Wednesday, September 21, 2005

On the Road - Coorg

The road to Coorg is long - six hours from Bangalore on a good day. And most of those six hours are spent on the Bangalore-Mysore Highway.

The last time we drove on that highway was back in December when we went on a road trip to Wyanad in the northern tip of Kerala. Construction on that road was in full swing then - the road was bumpy and long stretches were blocked off, so traffic was going both ways on a narrow portion of the road.

The road conditions and the traffic were so bad, especially as we approached the towns, that all sorts of vehicles were on the highway pretty much going at the same speed. For quite a distance, it was the same set of vehicles sticking together because there was simply nowhere to go. There were buses, cars, lorries, vans, autorickshaws (autos), and, for about 5 miles after Mandya, a motorized wheelchair. I'm not kidding.

Although we failed to see the humor in the situation, three guys in an auto thought it was pretty funny. Autos are known (or are notorious) for their maneoverability. They stick their nose into the tiniest crack in the heaviest traffic. Because traffic was slow and because the auto could make headway even when the rest of the traffic was at a standstill, this one particular auto stayed with us for a good 20 minutes.

We would speed up in our car but would be forced to slow down, the auto would catch up and get ahead. We would speed up again when the traffic thinned a little bit but would have to slow down and the auto would catch up again, announcing its arrival with the high pitched drone of an engine pushed to its limit.

Think Rimsky-Korsakov. Think Flight of the Bumble Bee.

The first time it happened it was funny. We all looked at each other, looked at the guys in the auto and laughed. Ten minutes later, it was not so funny, watching the back of that darned auto disappearing into a sea of traffic. Apparently the driver of a bus that was with us during that stretch didn't think it was funny either.

As the auto was getting ready to overtake the bus for the umpteenth time, he ran them off on to the median. We were right behind the auto and turned to make sure the guys in the auto were all right. They were fine, but had lost the grins. And we didn't hear the drone anymore.

Eight months later, it's a completely different story on the Bangalore-Mysore highway. The road is paved, long stretches of the road are now wide and uni-directional. There's also a Coffee Day on the highway near Mandya with clean bathrooms. Perfect place for a break, especially if you're traveling with young children.

Road trips are quite something else in India.

When you are far away from the cities and not a single glass facade is in sight, when emerald green rice paddies roll out in front of you as far as the eye can see, when you have to slow down to let a flock of sheep cross the road, when you overtake a bullock cart laden with hay or firewood or families returning home after a long day in the fields, when you pass by small tea shops on the roadside where men are hunched over their hot cups of tea that's been boiled to a sticky sweetness in big brass decanters, when you pass by fields where children are spinning an old tyre and are running right alongside screaming at the tops of their voices, when you see farmers, both men and women in one long, single line, bent forwards at the waist, their ankles lost in the saplings sprouting on their fields, when you see farmers ploughing their fields not with tractors but with two bullocks pulling a yoke, when a toothless old man sitting outside his small, bright, colorful, unassuming home right there by the side of the road raises his hand and smiles to acknowledge your wave as you speed by in your car, you know you are in India.


Or perhaps in China, Mongolia, Indonesia....I don't know. But for right now, for me, this is India.

As we approached Coorg, the road every so slowly sloped upwards and rice paddies gave way to coffee plantations and orange orchards, and the highway gave way to bumpy, slushy side roads. We had left Bangalore close to nine in the morning and reached the Orange Country resort just as the resort's dining hall was closing after lunch.

After a quick bite, which mainly consisted of scraping left-overs from the bottom of the dishes, we were shown our cottages. The rain which had accompanied us for the last hour of the trip had washed everything down, from the cobbled stone paths to the leaves on the coffee plants to the roofs of our cottages. Everything looked fresh, green.

Our cottage itself was straight out of some postcard picture of the English country side.


It had a bedroom, a living room and a balcony out of which we had a view of the fields.


Everywhere we turned we had views of coffee plants, peppercorn vines, rice paddies, bamboos, aracenut trees and Mexican crab grass laid out for lawns.

That night dinner was by candle light and by the light of kerosene lamps inside a tent. No, we did not decide to go camping and there was no power outage. We were at the Peppercorn, the only restuarant on the resort's premises. For some reason the resort thinks that its clients, who have paid a whole lot of money and driven long distances for some R&R want to pretend they are out in the jungle, camping.

And they're right. Although there're plenty of room for improvement in the service department, the ambience was great, the food even better.

