I was literary chasing the monsoon. As I rolled down my window, the enticing views of the lush green fields of tobacco and marigold flowers, earthy smell of wet soil and the free fall of raindrops on my face were enough to soak in the rustic beauty of Karnataka.
Leaving my world behind, as I was heading towards my destination Coorg, the villages started vanishing when I entered the thick forest area leading towards the Chikkana Halli Estate. The incessant showering rains, negotiating road passing through the lush coffee and spice plantations, and eye-arresting scenery were picture perfect. After six hours of journey from Bangalore, I finally arrived at the award-winning Evolve Back Coorg Resort in the late afternoon.
The soothing sound of the traditional Kodava music dominated the surrounding as I stepped out of my car. After the musical greetings, it was followed by a delicious welcome drink. I was soon escorted by the guest coordinator, Jenniffer on a buggy towards my Heritage Pool Bungalow. The very first impression of the resort was jaw-dropping.
About Evolve Back Coorg
Set in southern India’s luxuriant landscape, the Evolve Back Coorg is one of the most prominent and luxurious resort that celebrates the perfect blend of nature and culture in its secluded haven amidst the coffee plantations. Owned by the Ramapuram brothers, who bought 300 acres of coffee plantation in 1926 and later in 1994 they entered into the hospitality business by converting 35 acres out of 300 acres coffee plantation land and started Orange County Resorts in Coorg with 10 cottages. At present the resort boasts of 63 cottages and villas, three specialty restaurants, Ayurvedic spa, reading lounge, and activity areas, encircled by the paddy fields, artificial lake and the richness of lush coffee and spice plantations.
It’s worth a mention that “Orange County Coorg” was the first resort in Coorg. Though the brand name of “Orange Country” has been changed and now it is called “Evolve Back”. According to them, the previous brand name was not echoing the sentiments of their mission of life, which was to preserve and showcase the authentic local spirit of the land of each place as they prepared to expand their footprint in other locations like Kabini and Hampi.
As you enter the alluring estate, you are transported back to a new world, ensconced by the intoxicating aromas of coffee and spices and smiling faces at the resort. It looked like a secluded paradise, away from the real world where one can indulge in luxury of nature. Whether it was the eye-arresting greenery, the rhythmic sound of rain, traditionally designed plush cottages, world-class amenities or their award-winning and much commendable initiatives towards responsible tourism, Evolve Back Coorg is beyond a finest resort in India.
The Heritage Pool Villa
What really took my attention was their traditionally designed architectural style of the Heritage Pool Villa that speaks highly about the local Kadova culture and inspirations drawn from the Raj-era plantation houses. Sloping roof, terracotta tiles and the wooden columns simply impressed me from their very first look.
The intricate details on the wooden door opens up to the living area which has vintage-styled furniture, en-suite bedroom with four poster-bed, a private courtyard, swimming pool and sit out areas with planter chairs to laze around. The villa is the finest example of a perfect blend of tradition with luxury.
My favorite part of the villa was the traditional integrated garden inside the living room and the bench around it. The sound of raindrops was direct and continuous which make you appreciate the monsoon beyond obvious. The overtly spacious villa was equipped with every modern amenity you can think of. I relished those home-made fruit bars placed in the wooden box. The room service facility was quite good too. While vacationing at my plush villa, I spent most of my morning sipping the freshly brewed coffee, sitting in the balcony and admiring the rain.
The place is ideal for people like me who can spend an entire week there . It provides you the perfect set-up for your creative cravings in the most peaceful way. And when it is the season of monsoon, it gives you all the more reason to be there.
When you are at Evolve Back Coorg, you are going to experience food extravaganza each time you step inside their signature restaurants. You will be on a food expedition that ranges from the delectable continental, flavorful local delicacies and your regular Indian platter. I literally had to skip the Hi-Tea every evening after the most scrumptious meals at lunch time. Let’s find out the restaurants and what you should have whenever you are there next.
The Granary is your go-to restaurant on the premises where guests relish the soulful food in the most beautifully arranged spread. There is also a live kitchen for breakfast, lunch and dinner, where your orders like Dosa, Vada, Omelette, starters are served piping hot, right from the pen. I must have had a variety of Dosas during my stay every day during breakfast. If you are someone who is keen on exploring the local Kodava cuisines, you must skip the regular spread and head towards the ethnic counter for tasting the flavors from the south. Sitting in the corner table, right next to the window overlooking the swimming pool surrounded by paddy fields and tall trees, I relished the best of traditional Kodava cuisines. Every time I sat there for the meal, the Chef Naveen Alvares would personally come and recommend the best menu for me.
- Kadumbuttu(rice-flour balls) & traditional mutton curry
- Coorgi Veg curry & Rice
- Coorg’s Pandi (Pork) Curry& Akki Roti
- Fish curry & Neer Dosa
- Aval Kuzhachathu (Sweet Poha – Rice Flakes with Jaggery and Banana)
The Plantain Leaf restaurant is purely a South Indian set-up overlooking the lake, surrounded by lush greenery. You can go for the flavors of South India here, ranging from authentic filter coffee to a variety of vegetarian South Indian cuisines. I must say that the delectable taste of each delicacy served in a Thali has a distinctive identity which lingers in your mouth for hours.
