Hills and cool climes at Mahindra’s resort in Coorg
Fresh cool air, soft undulating green hills, and the most expensive coffee in the world – Luwak – makes Coorg a great destination.
The drive to Coorg is extremely interesting, I soak in the sights and sounds of the country side and local handicrafts. Channapatna, the city of toys is bright and colourful, for almost a kilometre I see stores with toys in tints and shades of all colours. The 200-year-old channapatna toy-making craft is still alive in many factories and showrooms that dot the highway. The rocking wooden horse is the most famous creation of this city and now using thetraditional lac-turnery method – new products in a variety of bright colours have been added like wooden wind chimes, masks in a variety of colours.
Into the beauty of Coorg
The Mahindra Holidays Resort is a vast property, it was difficult to fathom once we reached at nightfall but it was cool and refreshing. I was offered a warm welcome drink – the chuku coffee (local coffee served black, flavoured with jaggery and ginger); and I had a short walk to the apartment. I could see the thick plantations all around me and hear the the sounds of crickets and some birds too.
I was pleasantly surprised by my apartment. A large living-cum- dining space, open kitchenette with all essentials like a variety of coffees, tea, milk powder and of course a gas stove, microwave, small refrigerator – it’s almost like a home-coming. Both the bedroom and living room were equipped with a large television. Some homemade chocolates, cookies, cakes and savouries were placed in the rooms – a great welcome. I slept well as it was really cool and woke up to the sounds of birds chirping.
It was only next morning that I realised that every window looked out onto lush greenery and to enjoy it further, there is a big balcony where you can just relax and hear the birds chirping and spot them too. I stepped out into the balcony to enjoy the greenery at sunrise and had a cup of tea enjoying the green tops of the trees.
Feeling rejuvenated and famished, I decided to explore the menu and opted to have dinner at the Green Cardamom which is located a short walk away and it was really pleasant to walk under the shade of the canopy of the trees
As I walked into the restaurant, I decided to check the buffet and boy what a spread!
Sights in Coorg
Since the Dubare Elephant Camp is about 45 minutes away, and the elephants are fed at a particular time, it’s best to start early. I enjoyed the early morning drive to Dubare and one needs to cross the Cauvery river to reach Dubare. A short boat ride takes visitors across the river and you can watch the elephants bathing.
White water rafting in the river Cauvery
We decided to try our hand at river rafting. There are some operators along the banks of the Cauvery. If you are a beginner, pay close attention to the guide. Armed with a life-jacket and a helmet, and an oar you can begin the experience. It’s a large raft that holds nine to 10 people easily and those who are at the border of the raft have to roar according to the instructions given by the guide. Three rapids add to the excitement and the guide is a great help, in case you are a bit nervous. After five kilometres, we pull up and change, have a coffee and break for lunch at a local restaurant.
Post lunch, it was time to visit the Tibetan Monastery but unfortunately the main building was under repair but it’s a huge complex and very colourful. Called the Golden Temple or Namdroling Monastery (a Buddhist one), it is the second largest Tibetans settlement in India after Dharamshala.
The Namdroling Monastery was established by Drubwang Padma Norbu Rinpoche in 1963. This is the largest teaching center of Nyingmapa, a lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, in the world and is home to a sangha community of over 5000 monks and nuns. It has fourtemples in the complex and quarters for the monks. A busy place, it’s best to visit early morning at 9 am to feel the sanctity and hear the prayers.
With so much packed in, it was time to enjoy the tranquil setting of the resort and dinner was a great surprise. Barbeque Bay – open only for dinner is a great concept with Kebabs that are cooked on your table on a small sigree. Choose from a range of meats, fish and purevegetarian too. One of the most satisfying meals I have ever had.
One can also indulge in a bento box with Coorgi specialities! Add to that a separate counter with gravies – chicken and fish, starter station at the Green Cardamom.
Hard top Jeep Safari
Next morning, post breakfast, a unique experience awaited us – a Hard Top Jeep Safari and I wondered if I would spot any animals. We boarded a Mahindra Jeep and I wondered what to expect. As the road kept getting rough, and winding but not uncomfortable as the drivers are very competent, I began enjoying the drive. After 12 kilometres from Club Mahindra, the jeep begins it’s dirt track with rough patches, rocks which is the only way to go up to the Pushpagiri Wild life sanctuary. While there is not much of wildlife, the name of the sanctuary comes from the tiny white flower Pushpagiri that grows in abundance on the hills. After the rolling green hills, rough roads we stop at the forest check point, beyond which vehicles are prohibited. The mountains are ahead of us and I wonder what is beyond. I avoid the steep climb, and take the less ardous route.
Both routes take one to the same spot. While walking up, it’s sheer beauty all around. Green hills, sloping valleys, blue skies and white clouds, silence all around. One hill ends and another begins. It’s pure nature.
We reach the top of the hill and look below, it’s a drop of more than 100 feet but full of green landscapes. One needs to just sit and soak in the silence and peace of this spot. After about an hour, we start back to the hotel.
Post lunch it is time for a coffee trail on the property that ends at the Planters Club Coffee Lounge & Bar which offers 45 types of tea and coffee, so take your pick. For guests, there is an interesting coffee trail where one learns about how coffee is grown, the types of plants and how the cool climate is a must for coffee plantations. Arabica and Robusta are the two coffee beans that are grown in Coorg. Besides that, the Luwak coffee, the most premium coffee is being grown in Coorg district. The process of producing this coffee involves having the civet cat ingest coffee beans. The cat’s poop is then collected and processed.
Also called civet coffee, the market price is extremely high as it is considered more nutritious than other varieties. It also has a high cost of production because of the unusual method of producing it, as well as the processing and quality certification involved.
It was then the time to get pampered after two days of action at the Svaastha Spa. Spacious rooms with attached bathrooms, it’s a great place to unwind and rejuvenate and for those looking for an adrenalin rush, visit the adventure zone.
After the massage, it was time to shop. On the property, don’t miss the AinMane, flavours of Coorg store – fresh spices, chocolates, coffee beans that you can grind at home, jackfruit chips that are crisp, not oily and with a hint of sweetness. If you love spicy food, don’t miss the Bird’s eye chilli thatis a produce of Coorg – the most spiciest chilli!
It was definitely a great break and that too with Mahindra Club, as being in the hospitality business, they leave no stone unturned to make it a memorable stay for their guests. As I left the property next morning, the smell of coffee remained with me and so did the cool clime of Coorg.