Invading the invader
Firstly, we strongly register our protest at this heading. It is not Coorg that is the Scotland of India but Scotland that is the Coorg of the United Kingdom. For colonial Britain, the most favoured summer residences were those that allowed them to beat the summer heat and more importantly, reminded them of home. It is this longing for home that led to the installation of Shimla and Dalhousie as preeminent hill-stations in pre-independence India. The favourable climate and familiar landscape allowed our erstwhile colonial conquerors to feel “at home”, as it were.
Hence, we can say that monikers like ‘the Scotland of India’ or ‘the Switzerland of India’ constitute an effort by the colonial government to “europeanize the Indian subcontinent” and recover a sense of the homeland they left behind. I propose a counter-invasion. Hordes of Indian tourists walking around in Scotland saying, “ye to apne Coorg ke tarah hai”.
A (Very)Brief (Non)History
Curiously, Scotland was not always endless pastures and rolling dales. During the middle ages, extensive deforestation and expansion of pasture land completely destroyed the existing ecosystem. Temperate rain forests and woodlands made way for the verdant valleys and rolling hills that we associate with Scotland today.
In Coorg, the situation isn’t much different. Cash crops like coffee, imported by Baba Budangiri, completely supplanted the existing flora. Despite this, both Coorg and Scotland retain a significant proportion of their forest cover and wildlife.
Comparisons are for Idiots
Coorg has its share of towering mountains- Tadiandamol being one of the most popular. The 3rd highest peak in Karnataka, the summit is at an altitude of 1,748 metres. Compared to the scale of the Himalayas, the Western Ghats appear piddling, yet at this altitude, we can observe unique biomes and landscapes that can only be characterized as alien. Shola forests, grassy knolls and the occasional boulder present an antediluvian vista, recalling the ancient power of these mountains. Though a large proportion of Coorg is covered by coffee estates, the ecosystem has adapted and wild flora and fauna continue to flourish everywhere.
Certain other similarities exist between Coorg and Scotland- people from both regions share a love for alcohol. Coorgis, with their stately bearing and martial background took to scotch and whiskey as fish would to water. Further, the preeminence of pork in their cuisine (an animal neglected in Indian husbandry due to its ostensible filthiness) is another point of commonality. While the cuisine draws heavily from both Malnad as well as Kerala, Pandi Curry remains the champion dish. Kachampuli, a Vinegar made by boiling the Garcinia fruit, imparts the dish with its distinctive flavour (tangy and yummmm) and appearance (black).
We won’t go into the where’s and how’s and when and how far’s. All this is freely available on the Internet. While it is true that Scotland has the eponymous scotch and also the rolling dales and the lochs and the highlands and the moorlands, Coorg has towering mountains, crystal clear lakes, hundreds of streams and waterfalls and inimitable Coorgi hospitality.