When 2019 begins on a high, then hope soars for a great year ahead !!!
The stunning The Tamara Coorg, literally elevated me into its lofty environs, high up in the forests and ghats of Coorg district in Karnataka, India.
Blessed with scenic landscapes, mountains, forests and waterfalls, Coorg is also the source of the River Cauvery (also Kaveri), which is considered a sacred river and has a place in the list of India’s longest rivers.
The Tamara is a luxury resort perched on the steep hillsides of Coorg and it embodies the beauty of the land that ensconces it.
Its altitude playing to its advantage, the charming cliff side cottages of the resort offer panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, dense forests and distant villages
Climb with me into its hilly interiors and gaze at the beauty that it showcases for you.
About Coorg –
Coorg, also known as Kodagu, is one of Karnataka’s greener districts located on the slopes of the mighty Western ghats and its climate and hilly terrain make it a land suitable for growing coffee and spices. Large plantations swathe its hillsides, making for scenic views of dense green.
This is the land of the Kodavas, a warrior clan well known for their hospitable and friendly ways and who have maintained their unique culture and traditions by way of cuisine, dress, festivals etc.
Coorg also shares a border with the state of Kerala apart from bordering the Karnataka districts of Mysore, Hassan and Dakshin Kannada.
About The Tamara Coorg –
The Tamara resort is owned by Shruti Shibulal who was gifted the property by her father S D Shibulal, a co founder of Infosys, which is one of India’s well known multinational corporations.
The 9 acre resort was constructed in 2012 in the midst of a 184 acre estate that also has a large part of it covered by coffee plantations.
2 large natural streams (waterfalls) cut through the property, their rocky paths unhindered by the raised restaurant and recreational center. The streams originate high up in the mountains and are said to be so pure that the water can be drunk straight out of them. They eventually flow out into the villages below.
One can well imagine the beauty of such a place, tucked away in densely forested land and offering stunning views of the lush valleys and hills that kiss the distant horizon.
Tamara translates to Lotus and signifies the purity, tranquility and divinity of nature. In Sanskrit it also means Spice and in ancient Europe, it stood for the goddess of rivers and lakes. Well The Tamara Coorg incorporates all of these virtues and aptly justifies its label.
And I found it endearing that in keeping with the Tamara label, some of their towel art seemed lotus themed, as was their folded resort map which was designed to blossom out into a Lotus (or so I imagined) 😀
Resort overview –
The 9 acre resort is built on the hillside and utilizes the natural space provided within the gaps of existing forest. None of trees have been cut to accommodate the construction and the buildings are all perched on columns that raise them to the level of the driveway.
In fact some of the buildings are constructed around the trees, making for novel, natural decor 😀
A large gateway within the plantation leads to the actual resort and the winding road takes one to the reception hall, a kilometer inside.
A parking lot houses the vehicles and from this point all the transportation to the cottages and other facilities is only by way of in house electric buggies (which of course I cannot resist getting photographed in :-D)
The resort comprises of the cottages, The Falls restaurant, The Deck bar, boutique store called Verandah, conference hall and Recreational block, ‘Gaushala’ the cattle shelter and ‘Manthan’ the composting area.
Activity areas include the indoor temperature controlled pool, outdoor pool and bar, gym, steam and sauna, ‘Elevation’ the spa, Yoga temple, outdoor courts, and a picnic spot. More about them in Part 2.
The staff quarters are also on the premises.
To me the resort map looked like an elephant (quite apt for that territory) … I seem to have an imagination as gigantic as the animal 😀
The cottages lie alongside the winding driveway at different elevations, accessed over multiple hairpin bends. There are 4 categories all of which are designed in an Alpine chalet theme, complete with porches, walls, flooring, roof and balcony, deeply comforting and cozy in an all wooden construction.
Of a total of 56, there are 41 luxury cottages, 8 suites, 4 superior luxury, 1 disabled friendly one and 2 family style cottages called Eden Lotus cottages.
All the cottages provide good views of the surrounding greenery, with the ones at higher elevations obviously covering a larger range right up to the distant mountains.
Most of the cottages come in pairs with an interconnecting door that is locked from both sides in case of unrelated guests occupying both dwellings. The sound proofing is not 100 % though and some noises (albeit not loud enough to disturb) do percolate through the walls.
