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Far from the madding crowd

A road trip to Chikmagalur on the Diwali weekend. October 21-23.

A journey through Karnataka’s beautiful countryside and a couple of days in the peace and quiet of a coffee plantation is all I needed to relax and rejuvenate. While I love the festival of lights, the noise makes me crazy. I must have been a dog in my earlier birth, I think!

Another road trip we decided would be perfect way to spend the weekend. We packed our equipment and luggage (I threatened everyone to carry just one piece, since my Zen can only accommodate that much) and we set off on Saturday morning.

The weather was perfect, the skies were azure blue dotted with beautiful fluffy white clouds. The highway was smooth and it didn’t take us long to reach Belur.

Fields of yellow and green

After that the roads deteriorated, but the scenery made up for the potholes and bumps. Once we started ascending the Chikmagalur hills, we got the true taste of off-roading as the Zen bounced up and down the hilly terrain. But all in all, she behaved rather beautifully.

Two hours from Chikmagalur, as we were ascending yet another hill abound with dense coffee plantations and I was giving up hope of reaching anywhere that my fellow passenger pronounced, “we’re nearly there”!

After about 20 minutes of ascending, we descended about 1.5 kms from the narrow road, through another thick plantation and suddenly in front of us is this lovely 30 year old bungalow! Nestled deep within the plantation, perched on a slope, she sat comfortably looking onto the mist covered hills of the Western Ghats. Even in my dreams I couldn’t have asked for a better location.

The trip meter read 344 kms.

In the morning, I woke up to the most gorgeous view ever. A river of clouds snaked through the distant hills with the rays of the sun just beginning to touch the mountain tops. It was an almost surreal feeling to wake up to such a sight outside my window!

Waking up to the Western Ghats

We spent much of our time at the homestay lazing around, looking out into the hills, sipping endless coffees on the patio and eating like it was going out of style. With a Mangalorean cook in the house, we had every kind of chicken possible for all our meals and it was all so delicious that I had visions of not being able to leave the place as I couldn’t get out of the door.

I convinced one of my fellow travelers into a game of Frisbee so I could burn a few calories though I don’t think much was expended. Scrabble, sketching, listening to old songs and day dreaming and a campfire in the evening were the other pastimes as the holiday quickly passed and it was time to leave this little corner of paradise.

It's a dog's life!

On the way back, we made a small deviation via a place called Magundi, to another plantation called Avanti Estates where we met Philomena Perez, who happens to be a politician besides owning a few plantations in the area. She told us about the woes of the tribals, her stint in the Women’s Commission, before she sped off for another meeting. She said she hated going to Bangalore these days. “We are blessed,” she said to referring to the peace and quiet existence and we fully agreed. She showed us around her lovely house (including a bathroom that was the size of my bedroom, actually bigger!) and we could only gape in admiration.

From there, we made a stop at the town of Belur, where after lunch, the ancient monuments invited us with their beauty and grace. The hot afternoon sun burnt into our bare feet as we trod around the temple premises, but we were a determined bunch. We roamed around and then sat for a while admiring the stone carvings and surging crowds who had braved the afternoon heat to listen to the guides explain the history behind the temple.

Alas! It was time to move on. 4.30 pm. We were back on the highway. Good roads again and after a coffee break at Chananrayapatna (where we also took some time to admire the beautiful sunset) we were back in the hustle and bustle of Bangalore city around 9.30 pm. Hungry and tired, we stopped at Casa Picola for dinner.

The trip meter read 700 km.

A great weekend. And a great sight to end another trip!

Oh, what a feeling!

Facts about Chikmaglur

Chikmagalur, the district head quarters of Chikmagalur district is 251 km from the state capital of Bangalore and surrounded by the Baba Budangiri hills and dense forests. The rivers Bhadra, Tunga, Hemavathi, Nethravathi, and Vedavathi flow all year round. The district is rich in iron, magnetite and granite deposits. The name Chikmagalur is synonymous with verdant forests, beautiful water falls, cool coffee estates and charming temples tucked away in the mountains. : From Wikipedia

The Chikmagalur Album

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