Coorg – The land of coffee, cardamom and the Cauvery

“I travel the traveler’s path to discover what lies beyond. A path often traversed by many but yet left unknown…”

 Taking a deep breath as I closed my eyes I plunged into a different world. I knew somewhere in front of me the hill had rolled down into its undulating emptiness. Beyond it was the endless night sky etched with the brightest stars, I have ever seen. I was sitting on a chair in the portico of our cottage that opened up into the unknown wilderness. The sudden thunder rain that had stopped brought with it, the cool breeze, caressing my body gently. An intoxicated smell of the woods along with that of the wet soil engulfed me. I could distinctly hear the chorus of the crickets and many more unknown night insects. Gradually I opened my eyes and was surprised to see that the stars had descended right in front of me. I was mesmerized. They were sparkling all around me. Extending my hand in a trance, I tried to catch one. Immediately the tiny light bounced away, scattering the rest in its way. It took sometimes for me to realize they were not the stars but the fireflies! Everywhere my eyes went the fireflies left behind an illuminated trail, reminding me of fairy lights.

It has been few hours since my arrival to this beautiful small town of Coorg, Karnataka, India. Accompanied by my husband we travelled from Hyderabad to Bangalore in an overnight bus. From there our journey had started on a pre-booked cab. Although time was very less, I had found myself immediately soaking up the sight, sound and smell of everything that we came across with much enthusiasm.

Adaptation is a slow process of becoming one with the surrounding environment. It comes with a price, which is time. Sadly, that is a luxury for full time professional people like us. However, when the city life starts suffocating, such small escapades prove to be a real breather. Our visit to Coorg was one such opportunity to steal ourselves from the everyday chores of life and take a sneak peek into the life led by the locals there.

Ginger Homestay. The name by itself had such a spicy and delicious aroma that I could not wait to visit it. The concept of homestay was new to me. After a drive of about eight hours and some local sightseeing at the Tibetan Golden Temple at Kausalnagar, we headed for our final destination. Mr. Ramu Aiyappa, a local resident had offered us a stay at his very own coffee plantation. As soon as we reached, I was in complete awe of the place.

The iron gate was heavily laden with full blossomed pink bougainvillea. A thin-pebbled pathway trailed behind it and disappeared among the green foliage. Somewhere from behind it, I could hear a dog barking. The driver got down to open the gates. Although it was around three in the afternoon of late April, a chill hung in the air. Dark clouds were gathering fast in the sky, threatening a shower for later in the day.

The car started its careful maneuvering along the sharp bends of the path. Both the sides of the path were adorned with heavy growth of emerald coffee shrubs. Soon it ended and opened up to an open space. A picturesque outhouse with red tiles and cream walls stood in the very middle of it. Nothing less beautiful than a painting of a artist. Bordering the cottage were numerous plants and trees. To the left was a row of more small cottages nestled in a clearing. Surrounding the cottages were a riot of colorful flowers decoratively arranged in earthen pots.

We were welcomed by cheerful, Mr. Ramu and his wife. Mrs. Aiyappa offered us coffee from their plantation. Sitting at their outhouse, which had glass windows on all sides, it was an experience never to be forgotten ever. All around us there was vast open space. Bordering the periphery of our vision were the sky-high pine trees. The sun had already hidden behind the mountain edge, casting a dimmed hue of gold and grey. It felt like a different world in a different era. The silence of the place brought with itself a serenity, which we city-dwellers never experience. Silence was at its loudest here. I was lost in it.

When the last remaining golden light of the sun had wiped away from the sky, I did not realize. Time passed ever so slowly. I could hear my own heartbeat. I glanced at my husband; he too seemed to have been caught upon the magical silence. We did not speak for a long time yet I could feel our hearts speak the untold words.

After unpacking in our cottage, we took a long warm shower. Behind every cottage there was a huge pot with pipelines directly running from it for supplying water to the respective rooms. The water would be brought to boiling by using live firewood. The simple yet unusual way of heating water amused me.

Soon were invited back into the outhouse for early dinner. Few foreigners joined us at the table. I was surprised to find other residents as apparently the place seemed deserted. Dinner was simple homemade chicken, vegetable curry, rice and roti. Each one of us helped Mrs. Aiyappa with laying the table, sharing food and enjoying it. A cheerful conversation followed. I discovered except for us, the rest of the residents were from all over the world. There was a young Spanish girl, an Australian Couple and a group of three friends from Germany. Later we also helped with clearing away the table. A very amicable and jovial atmosphere was created. Not for a moment did I feel that I was among strangers. I felt as if I knew these people for so long time.

As soon as our dinner was over, there was a sudden downpour. With it came the sudden power cut. Mr. Aiyappa had warned us about it earlier. Hurriedly we bid each other goodnight and went back to our respective cottages. As soon as the rains had started, it stopped. Although it felt like midnight, it was just a little after 8 p.m. After my husband retired for the day, I grabbed a chair from the room and comfortably seated myself in the veranda and was soon lost into reminiscence of the day…

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