Kool Coorg

Coorg Diary


My watch shows the time as 10.30 in the morning as our aircraft lands on Bengaluru's newest airport. Compared to the old HAL airport, this new airport is a real swanky and well organized place. The main obstacle faced by a passenger landing on this airport is however quite a different one. This airport is located at a distance of about 30 to 40 kilometers from the city. Firstly going to the city through crowded streets of Bengaluru, itself is a nightmare with impossible traffic jams and secondly, one has to spend a large sum for hiring a taxi, which can take you to the city. Any one can agree that paying only Rs. 2000 for the airfare and then shelling out Rs. 500 or 600 for traveling from the airport to the city is a very weird kind of situation. It is a puzzle to me that while planning for this airport, why no plans were ever made for a quick and effective local corridor, which can take you to the city at a low cost. Well aware of this problematic situation, we have made our own arrangements for a Toyota Innova taxi with a driver to meet us at the airport. This vehicle, along with the driver, would be fully in our attendance for next few days, till we return back to this very same airport, is a comforting thought for me in the chaotic traffic situation of this city. I have a feeling that this single factor is likely to ensure that our little escapade to Coorg, would be comfortable and enjoyable.

Being the senior most member of our group, I am honoured with the front seat, next to the driver. I am happy about this seating because while traveling on Indian roads, usually front seats tend to be most comfortable.
The city of Bengaluru has developed very rapidly over last few decades mainly because of the Information Technology Industry. I see around very heavy road building activities. Obviously,I have no idea about the feelings of the local population about these developments in their city. Whether they like their city growing into a giant metropolis? Or they would have preferred the old beautiful Bengaluru town as it was 50 years back. I used to stay in this city once, in the 1960's decade. Compared to that time, I can see great changes in the city now. In those days, I do not recollect, city temperatures in the month of May ever crossing 31-32 degree Celsius. The temperatures now routinely cross 37-38 degree Celsius. The weather in Bengaluru appears to have changed for the worst with all these new developments.
There are new and wide roads everywhere with buses of modern design plying on these. There are two ring roads, external and internal, along the perimeter of the city. External ring road touches the airport. Starting from the airport, we take naturally the external ring road first and then join the internal ring road somewhere near Yelhanka vilage. I recollect that this village was no where near the city during 1960's. The ever growing city has made this village, once on the outskirt, a part of the city itself now. From this internal ring road, we are able to reach the road junction, where Bengaluru-Mysore highway starts, rather easily, without facing any major traffic pandemonium or jam. I had traveled by this Bengaluru-Mysore highway about fifty years ago. The small two lane road of those days, has now been converted into a 4 lane highway. Because of this, after we pass by Bengaluru suburbs like Ramnagar and Chennapatna, the traffic thins out and the road is wide open. The landscape around me also changes from the typical urban and semi urban looks to a typical countryside view as we are now into the real rural Karnataka. A splendid scene is slowly emerging in to my car windows. On both sides of this jet black metalled road, there are long stretches of ever green fields looking so fresh, almost to the end of my sight. Intermittently, groves of tall eucalyptus trees, break the green monotony. The soil, wherever I can see it, is terracotta red and on the horizon, distant mountains with their dark bluish hue, complete the picturesque post card scene. As I soak myself in this pristine beauty of nature, I fall asleep even without my knowledge.

