MADIKERI, India (Reuters Life!) - If your idea of bliss is to sip freshly brewed coffee while watching the mist roll in from the hills, then Coorg in India is a destination for your wish list.
Tourists looking for a haven away from India’s bustling cities rave about the delights of this scenic district in Karnataka, 250 km (155 miles) from the southern city of Bangalore, that the British nicknamed the “Scotland of India.”
Coorg, or Kodagu, meaning “dense forest on steep hill,” is about is 1,500 meters above sea level with acres of coffee and tea plantations, orange groves, and lush forest. It also boasts three wildlife sanctuaries and one national park, ideal for trekkers.
The best way to reach Coorg is to drive from Mangalore or Mysore, both less than 150 km away, with local resorts including Club Mahindra and Orange County.
Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a 48-hour visit:
8 a.m. - Once you’ve got rid of your bags, start with an outdoor breakfast and enjoy the morning breeze.
9 a.m. - Coorg is known for its plantations of coffee and spices so after unpacking, walk or drive down to the nearest estate. Growing coffee isn’t as easy as it seems as the sunlight needs to be just right to feed the endless rows of coffee bushes. Try a mug of steaming hot coffee, a plantation specialty.
Noon - Wend your way to Madikeri, the district headquarters of Coorg. Now you’ve seen coffee growing, it’s time to pack some for gifts for people back home. There are several stores here specializing in well-priced, neatly-packed spices.
1 p.m. - Head back to the resort or elsewhere for lunch. Try a mix of north and south Indian cuisine with one or two local specialties. The pork and chicken dishes are renowned.
3 p.m. - Settle down for a game of carrom or curl up with Sarita Mandanna’s novel “Tiger Hills,” a saga of star-crossed Coorg lovers in the early 20th century.
7 p.m. - Time for a visit to the local planters’ club. Enjoy your rum-and-coke while soaking in the British-era ambience. This coupled with some picture books of Coorg and its history will set you up for the evening’s cultural activities and dinner.
9 a.m. - After breakfast, head out to Nisargadhama, a man-made island and picnic spot with a deer park and tree houses. To get to the island, you have to cross a rope bridge over the river Kaveri, an amazing sight when the river is in full flow.
11 a.m. - Drive beyond Nisargadhama to the Tibetan monastery complex. This is one of the few Tibetan settlements in the southern state of Karnataka. Spend some time meditating in the gigantic prayer hall adorned with paintings.
Noon - Buy souvenirs from stores outside the monastery. You’ll get anything from statues of the Buddha to good luck trinkets, vases and shawls made in Tibet.
5 p.m. - After lunch, head back down to the resort for a spa massage. They say money can’t buy peace but for as little as 1,500 rupees ($32), you could get the next best thing — a choice of various massages (even Balinese) and a session that ends with soothing herbal tea.
8 p.m. - Rejuvenated after the massage and a light dinner, set out on the various walkways that meander in and out of the woods, taking in the scents of the lush greenery, before the weekend draws to a close.
Editing by Tony Tharakan