A Home in Coorg by Chindamada Arati Monappa
Its elevation, and the salubrious climate that Coorg enjoys for the better part of the year, makes it an ideal holiday destination.
The Coorgs, the natives of Coorg have been known over the years for their hospitality. With so few ‘staying’ choices, most visitors found friends, or friends of friends, to stay with. way of life.
Estate homes on coffee plantations may not have 5-star facilities. They are old bungalows, with nice gardens and warm comfortable beds. Electricity was erratic, but one did not mind, since fans were not really a necessity.
Coorg food is always a talking point. Coorg women pride themselves on their table! So even simple home-cooked meal is a delight to a visitor. And there is a large variety to savour. Living on estates, families welcomed visitors who opened their eyes to a new world.
About a decade ago, prices of coffee, that had moved from government controlled rates to a free market price, dipped to such low levels that many small coffee holders found it difficult to maintain their plantations. Around the same time, Bangalore, which is only about a five hours drive from Coorg, saw the growth of the software sector, with a lot of young employees enjoying the perks of a booming industry. With the extra money, many of the youngsters were tempted to travel, especially over weekends. Coorg became the ideal destination. Meanwhile, the roads had improved, taxi services were more professional, and Coorg families saw the potential of catering to this new breed of holidaymakers.
Initially, there was trepidation on the part of homemakers. The Coorgs are a proud people. How could one charge a guest? When relatively well-to-do people, took the initiative, and found how lucrative it was, home-stays sprouted all over Coorg, from the very high-end charging up to Rs 11,000 a night to those catering to backpackers for even Rs. 100 a night.
Home-stays have many advantages over resorts. If one wants to enjoy the true hospitality of the region, it is ideal, since one can stay on a plantation, savouring the ambience of a coffee estate, and sharing the knowledge of the planter, many of whose families have owned the estate for generations.
Home-cooked Coorg food is different and unbeatable. Both for vegetarians and non-vegetarians, there is a great variety to choose from – mushroom, avocados, pork, and bamboo – a gourmets delight! Coorg also offers great climbing, trekking and fishing opportunities that local hosts are knowledgeable about. One need not spend an evening at a lonely hotel bar. At a home-stay, local hosts will be happy to share a drink with a guest.
Most home-stays in Coorg have basic facilities – many have upgraded their homes to make it more attractive for tourists. Many locations have breathtaking views and are ideal for those who want to spend a quiet holiday, with nature for company and good food to nurture the soul!
Home-stays also provide information on tourist sites, visits to Talacauvery, the source of the Cauvery river, to the Nagarahole Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Elephant Camp at Dubare. They save you the hassle of organizing schedules.
How are they different from resorts, which have also sprung up in Coorg? It is the warmth and comfort of a home that one enjoys at a home-stay in Coorg, living with people who enjoy sharing hospitality, many slipping in extra facilities that are not charged in your bill. One ends up, making friends, and most home-stays thrive on word-of-mouth recommendations. Especially in Coorg, a home-stay makes sense, to get a true feeling of this beautiful coffee country, the flora and fauna, its distinct people, culture and food. Resorts worldwide are the same! As icing on the cake, one could also get to visit a Coorg wedding with the hosts, and dance with the Coorgs – a memory to carry for life!