Breaking for Lunch

I open my eyes and realize that we are in the vicinity of Srirangapattana town. I am feeling little hungry, so I propose that we halt for some lunch. Perhaps everyone else in the car has the same idea because my idea is immediately approved. The driver tells me about couple of good restaurants ahead. We decide to stop there. We do find few places along the road . MacDonald and Pizza Hut are all here, But we want to eat genuine south Indian food. We see a “ Kamat ” restaurant ahead. In Mumbai these “ Kamat ” chain of restaurants are very popular. I am not very sure whether this place here belongs to the Mumbai chain, but the food prepared with plentiful use of coconuts is very tasty and excellent. As we cross Shrirangapattana town after lunch, I see signboards indicating directions to historic as well as tourist interest places like Darya-i-Doulat, which was the palace of the famous eighteenth century Tipu Sultan from this place and also famed “Vrindavan Gardens”. Since we have a large distance to cover today, it is just not possible to stop here for a visit. We just keep going, except for a brief halt for a cup of coffee at a “Coffee Day” restaurant, till we reach a place called “Kushalnagar”.
It is almost 5 o' clock in the evening and the picturesque landscape that surrounded me so far has started changing as we start climbing on a mountain road or a “Ghat”. This road has a very gradual climb unlike some of the other roads in Western Ghat mountains, where the roads have steep climbs and zig-zag turns. On both sides of the road, I can see many trees now. It is obvious that we are slowly entering a forest area. As we go up the climb, the trees become rather dense. Most of the trees are silver oak or Teak wood trees with black pepper creepers or climbers hugging and climbing the tree trunks. This is certainly not a wild forest. These are plantations for which this area is famous, mostly growing coffee and black pepper. After negotiating the “Ghat” road for at least 45 minutes, we finally reach “Medikeri” town. 


Roadside beauties

The first views of Medikeri from a distance are rather stunning. I see wooded green slopes on almost all sides with small village hut clusters with terracotta tiled roofs, breaking the green humdrum at few places. The landscape is certainly very rugged with steep slopes and climbs. This is not a surprise because this town is situated on the eastern slopes of the southernmost portion of the “Sahyadri” mountains. Yet the barren rocky landscapes of the northern “Sahyadri” mountains, near my home town Pune, are no where to be found here. On the road sides, there are countless numbers of shrubs and trees, completely wrapped by climber plants with a fabulous range of blooming wild flowers. The ever green plants and the yellows, reds, blues and purples blooming on them is something worth thousand visits. Medikeri is the main town of the Coorg district, which occupies the South-West portion of the Karnataka state. It is just next door to state of 'Kerala', famous for it's natural beauty. It is no wonder therefore, that Coorg district and Medikeri town are endowed with bounties of nature just like the neighbouring 'Kerala'.
The resort, where we had made reservations for stay is at least 5 kilometers away from here. Medikeri being a very popular place for tourists, has number of hotels and resorts in the vicinity that offer 
cheap holidays. We have selected this particular resort as it is slightly away from the town itself. Medikeri town is located in a gorge or a trough with mountain slopes on all sides. Whenever one needs to cross the town, it is necessary first to go down the slope to the heart of the town and then climb up from other side. All streets that lead to the heart of the town are narrow and with tight hairpin bends and remind me of the famous Lombard or most crooked street of San Francisco. The roofs of the houses in the Medikeri town are invariably adorned with red coloured 'Manglore Terracotta tiles' and look very pretty and impressive from the mountain tops on sides, but the town with it's open gutters is smelly and quite shabby. I am happy that our decision to select a resort well away from the town is turning to be a right choice. 


Another beauty on the curbside

As soon as we leave the town and climb up again, the surroundings become pristinely beautiful. We pass through a garden overlooking a green valley. The roses in the garden are blooming along with other flowers. The road is wooded and very quiet. Traveling few kilometers, we enter the gates of our resort.

Reception porch

At first, I do not see any buildings at all, which are cleverly hidden behind trees. The car stops in a wooden porch. I get down and look around. The reception building, built on the lines of a typical Kerala courtyard dwelling has full wooden paneling and looks lovely. 

The Portico

The water tank in the reception room

There is a small water tank, open to sunlight, at the center of the building, surrounded by wooden handrails and balusters . Comfortable sofa sets, manufactured from reeds, are arranged on the sides for seating. We take seats and are offered passion fruit juice as welcome drink. I notice that on outer sides of this courtyard style building, there are no walls but similar wooden handrails supported by wooden balustrades again and just beyond the hand-railing, lush green shrubs almost touch us. 

The lounge

As I relax here, a feeling of freshness, slowly creeps inside me and all my tensions of the day's travel just melt away.