The luxury cottages come replete with air conditioning, king size comfortable bed, a non alcoholic mini bar, coffee and tea maker including steel coffee filters and percolators, phone, Wifi, LCD TV, safe, organic bath toiletries and hair dryer.
The private balcony sundeck with comfortable lounge chairs is a great place to sprawl out and gaze at the sheer green that surrounds you.
Oh and there is the ubiquitous chess board on the coffee table of every cottage. Clearly someone there is a chess enthusiast 😀
The bath toiletries rest on leaves of coffee, which add a nice touch of natural green.
The 8 Suite cottages have a living room area and extra washroom in addition to the above features and they can accommodate 3 adults.
The 4 Superior luxury cottages are located on a cliff side that allows for an East facing view and in addition to the usual amenities, they provide superior bed linen, Apple TV, a mini library, an IPad and a bar stocked with alcoholic beverages on chargeable basis.
The disabled friendly cottage is wheelchair accessible and the facilities within, are designed accordingly, like the lowered key holder, special bathroom features, accessible bedside table etc.
The 2 Eden Lotus cottages are meant for families or 4 adults, with a large living area, 2 bedrooms with attached baths, steam shower and all the other features of the Superior luxury cottages. In addition, they have a large sundeck with a glorious private Jacuzzi bang in the center … how is that for lavish living ? 😀
The restaurant –
Aptly labelled The Falls, after the natural waterfall that gushes below, this 86 cover restaurant is the only one on the premises.
Constructed in their signature wooden theme, it has seating options in the central large hall as well as terrace seating bordering the trees, with an enchanting view of the waterfall below, tinkling gently … or gushing heartily, depending on the season.
Large brightly lit ‘human lights’ (that resemble inverted humans), dangle from the ceiling, adding to the decor.
A glass floor in the center, serves as a ‘window’ to the stream below and can be used as a dance floor with its capacity to bear 80 adults at a time. People like me will initially tread gingerly, before summoning up the courage to boldly step in … of course the lure of the photo op quickly clinches the deal 😀
The Human lights reflect through, this time in their laterally inverted upright positions.
The glass floor is also bordered by a couch where one can have their high tea or snacks while gazing through the transparent ground.
Multi cuisine fare is served at the Falls and the food is served buffet style or a la carte at breakfast, lunch and dinner, depending on the number of diners.
The menu is quite concise and there is a reasonable selection of Continental, Mediterranean, Asian, North Indian, South Indian etc.
The local fare of Coorg makes an appearance on the menu and forms a small part of the entire offering.
If I were to pick something about the resort that I was not unduly impressed with, it would be the food. It is of course a perfectly acceptable menu for most palates but the foodie in me sought out something more exciting by way of local dishes and homely flavors and nothing really hit the spot. What I did like though, were the rice breads that are the staples in every Coorg home and consist of the akki otti, paputtu, kadumbut etc
The continental fare was also better than the rest of the cuisines. Of course I am partial to prawns and that helped swing the balance 😀
Breakfast was also a satisfactory affair with the staff willing to customize both food and drinks.
My glass of fresh juice had contributions from several varieties of fruit and vegetables 😀
Service is very prompt and friendly and I must make a special mention of Karthik, who was extremely attentive and took good care of me.
On a few days of the week, live performances accompany the meals at dinner time.
Executive Chef Mahesh is in charge of the restaurant and his policy is to be flexible and try to accommodate customizing of the menu as per individual tastes. He is very particular about not letting the menu stagnate and attempts to bring in novelty from time to time.
Most of the guests opt for the All meal plan where the 3 main meals are included in the package. High tea/picnic basket is on a chargeable basis and has to be preordered.
The Deck –
The adjacent bar stocks a good collection of alcohol and wines. I was already high on nature and hence did not imbibe anything from here 😀
Barbecue area –
Private parties can book the barbecue area next to the restaurant on a chargeable basis.
Boutique store –
‘Verandah’ the store has antiques, paintings, curios and other works of art on display and on sale.
It also has a mini library and an experience center where guests can have the ‘Coffee’ experience called Blossom to Brew. More on that in Part 2.
Conference hall and Recreational block –
Like the restaurant, this building also straddles one of the two major streams that flow through the property.
The conference hall has a capacity of 80 pax and is glassed on all sides to provide an unhindered view of the surrounding greenery.
The recreation center has its highlight in the form of an ornate rosewood wooden swing.
