Revisiting Coorg -with some last minute shopping to be done, I set out downtown, which is the pulse and marketplace of Coorg. Former glorious days these bustling towns catered to just bare essential ma and pa shops.
It’s a far cry now with traffic snarls, narrow roads that intensify chaos amongst swelling crowds.
The mid-90s witnessed a surge in tourist boom. The verdant forests, cool climate and manicured coffee estates are such an allure to this mountainous district in Karnataka. Home Stays (luckily in and around far-flung villages, coffee estates) and many Hotels (unfortunately around townships) have led to traffic woes and other adversities.
Tourist preferences are indicative in these small towns of Coorg. The proliferation of restaurants catering to tourists from neighbouring states is inevitable. I was beyond shocked to see KFC (Kodagu for Chicken or something to that effect!).
In Virajpet, several Delhi eating joints, Chaat shops, thankfully a few Kerala Paratha joints and Kerala cuisine, but North Indian food appears to have swept over local cuisine.
Indian tourists quite frankly are quite averse to trying out food other than what they are accustomed to, especially Vegetarians.
Coorg Cuisine in Mercara, Main road, is one place not to avoid for the most authentic Kodava dishes.
Girish Pemmaiah proudly serves well-known local cuisine handed over by his grandma a great cook and his Mother. He does show exasperation when tourists demand Dal Chaval and takes great trouble retaining and initiating them to Kodava food.
Some dishes like Pandi Curry Kadambutu, and Nuputu is to die for. Don’t miss the Bamboo curry, even though seasonal, at CC it’s available all year round.
Authentic Coorg food is difficult to trace even in Mercara, couple another hole in the wall places exists but difficult to ascertain the quality of food.
COORG THEN AND NOW
I found a sea change in the way Coorg has emerged from a sleepy coffee growing/farming district to hook on as a potential tourism destination.
Two decades ago it was a chore driving down to my husband’s estate filled with potholes and bad roads. Today infrastructure has vastly improved, with smooth roads even in the deep interiors.
Garbage disposal was a problem, but now the District has that organised and maintains squeaky-clean streets, especially Mercara.
I remember climbing hilltop to catch network on my mobile, similarly that has greatly improved.
The Kodavas guard their customs and traditions rather diligently especially in their hometown find progress slightly intrusive.
The young Turks (Kodavas) on the other hand take great pride in nonconformity, welcoming change that is inevitable and returning home as was the norm.