I open my eyes and look at the watch. It is only 5 o' clock in the morning. The weather in Coorg, is temperate and fine. Even at the peak of the summer, temperature rarely crosses 30 or 31 degree Celsius. The nights also are not very cold. All along the day and even in night one feels very comfortable here. When I went to sleep last night, I felt like covering myself with just a light blanket. Since the weather is so comfortable, I had never expected to wake up so early in the morning, yet I am fully awake at this unearthly hour for no reason. I suddenly realize then that I have been woken up by some kind of weird noises. Outside my suite, there is a high volume din and clamour from somebody. This sound has woken me up. I get up and slide the thick curtains on the french window. It is still dark outside. Dawn has not yet reached the heavily wooded surroundings of my resort. Every thing appears so calm and quiet. Yet there is blaring going on outside. I am very curious and open the balcony door. The sound just fills my suit like a storm surge. I had never understood previously, the true meaning of the word 'Cacophony'. Listening to this strange sound, I feel that I have now really understood what Cacophony means? After listening carefully, I can make out individual sounds of chirping, cooing,squawking, hooting and warbling, going all around me. It is fascinating to hear the bird songs so clearly, and so early in the morning. My suite in this resort is surrounded on three sides by dense growth of shrubs. Behind these shrubs there are groves of large trees. All this sound is coming from the birds hiding in the trees. 


Satellite photo showing relative distances of Medikeri town from Mangalore city and Bengaluru city

Our resort is located near Medikeri town in coorg district of the state of Karnataka in India. Medikeri town is well connected by road to two major cities of Karnataka. From Manglore, a city on west coast, the distance to Medikeri is about 125 Kilometers, whereas the distance from Bengaluru (the route by which we travelled.) is about 250 Km. Both these places are connected by air, having good airports. However, Mangalore, being a small city, is not so well connected and very few flights land there. Bengaluru has an international airport and many airlines including budget airlines fly there and offer cheapest flights.

Our Resort in Coorg

This resort, where I am staying, has been constructed in a very nice fashion. The entire resort is situated in a gorge. On the perimeter of this gorge or the highest points are all the residential complexes. Each residential complex having six individual suites on three floors. At a slightly lower height, we have the restaurants and a Fun Zone for the kids. At a still lower level, we have the Adventure Zone a Gymnasium and a Massage Parlour. The residential complexes have been named after very uncommon tropical trees. It is fun to tell others that we are staying in “Jojuba” or “Lokucha”. The over all experience here is very pleasant and provides comfort. 


Adventure Zone

Really speaking, Coorg is an anglicized version of the original name “Kodagu” in the local dialect. Even though Coorg is part of Karnataka state, the culture of the people resembles more to the culture of the people of the next door Kerala state. If you ask one of the locals regarding the most important place in his Kodagu district, the probable answer would be 'TalKaveri' and it should not raise any eyebrows. The 'Kaveri' river has the same kind of importance in this part of the world that river 'Ganga' or 'Ganges' has in north India. Commoners in the north, call affectionately, the river 'Ganga' as 'Mother Ganga'. Similarly 'Kodagu' people address their 'Kaveri' river as 'Kaveri Tai' or 'Mother kaveri'. The source or headwaters of this 'Kaveri river is located at a place called 'Tal Kaveri' and this place happens to be located very much in the Coorg district itself. Naturally, this place has similar religious importance, here in south India, as the source or headwaters of 'Ganga' river, located at 'Gangotri' in the Himalayas has in north India. Kaveri river flows from its origin at Tal Kaveri towards east, first near Shrirangapattan ( which we passed by, on our way to Coorg from Bengaluru), where a dam has been built on the river. The lake formed here is known as 'Krishnaraj sagar' after a past Mysore state king, and the famed 'Vrindawan gardens' are also located near this lake. The second most important dam on Kaveri river is at 'Mettur” in the state of Tamil Nadu. The river finally joins the Bay of Bengal' near 'Tanjore'.

Good Housekeeping; bath towels arrangement

Considering the effect and importance this river has on the lives of the Kodagu people, I decide to start my escapades here in Kodagu with the birth place of the river at 'Tal Kaveri'.

