Monday, November 25, 2013

A Malnad getaway

We took a weeklong road trip to several places in Malnad. Its one of the best trips I have made so far as it got more special when it turned out to be my birthday surprise. yayaayayy!
Malnad is covered in vivid green swathes of land, soothing water bodies and hundreds of interesting homestays. Having chosen to travel this time of the year(late august-early september), is ideal for it has got the lovely weather.
On our driveway
The most loved thing about this trip was driving through these roads.


We spotted king cobras, some white ibis and a bison. We began our journey very early in the morning and first headed to Chickmagalur, the coffee district that is set at a height of 3400 ft. This district is home to thousands of coffee plantations and this place is where the much loved coffee beverage is first introduced to India. Baba Budan, a sufi mystic from Yemen came to India with eleven coffee beans and settled in a cave in Chandra Drona Parvatha (which is now called Baba Budanagiri hills) . The first coffee bean was sowed by Baba Budan ,later during the British rule the coffee plantations were developed in vast expanses.

Chickmagalur (meaning 'The Younger daughter's City') is a dowry given by a local Chieftian Rukmangada Raya of Sakerpatna. Somewhere nearby, there is also Hiremangalur  , which is the dowry given to the elder daughter.


The Hidden Valley Homestay


Lakeview from our room



View of the cottage from the boat

We stayed in a rustic looking 'The Hidden Valley Homestay' near Chickmagalur. The stay was splendid by all means. The cottage is beautifully placed in the midst of a 30 acre coffee plantation. We had our room facing the serene manmade lake.


Feeding these creatures some breakfast


Ahhh..the swing..
Be it waking up to roosters crow or watching the ducks and geese floating in the lake -the ambiance of this place sure puts one in perfect happiness.


Early Morning Trekking

Pepper Vine climbing on Silver Oak tree. The leaves look similar to Betel leaves.



Green Cardamon- Just plucked from the plant. Back home flavored payasam with these fresh ones. Subtle! 



Temple in Mullaiyanagiri peak point 
On our 3 days halt there, we visited several places nearby-Shankar Falls, Mullaiyanagiri peak point, Coffee Museum, and the Serai. Mullaiyanagiri is at the height of 6322 ft and is the Karanataka's highest peak. Driving up there was so daring and risky as the roads got narrower and bumpy as we climbed up. There is this ancient Mullapaswamy temple (for lord Shiva), which can been seen after climbing 400 steps from the top of the hill. The whole spot is covered in a thick veil of mist and drizzle. It put me to wonder how the priest with his family living there with nothing but the temple and sky above. We were told that during the summer, 'the Sunrise' view is spectacular. From there, we headed to the city of Chickmagalur and did our Coffee and Spice shopping in Panduranga Coffee works.


Butter Masala Dosa | Gulab Jamun | Filter Coffee


Don't miss the Town Canteen
Followed by that, we visited the much loved 'Town Canteen'. I tell you, I can visit Chickmagalur just for their  Gulab Jamuns(they are the best,could smell the rosa damesca!) and Butter Masala Dosa. Though the filter coffee was not up to my expectations.




Cafe Coffee Day's Serai Resort

We visited Coffee Museum that is operated by the Coffee Board of India. It was interesting to learn the 'bean to brew process' and various types of coffee in existence. Later in the evening we decided to check out the Serai resort, owned by the Cafe Coffee day. It had so many villas with built in pools and is a perfect spot for lazy honeymooners. We just had coffee at their coffee shop and had some views of the great property.


Kolavera Heritage Homestay


Insdie Kolavera Homestay


Lovely isn't it?


The next day, we left Chickmagalur and headed to Kolavara Homestay in Shimoga district located near Thirthahalli. And this place is even better. To experience the true Malnad , one must choose to stay in Kolavera Homestay.


Areca nut and betel leaves
I could never find one fault with them. Be it the rich and delicious Malnad food or the comfy ,traditional rooms - I just couldn't leave the place! Kolavera is an 100 year old ancestral property that has this huge villa set amidst a areca nut plantation. You can find a mini waterfalls and a large lake in between their plantation.


Waterfalls in Kolavera


Kolavera Home -backside view

The rooms are kept sparkling clean and the exemplary hosts made you really 'feel at home' :). If one is for homemade wines, they get to purchase one from their interesting choice of wines- Arecanut wine, Jackfruit wine, Pineapple wine and even Mango wine. Food was not only delicious and had variety but they are of great quality. When planning a trip to this region of Karantaka, do yourself a favor and choose to stay in this place!


Kolavera Rubber Plantation



Sri Sharadamba Temple, Shringeri

While our stay in Kolavera, we visited the famous 'Sri Sharadamba temple' in Shringeri. Its a 8th century temple, founded by Sri Adi Shankarachariya. The idol of Sharambamba is made of Sandalwood. It is said that Adi Shankarachariya was walking by the river Tunga and found a Cobra with its hood giving shelter to a frog. Instantly, he felt this place has the power to break hostility that goes beyond natural instincts. He decided to stay here and later established this temple.

Sirimane Waterfalls

About 10 Kms from Shringeri, is the Sirimane waterfalls. People usually visit the temple by morning 10am-11am and finish the lunch and would flock to the waterfalls by around 12ish time. So to skip that crowd, one can plan like we did, be there at waterfalls by around 11am. There are changing rooms and the place is pretty safe and well maintained. 'Must come back again'- we said to ourselves.



A View from Kundadri Hill Top


Jain Temple in Kundadri Hills

 From there we headed to Kundadri hills, climbing up the hill took us about 20 minutes. The roads are so narrow and steep. The entire drive was on first gear- so you can imagine! But once we reach the spot, we were taken by awe. There is a 3000 years old Buddha temple with a 80 feet deep pond adjacent to it. Something was there about the place which give one a mystical feeling. The elevation, the pond and the ancient temple structure -altogether it was a surreal experience.


Jog Falls
The next day, we vacated our room and left to Jog falls. Created by Sharavathi River , they fall from a height of 830ft . Based on their flow, the four distinct falls are named Raja, Roarer, Rocket and Rani. The place is so crowded and we hired a guide (who was helpful in taking the crew for the 'Kumki' movie shooting). He was bit over-enthusiastic about us speaking Tamil and had to talk more about the Kumki movie making than the Waterfalls itself :P Anyways, we didn't love this place as much as we did the others. Of course the , view of the mammoth falls was a wow factor but the place itself was very touristy. The drive up and down the hill was spectacular. The pineapple sold in this region tastes super sweet and we end up buying some for home.

Jog Falls happened to be our final destination in this weeklong trip. We enjoyed to our heart's content and drove back home as fast as we could. Though the places were amazing, we were tired and started missing home. It was pouring and the darkness set in. The roads were bad and after 8 hours of driving we're finally back home just past midnight.

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