I remember when I first spoke to Sharath, asking if I can visit them, and explore the coffee plantation and the nature around their homestay, in Kabbinakad, Coorg, he replied in the most candid manner. A part of his response also sounded a little flaunting, following the usual banalities of any hospitality business. He wrote, sounding ostentatious, that they would be happy to show me the best of nature and Coorgi hospitality. “What a polished statement,” I thought — only until I actually got there and realised Coorg was indeed among the best and most unspoilt natural places in India. And the hospitality that Coorgis offer, was no less remarkable either.
I first visited Coorg, a few years ago in 2016, experiencing one of the many camping sites in the place – and the experience always stayed in my memory, quite afresh. And this time as I reached Kabbinakad, located around 30 km towards the east of Madikeri, I fell in love with Coorg just a little more!
Chingaara Estate home, the place where I stayed, was located in a large expanse of a coffee estate (some 12 acres if I’m not wrong) surrounded by a dense forest with plantations of pepper, cardamom and other commercial crops.
Here, opportunities abound for both, the serious trekkers (with peaks like Tadiyandamol located as high as nearly 2000m above the sea level) and the casual hikers wanting to explore and enjoy spectacular waterfalls and gorgeous views, all within the estate grounds.
It happened to travel to Chingara Estate, in Kabbinakad, after spending a few days clicking Hampi photos and enjoying the tranquillity of the Hippie Island there.
I was happy that for the next few days this was going to be my home, I would greet the sun from the gazebo over my outhouse, walk to a serene waterfall just 40 steps away and enjoy some mountains.
There were no sounds other than musical chirping of birds – all day long. The day would begin with the best brewed home-made coffee followed by a full-blown breakfast. Dinners were moreover a delight, with local delicacies served on the plate.
Things To Do In Kabbinakad
Birdwatching: Whether you are an expert or a novice, Kabbinakad is an ideal place for bird-spotting. I remember there was not a single minute – except for the wee midnight hours – when I couldn’t hear the melodious chirping.
Trekking: If you fancy trekking, Kabbinakad can be an ideal place. During my four day stay at Chingaara Estate, I took it to jungles pretty much daily. I trekked to the highest peak in Coorg called Tadiyandamol, the popular Raja Seat viewpoint, and other unknown lose-yourself-in-the-jungle locations – and every hike was equally enjoyable.
As per my host, there were at least 20 different long and short treks around the property.
Exploring coffee plantation: No wonder, one of the prime highlights of tourism in Coorg is exploring a coffee plantation and understanding the various stages that coffee seeds go through before getting into our cups. I saw carpets of coffee seeds spread on the floor to get sun-dry outside. Chingara itself owned some 12 acres of coffee plantation, and as per Sharath, his father, who now runs a tourist home himself called ‘The Honey Valley’ was once one of the largest coffee producers in entire Southeast Asia.
If you visit them during the berry-picking season, you can even help them in various activities.
[Recommended: If you don’t mind a 50 km drive, from Kabbinakad (or 40kms east of Madikeri), I’d particularly recommend you to visit Bylakuppe Namdroling Monastery – the largest Buddhist Monastery in South India, housing nearly 5000 monks most of whom are Tibetan refugees living in India.
A large part of the community around Kabbinakad, including my host, is inhabited by the native Kodava people – renowned for their distinctive culture and hospitality. They’re not similar to other South Indians either in their traditions as well as the physical aesthetics. Their tall and slim physique really stand them out from the Dravidians of the south. History also claims that they’re the direct descendants of the soldiers of Alexander the Great, who, when invaded India, stayed back in the continent and got married to the local communities. Well, whatever’s the case, I particularly loved Kodava people, and the way they welcome their guests.
Any visit, no matter how small, and at what time of the day, involves an invitation for a cup of tea or coffee. “And a rejection of the offer, for whatever reason and no matter how politely done, can sometimes be considered an insult,” I was told.
In the olden days, a visitor was greeted by the woman of the house who offered a small pitcher of water to wash up in. Then the person was invited inside and offered a cup of tea. It is only after that, he would be asked the purpose of the visit – a typical Kodava behaviour.
Of course, the time has changed now, as the many tourists who visit the place now often give an impression of their cultured hurried routine. I remember, when I arrived Chingara and was offered a cup of Tea/Coffee. I’d, myself, unknowingly denied the offer, demanding for a shower first, acting like a typical Punjabi, wanting to suit myself first.
Top Travel Tips For Kabbinakad, Coorg
- Coorg is spread over a massive 4,000+ square kilometer land. And Kabbinakad is a small locality located around 30 kilometers east of Madikeri. It is a relatively easy weekend getaway from Bangalore and Mysore, and getting here in public transport is fairly easy.
- If you plan to travel in public transport, most of the homestays in Coorg, including Chingaara, offer a free pick up and drop service from Madikeri.
- Your local host in Coorg should be able to guide you to some offbeat places around. They moreover generally also arrange for local guides and drivers.
- Before returning, make sure you buy your own stash of coffee, or some organic spices, from Coorg. They’re always the best quality and super cheap here. I remember buying 250gms of coffee for 90 Rupees. Imagine that!
I particularly thank ‘Chingara Estate’ for making my stay in Kabbinakad, Coorg, so much better. I am sure their homestay, the best brews they offer, and the many quick escapes to the jungle/coffee plantation around – can be the right fit for travellers of any taste.
Also, read my Karnataka travel guide for more tips on what to see and do during your Kabbinakad holiday.