All our plans to start early for Talkaveri actually go haywire and the clock shows 11 o'clock in morning, when we finally depart. We take a narrow hilly kind of road roughly going in south-west direction. There are just too many curves on this road, yet our SUV driver keeps driving as if he is driving a Maruti 800 car. (one of the micro cars available in India.) We take our first halt, after we travel a distance of about 40 Km from Medikeri. Our driver says that there is a confluence of three rivers just a small distance away.

This confluence is a total and complete disappointment. Leave alone the confluence of Ganga with Jamuna at Alahabad. Compared to this place the confluence of Mula and Mutha rivers near my home town of Pune, could be considered as colossal. This really is a confluence of two canals. Out of the three rivers supposed to be there, I could see the beds of Kaveri and Kanika rivers. The third river known as Sujyoti is conspicuously absent. I ask one of the votaries, who is worshiping the river bed. He tells me that the third river is actually hidden from view of mortals. Since I can not claim to have any other qualifications except that of a mortal, there is nothing further to ask. Just near the confluence, I can see a fairly big temple complex. The temple has a style which is distinctly from Kerala. The main gate to the temple complex is huge and highly decorated and carved. Inside the complex, I can see number of small temples of miniature size, dedicated to various idols. I ask another votary about the names of idols. He comes out with a list of names like Ishavar, Bhangadeshwar, which I have never heard before. Finally, I find a name plate written in English and find out the name of the main idol to whom this temple is dedicated. He is called as 'Bhagamandaleshwar.'

After this short break, we are again motoring to our destination; the head waters of river Kaveri. We start climbing another hilly road again. The terrain changes again with thick foliage all around, just like Coorg. About 4 Km away, I can see a parking lot with number of cars parked. There are number of shanty shops on one side, all of them selling the stuff like flowers and fragrant sticks used in worshiping of the idols by votaries. All shops have one thing common. They have their own public address systems, over which they play religious songs and ballads praising the River Kaveri. Ahead of me is a huge and wide gate with number steps for approach.

Continuing to listen to the ballads, all praising sister Kaveri, I climb up the steps. There is a deep pit there lined with marble tiles. There is also a water outlet shaped like head of a cow or a bull and water from the pit flows into another pit through the mouth of this cow/ bull, whatever it is, and then just becomes untraceable. This trickle of water falling out of the pit, at a height of 3700 feet from mean sea level, is considered as head waters of Kaveri river; one of the mightiest river systems of south India. There is also a temple dedicated to river Kaveri. The photography of this temple is apparently prohibited. The logic behind this rule is something that I just fail to understand. Many votaries appear to be worshiping the idol of Kaveri river. There are also number of other miniature temples, dedicated to assorted idols again. One thing is to be however appreciated. The entire temple complex is completely clean and tidy and surroundings are extremely picturesque. It is a great pleasure to just look around and see the panoramic views.


The votaries say that the river after disappearing from the pit on the hill, only makes an appearance again, just near the confluence at ' Bhagamandaleshwar' temple, visited by me earlier. Since, I can not prove otherwise, I assume that it must be true. It is always an impossible task to try and find the head waters of a river. Near my home town, there is a place called 'Mahabaleshwar,' they say that you can see head waters of five rivers there all originating from the same temple and then flowing in different directions. One can see at least 5 independent rivulets there, flowing in different directions. Here at Tal Kaveri, there is nothing to see.

Just on the side of the head waters of Kaveri river, I see number of steps in the range of 200-300, which go up a hill all the way. This hill is called as 'Bramhagiri Hills.' I decide to take up the climb , just brushing aside any thoughts of aftereffects like pain in the legs etc. I actually succeed climbing to the top quite easily, though I take number of mini halts on my way. As I look around in a 360 degree view, my mind gets filled with an unknown joy and delight. The hill top is about 200 feet up from the headwaters of Kaveri. The top is not actually large, could be a circle of about 25 feet diameter. But the 360 degree view of the hill tops and vales covered with thick dark green foliage is unbelievably grand and majestic. It is always possible to have this kind of grand view from an aircraft in flight. But to see something similar from the ground itself is something very unique and rare. I feel happy with this close contact with nature's bounty here and feel that today's excursion has been a worth while exercise after all.