The next day, one of the guides at the resort took us on a tour of the resort's plantation. There we saw...

cardomoms (I know, looks nothing like what we know to be cardomom)...


peppercorns...


vanilla bean creepers...


a path in the plantation flanked by trees supporting peppecorn vines...


and a jeweller's inspiration, coffee bean clusters....

There are no museums to see, monuments to visit or malls to hang out in. This is the kind of place you go to because there is nothing to do.

Other than eating, that is. Or curling up in one of the chairs on the balcony with a good book, lifting your eyes off the page every so often to look out into the rain-drenched fields, to bathe your eyes in all the greenery, or curling up in bed to let the humming of incessant rain lull you to sleep.

Finally, I leave you with photographs of some buildings. Nothing special about them, no architectural marvels, these.





Just some buildings that evoke the sense of a time gone by.

39 comments:

gawker said...

awesome pictures. nice commentary. the green hurts the eyes, but in a good way.

uma said...

nice, suj!!! god, i miss karnataka so much.. :))

Sujatha said...

Thanks Gawker.

Uma, thanks, and come back! At least come for a visit!

Dinesh said...

Coorg is as wonderful and u have confined the infinite beauty in finite words in a great way. When I went to Coorg, everything was fine except that there was no water in Tal-kaveri .. :-)

chappan said...

Suj
What is the distance between Coorg and B'lore ? Nice writeup BTW.
Sourin

Sujatha said...

Dinesh, welcome to my blog and thank you. Given the monsoons we've had this year, I'm sure there would have been a lot of water at the Talkaveri, but we did not make that drive.

Sourin, it's about 245 kms away from Bangalore.

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

Lovely! Makes me want to pack my bags and head over... btw about the paddy fields... I am yet to see that particular shade of electric green anywhere else :)

Sujatha said...

SF, yeah, i know...the green of the new saplings. They were planting them on quite a few of the farms. Close up, you can see the water the saplings are standing in and the space between individual plants, but from a distance, it's a veritable carpet, so inviting...

BTW, I have to say, I loooove your new image. You must have gone ga ga over sex and the city, eh?

Sunil said...

Coorg's a great place......and so much to do and see over there......lovely.

The so called "Scotland of the east"....

Anonymous said...

spectacular!

Ash said...

Loved your description of 'Indian' road trips, so true !

And I sure miss it all.

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

sigh... if only if only I had that woman's shoes

Ravi said...

Hi Sujatha,
Nice post; even nicer pics. All that green is a sight for city sore eyes but I can't help but wonder what our blog friends would say if they saw the lushness of Kerala as well. The word 'green' and a million of its permutations & combinations belongs to and exists only in Kerala! My humble view! :)
PS: May I ask which resort did you visit? I work for this industry; hence the question.

Kaps said...

I wanted to visit Coorg during my 3 years stay in B'lore. never managed to do that. your write-up and narration is a compelling reason to visit the place sometime soon.

Sujatha said...

Sunil, didn't know it was referred to that way...

Anon, thanks.

Ash, thanks. Must be especially hard for you now. Buck up, girl! Things will start looking better soon.

SF, I know, me too. But not in this lifetime. Could never ever find anything like that to fit me!

Ravi: I sort of agree. Kerala is beautiful too. I'll write up a post about our Wayanad visit soon. I have some good pics from there as well. Of course, I wasn't blogging then, so pics were not taken with a post in mind.:)) We visited Orange County.

Kaps, you should! Sorry you didn't get to do that when you were here. But you could plan just a sight-seeing trip. Sounds strange, coming back to your own country for a sightseeing trip, but I'm so thankful for the time we have here now. We're getting to do so many things we weren't able to before!

Michael Higgins said...

Hi Sujatha
Very nice piece and beautiful photographs.

When my wife and I visited India in 1995, we visited a spice plantation. I was just fascinated to see the actual plant that produced familiar spices like pepper and cardamon.

If I recall correctly, the cardamon plant flowers only one day a year (hard to believe) and your picture has some flowers on it - maybe you hit it on the right day!

km said...

That's a great trip-blog (TrOg?). But not a single pic of Raja Seat!

Krishna

Patrix said...

Nice photos...sometimes it is refreshing to see pictures of "not so great buildings". You would make a great travel writer.

Shyam said...

What lovely photos, what a nice write-up... I'm determined to visit Coorg the next time I go to India! I've never seen vanilla, cardamom or coffee plants, and now I just HAVE to :)

Sujatha said...

