Sunday, February 12, 2012

Scotland in our backyard - Coorg

I like travelling. Many of my travels are  unplanned trips. Of those, one was to Coorg in Karnataka.  I’ve visited this place many times and each time I’ve made beautiful lifetime memories and when Bhargavi blogged about Coorg's magic, the memories came cascading.

 One such visit and memory was during the winter of 97. It was the dussehra break of 3 days and we made a sudden trip to coorg. We decided to travel  only  to Mysore to visit my husband’s cousin sis and her family. After reaching Mysore, our other  cousins who had joined from Chennai and Trichy  decided, we  make a trip to Coorg(Kodagu in Kannada) in a hired car.

Yet another unplanned trip and so off we went to Coorg, six adults in all.  All through the journey we were charmed by the scenic locales of western ghats, enjoyed the drizzle of water streams on us and deep deep valley on the other, sometimes beautifully terraced coffee plantations and at times lovely rivulets with the twitter  of the unknown fauna.

 We also took breaks  to unpack our breakfast basket on a tree top house at Cauvery Nisargadhama, having (by two) tea at many places enroute to  Madikeri. (headquarters of Coorg district). Our car was negotiating the hairpin bends  in a mediocre pace and was travelling uphill to Bhagamandala (origin of River Cauvery)  and with another 18kms  to our destination, the car’s axle broke down.

The driver, my husband, his B-i-l and another cousin desperately searched for a mechanic shop nearby.  As the search party was on its work, I, our cousin sis and another cousin bro decided to follow the muddy track which went off the uphill to explore the coffee and orange plantations. After some 500 metres on the track, we found an iron gate whose pathway on either sides had pepper vines, coffee shrubs, orchards of guava, chikoo and oranges.  At the end of the path was a double storeyed cottage. We decided to quench our thirst  and  called out to the owner wondering if he/she would entertain 3 strangers. But we were in for a surprise, when the coorgi middle aged lady invited us inside her house.  Once inside we comfortably took the liberty of looking around the cottage. Our roaming eyes stopped at a timber stair leading upto a timber landing.  Seeing the direction and wonder in our eyes, she took us up the timber floor on her house and  told us the timber storey is built to insulate warmth and is cosy during misty winters. She also answered all the questions we posed about her culture, land and cuisine.  Her two sons were with the Indian army. The elder one was a Major serving at Kashmir, while the younger was at Wellington.  She too was an Army widow. She  stayed with a maid and was all alone in this house.

Coorgis , she said were traditionally planters( coffee)  or with the Army. They are known for their valour, rough sport, good hunt and fierce fight.This is one community which has the right to acquire guns without licence.  Amongst many Coorgi men who are Majors, Colonels, Lieutenants and subedars who serve us, the most prominent have been Our first field marshal  Gen.K.M Cariappa and  Gen.Thimmaiah.

You will find some British or rather Scottish influence here, because during colonial rule most planters were Scots. Infact, it was the homesick Brits who gave the sobriquet ‘The Scotland of India’ to Coorg because of its similarities.

Both Scotland and Coorg are cold, misty, hilly regions which have their local brews. In Coorg, it is coffee.

Coorgis like Scots were supposed to be divided into clans and the clans warred over lands in the early days.(now at peace)

The Coorgis have a distinctive  style of dressing which is similar to the Scots. The men wear a black knee length over coat called Kupya that reaches to elbow with a red sash and carry silver dagger. The scots also wear a similar dress and carry short daggers and the Coorgi ladies drape sarees differently.

Both of them love rough highland games and perhaps Coorg is one region in India  I can think of,  which despite its size and terrain has produced some of the best athletes and sporting person. It is called the cradle of Indian hockey and has gifted  many hockey players. This place hosts the largest hockey tournament in the world where many clans compete to claim the coorg family cup.  This tiny district has thrown some well known athletes and sportsperson like the Deviah sisters( Neeth, Reeth(Abraham), Preeth), Nachappa sisters(Pushpa, Ashwini), Rallyist couple Anita and Jagat Nanjappa, current stars  like badminton champion Ashwini Ponappa, squash champion Joshna chinnappa , Tennis champion Rohan Bopanna and more recently Cricketer Robin Uthappa. 

