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Friday, 10 December 2010

Coffee Pathways trip 2010

 New harvest 2010-11

The first ripen coffee cherries are being hand picked at Jaivik Greens Organic Estate, Coorg. From left to right: Jose Luis ( Coffee Ideas!), Shantala and Tippu (owners of Jaivik Greens), Apu van Otterlo (consumer), Jessamijn Miedema(Coffee Ideas!), Sijmen and Madu.

 We have walk around all the different blocks, each one has its own particularities. We are walking towards the Rosewood block, here we find 53 full grown Rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia) trees. 

 Tracing the stem white borer (Xylotrechus quadripes). The expert eyes of this man checks any affected tree so it can be either treated or uprooted and burned. 

The white borer is a pest that needs to be monitored carefully, otherwise can wipe out completely a plantation and quickly spread in the whole area .

 The most humid places of the plantation are used to grow cardamom.

 The first batches of parchment being sun-dried. 

Jose Luis and Tippu

 The banana flower

 Centenary trees like this one have a safe place at Jaivik Greens. Many forest in Coorg are destroyed to introduce unsustainable agriculture based on mono crops.

Pepper harvest 

 Making homemade wine is a tradition in Coorg. We have made different wines using paddy, wheat, sugar, raisins, passion fruit, almonds, cashews and coffee cherries.

Swimming in the Kaveri river

 Crossing rice fields

 Steam vegetable momos
 Fruit vendor in Madikeri
 Rice harvest
 Nalkad Palace carving details.

Details of the roof at the King's room at Nalkad Palace
 Tippu and Shantala at he entrance of the Palace
 Our trekking to the highest peak in Coorg, Tadiandamol is about 1748m above sea level
 Wild Water buffalos are seen as well as local cows.
 The landscape is unique, climbing to the top of Coorg.
We found a scorpion
We crossed a Shola forest
Coffee Ideas! gave a talk on coffee at the annual conference organized by the Codagu Women's awareness body, in Sommarpet.

 The talk was attended by more than 120 coffee planters from all the ares of Coorg

 We showed some slides of our work, the response was very positive.

 Getting lost in the Mysore market is a pleasant adventure, the vendors are friendly. The smell of spices, essential oils, sandal and incense is all around.
 Locals buy their daily needs at the market

 This shop is a very old one, they have a selection of essential oils of a very good quality.

 At Mahatma Gandhi square you can find many local coffee roasters selling freshly roasted coffee. 

 Madikeri coffee roasting shop

 We slept at the Chamundi Guest house in Mysore

 Making pumpking pancakes in the morning, we had so much fun!

                                             Signature spider in a local temple

 Grasshopper taking a sun bath

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Coffee Pathways, next trip to the coffee land.

Dear Coffee lovers, we are preparing our next Coffee Pathways trip next February-March 2011.

A group from Spain is getting ready, so if you feel to discover how coffee is made from A to Z perhaps this is your opportunity. Maximun participants are 10 and will travel in Tempo traveller. Be ready to sleep in a Maharaja's palace or in a lodge in the middle of the jungle. Rafting, nature walks across coffee forest,  crossing hanging bridges to spot the Hornbill colonies. Visit to Tibetan settlements, meet a lama and stay in Auroville and Pondicherry.

Here is a brief of our last Coffee Pathways trip last March.Some pictures, information and  comments below to give a glimpse of what you will experience.

Mysore visit

 Until 1947, Mysore was the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore and was ruled by the Wodeyar dynasty, except for a 40-year era in the 18th century when Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan were the de facto rulers of the province. The Wodeyars were patrons of art and culture and contributed significantly to the cultural growth of the city, which has led to Mysore earning the sobriquet Cultural capital of Karnataka.

