The last time I was in Coorg I must have been 12 years old. All I could remember was a lot of greenery and gawky giggly girls ( I was on a school trip ). My parents visit often enough but I got busy with other things and other places. I got an opportunity to visit Coorg last month and I couldn’t possibly say no. I was extended an invitation to visit the Plantation Trails Bungalows and their Coffee Plantations and despite my initial reservation, I decided it was worth exploring. I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am that I made that decision.
The car ride from Bangalore to Coorg seemed painfully long but was worth it as it ended up being a rather scenic ride. They say it takes about 4 hours from Bangalore to Coorg but if you factor in a few pit stops on the way for a loo break or chai along with how far into Coorg you need to go, it can go upto 5 hours or even a bit more so brace yourself. The drive there for me didn’t seem painful at all since I had some very chatty people in my car. Not that I mind the constant flow of conversation, in fact I find it charming as it’s always nice to learn new things and new stories. I had extremely hospitable hosts that seemed to go above and beyond to ensure I was well looked after and it began right from the car journey.
I firmly believe that the best way to see a country is to drive through it. Beautiful patches of lush green fields on either side is a constant reminder or how pretty our country is and that it has been a while since I ditched the airplane and did more road trips.
The minute you hit Coorg and start driving up the hills amidst these tall never ending trees and through what is clearly coffee plants ( which I couldn’t quite identify initially ). It is a very different kind of beauty.
Plantation Trails is a brand by TATA Coffee and offers wonderful heritage bungalows in Coorg. The entire point of this trip was to visit their coffee plantations and enjoy some leisurely time at their beautiful colonial bungalows. There are several to choose from but the one I stayed at and highly recommend is their Thaneerhulla Bungalow.
The bunglow is sprawling with 5 massive rooms along with furnished and fully functional bathrooms, a gorgeous sit out lawn, plenty of place for children to run about and a very cosy dining room and warm inviting sitting room. It feels like you’re staying in someone’s house which in fact you are. These old bungalows were owned initially by the old English estate owners and so the entire look and feel has been maintained as it always was giving you a sense of homely comfort. Do not be fooled by its colonial feel, these bungalows have all modern amenities including running hot water, a bath tub, lotions and toiletries, air conditioning, wifi and anything else you might possibly need.
While the idea is to really switch off and disconnect from the world and enjoy Coorg and all its greenery, you still have the choice of connecting to the internet via wifi or watching your latest tv show should you feel the urge to.
Apart from lounging in my beautiful four poster bed, my favourite time at the bungalow was meal time. Breakfast, lunch, Evening Tea/Coffee and dinner is a grand affair. Please don’t expect a lavish buffet or a sushi and pizza counter. Everything here is simple, old school and bloody tasty. The house keeping staff as they are referred to are phenomenal cooks and serve up wonderful meals including local treats like pandi curry and often ask for any particular requests. I find their simple rice dal vegetables and meats are what steal the show.
Apart from the bungalow being the greatest attraction and a poster for rest and relaxation there is a lot that the Plantation Trails offers in terms of activities. You could spend your time enjoy their nine hole golf course, take an early morning walk and go bird watching since the area is full of exciting different birds.
You could drive down to Nagarhole National Park ( sadly it rained to heavily for me to be able to visit which is still incredibly upsetting ) or then visit the nearby Tibetan retreat or the local town of Madikeri. Either ways plenty to choose from but if you ask me, all that is secondary to the main activity which is visit the coffee plantation itself.
They have what they call a Bean to Cup tour where you get into their jeeps and drive into the coffee plantations where you meet with locals and they walk you through the entire process also educating you on the various aspects of growing and producing coffee. It’s not as complicated as it might seem and before you leave Coorg you’ll be playing a game of identifying the Robusta plant from the Arabica one!
I must confess I’m not as enchanted by coffee as most people are. I don’t need my morning caffeine fix to wake up and tackle the day nor do I need a shot post dinner before I sleep. I thought this might not be a trip I would enjoy but I have to say it was extremely relaxing and even the coffee trail was enjoyable ( nope I didn’t really drink it ). Coorg of course is beautiful but the Plantation Trails is something I experienced for the first time and if I’m being completely honest, I would return with a big group of friends.
Pssstt – If you’re lucky like I was, you might even spot a couple of elephants 🙂
Disclaimer : I was invited by Tata Coffee and the Plantation Trails team to experience their property. I stayed there for two nights but wish I did atleast four. It’s the only way to do justice to your rest and relaxation trip.