We decide to have our lunch at some odd hotel in Medikeri. The plan is immediately rejected by our driver, who says that there are no places to eat, worth a visiit in Medikeri. I am rather surprised at his opinion, but finally give my consent to return to our resort. We order our lunch with a minute to spare before closing time of the kitchen of the resort restaurant at 3.30 PM. After lunch, I realize that my legs are now complaining about the climb. I hit the bed and wake up only late evening for some tea.

As a pleasant surprise, all of us are actually ready to roll out at 7.30 in the morning. We even have finished our breakfast too. We leave the resort at 7.45 sharp. The kids are particularly most enthusiastic, but that is understandable because our first halt is going to be the elephant camp near 'Dubare' town.
If one wants to exit 'Medikeri' city, he has to invariably cross the 'General Cariappa square.” A life size statue of this legendary general can be seen in this square. General Cariappa was the first Indian chief of army staff of independent India and had taken his charge in 1949. There is yet another square, which one needs to cross, before approaching this particular square. I find a life size statue of someone unknown, erected in this square too. I find that the statue is fully covered up, perhaps waiting for the inauguration by some political big wig. My guess is that the this statue is of another general of Indian army, General Thimayya, who was chief of staff from 1957 and had resigned in 1959 because of the differences with V.K.Krishna menon, then minister of defence. The resignation was not accepted first, but he had eventually retired, before India-China war of 1961. 'Medikeri' people are extremely proud of the fact, that their small town has given tow distinguished generals to India's armed forces. I think that this should not be much of the surprise really to any one because indigenous people from this area, known as 'Kodagu' were always known as a martial community and many youth from here prefer to join armed forces even today.
We have crossed once again the hilly part of Coorg-Mysore road with its continuous ups and downs and are back to leveled road near 'Kushalnagar.' Here we branch off on a small feeder kind of road, which is so narrow that if we see a vehicle approaching from the front, one of the vehicles has to look for a shoulder behind, reverse and then park there. On both sides, I see emerald green coffee farms. These farms usually plant Silver Oak trees along the fence and let Black Pepper vines climb on them. I see almost continuously, such black pepper vines along the road sides. After travelling about 8 Km on this narrow road, the driver stops the vehicle and I can see a river bed ahead.


Compared to river bed of Kaveri river at 'Bhagmandaleshwar,' which we saw yesterday, the bed of the same river is much wider here (near 'Dubare' town). It is easily possible to cross this river by jumping from one rock to another, projecting out in the middle of the water. We decide to take an easier way to cross by using a motor launch. On the opposite bank, is the training camp for elephants, run by the Government of Karnataka. I can see at least 10 or 15 elephants of various ages slowly swaying and munching tender grass. This is supposed to be their bath time and they would be brought to river bed, one after another.

Two of the smaller elephants, prefer to lie down in the water and the entire lot of 40 or 50 kids that are collected here this morning, are absolutely delirious with joy and laughter. Kids go near these small elephants, direct water jets at them and scrub their bodies with brushes. The elephants seem to enjoy the ritual as they also look happy: at least I feel so after looking at their small squeaky eyes. The elephants also are spraying water jets at the kids, once in a while, with their trunks. Every time this happens, all the kids shriek with great joy. After bath, elephants are fed with giant sized cooked flour balls, many of the kids are helping to feed the elephants.
After the rituals are over, the mahouts take away the elephants for training and we realize that sun by now is blazing at the zenith. Everyone turns to a coconut water vendor nearby. After finishing off the cool coconut water, we cross the river once again and get back to the car. Our immediate destination is a Tibetan refugee camp nearby.
Few years after Chinese forcefully took over Tibet, the Dalai Lama, sought political asylum in India. Following him, Tibetan refugees in thousands came to India. These refugees were settled at many places in India by the Government. One of the large settlements of Tibetan refugees, exists at 'Bayalakuppe' village near 'Kushalnagar' town. The refugees have set up here a huge monastery known as 'Great Gompa of Sera Je' or 'Sera Mey.' The monastery has a huge golden dome on the top and can be seen from a distance. This monastery and a huge prayer hall of Mahayana Buddhist University, which is near by, are worth visiting. This prayer hall is a giant assembly hall, which can accommodate easily about 400 students. Near one of the walls, huge golden hued statues of Goutama Buddha and two of his disciples, who had also attained a state of Buddha later, are installed.
In the nearby colonies, where the Tibetan refugees stay, they have started their own businesses of making incense sticks, carpets and artifacts. These are sold in nearby stalls started again by some refugees. The perseverance with which these people, uprooted from their ancestral lands, have re-established their life in this foreign land, is most commendable. The Tibetan monastery at 'Bayalakuppe' is definitely worth a visit.



