The hill country of Kodagu - know in British times as Coorg - is a far cry indeed from the frenzy of its nearest cities, Mysore and Bangalore. A tract of rugged mountains and cardamom forest interspersed by patches of rice paddy and orchards, it’s home to a culturally distinct minority, the Kodavus or Coorgis, whose language, traditional dress, religious customs and fair complexion set them apart from their neighbours.
One theory is that they’re descended from renegades of Alexander the Great’s army; another is that they were originally a community of Roman settlers. Either way, the Kodavus remain fiercely independent, proud – and perennially successful in business. The region contributes more tax than any other in the state, and the plantations have boomed since the recent hike in coffee prices. Leisurely forest walks, estate tours and more bracing hill ascents occupy most visitors. Late-March is the busiest time, when coffee blossom engulfs the region in a snowstorm of fragrant petals.