Mysore Bazaar, discover a world of smells, colours and charming shop keepers
The Lalita Palace, Mysore, This Palace is now a hotel and we will stay 1 night.
Mysore is located at 12°18′N 76°39′E / 12.30°N 76.65°E / 12.30; 76.65 and has an average altitude of 770 metres (2,526 ft).[23] It is situated in the southern region of the state of Karnataka, at the base of the Chamundi Hills and spreads across an area of 128.42 km2 (50 sq mi).[2] The summer season is from March to June, followed by the monsoon season from July to November and the winter season from December to February.[23] The highest temperature recorded in Mysore was 38.5 °C (101 °F) on May 4, 2006, and in winter, temperatures as low as 9.6 °C (49 °F) have been recorded.[24][25] The average annual rainfall received by the city is 798.2 mm (31 in).[2]:p.04 Though Mysore is situated in the relatively safe seismic zone II, earthquakes of magnitude greater than 4.5 on the Richter scale have been recorded in the vicinity of the city.[26][27]
Entrance of The Lalita Palace

The traditional Taxi in Mysore in contrast with our modern Tempo traveler.

Ganesh Temple in Mysore. Early morning puja

 Mysore is called the City of Palaces because of the number of palaces situated in the city, including Amba Vilas popularly known as Mysore Palace, Jaganmohana Palace which has now been converted into an art gallery, Rajendra Vilas also known as the summer palace, situated in the Chamundi Hills, Lalitha Mahal which has now been converted into a hotel and Jayalakshmi Vilas, which is now on the University of Mysore premises.[68] The main palace of Mysore burned down in 1897, and the present-day structure was built on the same site. Externally, Amba Vilas palace exhibits an Indo-Saracenic architecture style though the interior is distinctly Hoysala style of architecture in nature.[69
At Mysore Bazaar you will have a chance to buy essential oils, silks, sandal, incense and handicrafts.

The coffee land of Coorg

We arrived at the Green Hill Estate. The trip have been very smooth, climbing the gentle slopes of the Coorg's hills. Upwards, downwards, crossing ample meadows planted with rice and coconut plantations. Bamboo forests growing along the shores of the Kavery river. Coffee is all around, patios with  coffee cherries and multi hued pepper corns spread like in a zen garden,  to be dried under the blessings of the sun.

The house was built in the XIX by a Swiss architect, in red stone, tailed roof and rose wood. The Verandha is the best spot to have breakfast and inhale the tranquility of the place.

Our coffee was all the time with us

The main hall, where we host our dinners, played music and danced.

The whole house was occupied by us. We had the feeling to be in a friend house. We set up the tables with candles, put nice music...meanwhile dinner is getting ready, the smell of spices is all around.


Aloe and Eden ready for supper

The first floor hall is a sort of a museum and a library. Pictures and artifacts from the owner's ancestors are displayed in a genuine Coorg style. 
There are 2 big rooms in the first floor with 4 beds and spacious toilet. A piano in good condition and plenty of interesting books.
Inside one of the rooms, each one is different with it's own cliche.

The Nalknad Palace
Just a few kilometers  from the Green Hill Estate, we found an interesting spot to explore. The lesser known temple built in the middle of the jungle at the foot of the highest peak in Coorg, the Thadiyandamol.
The trekking to the top of the mountain is a unique opportunity to see the rain forest in its full expression.