We are back at the resort by lunch time. We decide to go back to 'Medikeri' town for a shopping trip. However the town trip turns out a complete disappointment. There is hardly anything to see or buy in this town. Our driver tells me that I can buy some spices and condiments from an wholesaler here. I buy black pepper, coffee powder and some dry fruits and return to the resort. The kids are playing video games in the resort. I decide to relax in an easy chair. Even before knowing, I am fast asleep.


The kids have declared after breakfast that they are not willing to join us for any sight seeing trip. They would rather stick to the resort and play in the fun zone. I try for a while to change their firm decision. My efforts turn futile and finally I give up. No kids means their parents can not make it too. That leaves only the senior citizens willing to go for the sight seeing. We finally decide to pay a visit to a waterfall nearby, known as Abbey falls. Instead of usual Genaral Cariappa square, we take another road, which goes through the main veggie market of 'Medikeri.' This road is quite a bit of horror as this entire stretch through town is filthy, grimy and mucky and very much looks like a garbage dump. It is a great relief that the stretch of the road beyond city limits again turns picturesquely beautiful. We pass through heavily wooded areas now and the road is mostly downhill.

Abbey falls are located at a distance of only 4 Km from the city and there is a large sized parking area for the vehicles. This parking lot is also stunningly beautiful with rolling green meadows around and deep and dark woods further in the background. From here, we start walking on a path that goes steeply downhill. Unfortunately, both the sides of this downhill stretch are again full of plastic garbage like empty bottles, bags and waste paper. The path becomes narrower as we go down further and now I can see fully grown coffee trees on both sides of the path. A suspension bridge now comes into the view while my ears pick up a roar, that has to be of falling water. As we move further down, Abbey falls come into view.


'Abbey falls' turn out to be a complete anticlimax compared to my expectations. I have visited so far many water falls around the world including the Niagara and Yosemite's Bridal veil fall in US. In Karnataka state itself, there are some excellent water falls like Gokak, Jog, Unchalli and Magode. It is hard to compare even, this Abbey fall with any of these. I feel that it is more or less like the water fall at 'Shivathar' near my home town Pune, with water falling down the rocks in small steps. There is no ferocity or savage fierceness, we normally associate with water falls. It is a gentleman's water fall and if the surroundings are kept clean, it could be a nice spot for picnic.

We are back on the road again to visit a coffee plantation. I look at my watch, which shows time as 4 o'clock in the afternoon. There are few more families coming along with us. We pass through General Cariappa square once again and take a curvaceous, twisty hilly road. Travelling about 12 Km, the cars stop near the gate of a coffee plantation. The owner of the plantation, Mr. Kiron, welcomes us at the gate. He would be taking us around the plantation personally. Since my knowledge about coffee beans and plants is very rudimentary, I find the information quite interesting. Obviously, being an owner of the plantation, Mr. Kiron, talks coffee, lives coffee, obviously drinks coffee and knows a lot about coffee production. But first, he shows us some rare trees, not easily found around


