The Konkan Experience: From Coorg To Bekal

On Day 2 of our trip to the Konkan coast, we descended from the foggy hills of Coorg into the port city of Bekal. Check out the experiences of the coastline travel
In the lap of nature at Taj Bekal
In the lap of nature at Taj BekalTribhuvan Tiwari

Following the immensely rewarding Day 1 of the Konkan coast trip, organised by Cougar Motorsports, the convoy of our white and olive Defender 110s eagerly set out for the highly anticipated Day 2 journey from Coorg to Bekal. The day commenced with an eventful detour, adding an unexpected twist to the adventure. As you delve into the highlights of the day, immerse yourself in the diverse flavours of coffee and the vibrant Konkan lifestyle and locales, gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for the region.

Day 2: Coorg to Bekal

Vegetation beside Devaya's Riverside Cafe
Vegetation beside Devaya's Riverside CafeWaquar Habib

After a quick breakfast at the Cottabetta bungalow, we immediately hit the road for Bekal, the port town. However, a brief yet fulfilling detour lay in store in Coorg at a private coffee plantation. We arrived at the Riverside Coffee Estate and the Riverside Cafe just a few minutes after heading out. The owner of the plantation and café, Rishwin Devaya, came across as hospitable as he was informed about the on-goings of the plantation and the nitty-gritty of coffee planting. “I wanted to open a coffee café in Bangalore, but then anyone can do that,” he said. Devaya hails from a family of coffee estate owners in Coorg and has spent his life in Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Coorg.

Coffee-picking in progress at the Riverside Coffee Plantation
Coffee-picking in progress at the Riverside Coffee PlantationTribhuvan Tiwari

“I decided to come back to my hometown and lend a hand to the plantation here while also upscaling it,” he said. For the past few years, Devaya familiarised himself with the production techniques, bringing in innovations while inheriting the techniques travelled down to him through his forefathers and blending the two for a rich coffee experience.

Devaya's 120-year-old family house
Devaya's 120-year-old family houseTribhuvan Tiwari

Devaya personally gave us a detailed tour of his estate, filling us in on the many tidbits of coffee and its production. At his estate stood an old colonial house that, when asked, he related to be about 120 years old. Densely populated by coffee plants, and January being a harvest season for coffee fruits, the land looked dotted in red and green. Other flowers like wild orchids, bougainvillaea, and many more whose recognition went beyond my limited knowledge also grew in abundance, which he intends to get catalogued at some point.

Devaya gives a coffee-trail of his plantation
Devaya gives a coffee-trail of his plantationTribhuvan Tiwari

The young cafe owner explained to us about the many different species of coffee that he related to, ranging up to 120 types. Within Arabica and Robusta coffee that grows in Coorg, there are 12,000 varieties, as told to us. A few species are specific to India, while countries like Africa and South America grow different species of the same coffee. All the species have a varied range of taste in their fruits, Devaya explained. However, the main thing is that “everyone finds their own taste and pace with coffee.”

Devaya behind his coffee counter for the coffee sampling session
Devaya behind his coffee counter for the coffee sampling sessionTribhuvan Tiwari

Back at the Riverside Cafe, Devaya treated us to many Arabica and Robusta flavours before we sat down for lunch. The travellers bound for Bekal shared their experiences with each coffee they sampled. After a glorious lunch that included prawn curry, ghee rice, biryani, and many more delicacies on the menu, we finally set off for Bekal.

A mosque on the Kerala highway
A mosque on the Kerala highwayTribhuvan Tiwari

On the outskirts of Bekal and in Kerala, we noticed some Marxist wall art on quite a few bricked structures. A hammer upon a sickle was seen in red scattered about town before we reached our resort. Among other things, the area also seemed heavily dotted with mosques and bus stands. On another note, it appeared as if the art of house building is serious in the township – we witnessed many great houses that seemed to have lakes running in their backyards.

High tea at Taj Bekal
High tea at Taj BekalTribhuvan Tiwari

Passing a residential colony, we arrived at Taj Bekal, where we were supposed to spend a night. The Defender cars, adept for kutcha roads as much as highways, took narrow bricked alleys into the property and parked just beside the beach in a park. The property, while on one hand, had the iconic Kerala backwater running on one of its sides, overlooked the Arabian Sea on the other, and lay beside a clean beach. We indulged in high tea at the park, during which I had a cup of delicious filter coffee and a sandwich.

At the beach in Bekal
At the beach in BekalTribhuvan Tiwari

We checked into our rooms and came rushing back to capture the sun picturesquely setting into the sea. Many tourists and town folks sat and walked along the shore while kids played around. The clear waters came and hit my foot, rejuvenating me for the moonlight rafting ahead.

Backwater rafting under the moonlight
Backwater rafting under the moonlightTribhuvan Tiwari

Back in the room, I freshened up and prepared myself for the moonlight rafting session. I joined the others by the pool and made myself comfortable in the raft. The raftman took us along a long route in the silent backwaters under the silver moonlight, during which we played sombre songs on the speaker provided by the property and wet our hands in the water.

Towards the end of the day, we had a delicious four-course meal, after which we could barely walk down to our rooms. However, walk down to the rooms we did and thought about the adventures that lay waiting ahead in Gokarna and Goa.

Outlook Traveller