When The (Jeep) Compass Pointed Me To Coorg…

When I was invited by the Editor of CAR India Magazine and Jeep India on a road trip to Coorg, from Pune, I signed up for it instantly, especially when i was told that the bonus would be visiting a coffee plantation! I mean, who would let such a fabulous opportunity pass?!

The Journey

We started very, very early from Pune (3:30 am, to be precise). With almost no traffic, our swanky red Jeep Compass got us to the Kognoli toll on the Karnataka border by 7:40 am, so we managed to escape Pune traffic brilliantly.

Jeep Compass whizzing past a government building in Karnataka
Entering Karnataka with our ride, the trusty Jeep Compass

Besides a cuppa chai in Kognoli, our actual first pitstop was only around 11 am, in Shivanandnagar where we grabbed a quick brunch.

I’ve always been a fan of rural Karnataka, and the farms, landscapes and beautiful temple backdrops did not disappoint, while the Compass kept us comfortable despite the long distance road trip.

Jeep Compass whizzing past palm trees in Karnataka
Karnataka roads be like…

By noon, we were in Dharwad, and Davangere by 2:30 pm and Chennagiri by 4:30 pm. Just before sundown, we hit upon a gorgeous scene post Chennagiri, which offered us the perfect vistas for photography.

I was trying my best to not sleep during the journey, but an early start and a comfy ride meant i didn’t need any lullabies to fall asleep. By the time i woke up, we were approaching Hassan where we stopped for dinner. It was already post 10 pm, and i was wishing we could crash there.

But the prospect of waking up in the midst of a coffee plantation in Coorg was such a rewarding prospect for Ravi, CAR India’s ace columnist and the person behind the wheels for our journey.

After a looooong, nearly 24 hour journey, we finally made it to Honey Pot Homes in Coorg at around 2 am the next day!

The Destination

We woke up only post 9 am the next day, since we slept that late the previous night. But what we woke up to was exactly, if not more than what we had envisioned. Bang in the middle of a coffee plantation and ready for some authentic Coorgi breakfast – sannas served with some of the best chutney and sambar i’ve had ever, along with freshly brewed coffee from the very estate we were staying in!

Post breakfast, which could have lasted forever if we didn’t decide to end it (so good!) we met the owner of the estate, Faisal who showed us around the expansive property (225 Acres of sprawling plantations, primarily coffee).

coffee plantations in Coorg
Coffee plantations at Sandalkat Estate, Coorg

From the outset, i bonded with Faisal on our common passion for coffee and enjoyed learning about the cultivation, harvesting and processing methods he explained.

Ravi and me, in conversation with Faisal.
Ravi and i, in conversation with Faisal (wearing gumboots)

Though the Jeep Compass is not an off-roader, it did a more than decent job at something it is not supposed to be, at least under the able handling of Ravi – he managed to maneuver it around some sludgy parts of the estate as well.

Faisal showed us everything from how saplings are first planted in small plastic pouches, given a shock treatment and moved to the actual grounds where they are re-planted (apparently this is an important step to help the plant build stronger roots and live a healthier life), and nurtured into full grown trees that bear fruit. Or should I say… coffee berries.

Jeep Compass off-roading in Coorg
off-roading in Coorg!

Even as the team maneuvered our ride around the plantation, I chatted away with Faisal about various coffee varietals, brewing methods, how climate, topography, soil and bean extractions impact the final ‘product’ and I shared my experience of visiting a coffee plantation in Colombia with him.

Faisal telling us about ‘civet coffee‘ made from the feces of the civet cat!

Now curious to check out how our ride was doing in the slushy terrain, I joined Ravi in the comfort of the luxurious Compass with our favourite music playing on the highly intuitive infotainment system.

I was personally impressed with how the car’s suspension absorbed the undulations of the trail and managed to keep us comfy.

Echoing the words of Ravi…

“The power and torque of the Compass allowed us to drive through some really challenging stretches with utmost ease; I hardly touched the throttle to get going through the slush and mud around.”

Before we knew it, it was time for lunch – which was another epicurean delight! As we devoured some authentic Coorgi food and enjoyed the petrichor-doused ambiance of the misty estate, Faisal brought us something very interesting that looked like a shell. He lay it down on the ground and I watched in awe as a millepede emerged and started crawling away. He was very fond of these creatures and told us how he had been trying to show us the delightful thing ever since we got there.

Faisal’s passion for nurturing nature and growing world class coffee against the dreamy backdrop and a delightful ride in the trusty Jeep Compass, that was the longest road journey of my life – this heady mix had me wishing that I could stay back longer and explore some more!

Thanks for having me over, Jeep & CAR India Magazine… and see you again soon, Coorg! 🙂

Check out the detailed story by Ravi in CAR India Magazine

Stay & Coffee Estate:
🍯 Honey Pot Homes ☕ Sandalkat Estate


Exotic Gringo (Kaushal Karkhanis)

Leading an experimental life as a digital nomad, I started traveling in 2007 while choosing to shuttle between Goa and Mumbai as 'home'. An epic life-changing trip to South America an year later gave birth to this blog, Exotic Gringo.