Before we start, it is a great news to know that Western Ghats have been selected as one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Just read the news today. This will possibly help in conserving this great bio diversity hot spot in India.
We wanted to experience rain. What else can be a better place than the Western ghats in South India to experience it? We had been to Sakleshpur in August 2011 and it was a fabulous Journey.
But this trip was totally unplanned. The spark for this trip was lit during our visit to Sinnadorai's Bungalow in Valparai in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India in March this year recounted in the post Valparai - An Unexplored wonder in this blog. We happened to see an excellent book on the "History of plantations in South India" which also listed old bungalows built by British. One of them happened to be at Kadamane Estate in Sakleshpur in the state of Karnataka in South India.
When we came back from Valparai, we called up Mr Cariappa, the Manager of Kadamane estate. He said that the place was under renovation and would take couple of months before it is thrown open for guests. We let it pass. In May, we call up Cariappa to check the status of the place. Back comes his confirmation that the rooms are ready and we could come over.
So the plan is made. To leave Bangalore on Saturday 26 May, stay for a night and come back the next day. The drive from Bangalore is uneventful with the road being in fantastic condition throughout. We loved the stretch from Hassan to Sakleshpur which is virtually under the canopy of trees.
Sakleshpur is a small town in the state of Karnataka. The town and surroundings are known as plantation country with Coffee and Tea being major crops apart from paddy fields and betel nut plantations. Sakleshpur is also known for thick forests, flowing streams, waterfalls and beautiful meadows stretching for miles. Sinnadorai's Bungalow at Kadamane is at a distance of 22 KMs from Sakaleshpur town and the road is pretty good. The last ten KMs is a beautiful cemented road.
We reach the gate of the estate around 12.30 PM having left Bangalore around 8.30 AM. The security guard opens the gate after checking our credentials. Kadamane estate is one of the largest estates in Sakleshpur with a holding of more than 10,000 hectares of land coverage. It is a big township with hospital, school and post office dedicated to the estate. Established in probably in 1920s by British, the estate is now part of EID Parry group, one of the largest industrial groups of South India.
|Lovely cement road|
We are now in green country. The drive from the gate to our cottage is soothing through winding roads of the estate. It is miles and miles of greenery. Thick evergreen forests and valleys of Western ghats mark the boundary of the estate.
|Oldest tea bush in the estate - planted in 1929!! Look at the width of the bush!!|
|The Green road!!|
|Notice Shola forests acting as boundary at the edge of the estate|
We reach the "Sinnadorai Bungalow" and are received by Prabhu.The Bungalow is under renovation. It is a beautiful Victorian villa. We have to give it to British to select the place for their living which is generally the highest spot in the garden with excellent views. The bungalow is large and typically English with wide driveways, huge lawn and large verandas. It looks similar to the bungalow in Valparai but larger in size. The main bungalow will be ready by September says Prabhu as he leads us to our "Cottage". These two cottages are newly built. We check into the cottage which has two rooms. This can accommodate two families. There is another cottage few steps from us which has only one room. The location of cottages is lovely overlooking the green expanse of the garden. The rooms are spacious and nicely done.
|The twin room cottage. Notice the setting. Lovely.|
|The cottage with single room. Lovely.|
Freshened up, we sit out for sometime to savour the fresh air and soak in the greenery of the place.It is dead quiet out here. Clouds gather in the sky and we are hopeful to experience the rain. The location of the cottage overlooking the valley of Kadamane is a perfect place to enjoy the rain.
|The Porch - Notice the valley view in front|
Prabhu calls us for lunch. We are served lunch in a makeshift dining hall inside the bungalow. The food - South Indian vegetarian - is good and tasty. Since it is early in the afternoon, we start planning our post lunch activity. The plan is to go to the famous temple of Kukke Subramanya and drive back via Bisle ghat, time permitting. Prabhu provides guidance on the route to Kukke and we hit the road after lunch.
Kukke Subramanaya is a famous shrine dedicated to Lord Subramanya or Snake god. Nestled in the serene environs on the banks of Kumaradhara river in western ghats at the foot hills of Kumara Parvata - Hill of Kumaraswamy, another name for the lord - this is a venerated place where hundreds of pilgrims gather to perform plethora of rituals to invoke blessings of Snake god. We do not want to do any ritual but have a quick "Darshan" and come out. We join the long queue and still make it within 45 minutes and head back to the car.
It is 4.15 PM as we come out of the town and see the signage to Bisle ghat. Going through Bisle means a detour of 50 KMs but a chance to drive through thick jungle and experience the amazing valley of Bisle. I know that the road is bad but this is the only chance for us to do the drive as it is impossible during rainy season due to landslides and tree falls blocking the road. Another worry was whether we would be able to make it to the view point before darkness set in. The whole effort would go waste otherwise. Before starting Poorna ask the local villager on the road condition in Kannada - the local language. The guys says that first eight KMs is bad but our car being a SUV, should not bother much.
We are now on the ghat road. The signage says that distance to Bisle village as 16 KMs. We start driving and realise that there is virtually no road. It is more of a gravel path with potholes and craters. Having driven on worst of the roads in Madhya Pradesh in Central India, we are still comfortable. We are betting on the villager's guidance and hope that the bad patch last only 8 KMs. But the bad road continues beyond that. We are also worried as there is virtually no traffic on the road and we are driving through thick forest. Though there is not much of wildlife, we are more worried if something happens to the vehicle and get stuck.
