There are some places on earth that are blessed with abundant natural beauty – places that seem to be touched by the Almighty’s magic wand!
Kodagu or Coorg, in the state of Karnataka in southern India, a tiny slice of land (just 4100 square metres) where the Deccan Plateau integrates with the Western Ghats, is one such picturesque area. The people of the land – Kodavas—are a warrior race known for their bravery as much as for their hospitality.
The Kodavas could not be suppressed by the mighty Tipu Sultan nor by the British Empire; the British Army managed to set foot on the land only when the Kodavas decided to let them in. Coorg —the coffee cup of India has a unique charm!
In this beautiful land, set amidst a beautiful 300 acre plantation in a tiny hamlet called Siddhapur, is Orange County. Flanked by the river Cauvery and reserve forests, you can enjoy peace and tranquillity in the lap of nature, laced with luxury!
The property was acquired by a family of planters from Kerala 100 years ago and the beautiful resort, which is run by seven brothers, was set up in 1994.
Meandering pathways paved in rugged stone cut through the undulating landscape leading you to the villas,cottages and other public spaces.The property is well-maintained and much care has been taken to preserve the natural landscape.
The property has an abundance of trees, shrubs, creepers, spices, coffee, coconut palms and more— after all, you are on a plantation!
Old world charm greets you at the check-in lounge that is open and airy as it connects with nature. Rattan chairs are clad in earthy green fabric that looks vibrant against the bright terracotta flooring.
Private pool villas and plantation style country cottages offer total seclusion and luxurious comforts. The private villas with pools are built in the Kodava style architecture with laterite walls, tiled roofs, terracotta tiled floors and large windows opening out onto the veranda.
Laze on planter chairs and enjoy the privacy and serenity of the space. The private pool, edged with well-manicured lawns and pathways of laterite stone, form a lovely contrast. Deck chairs by the poolside are perfect for stretching out after a dip in the pool.
For urban guests, the ample open spaces would indeed be the highlight of the resort. Walking through the plantation is the best therapy and rejuvenation for a weary mind and body. Pleasant weather all year round, though it is a little cooler during the winter, is a significant advantage.
Snow-white coffee blossoms exude a heady fragrance in the month of February and if you happen to visit in the month of November you can see the coffee plants laden with red coffee cherries. Listen to a bird song seated on a bench along a quaint pathway or take a guided tour of the 300 acre plantation on foot.
Trek to Dubare Reserve forest, be enlightened about the flora and fauna and delight in bird-watching. Coorg is an ornithologist’s delight – 25% of all bird species in India can be found here. It’s quite an experience, even for amateurs.
You can also explore the ‘workers trail’ and experience the work culture on a plantation – actively participating in pruning and harvesting of coffee and spices. Set out early morning on a cycle ride with the naturalist to educate you, while you explore the surroundings.
Experience the multiple facets of the river Cauvery and enjoy the unspoilt beauty of the surrounding forests while taking a coracle (circular fishing boats) ride.
Orange County – Coorg, runs on clean green energy and utmost care is taken to preserve the environment and the management firmly believes in giving back to the region. Wind powered generators provide power for the resort. About 60% of the employees are locals and the cultural programmes are conducted by local villagers. The local villages receive a lot of aid from Orange County.
In the villas, an inner courtyard keeps the connection with nature alive and the parapet seating around it is another space to relax and unwind. Chairs elegantly furnished in citrus shades, rugs, large urns, carved pillars, grand wooden sideboards and wooden cornices around the ceiling—all the details are luxurious, elegant and understated.
Beautiful wooden furniture is polished and well-maintained and the uncluttered clean design of the villas is worthy of praise.
The ceiling has matting held up by wooden beams and the richness of the traditional design is appealing. Bathrooms with wooden ceilings open out into little courtyards weaving nature into the design yet again. Separate shower cubicles and bathtubs complete the picture.
Lakeside pool villas also follow more or less the same design pattern and have a view of the lake as well, beyond the private pool.
The presidential villa is very elegantly furnished in pastel shades. A beautiful long wooden console with a mirror above enhances the design, while loungers with cheerful furnishings and beautiful rugs make a pretty picture.
Bay window seating – just the right spot to indulge in day-dreaming or perhaps take a cat nap. The functional fireplace and ceiling with wooden strip detailing caps it.
Dine at the Granary, reminiscent of the good life led by the planters. Continental fare as well as Kodava cuisine is presented in a very elegant setting. Colonial style furniture, ceiling-hung lantern light fixtures, elegant table settings, white ceilings highlighted by wooden beams and a fireplace – the restaurant oozes old world charm! Do not forget to try the signature ‘pandi curry’ (a spicy pork preparation from Coorg).Set amidst coffee and spice plantations is Plaintain Leaf – vegetarians can enjoy many north and south Indian dishes here. You may even dine in absolute privacy in your pool-side villa, enjoying personalised service seated by the private pool.
Sample the mouth watering kebabs and grills at the Peppercorn, in a serene setting overlooking the lake. The Peppercorn deck provides a romantic setting….candles, trendy crockery and wine – perfect on a moonlit night! Another romantic and scenic dining venue is by the infinity pool.
The Machan also offers treetop dining for two, where you can soak in the magnificent view in privacy and have a delicious gourmet meal. Thatched roof, soft glow of candles and excellent food – perfect setting to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the surroundings!
A large communal pool and a beautiful infinity pool are major attractions for guests. The communal pool ensconced in scenic beauty has special child-safe zones. Thatched sun-umbrellas and deck chairs line the edge of the pool, so that you can stretch out and relax after a few laps.The exclusive infinity pool with its crystal clear waters is ideally located as well – bordering the plantation and the Dubare reserve forest. Patches of greenery and boulders within the pool break the monotony of the blue and make for a surreal experience.
The reading lounge on stilts overlooks lush green paddy fields. The thatched roof merges seamlessly with the surroundings and comfortable rattan furniture with red cushioned seating is inviting. Well, you need not be a voracious reader to occupy this space – sipping the home grown brew Sidapur (coffee) you may alternate between leafing through a book and gazing out, enjoying nature.
A visit to Bylekuppe Tibetan Settlement—the 2nd largest in the world outside Tibet— is recommended. 7000 monks reside in the monastery and the golden temple, Tibetan village and flea market are interesting.
Ayurveda is an integral part of wellness and the Orange County Vaidyasala caters to mind and body cleansing with various therapies and healing methods under the guidance of experienced physicians. The soothing natural environment makes the experience even more enjoyable.