The center offers several indoor games and activities. More on that in Part 2, along with the Outdoor games and other facilities.
An ante room also displays awards and recognition obtained by The Tamara.
The Tamara houses a few heads of cattle in their Gaushala (cattle shelter).
The breed that are taken care of here, belong to the Malenadu Gidda which is the second shortest breed after the Vechur breed from Kerala (gidda meaning short).
The neat and well maintained gaushala appears like a work of art with very informative pictures on the Varli art splashed wall, showing the various Indian breeds. I did not know we had around 30 breeds of indigenous cattle !!!
Cardamom drying unit –
Adjacent to the gaushala is a little shed where the green cardamom is placed in racks and shade dried by the hot air blown through large pipes that pass through the room.
The composting section called Manthan (which translates to Churning), is where they create their own compost using the waste from the restaurant, from the estate and the cattle dung.
Phone and internet connectivity –
Phone signals stay alive to a large extent and connectivity is not really an issue. Wifi is provided throughout the resort range.
Best time to visit –
Coorg enjoys a salubrious climate throughout the year. Summers are not unpleasantly hot and winters are cold but not unbearably so, hovering at a minimum of 15 deg c, which can be managed with appropriate warm wear.
Monsoon provides a very different scenario and pluviophiles will find this phase delightful since the streams and waterfalls are at their most glorious. One can spend the entire day gazing out at the cascading rain, for the showers are heavy during the period of June to September.
However, activities like trekking will not be possible due to the slippery terrain and also the leeches who suck the fun out of the trek … along with your blood 😀
The annual Tamara Carnival takes place every year in the last 10 days of December and culminates on New Year’s Day. This event is a cultural and gastronomic extravaganza and would probably be one of the best times to visit, since there is a lot more entertainment at the regular tariff.
Visitor profile –
Due to the steep inclines and sharp drops along unsecured pathways, The Tamara Coorg has a policy where it does not permit children in the age range of 1-12 because they do not want to compromise on safety.
Hence it is not suitable for families with children in that age group. Apart from this, its romantic environs are conducive to honeymooners and of course non honeymooners who want to rekindle their romance with each other or even with nature who is a far more fun partner 😀
It is a very fulfilling place for bird watchers, housing an innumerable species right on the estate itself. Photographers, artists, lovers of nature and also trekkers, will find this destination worth their while.
Buggies are present at all times to aid in transport, making it suitable also for the differently abled and elderly.
Getting there –
The Tamara is located near the town of Virajpet which lies to the South West of Madikeri (previously Mercara) which is the capital of Coorg.
The airports and railway stations near The Tamara Coorg are –
Bangalore – 270 km
Mangalore – 165 km
Kochi – 350 km
Kozhikode – 190 km
The newest international airport at Kannur is now the nearest airport to the resort, at a distance of 85 km.
Mysore railway station is 133 km away.
The nearest big towns are Madikeri at 35 km and Virajpet at 20 km. While cab or private vehicle is the best way to reach the resort, there are also buses to Madikeri and Virajpet from certain cities and towns. However the last mile access is only via cab/car.
The village of Kakabe is where one turns off the main road to cover the final 4 km to the resort. A bush sculpted into a dinosaur would be the landmark to look out for … assuming that it does not grow out or is not cut in future 😀
My journey –
An Innova taxi was my means of transport from Bangalore and the 270 km journey was conquered in 6 hours which included a 30 min stop for dining.
Leaving early morning before the roads are assaulted by traffic, is the best way to make good time.
The roads were excellent almost all the way, with a few fleeting and minor disruptions towards the end due to some repairs being carried out.
The road trip was very comfortable and followed the Bangalore-Mysore-Hunsur-Gonikoppal-Virajpet-Kakabe route.
Food and washroom options are quite plentiful en route.
While going we stopped at Thotada Mane, a beautiful rustic styled restaurant 2 km off the main road at Srirangapatna.
On the return, Halli Mane on the main road, was our stop for lunch and washroom facilities.
Booking and contact –
The Tamara Coorg is located at –
Kabbinakad Estate, Yavakapadi
Village, Napoklu Nad, Madikeri Taluk
Kodagu District – 571212
1800 120 777 000
+91 080 26090666
Please Note – This is a collaboration, based on the invitation of The Tamara Coorg and I thank them for hosting me with their warm hospitality.
The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.
Jan 7th – 9th, 2019