and sleep, you mean? Nothing much, really. There are a couple of hills you can climb up. They say there are great views there but for some reason, very possibly because the escalators weren’t working, I never made it that far.
There is also a great forest reserve nearby, the Nagarhole national park (which, along with many schools, colleges, hospitals, roads, townships, battleships and scholarships, is now named after Rajiv Gandhi). It used to be ruled by Veerappan, (poacher and sandalwood smuggler, the guy who forgot to shave, if you’ve seen his photographs) till he decided to stop a couple of police bullets with his chest. The happiest with this turn of events must be the tigers and the elephants. Chances of seeing the former have greatly improved though it still involves going around in circles for hours in a rickety forest department jeep. Its great fun, though and is a must do for everyone regardless of age or sex.
Its one of the most de-stressing of destinations I’ve been too. I’ve been to some fancy and pretentious ones in my time where you are inundated with luxuries proffered by oleaginous attendants with one eye firmly on the ten percent gratuity. Coorg is not like that. While the average Coorgi would be pleased to know that you were having a great time, he wouldn’t give a damn if you were displeased with the service or decided never to set foot here again. I think they feel that the stuff is all there, its up to you whether to like it or not.
I loved it!