After the death of the Kodagu king, Lingaraja I in 1780 A.D., Hyder Ali captured Kodagu under the pretext of being a guardian to Lingaraja's sons, DoddaVeerarajendra and Linga Rajendra who were of tender age.[3] The princes were sent to reside in a fort at Gorur in Hassan district, a garrison was stationed at Mercara (capital of Kodagu) and a minister (Amaldar) was appointed to look after the administration of Kodagu. The people of Kodagu were angry at the takeover of Kodagu by Hyder Ali and rebelled against him in 1782 A.D. Since Hyder Ali was busy in fighting against the British army, they managed to throw the garrison out of Kodagu and proclaim their independence.[3]
After Hyder Ali's death, his son Tipu Sultan wanted to recapture Kodagu. He moved the Kodagu princes from Gorur to Periyapatna and closely monitored them.[3] However, Dooda Veerarajendra managed to escape and returned to Kodagu.[4] He started to wage battles against Tipu Sultan's army which forced Tipu to send a large force to Kodagu to subdue the king. Tipu Sultan's army was able to capture some forts but suffered heavy losses as well. However, Dodda Veerarajendra managed to recapture the forts except the Mercara fort. He decided to move to a thickly forested area called Nalknad and convert it as a base for its operations. He built the Nalknad Palace here.[4] It was a two-storeyed structure with a tiled roof.[1] Since Dodda Veerarajendra did not have any sons from his first marriage, he married Mahadevammaji in 1796, and this marriage took place in Nalknad Palace. However, his second queen also could not bear him any sons. After Tipu's death, he entered into an alliance with the British to maintain peace with them.
When Dodda Veerarajendra died in 1809, his ten-year old daughter Devammaji was declared as the "queen of Kodagu".[4] However, in 1811, Linga Rajendra, the younger brother of the deceased king, proclaimed himself as the king of Kodagu and ruled the region till his death in 1820. Chikka Veerarajendra, the son of Linga Rajendra, became the king of Kodagu. In 1832, differences began to rise between the king and the British, forcing the king to start a war against the British. However, the Britishers attacked Kodagu with full force and began to make inroads. Chikka Veerarajendra moved to Nalknad Palace which became his last refuge.[1] In order to prevent major losses, the king had to surrender and the British deposed him to Benares. With this, Kodagu came under the direct rule of the British and Chikka Veerarajendra remained as the last king of Kodagu.[
This is the main door of the Palace, still perfectly preserved. I wish i could talk to the door and listen to the stories of a bygone area.

Pepper and coffee harvesting at Green Hills Estate, Virajpet  

Robusta cherries ready to harvest at the Green Hill Estate.
Pepper being sun-dried in the patios of the Green Hill Estate
A close up of the pepper from a floor view, the spiced fragrance of green and red pepper is all around
Freshly hand picked robusta coffee cherries drying in the patio
Mr. Poonacha measures the harvest of the day
Only the very ripe ones are harvested in the first rounds
Zen coffee patios
Traditional door built 150 years ago, still in perfect shape.

Dried cherries selection

Winnowing the coffee is a team work task . Coordination, rhythm and good spirit is required.

Visit to Talakavery, the sacred birthplace of the Kavery river 

This is the origin of river Kavery on the eastern slopes of Brahmagiri peak at 1350 metres altitude, about 8 km by road from Bhagamandala.

An enclosure around the spring called Gundige is connected to a small pond beside. The water from the pond goes underground and comes out after about one kilometer down the hill. There are three shrines above the spring and birds eye view of west-coast from the hill range.

On a predetermined date and time of Tulasankranthi every year the spring from Gundige overflows called Thirthodbhava. This holy water is carried home by all pilgrims when they go back after paying the last rituals to their parent or spouse departed during the preceding year.

There is a shrine near the kundike and a big tank in front of it where devotees baths before offering prayers. There are 2 temples here, a Shiva temple with a rare and ancient Shiva Linga, and another Lord Ganesha's temple. According to legend, the Trimurtis - Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh gave darshan to sage Agastya at the holy Ashwantha tree near the temple.

 Young priest in a ceremony

Preparing for the ceremony
 Bathing is an ancient practice among Kodavas
Staircase to the top of the Bramagiri  Brahmagiri peak at 1350 metres altitude
 A eyebird view of the Pushpagiri range

The flowering of coffee

After the rains in March, called by the locals the blossom showers bring the coffee landscape of Coorg to an entire transformation. Thousands of coffee flowers blossoms at the same time for 9 days. The fragrance of jasmine with some notes of sweet gardenia invades the forest.
Delicate, fragile each flower will be in 9 months a ripen cherry, each containing 2 beans. To make a cup of coffee you need 50 beans, so remember when you drink your coffee that 100 flowers blossomed for you.
Each Cluster one cup of coffee!
Nature walks
Sunset in Coorg
Coffee forest in full bloom
We had trained the personnel how to do a good coffee.
Candle lit dinner at the main hall
Setting up the table
Vanilla creeping in a coffee trunk
Taking time to reflect and connect with nature
Montse and Conchi at the patio

Visit to Virajpet 
Walking to Virajpet from the Green Hills Estate take around 2 hours. 

