Dewdrops sparkle in the faint sunlight, greeting me with twinkling smiles. They cling with a gentle tenacity to the delicate mosses and lichens that hang from the trees in an intricate tapestry of mysterious gloomy green.
Their defiance to gravity is magical (or perhaps mere adhesion or static friction but let us not spoil the moment with physics :-D).
The woven cobwebs are likewise impartially bestowed with droplets, and so are the few bare branches that reach out to the sky, lending a bejeweled aura to even to these most lifeless of elements.
The scent of the enchanted forest envelops me as I enter its entrancing environs that hold within their fold, a treasure known as the Taj Madikeri Resort & Spa.
Dotting the slopes of the rainforests of Coorg in Karnataka, India, the Taj Madikeri Resorts & Spa is a luxurious getaway that lies in the midst of breathtakingly pristine surroundings.
Come follow this tale of my sojourn at this haven and live the experience with me, as I tempt you to make haste and visit it for yourself and revel in its luxury, comfort, delectable cuisine, exhilarating activities, fascinating jungle visits, up close and personal encounters with its exquisite forest life and just the sheer beauty of its environmentally responsible ambience that they at Taj proudly maintain.
Read on for Part 1 – An Overview
and also view the video link somewhere below, that gives you a visual summary of the place.
About Coorg –
Kodagu, also known as Coorg, is one of Karnataka state’s 30 districts and is perched 3000 feet above msl (mean sea level) in the Malnad belt of the mighty Western Ghats. The Malnad is one of the 3 geographical zones in the state. Mal(ey) Nad(u) translates to land of rain and lies sandwiched between the plains and the coastal regions of the state.
Coorg is home to a range of leisure and holiday options, of which the Taj Madikeri from Taj Hotels, stands out as one of the finest.
About Taj Hotels –
Taj Hotels is a luxury hotel chain and belongs to the Tata group which is one of India’s largest conglomerates. It runs over 100 hotels and resorts both in India and across 16 countries internationally, which span business hotels, luxury resorts, palaces, beach resorts and safari lodges.
About Taj Madikeri Resort & Spa –
Taj Madikeri Resort & Spa is one of the luxury resorts held in the vast portfolio of Taj Hotels.
Lying inconspicuously within a large 180 acre rainforest, it is ensconced in the heart of Coorg, 10 km from its district capital Madikeri (earlier known as Mercara).
The resort that is sprinkled over 30 acres of undulating land, took birth in 2012 after 10 years of construction. No stone was left unturned … to avoid upturning any stone, so to speak and the forest was left undisturbed with not a single tree being chopped down to make place for the constructions.
Instead, the components of the resort were inserted into the natural clearings that the jungle offered, resulting in a picturesque and charming getaway in the most virgin surroundings.
‘Fallen not felled’ is their message that is posted at various locations, indicating that the trees have taken their natural course and not been manipulated in any way.
The forest around the resort abounds in 300+ species of plants and trees which include fruit trees, coffee plants, eucalyptus, rudraksh trees and several varieties of flowering plants, spices and herbs.
The cottages and other buildings bear a subtle touch of the modern, even as they are primarily designed as per traditional Kodagu architecture with sloping tiled roofs, tall pillars and the central sunken courtyard. In keeping with the environment, all natural ‘mud’ paints have been used for the cottages, resulting in a tasteful mustard hue that makes the structures stand out brightly through the all enveloping green.
The guest accommodation consists of cottages that are strewn over the slopes and offer panoramic views of the sweeping greenery and distant mountain ranges.
Situated not too far away from civilization and yet having the advantage of being set in dense jungle, this resort is an ideal destination for enjoying the bounties of nature and wildlife, beginning from the comfort of one’s room.
Checking into the property –
The beauty of the place is visible right from the sweeping driveway that leads to the reception area. A placid pond teeming with excited Koi fish, is the first to greet you as you drive into the porch.
