An undulating landscape of emerald hills clad in mist and sprawling plantations dotted with red-tiled cottages and colonial-style bungalows, Coorg or Kodagu, its official name, is a serene, green paradise in the Western Ghats that transcend southern Karnataka. Named ‘Scotland of India’ by the British, Coorg was an independent state until 1956 when it merged with Karnataka and became the district Kodagu, headquartered at Madikeri. A heaven for birdwatchers, this hill destination is a major coffee producer and has earned the title of being the ‘coffee bowl of India’.
While its natural splendour in itself is reason enough for anyone to pay at least one visit, the fact that a trip to Coorg is your chance to discover a new culture seals the deal! Coorg is home to Kodavas, its indigenous inhabitants, whose origins continue to be speculated till date. Some theories believe them to be natives who evolved from being a warrior tribe to one practicing agriculture, some consider them to be the progeny of migrating Persians and Kurds, and others propagate they are the descendants of the Indo-Greek soldiers from Alexander’s army! No matter the origin, Kodavas are a warm and welcoming bunch with rather unique traditions and practices that you can witness by living with them in their homes! Yes, homestays are indeed the best way to experience Coorg up, close, and personal. And these accommodations abound in this hilly town!
Whether you want to stay in Virajpet, Siddapura, or Madikeri, Kodagu has a holiday home meant just for you. Being the main town of the Kodagu district, Madikeri has the most options and some major tourist attractions. Pick from living at Stuart Hill, close to Omkareshwara Temple and Raja’s Seat, or make Boikeri or Kadagadal your temporary neighbourhood. And what’s more, living with the locals lends you insights and reveals those secrets that save you from the regular touristy traps and let you take in the essence of the destination. And you get traditional delicacies home-cooked by experts who know their cuisine in and out—homestays are definitely the way to stay in Coorg! Oh, do not forget to fill yourself up on some scrumptious pandi curry!
Now that we are talking about homestays, could anything get better than a dwelling right in the midst of an estate? Surrounded by air infused with the enticing aroma of coffee and spices such as cardamom, vanilla, and pepper, a Coorg homestay in a plantation is like Coorg in a cottage! Imagine steaming cups of fresh coffee on cool mornings, strolls through coffee plantations and maybe picking out some beans, getting a first-hand account of the process that transforms the seed into an aromatic powder, walks through anthurium farms and orchards, and a day that ends with a dinner prepared from home-grown produce—that’s one experience you would never get tired of sharing stories about!
Those of you who like vacation rentals that are steeped in history and narrate a story can rejoice, for those Coorg has a number of heritage homes that you can make your temporary abode. From century-old houses to ones flaunting traditional architecture, the options are plenty. Or you can choose to stay at the foothills of Thadiyandamol, the highest peak of Coorg and plan a trek up through some spectacular vistas to treat your eyes and soul on. Don’t fancy this? How about a quaint home atop a hill? Well, this comes with the benefit of catching sight of a nearby waterfall or bathing in one right within the property premises!
If luxury lures you, live in a lavishly done-up house with cosy fireplaces, vintage furniture, hammocks swaying in the manicured lawns, and volleyball/badminton courts to keep you active and entertained. To up the luxury quotient further, consider a private pool or a little waterpark that is sure to find favour with any kids accompanying you. Should rustic be your style, find yourself in the midst of manmade and natural lakes and a tree house, all surrounded by plantations and uncultivated forest areas.
While a Kodagu vacation is a must for every traveller, staying in a homestay in place of a hotel or a resort is what makes this getaway truly rewarding. So, get planning, book your homestay, pack up, walk in, and be mesmerised by the beauty of the place and the hospitality of its people!