Virajpet is Coorg's  main commercial centre and second town of the district of Kodagu. It is highest producer of honey in Asia.Nearby towns are Gonikoppal, Ammatti and Ponnampet.Virajpet is also known Devarakadus or sacred groves, which means they have a close link between the Kodava community and nature.

Road to Virajpet

St Anne's Church was built in the year 1792 in European and Gothic styles, under the direction of Father Gullivan.St Anne's Church It is surrounded by vast paddy fields on one side and the majestic Malethirke Hill in the background. This church is also a symbol of Coorg's secular tradition. In the year 1811 it was brought down and rebuilt in the year 1868 with a huge spacious structure. The roof is made of copper with decorated interiors and statues from the Bible. The steeple is 180 Feet which resembles a giant candle.

Virajpet boys with Montse

Entrance to St Anne's church

Traffic ranger in Virajpet

Virajpet center

Oil lamp

Add caption

Jasmine, roses, calendulas shop at the market 

Local tailor

Visit to the coffee curing works in Kushalnagar

 It is a busy time in Kushalnagar curing works, thousands of jute bags arrive everyday form all the coffee plantations of the area. Here, coffee is graded by its density, colour and size. It is also cleaned, hulled and pealed.

From this godowns coffee is send to Cochin by containers to be exported to Europe 

The premises are kept always in best conditions

Coffee arrival

This machine sorts out the coffee beans by size

 An electronic eye grades the coffee beans by the colour.

Coffee grading trays

There is no machine that can much the human eye to finally select the best beans

Coffee being carried to the final bag

This tailor stitches the bag with a special sewing machine

 Hand sorting of coffee
Woman sorting out the beans, the final check 

It was really an experience!

 Visit to Namdroling's Golden Temple, Bylakuppe

Feel Tibet in Coorg.....

After the Chinese took over Tibet, the refugees were settled at Bylakuppe Near Kushalnagar and the Buddhist Monastery was re-established here in 1972. It houses over 250 monks today. The monastery not only attracts large number of young Tibetans seeking enlightenment and education, but also draws huge tourists from all over India and abroad.This Buddists Golden Temple Located 2 km from Kushalnagar and This is one of the tourist interset place in Coorg. This Buddist are came from the tibet when china had eye on tibet. This Temple is in Byelukoppe near by Kushalnagar, There are many thousand monks leaving here they are wearing red clothes. And all Temple in Byelukoppe decorated by gold plated gods. There are many monasteries arround Byelukoppe. But This Temple in the Border of coorg district and it is part of mysore district, Although it is very near to kodagu, So this is most popular tourist interest place in Coorg.

Bylakuppe (6 km)is a Tibetan settlement for Tibetan refugees and so the area around has Tibetan Buddhist monasteries dotted all along the landscape. Sera Je is the largest with 2000 resident monks. Siddapura (32 km) is prime trekking area. Virgin woods and wafting scents from nearby coffee and spice plantations will ensure you have a great time.

Visit to Ranganathittu, bird sanctuary. 

The boat takes us into the wilderness. The birds continue their routine and are not bothered by our silent presence

The islets came into being when a dam across the Kaveri river was built in the 18th century. The ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali observed that the isles formed an important nesting ground for birds, and persuaded the Wodeyar kings of Mysore to declare the area a wildlife sanctuary in 1940.

Most of the park falls under the Riparian biome, corresponding to the Indomalaya ecozone.

Riverine reed beds cover the banks of the islands, while the islands themselves are covered in broadleaf forests, with dominant species being Terminalia arjun (Arjun tree), bamboo groves, and Pandanus trees. Eucalyptus and Acacia trees have also been planted, which might lead to long-term eradication of native species. The endemic and threatened lily Iphigenia mysorensis of the family Colchicaceae grows in the sanctuary.

The islands are host to numerous small mammals, including Bonnet Macaque, colonies of Flying Fox and common small mammals like Common Palm Civet and Indian Gray Mongoose and the monitor lizard.