Michael, thanks. Yeah, it's awesome to see the real stuff. The peppercorn plant looks just like a betel leaf vine and I couldn't believe that it was a peppercorn vine.

Krishna, thanks! Welcome to my blog. We didn't want to pack our days with driving so we didn't drive up to the town, we just stayed at the resort and took a short trip out one afternoon. Hence no Raja seat. Also, I had already seen it when I was young.

Patrix, thanks. That's high praise, but I'll take it!:))

Shyamala, welcome to my blog. Thanks. You should visit these places and please do write about it in your travel blog.:))

Prahalathan said...

Great trip you had I guess...

Keep BLOGging!!
Visit my blogs Sometime...
http://prahalathan.blogspot.com/
http://prahalspics.blogspot.com/
The second one has lot of shots from my trip to MUNNAR.... amazing place!

Anonymous said...

....and to think of all the summer and dasara holidays in such sarroundings ...that being granny's place .... i am the luckiest

Asheesh said...

Hi Sujatha,

Great write up. I have been to Coorg 3 times. First time I drove up there on my bike with my friend, what an awesome experience.Next I went there for two treks. I absolutely adore the place. Hopefully I will find the time to visit it next time when I come to India.

Sujatha said...

Thanks Asheesh. Glad you liked it.:)

Deepa said...

Hi Sujatha,

Frankly, your write up is very enticing..we're planning a trip to Coorg in August, and i can't wait to check the place out :-)...And i miss Karnataka too, having been a hard core, true to heart bangalorean!!:-)....i'll try and add a little bit once i'm back from this trip..

Sujatha said...

Deepa, wonderful! Please do add your thoughts. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys,

I am planning to spend my honeymoon in Coorg at the ned of May 2007. I have some queries.
1. Is Coorg a safe place for a new one like me.
2. How abt the food.
3. Suggest any good hotel(deluxe and economy).

Thanks in advance,
Prasanth

Anonymous said...

Hi Sujatha,

Thanks a lot for that account. I am planning to go to Orange county for my honeymoon. Do you think its worth? And plz tell me hows veg food in orange county and service overall.

Regards
Arun

Sujatha said...

Prashanth and Arun, first of all, congratulations on your respective marriages! Best wishes.

Coorg is a lovely place, safe and a quiet place to relax and enjoy youselves. Not much to do, which is a definite plus in my book. Orange County is a nice, relaxing place, but you'll have no choice for food - you will have to go to their resort dining hall or go to the one other restaurant, the Peppercorn. Because you're pretty far away from everything else, it'll be difficult to head out of the resort every time you want eat something. But to look at it another way, at least you won't have to worry about where you're going to eat and plan for it. Unless you go to the Peppercorn, your food prices are included in the room rate.

If you are looking for a quiet place with nothing to do (may be a hike or a visit to a place where a tribe takes care of elephants or a tour of the plantation) and if you like nature, the Orange County is a good place for a honeymoon. The food is good, typical resort food, nothing to complain about.

Prashanth, other than Orange County I don't know if any hotels in Coorg.

Nidhi said...

Amazingly described :)

Sujatha said...

Thanks Nidhi. :)

vision said...

Hi Sujatha,
You have carved a nice niche for yourself in this blog world.Nice work.

My blog is all about Coorg.May I use your(Coorg) pics in my blog?

Thanks in advance..

Sujatha said...

V, thanks. :) You're welcome to use the pictures in your blog as long as they are attributed to the source. Thanks.

CC said...

Absolutely...

Thanks a lot...

Vision

anshumannn said...

hi

am there in coorg for a week
have booked into kibini for a night i.e. 15th

and 17-19th am in orange county.

the rest of the blanks i plan to fill up there. with little tibet def on my mind

any suggestions recommendations??

Anonymous said...

Hi Sujatha,

Nice write-up! I came across this page while searching for information abut Coorg.

Would you kindly let me know the name of the cottage you stayed in (in the picture)?

It is beautiful and just what I need as I'm going to India for a long break recovering from a serious illness.

My ID is : creakypirate at yahoo dot com (only so I don't get spammers)

Thank you,
Karthik Krishnan

Anonymous said...

Hi Sujatha,

Sorry, just noticed you mentioned Orange County Resorts!

Karthik Krishnan

Sujatha said...

Karthik, I hope you recuperate quickly. Take cared.

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