The winding roads reveal an expanse of uniform green patches. A plantation worker stops by the shrine of the Sufi saint who first smuggled coffee beans into India. In a kitchen, decoction drips slowly in a traditional filter. A few newspapers rustle and crease by a roadside coffee stall. Up in the hills, a lone hornbill cuts across the sunlit sky.
This journey follows the exotic aroma of coffee, trailing through the slopes of the undulating Western Ghats where South India’s tryst with coffee began, to the urban centres where coffee drinking has evolved into a culture of its own. It will begin in the city of Bangalore moving South to the scenic landscapes of Chikmangalur also known as the Coffee House of India. The trail will then lead to the tranquil hill station of Coorg, before descending into the untouched Wayanad forests. The trail will continue into the more urban environment of Mysore, before coming to an end in the streets of Chennai.
The journey begins in the urban centre of Bangalore - a city that has metamorphosed from a sleepy cantonment to a bustling cosmopolitan. With coffee shops around every corner, the city will serve as the perfect introduction to the region’s culture surrounding their favourite beverage.
From the busy streets of Bangalore, move southward towards the lofty landscapes of Chikmagalur, where the first coffee beans were planted in India. With pristine waterfalls, hill temples, and untrodden trekking trails lined with panoramic coffee plantations, Chikmagalur is a haven for those seeking respite from the two-dimensional cities. The fruits vegetables and meat available in the mountain ranges have, over the years, shaped the Malanad cuisine of the region characterised by less usage of oil and a heavy influence of spices.
The aroma then leads you to the picturesque landscapes of Coorg, a serene hill region eluding the grasps of urbanity, nestled within verdant rainforests, and the hill slopes carved into coffee plantations. These rugged hills that were inaccessible bore within them a community known for its unique culture and way of life. Secluded from the rest of the region for most of its history, their Kodavu culinary tradition has been preserved with minimal external influence.
Inhale the rich aroma of coffee with the occasional winds, while the air of Wayanad is smooth and a raspy confluence of green spices and the mountain soil. A spread of towns, villages and wilderness, the Wayanad region allows one to slow down and revel in its charms. Protected from outside influence by the guardian mountains, this region offers a wide range of dishes that form the cuisine of indigenous tribes.
Travel all the way to the fragrant city of Mysore to share a ‘by two coffee’ with a friend. The pleasant tree-lined boulevards and well-spaced buildings welcome one to a city with a vibrant culture. Influenced by the Udupi cuisine and the Malanad cuisine, Mysore has carved a place for itself in the famed culinary traditions of India.
Fly down to the city of Chennai, where the early morning streets fill with the robust aroma of the famed ‘filter coffee’ decoction. A city that rose to prominence under the colonial rule, Chennai and it's crowded cacophonous streets offer to the travellers a quick glimpse into the myriad cultures of Tamil Nadu.
Bengaluru is a world apart from the rest of the state and in many ways India’s most Westernized urban centre. Once a sleepy cantonment, the charming, verdant “Garden City” of just over 600,0000 people at Independence has been completely transformed by the technology boom into both a trendy, racy business hub and a bustling, smog-choked megalopolis of around 8.5 million, perhaps the fastest growing city in India. Bengaluru is also known for its year-round pleasant weather and its lush green landscapes.
Situated along the rippling coastline of the Bay of Bengal, Chennai rose to prominence under the colonial rule. From the classical Carnatic music traditions to the folk gana traditions of the fishing community, this city is where the many cultures within Tamil Nadu converge and coexist. Fondly called Madras, the port city, which is also the seat of Tamil Cinema, has acquired a flamboyant character of its own.
Situated in the Deccan plateau, Chikmagalur city belongs to the Malnad region of Karnataka. The Western Ghats start from this area. Chikmagalur is famous for its serene environment, lush green forests and tall mountains. Baba Budangiri, Mulliyangiri and Kemmanagundi are the popular hills for treks in Chikmagalur.
Deep in the lap of nature, Coorg is sprinkled with misty waterfalls, dense forests, indigenous wildlife, and undulating hills that provide stunning panoramas of the scenery. Its geographical isolation paved the way for a culture unadulterated by foreign influence, be it in their spicy and flavourful cuisine, their profoundly personal relationship with nature, their festivals, or in their unique styles of dressing and adornment.
Rich in history and culture, Mysore resonates with the glory of the past. The city is named after the mythical Mahisuru, a place where the demon Mahisasura was slain by the goddess Chamundi, the festival of which is celebrated with much pomp all over the country. Be it the Maharaja’s Palace, Chamundi Hill, or the famous Mysore Silk Sarees, there is always a lot to do and see in this flamboyant city.
The name ‘Wayanad’ comes from the combination of two Malayalam words ‘Vayal’ meaning ‘paddy fields’ and ‘Naad’ meaning ‘land’. It is known as ‘Mayakshetra’ or the land of illusion, in the ancient texts. Its history goes back to prehistory although recorded history tells its tale from the 19th century. Home to several indigenous tribes and set high in the Western Ghats at an altitude of around 2,100 metres. Wayanad is also known for its huge coffee estates apart from its paddy fields.
Climb through the forests towards a temple that stands on top of a hill. One of the best treks in the region, there's nothing like the smell of coffee in the lush, green plantations. Take in the knowledge of the locals, their brews and test their finest blends.
Spend time with a native of the Coorg, watching them cook some of their famed delicacies and gather some quick tips. Over a meal, listen to legends and stories surrounding the region.
Immerse yourself in the heritage of a culturally vibrant city and catch a glimpse of the life of the local community in a centuries-old market, where a sea of spices, flowers, fruits and dry colours make for an arresting vision.
Wander the streets with stories of gods, goddesses, urban legends and folklore interwoven with the daily rituals observed in the city. In a walk through the busy streets of this modern metropolis steeped in tradition, view the prevalent customs and understand their origins with the help of an accompanying expert guide.