I had the best time sampling it, however, what I loved the most was the mocktail and welcome drink, served in a shot glass. I must thank Libin Joseph for suggesting me these drinks. It gave me the perfect kick to start the meal.
Recommended: The South Indian Thali
My gastronomic journey reached at its peak when I dined at their specialty restaurant named The Peppercorn. The moment I stepped inside the royal camp, surrounded by thick forest, the candle lit tables were nothing less than a perfect date set up. This restaurant is all about your eccentric taste buds for humble Barbecues and Grills. You can choose your customized meals from their set Coorg Planters Menu. After my culinary expedition I wanted to taste something light yet authentic, however, I started with Red wine and some bread sticks.
It was followed by a soup named Mulligataway A La Peppercorn. Later from the coals, I ordered BBQ Baby Corn which was absolutely mouth-watering. For the main course, I wanted to have fish instead of chicken or mutton, so Fish Moilee was presented at my table.
Though I was literally on a food coma by the time the dessert was served to me. My high recommendation is their home-made fruit-flavored ice-cream.
I had the jack-fruit ice-cream and it was probably the best way to end my dining experience at the resort.
At the Ayurvedic village, the trained expert masseurs and masseuses takes you to a journey of healing in the most serene environment by giving the traditional therapies, meant for each body parts, depending on your choice of therapy.
I chose the Ayurvedic Body Scrubs which turned out to be the most rejuvenating, relaxing and revitalizing. The traditionally designed courtyard house and exquisite wood work, creates the perfect ambiance to relax, revive and rejuvenate your body, soul and mind. I was amazed when the therapists started the healing with a prayer, followed by the head and shoulder massage and then real scrubbing on different body parts. The semi lit room with the traditional instrumental music was way too soothing to indulge in the luxury of Ayurvedic treatment at Vaidyashala.
The plantation walk is all about Coffee, its history, origin and the fascinating tales attached to it. It was kind of eye-opener for me since I was unaware of the story of coffee. As I started walking with the Naturalist Amjith, I was introduced to the new world of flora around the resort. He patiently explained the medicinal importance of those trees which otherwise have never got noticed. The walk basically starts from the resort and ends at the plantation. What really hooked me during the walk was the way you are introduced to the world of coffee with the pictures, coffee beans and coffee powder.
I was absolutely surprised when I got to know that Coffee originated in Yemen. Though no one knows how coffee was discovered, however, there are many legends about its origins. I was fascinated to know how the Indian Sufi saint, Baba Budan smuggled seven seeds of coffee from Mecca to India and planted them in his backyard in Chikmagalur, known as the birth place of Coffee in India. Later the coffee plantation thrived during the British Raj and now Karnataka is reputed for producing the best quality coffee in the world.
The walk also makes you learn the difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee and the process of coffee-making. From 7 coffee seeds to 75% of coffee is now produced in the state of Karnataka, and out of which 40% of coffee is produced in Coorg itself and due to which Coorg is also called “Coffee Cup of India”.
The tour ended with the finest filter coffee served in metal tumblers at Plantain Leaf Restaurant.
If you are wondering about the plantation worker’s daily life at work, you must experience the worker’s trail at Evolve Back Resort. Riding in a farm tractor and wearing worker’s uniform, you can join the workers at the farm in picking coffee, pepper, mulching or any daily activities.
I had a great time experiencing the worker’s life firsthand by meeting some of the female workers at the coffee plantation on a rainy day. While observing their daily life, I was told about their hanging lunch bags on the trees in which contains black coffee that energizes them if they feel cold on a rainy day to get their strength back. It not just introduces you to their work life, but also makes you realize the worth of your coffee cup which we generally take for granted.
Before I start mentioning about commendable initiatives for responsible tourism and practices for improving Eco System, I must tell you that the Evolve Back Resorts is awarded with the prestigious “World Legacy Awards” by the National Geographic for their cutting edge leadership in environment friendly practices, green technology, energy and water conservation initiatives. They are the only resort to claim this crown in India.
They not only promote or promise, but are actually practicing responsible tourism by introducing the policy of ZERO WASTAGE. From zero uses of plastic, recycling of glass and metals, sustainable developmental practices, they have been doing it all. The resort treats its waste water, purifies it through various filtration and uses it for horticulture needs on-site. Food & kitchen waste are used to fuel bio gas plant that helps in their main kitchen. The compost from the food waste is used for the organic farm on the resort premises that produce organic fruits and vegetables. The use of minimum lighting to avoid disturbance in the ecosystem and the electric buggy for inside transportation make a huge difference. The resort employs 50% of their staff from the local villages. They have adopted a school in the village where they supply nutritious meals, uniforms and other necessary requirement including teachers to teach English & Computer. The resort is also involved in many social activities like spreading awareness, cleaning the village, etc.
What makes Evolve Back Coorg Resort a finest luxury yet exceptional property is their conscious efforts to giving back to nature and the way they celebrate the spirit of the land with rich cultural heritage. Living a few precious moments amidst the 300 acres of coffee plantation and getting the unique experience of the plantation life is surely rewarding here.
Note: I was invited on a Press Trip to Evolve Back Coorg Resort
For More Information, kindly visit https://www.evolveback.com/
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