The Mugger Crocodile or Marsh Crocodile is a common inhabitant of the riverine reed beds. Breeding water birds include Painted Stork, Asian Openbill Stork, Common Spoonbill, Woolly-necked Stork, Black-headed Ibis, White Ibis, Lesser Whistling Duck, Indian Shag, Stork-billed Kingfisher and other common birds like egrets, cormorants, Oriental Darter, and herons. The Great Stone Plover, and River Tern also nest here. The park is home to a large flock of Streak-throated Swallows.

We get as close as this picture.

Painted storks

Flying foxes hanging in the bamboo groves

The Kavery river

Streak-throated Swallows.

River tern

The Mugger Crocodile or Marsh Crocodile is a common inhabitant of the riverine reed beds

Greater cormorant and open billed stork nesting

Visit to Dubare, Elephant Camp and river rafting  

Dubare is known for its elephant camp, and is a forest camp on the banks of the river Kaveri in the district of Kodagu, Karnataka. It is an important base for the Karnataka Forest Department's elephants.

The elephants for the Mysore Dussehra were trained at Dubare elephant camp. At present, after logging operations have ceased, the elephants have been practically retired except for giving some rides to tourists.

There are opportunities for trekking, elephant rides, fishing, and river rafting. these activities are hosted by Jungle Lodges and resorts. The Forest Department also conducts some treks along well-defined routes.

The moist deciduous forests of Dubare are home to many wild animals and birds. Sighting of wild Asiatic elephants are regular and so is spotting the sambhar and the spotted deer. tiger, leopard, wild dogs, gaur and bears are also seen in these forests. Crocodiles can be seen in river. The forests are also home to many reptiles non-venomous snakes.

Birdlife in Dubare includes peacock, partridge, kingfisher and woodpeckers topping the list.

River rafting is a great way to experience the environment of the river Kavery

Small islet are formed by ancient jungle trees creating a landscape of magical nature

A tusker at Dubare

Elephant ride

Bamboo groves are elephant's  favorite environment

River view from Dubare

Visit to Tranquebar 
 Following the kavery river we arrive at the lesser known East Cost town of Tranquebar. We stay at the Gate House situated just 5 mins walking distance from Neemrana's "Bungalow on the Beach" is an example of indigenous Tamil architecture with its red tiled roofs and courtyards surrounding, the Gate House rooms are designed to give a traditional feel.


 The Bungalow on the Beach in Tranquebar is a grand and stately colonial mansion along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. This heritage hotel in Tamil Nadu reminds one of India's colonial past.

The Bungalow on the Beach comprises of restored buildings of two Danish admirals sent by the King of Denmark.

Tharangambadi (or Tranquebar) is a panchayat town in Nagapattinam district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, 15 km north of Karaikal, near the mouth of a distributary of the Kaveri River. Its name means "place of the singing waves". It was a Danish colony from 1620 to 1845, and in Danish and some other European languages it is known as "Trankebar" or "Tranquebar"

The earliest reference to Tarangampadi occurs in a 14th century inscription, mentioning the place as Sadanganpade. Tranquebar was founded by the Danish East India Company in 1620, when a factory (commercial settlement) was opened and a fort, known as Fort Dansborg, was built by a Danish captain named Ove Gjedde. This fort was the residence and headquarters of the governor and other officials for about 150 years. It is now a museum hosting a collection of artefacts from the colonial era as early as 1620.

 The Masilamani Nathar temple was built in 1306 by Maravarman Kulashekhara Pandian in a
small fishing & trading village called Kulashek-
harapattinam; also referred to as Sadangam-
badi, Thayangambadi and Tharangambadi

 Boats in Tranquebar beach
 Local fisherman in a funny hut
Visiting the market

 Fish market
 Local woman

The seaside walk
 Tranquebar local fisherman
 Tranquebar  is the second most ozone-rich place in the world.
The pool at the Bungalow at the beach is one of the most relaxing sites of Tranquebar.

 The Nayak House
 The Nayak House at goldsmith street
 Gueta runs a small cafe
Moonlight at Tranquebar