Vanilla vine with pods

Even though I like Avocado paste with my Taco or Enchiladas ( my favourite Mexican dishes), I did not know how a Avocado tree looks like. This fruit looks very much like our Desi fruit of Guava, but tastes quite different. After slowly baking Avocado fruit on burning coal covered with cinders and ash, the pulp of this fruit tastes great. To see an Avocado tree with fruits growing on branches is a rare site in India at least. Mr. Kiron has one such tree in his plantation and he shows it to us. The next rare tree is the Cinnamon tree. Even if we crumple few leaves of this tree with our hand, we can smell the typical scent of Cinnamon. After this, we go to see Mr. Kiron's Vanilla vine. Vanilla plants grow Vanilla pods and the extract is derived from the seeds. This entire process is very labourious and time consuming and makes natural Vanilla extract one of the most expensive plant product. For this reason, most of the essence is produced these days from coal tar which is a residual matter, left behind in distillation of crude oil. We turn to our main interest now; the coffee tree. Mr. Kiron makes the whole coffee production process appear so simple to me that at least for few minutes I feel like an expert coffee grower.

The mountain range in which Coorg hills are situated is known as Western Ghats and runs parallel to the western sea board of Indian peninsula. This range is known by different names in different regions. In the North, near the city of Mumbai, the mountains are known as Sahyadri. Down South, the range is known as Bramhagiri range. Coorg region is located on the eastern slopes of this Bramhagiri range. Coorg is much in the south, just back to back with state of Kerala.

India produces about 300,000 metric tons of coffee beans annually. Out of this, Coorg region alone, produces 120000 tons. Which means that little less than half of the total coffee produced in the country is produced here in Coorg, in scores of plantations like the one owned by Mr. Kiron and is being shown to us. One striking feature of coffee production of India is that almost two thirds of the production is exported with domestic consumption little on the lower side.

Technically, a coffee tree can grow anywhere. However, if you plant a tree in your back yard, the chances of its bearing fruits are rather remote. Even if the tree bears fruits, they are unlikely to have the aroma and the fragrance. This is simply because the ripened fruit have no aroma at all. The aroma comes from the processing and sun drying of the fruit. In this process it absorbs the moisture from the air. For this reason, coffee grown and processed at different locations and even at different mean heights from sea level, have different aromas and tastes. This is one reason for which, coffee plantations are found on lower slopes in Coorg region and not on hill tops. Two types of Coffee trees are now grown in India. Arabica coffee plants are smaller and delicate. The leaves also are smaller. Greater care such as maintaining proper soil salinity, needs to be taken for growing Arabica plants. Compared to that, Robusta coffee trees are taller and stronger. They require much less caring than Arabica. Precisely for this reason, almost 60% of Indian coffee is of Rubusta type.

smaller tree in foreground is Arabica

Coffee fruit or Cherries

Coffee fruits look red and cherry like when they ripen. Some of the fruits bear a single roundish seed. This seed demands higher price in the market and is called as Peaberry. Most of the coffee fruit or cherry bear two seeds and is sometimes called flatberry.

After ripened fruits are picked by hand, the outer pulp is removed by two methods. In the first method, the cherries are immersed into water and crushed to remove the pulp. The seeds with some pulp still attached to them, are then dried into sun. The beans produced in such a fashion are called plantation beans in India. In other method. The entire coffee cherry is dried in sun. While drying into sun, the weather, moisture in the air etc. all play a part giving a distinct aroma and taste to the coffee. Dried seeds are then graded, cleaned and polished and then sent to the market.

Enlightened with all this coffee talk and to be frank, a fairly exhausting walk around Mr. Kiron’s coffee plantation, I feel obliged when Mr. Kiron suggests that we have some coffee. Some freshly brewed coffee and biscuits are served to us. The brew is just divine. It is surely one of the best coffee, I have tasted for a long time. With the taste of coffee still on my lips, we visit a green house, where, Mr. Kiron grows Anthurium plants. He imports seedlings of this plant and grows them. The flowers fetch a good price and are durable.

With the coffee taste still lingering in my mouth, we return to the resort, everyone is now thinking about going home tomorrow. We would again travel to Bengaluru by our Innova SUV and then fly back to Pune.

Coorg days are over rather quickly, memories remain.



1 comment:

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