Situated amidst coffee and spice plantations, Orange County in Coorg is just the place to unwind
Misty and majestic hills, lush green valleys, vast acres of coffee and tea plantations and orange groves… Coorg offers an endless expanse of picturesque beauty. The Orange County — situated at an elevation of 900 meters, at Karadigodu, four km away from Siddapur — is one of the best holiday resorts in the country. The travails and rigours of the 140 km terrible road journey through the dense jungles of the Kerala-Karnataka border were forgotten once we reached the resort
Emmanuel Ramapuram, the resort's founder from Kottayam, named it The Orange County after the orange orchards in the area. But the orchards were destroyed due to blight. Orange County is situated amid 300 acres of coffee and spice plantations, flanked on one side by the 50,000 acres of Durbare Reserve Forest and the Cauvery on the other. The aroma of Coorg coffee will linger for months to come.
Thomas Ramapuram took over after his father's death. Realising the area's tourist potential, he constructed cottages in the Tudor style. Ten hectares of coffee plantation complete with thatched roofs, chimneys, wooden beams and cobble stone pathways give it the perfect village look. Each of the 12 cottages presents a picture of serenity with smoking chimneys in an eco friendly world. The cluster of cottages is named after the plants grown around: Coffee Cluster, Mango Cluster, Palm Cluster ... Presently, there are 48 cottages in six clusters. Each cottage has a kitchenette, a fireplace and a balcony offering panoramic views. Cardamom, cinnamon and coffee scent the pathways and ubiquitous wooden signposts on the giant rosewood, fig, mahogany, jack trees under which the coffee grows display names and illustrations of the various species of birds including some rare ones. Interlaced bamboo groves, as tall as 45 feet, make a dense green canopy.
The ambience and topography of the cottages blend perfectly with Nature. Located in Chickanahally, the estate is beautifully landscaped. The pool-side villas display classic South Indian architecture with a private backyard and a pool; both of which are embodiments of elegant structures. Built using laterite cut stone, the rustic magnificence of Kodava architecture is apparent. High beds, cylindrical pillars, wooden benches, cornices, chairs with turned legs and cane weavings, a charming study table, chest of drawers and ornamental mirrors are a part of the charming ambience. Heavy wooden carved doors with brass artefacts secure the décor. The Presidential villas are also epitomes of comfort with a sumptuous en-suite bedroom, and a separate living room with a private sit-out. The King's Court is a plantation-style magnificent villa with elegant fittings and furnishings; a regal living room with a private sit-out, and two luxurious en-suite bedrooms in typical Kodava design.
Freshly brewed steaming cups of coffee are always available in the lounge on stilts, overlooking the lush paddy fields and the coffee and spice plantation. There are three restaurants: The Granary has an exhaustive menu with a strong Kodava flavour including the signature Pandi Curry (spiced curried pork), Coorg chicken (koli) curry and other delicacies from the ethnic melting pot. The Peppercorn is a specialty restaurant serving kebabs and grills in a serene setting overlooking the private lake. The Plantain Leaf serves an array of North and South Indian vegetarian delicacies. The packages include both stay and complete meals.
Orange County is a bird watchers' paradise with more than 350 species of birds. The resident naturalist Ganesh takes the residents on a conducted tour and entertains the guest with his knowledge of birds. It is amazing to hear him imitate birdcalls of every bird one can think of! He also takes guests on a tour to give them an idea of the working of coffee estates. Wild elephants, boars, deer and other animals, which come to the river, can be spotted. Fishing in the lake and trekking in the forest with a guide are other touristy activities.
Another unique activity is a coracle ride in the Cauvery. Coracles are circular local fishing crafts ideal for navigating the river water. About six feet in diameter, traditionally coracles are made of woven bamboo and cane and covered in animal hides. The coracle ride enables a view of the surrounding forest and the habitation, and the moods of the river. The Vaidyasala, designed in traditional style with graceful wood work, offers various Ayurvedic packages to relax revive and rejuvenate the body. There are also daily entertainment programmes, which include Kodava-style singing and dancing besides the facilities available for playing indoor games.
Outside the Orange County, one can also take trips to Kushal Nagar, Bylekuppe, the largest settlement of Tibetans in the country, Madikeri, the headquarters of Coorg district, Talacauvery, where the revered river originates, the Durbare elephant camp and the Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuary.
Orange County Resorts & Hotels
Karadigodi Post, Siddapur,
Karnataka, India, Pin – 571 253
Ph: +91 (0)8274 258 481 - 4
Fax: +91 (0)8274 258 485
website : http://orangecounty.in
Nearest Railway Station: Mysore (100 km)
Nearest airport: Bangalore (275 km) or Mangalore (195 km)
Source: The Hindu