Kodagu Land and Its Journey Towards Tourism

View of Coorg Hill Ranges

One thing about Kodagu which really inspires me is the story of how the river Kaveri came into existence to bless Kodagu and to serve two states in South India without expecting anything in return. Without letting such a river to flow freely and serve more people, humans have been fighting over their share of its water and sand. All of us know that there is no species on Earth which has misused nature and rivers like humans have. Hope over the years to come, wiser sense prevails and we find better ways to exist and reduce the exploitation of humans by other humans as much as possible to create a better society. That may require us to retain the natural richness and the greenery of old Kodagu for agriculture and build businesses that does not disturb nature but rather coexist.

Kodagu land has come a long way. It began with thick forests, heavy rains, pleasant winter, and world-famous spices such as pepper and cardamom; it was a great place to live with a more relaxed and fun-filled lifestyle to offer. That changed over time as coffee plantations, paddy fields, less rain, hot summer and sparse jungles took over. Average temperatures in Kodagu increased as coffee plantations needed heavy pruning. Cardamom and pepper need different conditions to survive and thrive and they both were eventually ignored.

As the economy improved, cost of paddy work and coffee plantation work proportionately increased. Kodagu could hardly compete in the global market for better prices for its coffee or paddy. Agriculture looks like an unattractive option in Kodagu. Paddy fields are left fallow without cultivation. We do not see many Coorg oranges even in Kodagu and Kodagu’s areca nut also does not fetch good price these days.

As is the case all over the world, tourism looks more attractive as a better business option to increase personal income and GDP. It creates new jobs to more people and makes everyone work every day and earn more. There is no time to even think if that is the right way. Everyone is becoming very busy serving people and earning money.

What impresses people who come to Kodagu is its hospitality and natural richness. Will Kodagu become a world-class tourist place? Tourism requires improved infrastructure and all related establishments across industries needed to support it. It will happen when Kodagu can attract more tourists on a regular basis. Excellence is needed every day to keep tourists happy and have them return.

World-class facilities are needed to promote more tourism. This extends to? hotels, eateries, recreational activities and so on. It is a great opportunity to invest in for people with money. Will Kodagu be able to retain its forests, paddy fields and coffee estates to provide a unique cultural experience or drift away into becoming a standard tourist destination where everyone is busy and unhappy with water scarcity, deteriorating climate and other associated problems?

Everyone is becoming more active and restless as the cost of living is goes up. Kodagu is no exception. Forget those good old days where, even if one did not work for a month, nothing would go wrong. The situation is very different now. All are required to be more active. It is not clear if GDP growth demands such work practices or we simply love to be active.
Today’s world is all about competition, performance, and excellence all the time. Without knowing why, we all love the fruits of greatness and excellence. Even if we don’t contribute anything, our hearts are filled when we achieve excellence. We also blame others for not performing as expected. Maybe nature is trying to convey some message to us through people who relentlessly pursue excellence of one kind or the other. Doing well, as best as we can, does help in life instead of not trying to do well.

Tourism and its requirements can keep Kodagu very busy and may help in increasing GDP at a faster rate. But the consequence of tourism without preservation of natural resources and its rich diversity will lead to its own set of problems for Kodagu’s inhabitants. If Kodagu becomes just another tourist spot, it may not be able to attract more tourists. To be good in this business it needs unique differentiators. We may need a balanced approach between tourism and GDP growth by combining our hard work with wisdom to preserve the natural richness of Kodagu land as much as possible.

Unreasonable demands of business have ignored the importance of nature as well as humans in favor of profits and the need for quarterly growth in revenue. If the business objective is to help humans live a better life without destroying nature, what is required are ideas which help humans live well by not exploiting other humans and natural resources without any limit.
What we can earn from tourism may have to be reinvested into retaining our coffee estates and paddy fields or other plantations in good condition. That may help to make Kodagu water rich, healthy and beautiful. Green coffee estates and green paddy fields are a great sight. We definitely need better ideas in this direction than the one suggested below.

A good balance might be to use part of the land for cardamom and pepper plantation to preserve rich forests while retaining another part of the land as wet land to conserve water instead of letting all the water evaporate quickly, and rest of the land for coffee plantation. Living in such a place in a homestay will be great fun and healthy. Will this only be a dream ?

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