Even today many estates here have Scottish names and this estate was also one such. While we were going around the house, the maid servant gave us a refreshing lemonade to quench our thirst. We 3 strangers asked for only water and in return we got not just  Coorgi history but also lemonade.

We thanked the aunty who asked us to have lunch. On our way out, we hoarded lot of green peppers, chikoos and guavas, (coorg is also famous for Kodagina kittale, a tangerine orange but the trees were bare). Walking back we were also talking amongst ourselves how we city people would’nt  have entertained 3 strangers.
 
We reached the car only to find the search party had still not returned. Some minutes later we found they were searching  for the 3 of us.

They could’nt find any mechanics or garage since they were not working on Ayudha pooja day. So we had no choice  but take a bus from there to Bhagamandala.

Thanks to the break down, we were now richer with an experience and town hospitality.

More than the destination, it is the journey that I enjoy. Exploring new sights, meeting people, knowing the culture, the history, cuisine etc and sometimes it is also about discovering our self-worth.

Bhagamandala –  A beautiful and  an holy place, where River Kaveri originates.
This will be my next post.

                                   The terraced coffee plantations of Kodagu


                                the traditional attire of kodavas(coorgis)

Apart from being the largest coffee producer it is also the largest producer of honey in South Asia.

P.S:  Coorg is 260 kms from Bangalore and 180kms from Mysore. Best enjoyed by road.

Courtesy : Google images

18 comments:

  1. cha...neenga mattum oru pathu pathinanju iruvathu varuthsathuku munthi intha mathiri blog potrunthu atha naan padichirunthenna..ennoda schoo assignments neria simpliki silaapiya mudinjirukum...been to coorg 3 4 times..ivlo note pannathilla :) neenga travel and living compere cum scriptwritera pogalam :)

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    1. HAi idhu nalla irukkay! Jollya venice, florence ellam sutthalam. Aana yaaru koduppa? Oru velai Neenga TLC channel head aana consider pannunga.

      But i know, neenga appo yaarunnu keppinga?

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    2. enga..en en en intha kolaveri...ungalta aatograf vaanga queuela nikkara aalungalla adiyenum oruthana irupena irukum

      Delete
  2. In December last year, we went to Coorg again after nearly 20 years. it is still as beautiful as it was years ago. I had also written a blog with lots of photos about this place, have to publish it sometime.
    Your trip seemed to have been very interesting. A trip is sometimes more interesting because of some unexpected adventure thrown in.

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    1. Oh really! would love to see some recent pics. post them. My last trip to coorg was in 1999. Don't know how it has changed.

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  3. Wonderful travelogue. Coorg is a beautiful place indeed. Since its blessed with better weather than Scotland, its actually more enjoyable. Coorg does not have Scotland's Lochs, but otherwise every bit as beautiful. Like Parsis, Coorgis have many illustrious sons and daughters - way above their proportion to their national population. There's a gene of scellence there, both in the place and its people.

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    1. Oh lochs would've made coorg a fairy tale place. So true, even parsis are another community which have achievers.

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  4. I have to go there
    scotland is my favourite place , every year I go at least twice to visit and It is beautiful I will put some picutres myself some day ..

    Bikram's

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    1. Do visit Coorg. Scot visit - twice in a year, must be very beautiful. Post pics.

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  5. Ooh, i love coorg... the place, the people, the food, their traditions.. :) would love to visit again...

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    1. YES, everything about coorg is lovable, the coorgis are very hospitable, grew up with many coorgi classmates.

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  6. I had been to Bangalore n Mysore couple of times but didn't knew about this place...will try next time....Thanks for sharing about this lovely place...:)

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    1. My pleasure to share. Do visit, many interesting places between mysore and coorg.

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  7. ashaji...v may visit bangalore in july...god willing..join us for a trip to coorg...hey good post yar and nice pix..

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  8. Super post, Asha! In a way the axle breaking was a good thing- you got to experience some Coorgi hospitality..

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  9. Hi, I have a uniquely tribal built cottages in Coorg by name Evergreen County...

    If you are a adventure and nature lover you are most welcome

    www.evergreencounty.com

    You can reach me at 9880940198 / 9742368143

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