The staff welcome you with sacred water sprinkled with a leaf and if you are really special 😀 they also bestow you with the Coorg headdress (a red scarf of sorts for women and the Vastra – a red checked cloth wound around the head, for the men).
The welcome ‘drink’ is actually an ‘eat’, with fresh fruit and a chocolate cone propped on a bed of chocolate crumbs assembled in a martini glass and one nibbles from this as one waits for the check in formalities to be done with.
The lobby itself is an unusual piece of structure, with an expansive area and an informal setting. The sunken seating is in the center and beyond it lies a stunning vista that takes you by surprise and makes you gasp in amazement as the sheer sense of vastness strikes you at first glance.
The curved edge of the back porch is fringed with a pebble filled water body which is the only border between you and infinity. The views are stunning to say the least and though monsoons are marked by thick mists that cover the landscape, this fog too has a surreal beauty of its own. However, being highly temperamental, it does allow unexpected fleeting glimpses of the mountains and forests.
On a clear day, one also obtains a grand view of the Presidential suite cluster far below, as well as the outdoor swimming pool, the amphitheater, the lake and the fields beyond.
The lobby is informal in design and there are none of the usual reception desks, counters etc. During the check in process, one just waits in the aesthetically done up foyer with its comfortable couches in muted colors and intermittent splashes of red cushions.
The indoor decor here and also throughout the property, is themed on the local, with high tiled roofs, wooden beamed ceilings and lamp shades/chandeliers that are fashioned after the traditional fish traps of the region. The sunken seating in the center is also symbolic of the indoor courtyards of the ancient traditional homes called Mundh maney.
This reception building with its entrance at ground level, is actually the top floor of a 5 storeyed building that rises out of a deep clearing in the woods. Below the lobby lies the indoor infinity pool with equally astonishing views, the Dew restaurant and also 3 floors that house the Jiva Grande spa, gym and activity center.
Wide pathways that are topped with non skid texturing, provide access throughout the property that lies within a 3 km periphery.
The central track of the path charmingly bears the imprint of the leaves from the jungle that have been painstakingly etched in.
The large Macaranga truly Leafs a lasting impression on the ground 😀
The tracks are kept free of private vehicles, which are housed at a common parking lot at the entrance. Buggies and Gypsy vehicles are the means of transport to get oneself and one’s luggage to rooms that are at a distance from the reception. It is also not difficult to walk along the path during the daytime but at nights, the in house transport is a better option.
Glistening green mosses and lichens cling to the tree trunks in the monsoons and hang down like intricately woven screens. An indicator of the unpolluted air, these are said to be so delicate that they can exist only if the atmosphere is at its purest. The extensive growth of these on every tree at the resort, is a sign of the excellent quality of air in the environs of the Taj.
Monsoon shrouds the property with a veil of a hazy fog and hence the pictures do not turn out as bright as one would like them to be.
The aura of rusticity belies the luxury hidden within and the lavishly appointed cottages offer you the best of indulgences in the midst of nature.
The property boasts of 63 beautifully fashioned cottages segregated into 5 categories.
All the cottages are designed according to traditional architecture with high sloping roofs, wooden pillars, and the sunken sit out that resembles the internal court yard which is a feature of a Mundh Maney (traditional courtyard house). Vignettes of Coorg are depicted through framed oil paintings that adorn the walls.
All dwellings have the basic features like flat-screen TV with satellite channels, mini fridge, 24 hour room service, air conditioning, safety locker, hairdryer and electric kettle, ceiling fans etc.
The washrooms are stylish and aesthetically clad in black stone with black marble sink and tub where one can luxuriate in frothy concoction of bubble baths and bath salts. My bathtub was cleverly hidden in a secret chamber between the headboard of my bed and the wash area behind.
One can indulge in their signature toiletries created exclusively for the Taj by Forest Essentials.
Every cottage is an epitome of a Room with a view, with large bay windows that offer splendid views either of the forests or fields or mountains or a combination of them all.
