The journey they say is the destination. We were in the middle of rice fields and wetlands while a few houses were scattered around. Parking our car in front of a bright pink house, we stepped out to stretch our limbs. We had been driving all the way from Mysore to Coorg and it had just stopped raining. A dusty jeep was waiting to take us to our stay in Madikeri as we clamoured inside it. And then the excitement began. It was a steep journey as we climbed uphill, sitting literally at the edge of the seat on bumpy stretches. It was an adventure in itself as we drove on unchartered terrain, through dense forests. The rain clouds slowly gathered around us. It was dark and nippy. All of a sudden, we reached the summit. Surrounded by mist and perched on a hillock, was a two storeyed structure that was going to be our home for the next couple of days – OYO Coorg Treehouse, which I realized was better than any hotel or homestay near Madikeri.
The rain clouds slowly started clearing. The mist however surrounded us . I had imagined there would be a tree house literally but I was pleasantly surprised to find a quaint structure designed like one, built entirely with wood and supported on iron beams. The mist cleared, revealing a carpet of lush forests and mountains. Lost on a hillock, located in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by a fabric of green , I was literally cut off from civilisation, The closest village was just almost four kilometres away. It was as remote as it could get with neither wifi nor mobile network. It was just perfect to bond with nature and ruminate in silence .
The skies were still wrapped with dark clouds but the sun slowly lit the lush greenery around me. The mist was slowly wandering away caressing the trees. The rains had given the forests a new coat of paint. Bulbuls sang. The sunbirds chirped. I was visiting Coorg after almost three years and I was looking forward to a weekend of relaxation. I had always stayed in a homestay near Madikeri, but this was a unique experience. I was in a wind swept hamlet called Gaalibeedu near Madikeri but I felt like I was lost in the lap of nature.
The OYO Coorg Treehouse had four rooms, with two rooms on each floor with a tiny kitchen in the middle. Built tastefully with wood, each room opened to a balcony on either side, where you could gaze into a panorama of green. Munching hot pakodas and looking out into the mist, I saw a pack of dogs playing out into the open as their kennels were being cleaned.
The aromas from the tiny kitchen came floating in. My hosts were constantly flooding us with delicious meals. Be it poori and dosai for breakfast or hot sambar and rasam with vegatables for lunch or soft phulkas and sabzi for dinner, every meal was delicious and served right in our rooms. We were literally pampered and it beat any homestay near Madikeri when it came to experience. If any one asked me for a recommendation for a place to stay in Madikeri, then OYO Coorg Treehouse would top the list.
For a slow traveller like me, this was the perfect place to be. There was no agenda. It was just us, in tune with nature. For those who wanted civilisation, the jeep was ready to take you to Madikeri or you could explore Bylakuppe or Talacauvery or Omkareshwar temple. However I was in no hurry to go anywhere. The last time I was in Coorg, it was a wild experience in Kutta and this was no less an adventure.
We went hiking into the woods, admiring the wild flowers and losing ourselves in the lush greenery. My hostess Tishoni decided to take me for a jolly ride on her bike. We were one of those who had no fixed itinerary and we just wanted to wander off aimlessly without a sense of any direction. It was a wild adventure. This was a Coorg that I had not seen.
Suddenly our scooty screeched to a halt jerkily on one of the treacherous mountain roads. Filled with slush we almost lost our balance. But someone was more paranoid than us. A massive snake just slithered away hurriedly into the undergrowth barely a couple of feet from us. We biked around villages as Tishoni stopped to say hello to the Kodavas who crossed our paths.
As we jumped over fences, encountered snakes and visited remote lakes, Tishoni told me all about her life -.from how she met her husband while she was studying, to her interest in athletics and why she gave up her job as a PT teacher. She braved the steep slushy paths inundated with leeches in her flip flops while I struggled to climb downhill. “Let me carry you,” she said with a laugh as she plucked a leech from my jacket. She was forever giggling and laughing telling me stories.
Time just flew as we were lost in the Western Ghats surrounding the OYO Tree House in Coorg. As we drove back, we stopped at small reservoirs which brought water to Madikeri and walked around villages. We ended our tryst with Coorg at Kathlakaadu, the dark forest where the night skies greeted you with thousands of jewelled beauties.
I was however content to look at the setting sun and lose myself in the silence. Pristine and quiet, it had been one of my best experiences and it was better than any stay in Madikeri. It also set the mode for slow travel which is going to be my mantra this new year.
What is your travel mantra for 2018 ? Have you been to Coorg ? Is there a place to stay in Madikeri that you would like to recommend ?
This post was written in collaboration with OYO Rooms who hosted me at the OYO Coorg Treehouse. It is one of the places to stay in Madikeri, located just 12 kms away in Gaalibeedu.