Bangalore has great getaways. Most people head to Mysore and onwards to Coorg, Bandipur, Waynad, Nagerhole, Kabini & Ooty. There are numerous nature spots all along the Cauvery. And Chickamagalur is another lovely destination 250 Km ( 4hrs from Bangalore).
I always thought it was called Chickmangalore (Small version of Managlore) – but realised after reaching there otherwise. Chickmagalur means – Chicka ( small ) Magal (Daughter) Ur ( Town) – It is said to have been given as a dowry to the younger daughter of Rukmangada, the legendary chief of Sakrepatna. I have heard of Chickamagalur for 3 reasons – this is where Indira Gandhi fought and won elections after Emergency , The Chick Chicky Chicks of Chickamagalur was a common JAM topic in College and Cafe Coffee Day owner and beans for CCD Coffee comes from the vast coffee plantations of Chickamagalur. Nestled in the midst of nature and not too crowded the place has been inviting for many years. This X Mas we took off to Chickamagalur for a 3 night 4 day trip.
Its a nice drive. NH48 Bangalore – Mangalore is an excellent road and you can Zip at 120 Kmph. We left at 7.30 AM and by 9.30 were at our first stop Shravanabelagola. ( Blr to Shravanabelagola 158 Km) This is supposedly the worlds largest monolithic statue 57 Feet tall perched on the top of a hill. A holy site for Jains – the statue of Gomatheshwara Bahubali is revered by Jains from across the world. You need to walk up ~ 650 rock cut steps ( and you need to walk barefoot) – so avoid this in summer as the place can get really very hot. Its an easy climb and going up , visiting the shrine and coming down can be easily done in 1 hr. Was it impressive ? Maybe for some – we found it OK.
From Shravanabelagola we drove down to Hassan for lunch ( 51 Km ~ 60 Min). The best place for lunch is Hotel Ashok Hassan. Good spread – Indian, Italian at reasonable prices. Place was empty, neat and clean.
From Hassan we headed to Flameback Lodges at Mudigere. You can reach this place without touching the town of Chickamagalur. Going Via Belur. Its about 45 Km and takes an hr. IMP – Avoid Google Maps – it takes you to no mans land. It does locate Flameback Lodges but fails miserably in guiding you. We reached by 2.30 in the afternoon ( after a 30 min last mile problem).
Flameback is located inside Kathikeya Coffee Estate spread across 200+ acres. The lodge is over 10 acres. It is set in the midst of nature , includes a serene lake , overlooks the hills and is adjacent to paddy fields that stretch to the jungles. Its an oasis of peace and tranquility. There is an eye for detail in everything and why not – its owned by royalty. The owners are descendants of the King of Sandur (Bellary Mines) who in turn are descendants of Shivaji.
They have 8 rooms – 3 Cottages , 3 Villas and 2 Suites. We stayed in a Villa that was facing the lake. It was well done up had a hall with a fireplace, a large bedroom , a pantry , a powder room , and a very large bath. It was like a 1 BHK house with a huge patio that faces the lake. Rooms come with TV & Satellite connection . The Villas are perfect for a family of 2 Adults + 2 Kids. The suites are also big – but located in the main building they have no nature view. The cottages are perfect for couples. The place has 24 by 7 generator, RO Purified Water, a small but lovely pool and a 24 by 7 restaurant that serves Veg * Non Veg food.
Its best to come to the place in a group and maybe book all the 8 rooms. Food is customised and liquor , tea , coffee everything is on the house. One rate that is all inclusive. Breakfast , lunch , dinner , canoeing in the lake , trekking. The buffet spreads are decent and the food is tasteful. Service is excellent. They have a small Spa and the quality of treatment is A++ , good fusion of Ayurvedic and Swedish Massage – and its very affordable at just Rs 1000/-. We paid 17 K / night – and had booked nearly 4 months in advance. They have no meeting / conference halls – so planning a company offsite here is a challenge.
What else can you do
Flameback has limited entertainment. There is a lovely lake and you can go kayaking. They also take you for long treks – in and outside the plantation. Treks can vary from 1 hr to a few hrs. There are some ancient temples , waterfalls close by which are worth a visit. But by and large its nature and solitude.
Few other places you can head to
1. Belur , Halebid – the lovely rock cut temples built by the Hoysala Dynasty around 1117 AD. Belur is home to a Vishnu Temple and is still operational. The road from Mudigere to Belur is in good shape and you can cover the 38 Km distance in 45 Min. However the road from Belur to Halebidu ( 16 Km) is in very bad shape and will take another 45 min. The architecture of both temples are very similiar – so if you have seen one you have seen both. They have remarkably intricate rock cut sculptures. Unfortunately they are not UNESCO heritage sites and I could see the steep deterioration in maintenance now and from my previous visit about 17 years back.
Sringeri – Land of Shankaracharya and orthodox Hinduism is 120 Km – 3 hrs away. Drive is scenic thru steep ghats. Roads are not in great condition. Further down from Sringeri ( 30km) is Agumbe – The forests here have the highest concentration of King Cobras in the world. It takes a lot of courage to trek in these jungles and many do.
Bhadra (Muthodi) Tiger reserve is 55 Km away – about 2 hrs drive. We did not go there – but were told that the access is only to the fringes of the sanctuary so the chances of seeing Tigers are remote
If you are in Bangalore and have done Mysore , Bandipur , Ooty & Kodai – then Chickamagalur is a good 3 night – 4 day break. A good mix of nature , old temple architecture and quiet laid back relaxation with some simmering hot coffee and tasty food.
Contact : Bharath +91 9242714197