Coorg for Coffee?
On a visit to an estate-turned-resort,
USHA KRIS is charmed by the sights and sounds of
Karnataka's coffee district, but is not so sure it's the best place for a
The early morning mist lifted slowly to reveal a vast expanse of green. The lofty trees stood straight and tall sans braches. I took a deep breath of the pure air and set out for a walk with Daya, my German Shepard walking ahead in delight. My grandson Maithreya was chattering beside me showing me all the colours on a single string of green peppers. There was green, yellow, red, and black making a mini rainbow cupped in his hands.
A heady scent assailed our nostrils. As we looked around to trace it, clusters of white coffee flowers beamed at us. It was almost like walking through a jasmine garden in full bloom. It was a late patch of flowers, the other plants having already gone to the seed stage. Imagine how heady the scent of hundreds of coffee blooms would be.
Just about two and a half hours from Mysore, it was rather easy to reach the coffee estate.
Winding our way on country roads, we enjoyed the drive as the land was vast, and sparsely inhabited; a change from the city. It is easy to stay in a hotel, but this
Alathcad estate gave the ambiance of a personal home without the encumbrances that go with it!
Coffee estates in Coorg have been inaccessible as holiday spots. Though one could go to the hotels, the estates
were restricted to the fortunate few who had friends there. Mr and Mrs
Muddaiah at Alathcad have made such holidays possible by providing a getaway at
We drove into the portico of a hundred-year-old house. This family home has
been converted into a resort with a lobby and recreation rooms. The kitchen and dining
are in an adjoining building, and produce a variety of tongue teasing delicacies. Just that the vagaries of electricity made the night rather fretful, until the generator was turned on.
Walking through 75 acres on hilly terrain was full of nature's surprises. We encountered a dead snake, and
Maithreya delightedly photographed it and touched it, inspecting the pattern of the scales! The stream was dry but for a few pools of water. Rains were expected here as elsewhere in the South. Yet the dry bed allowed us to walk amongst the rocks on the river bed, and fish out tadpoles with the help of a net lying close by. Floating on the water were flowers that had no
resemblance to anything we had seen before. Looking up at the tree was no help, and the large mosquitoes soon saw to it that we went on. Bright red insects seemed to feed on the seeds on the ground, butterflies flitted around, and the cascades of bougainvillea added color to the green on the ground and the blue of the sky above. Maithreya made his weapons from palm fronds and bamboo sticks rushing at us with loud war cries.
The highlight of the trip for me was the visit to the green house which Mr
Muddaiah arranged for us. I took pictures of some exotic flowers in his garden. Two hangers
encompass three acres of the exotic flowers originally imported from Holland. Large blood red flowers nestled in
the lush green of the leaves, buds closed in a tight roll taking their time to open, and half open flowers, the most beautiful of them all,
waited to be admired. The other hanger had white flowers laced with green or pink, unusual shades reflective of a painter's imagination,
and nodded their heads in a gentle breeze.
Surrounded by coffee plantations, one might find it hard to get a good cuppa. The people here have adopted the English tea drinking habit and
an aromatic morning 'dose' of coffee would not be a taster's delight. Go for tea instead.
Access by road from Banagalore: 4 ½ hours, from Mysore 2 ½ hours. Keep phone numbers handy for directions once you are in the area!
Uaha Kris was awarded the Bharat Nirman for artistic photography and can be contacted at