This is a hilly region about 200 kilometres south-west of Bangalore full of rolling hills, coffee plantations, forests and fresh air. I could have sworn the sweet, fresh air carried a hint of coffee and spices!
I met these local schoolgirls on the top of Brahmagiri Hill, which is at the source of the river Cauvery, one of India's seven sacred rivers. (The third girl insisted on hiding behind her friends while keeping an affectionate hand posed on each of them.)
Coorg's inhabitants, the Kodavas, are also quite unique and their origins are not clear. Their language is a mix of three South Indian languages (Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam) and many aspects of their culture are very distinctive. I noticed that women wear their saris in a very different way: draped across the chest and then pinned to the right shoulder (instead of across the left shoulder) with the pleats worn in the back (and not the front). Married women wear headscarves. Men traditionally wear turbans and black tunics with red sashes, and a dagger tucked in at the waist.
We stayed in a homestay with a young Kodava couple in their charming house. After having studied and worked in Bangalore, they have now settled in their home region of Coorg where they run their guesthouse and manage their family's coffee plantation. It was a good way to learn about the local culture and taste homemade Kodava cuisine.