The Superior cottages can accommodate 2 people. 850 sq ft in size, they are quite spacious for a couple and have all the basic amenities other than the fireplace. However, there is a facility to interconnect with the Deluxe room and they can be booked together as a unit if needed to accommodate more people.
The Deluxe cottages are spread over 1000 sq ft and have an additional fire place area and day bed seating apart from the amenities of the Superior cottages.
Premium Villas are bountiful spaces which are a generous 1400 sq ft. They are perched elevated platforms on the natural slopes of the land. With all the facilities of the earlier categories, these cottages are also blessed with bay windows on 3 sides making the room a veritable vantage point for panoramic views of the lush surroundings.
Luxury Pool villa, true to its name, is the epitome of splendor. The alluring placid blue waters of the swimming pool greet you right at the entrance. This 4 ft deep heated plunge pool is also open to the sky via a retractable roof. Large bay windows on 2 sides frame the forest, offering picturesque views.
Apart from all the features of the earlier categories, this cottage has the living and dining area separate from the bedroom. A charming balcony projects from the living room where one can commune with nature from the comfort of the villa. A small butler pantry is also a part of this cottage.
The final and ultimate category is the Presidential villa, a lavish 9000 sq feet extravaganza which is an independent cluster of 3 bedrooms that can house a total of 9 people. It also has a large common living room space with the signature sunken seating, a fireplace, a dining area, a small kitchen and washing area, a heated open air private lap pool and a couple of airy sit outs facing the pool. This block is meant for large families or big groups who want to stay together as a unit and has all the amenities that are provided in the other categories.
*My cottage –
I stayed at the premium villa which went out of its way to make me feel special with a complimentary bottle of wine, a smorgasbord of confectionery, a fruit basket and my own personalized napkins embroidered with my name.
During my 2 days there I was treated to different vistas, with and without the fog.
The housekeeping staff closes the blinds every night during turndown service and will willingly come and reverse the action in the morning if you call them. I found the mechanism a bit tough to manoeuvre and I was happy to allow someone else to do the honors on not 1, not 2 but several sections of the 3 sided screens 😀
Other features of the resort –
The ‘Soiree’ Banquet Hall –
The elegant Soiree Hall is spread over 3000 square feet and the hall can accommodate upto 120 guests. This is one of Coorg’s most stylish conference venues with soundproof, mood lighting, high speed WiFi, computers and state of the art audio visual equipment.
The rectangular, island amphitheater at the foot of the property, is set amidst a lotus pond and is an exquisite venue for events and ceremonies like weddings etc. Floating candles add to the naturally existing decor of lotuses and reeds. Water fowl seem to daintily walk on water as they go about their business of treading on lotus leaves to forage for food.
The very ambience of this place will suffice to make any occasion magical.
Other amenities and facilities –
Apart from the various categories of cottages, the property also contains restaurants, a bar, a spa, yoga center, gym, swimming pools, conservatory, the in house retail boutique Khazana, a herb garden, a lake and the Muddy Boots activity area which has outdoor recreation installations like zip line, paintball, target shooting, archery, pottery, kayaking, zorbing and many more. Details about all these are available in the following posts on cuisine and activities.
Here is a quick glance of the entire experience, for your viewing pleasure –
Phone and internet connectivity –
Connectivity is reasonably good and I had no real issue with phone signals. The WiFi does work through the premises albeit being a bit dodgy at times.
The intercom is a dependable means of communication and one can stay in touch with the staff at all times from the rooms, some of which are at quite a distance from the main entrance.
Visitor profile –
A resort of this stature is suitable for almost any kind of traveller, be it a family, couple, single occupant, group, businessman, etc. The place has something or the other for everyone. Bird watchers, nature lovers, lovers of history and culture, artists, photographers etc will find this to be a real treasure trove. It is a child friendly property and has many interesting activities for children.
