It was just the usual. Every year we plan a holiday with a close set of friends and their families for new year’s eve. Time just flies and before you know it, December has come unannounced. So one of us starts the email chain, hectic discussions on places, dates, the group’s size and booking enquiries happen; and we end up getting a homestay in Coorg – a place which none of us have any objections to.
A bit about the region. Coorg or Kodagu covers loosely the area in Western ghats thats flanked by Mysore and Hassan on its east and South Canara and North Kerala to its west. It covers an area of 4000 odd sq km in forest regions of southern Western ghats. The three main sub districts are Madikeri, Virajpet and Somwarpet.
Nevertheless, for me or many of its visitors, Coorg has always been either Madikeri or Kushalnagara or one of those myriad homestays nestled in the coffee plantations that liberally pepper the forest cover.
This time too, we were going to a homestay in the region. Our destination was a coffee estate, River Valley, nestled between between Kushalnagara and Madikeri, near Madapur.
A couple of days before the new year, we were driving on the familiar Mysore road in the early morning to beat the city traffic. As we left the city limits, we had an excellent thatte idli for breakfast at a roadside inn near Bidadi. For those who dont want the hassles of parking near Kamat Lokaruchi, this is a very good place to just pull of the road and have a for a quickie breakfast. The only downside being the constant hoots of a plastic whistle they use to attract the cars zipping by.
The journey till Kushalnagara outskirts was uneventful and then just to amuse us, we were made to wait for three quarters of an hour, due to a flash strike at the city’s outskirts. Fortunately it got cleared and we were on the way to Suntikoppa and Madapur. River Valley is just 5 km from the nearest town, Madapur. But the journey from Madapur through winding roads with coffee plantations on either side and thick green cover gives the journey a surreal feel.
The location – the estate on higher ground, overlooking a small gurgling stream – is very picturesque. Added to this was the fact the hot lunch was awaiting for us made it all the more inviting.
The estate/homestay is very family friendly for they had all the amenities – a play area for the kids, some space to play cricket or badminton, swimming pool and steps leading one to the stream, bonfire setup etc or just sit in the hammock with a book in hand.
The staff were courteous and there was no shortage of food, considering one fourth of the group were hungry fussy children and moms like us who had multitude of requests – “could you serve the dinner for the kids at 8 but for the rest of us at 9 and yes please make it less spicy for the children?”
Apart from spending time in the place, we did manage to visit a few places around this area. The first one is called Makkala Gudi Betta – a superb view point from where one can see as far as Somwarpet and Harangi reservoir I was told. Though one can go by car, the last stretch is difficult for a small car.
Kote betta is the second one; a trekkers’ route and one of the highest peaks of the region. The view atop the hill is enchanting and looks like the grasslands of Europe, minus the sheep. There’s a small gudi at the base of huge boulders atop the hill.
2012. Amidst all the revelry in the coffee valley, New Year arrived. But we could call it a ‘Happy’ one only on the 2nd day. Never make a mistake of driving on a Sunday, especially if its the first day of the year, on the Mysore road.
I still dont understand why a state highway between the state’s two important cities shouldn’t have a bypass near the towns. Or for that matter why the common man should suffer for want of a ‘nice’ road between Bangalore and Mysore.