Social and environmental commitment –
Taj Madikeri is committed to enhancing local economy and the lifestyle of the local villagers and takes care to employ people of the surrounding community.
Their social activities also include donating food to old age homes, sponsoring new year lunch to old age homes, renovating a school which was damaged due to floods and providing umbrellas and books to nearby schools.
Best time to visit –
Being hilly country, Coorg enjoys pleasant weather through the year with temperatures ranging from 10 – 30 deg c. Anytime is a good time to visit and it is a highly sought after destination, given its proximity to several cities within a 300 km radius.
Summers from March to May are moderate affairs with temperatures that hover around 30 deg c and this being holiday time for most Indian schools, one can expect a deluge of families.
The winter that goes on from October to February is considered the peak season for tourists.
However, true blue Coorg denizens declare that the monsoon from June to September is the only season that brings out the true essence of their region and the place comes alive with the heavy showers that wash over the hillsides and enhance the fresh green colors of the land.
What you should carry –
Light clothing will suffice in summer time.
During the rainy season, one would need raincoats or umbrellas to deal with rain that can at times be incessant.
The resort also provides large umbrellas and they can be found in their stands or in little nooks here and there.
However, during the activities like forest walk, trek etc, they provide all the appropriate gear in the form of gum boots, leech socks (which are of thick leech resistant fabric and not socks that are made of leeches :-D), rain proof hooded jackets, umbrellas etc., that make you feel like the conqueror of the jungle.
In winters, some warm clothing would certainly help though one need not go overboard and carry too many heavy coats.
A pair of sturdy walking shoes would be required at any time of the year. Mosquito repellents are always a must carry (though we encountered not a single one) Of course do carry your camera because the Taj is going to present you with innumerable occasions to make memories.
Getting there –
Private cars or cabs are the best way to get to Taj Madikeri from cities that lie within a 300 km radius.
Madikeri is the nearest big town and is around 10 km from the Taj. It can be can be accessed by private vehicle or bus from major cities.
The nearest airports to the Taj Madikeri are –
Kannur International airport – 100 km, 2.5 hours
Mangalore International airport – 150 km, 3.5 hours
Bangalore International airport – 300 km, 4-6 hours
Mysore domestic airport – 135 km, 3 hours.
In addition one can travel to these cities by bus or train too and then take a bus or cab to Madikeri. The resort can arrange for a pick up for those who arrive at Madikeri.
My Journey –
I set out from Bangalore by cab and despite having travelled to Coorg before, I discovered that there was an alternate route that I had hitherto not known about. Well Taj let us in on this secret and of their several USPs, I would rate this as one of their best 😀
The journey was extremely comfortable with excellent roads for almost all the way. The last 30 minutes is through smaller towns but the roads continue to be good nevertheless.
There are several clean and interesting eating places along the highway, which also have reasonably tolerable washrooms.
The drive is pleasant and scenic and towards the end of the journey, we drove through roads flanked by acres and acres of tobacco fields and factories, a sight that I beheld for the first time in my life.
I had left Bangalore at around 6 am (which is the key to making good time) and after a short breakfast and pee halt at Swathi Delicacy near Kunigal, I made it to the resort at 10.30 am, which was a record!!!
My earlier trips had always been over 6 hours and this smart route that the resort had told us about, made such a significant difference.
On our return journey however, we set off at 12 pm and then one knows what happens when one tries to plough back into Bangalore via all that traffic that had spared the roads at dawn 😀
Hence the time of arrival is highly variable and would depend on your ultimate destination within Bangalore.
Booking and contact –
Madikeri, Coorg Karnataka 571201
Phone – +91 8272 265900
Email id of Taj Madikeri – firstname.lastname@example.org
Please Note – This trip was made in collaboration with Taj Madikeri Resorts & Spa. The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.
*This itinerary was specially curated hence some of the features might have been personalized accordingly. Before booking, please check the facilities offered in your package.
Jul 15th-17th, 2019