Suddenly, we see a car behind us. It is Maruthi Omni driven by local driver. We are happy to let him overtake us and we start following him. Being a local guy, he will manoeuvre well and act like a pilot. The road is pathetic and we take one hour to cover 15 KMs. It is a backbreaking exercise and Brinda is not very happy either. We reach the viewpoint and notice a TATA Sumo - a SUV - already parked. We could hear people speaking loudly. It seems like an all male gang having a party. We don't climb up but savour the views from the roadside. The valley view of Bisle ranges is breathtaking. I have never seen such a valley and huge expanse of virgin forests. It is mind-blowing.
Pictures of Bisle Ghat - Notice the huge expanse of virgin forests of western ghats. Awesome!
The road from the Bisle viewpoint is in good condition and it is downhill now as we head back to Kadamane. It is cloudy but no rain. The lush green meadows we had seen in August last year is brown and waiting for showers to change colours.
We reach Kadamane around 8 PM. The detour via Bisle makes us take longer time.
It is time for some bubbly after a hard drive. We sit in the porch and the silence is broken only by cicadas. We want rain gods to answer our prayers. But we are not fortunate as Prabhu calls us for dinner. After a nice dinner we return to sit in the porch of the cottage for sometime to immerse in the silence of the place. Still no signs of rain.
|Waiting for the rain!|
We return and Prabhu is ready with freshly brewed tea. We sit in the porch and sip the freshly brewed tea and watch the lovely surroundings. Cariappa who has finished his morning rounds join us and we start chatting. A young and energetic guy, Cariappa says that we should not miss visiting "5 Acres" a beautiful view point which is at a distance of 2 KMs from the bungalow. He confirms that we can take our Scorpio. We are game and plan to see this place after breakfast. He also talks about a trekking trail to a nearby falls which would take around three hours. We tell him that has to wait for next trip as we had to return to Bangalore by afternoon.
After an excellent breakfast, Prabhu joins us to guide us to "5 acres". It is a short drive and Scorpio does a good job as we reach the summit. It is a "WOW" experience as we get down from the car. This is an experience only a trekker can get when he reaches the summit. We are now on top of the hill!! A river flows in the middle which is now dried into a small stream. This must be a spectacular place when it is raining.
Take a look at the pictures and you will agree why we said so.
A video of the valley shot by us can be seen here.
Radhika - Cariappa's wife - who is the Managing "Sinnadorai's Bungalow" meet us and we settle the bill, say goodbye to "Kadamane". An awesome place,we are sure to return to explore further when it is pouring. We missed the rain in Kadamane - a reason for us to get back in Monsoons. But we had an experience of our life as we went up to "5 Acres".
Once the renovation of the Bungalow is completed, the place will have nine rooms inside the bungalow and two cottages outside of it. Once done, we have no doubt that it will be a charming addition to list of places one should visit from Bangalore.
Returning back is quick as usual. We stop over on the highway near Solur to pick up fresh mangoes and jack fruit. We are back at home by 5 PM after a weekend spent amidst greenery.
Kadamane in Sakleshpur is a perfect weekend getaway from Bangalore.
Post Script - Though there are many home stays in Sakleshpur, we can say that this place is unique. The estate will be closed for visitors due to renovation and monsoons and will open in end August/first week of September. You may contact their website below for bookings. The renovation is done and the beautiful Buangalow welcomes you now. You can see this post on this blog for details
Here is their website - Sinnadorai's Bungalow @ Kadamane Estate
a) By Road - Sakleshpur is at a distance of 220 KMs from Bangalore and is a four hours of pleasant drive. There are many buses from Bangalore to Sakleshpur.
b) By Train - The Bangalore - Mangalore express train stops at Sakleshpur.
c) Nearest airport is Mangalore. Bangalore is also a convenient choice.
There are many resorts in Sakleshpur. There are also many homestays in Sakleshpur apart from Sinnadorai's Bungalow at Kadamane estate.
Some good options to stay in Sakleshpur are as follows
- Go for small hikes in forests. You may get a chance to see some animals in western ghats.
- Do a day trip to cover spectacular 57 feet monolithic statue of Bahubali atop a hill in Shravanabelagola, UNESCO Heritage temples at Belur and Halebid. ( See the post Halebid - Zenith of Hoysala Architecture! on sculptural marvels of Halebid in this blog)
- Drive up Bisle ghat for spectacular views of Western ghats
- Picnic on lush meadows
- Visit historic Manjarabad fort
- Visit famous temple of Kukke Subramanya
- Mountain biking
- Off roading
- Do bird watching and see birds of western ghats
- Treks to waterfalls
- Just pick up a book and savor the clean, cool atmosphere!
- Do nothing!!
One can comfortably combine Sakleshpur with Coorg as the road from Sakleshpur to Coorg has lovely landscapes and road condition is good.
Western Ghats - Mountain ranges in Peninsular India stretching for miles. A bio deiversity hotspot.
Maruti Omni - A small car famous as peoplemover in India
Darshan - one to one meeting with god!
Sinnadorai - Junior Manager. The Estate manager during British era in Kadamane estate was called as "Dorai" in South Indian language of Tamil which translates as " King or Boss". The Assistant manager or Junior Manager was called as "Sinnadorai". Sinna meaning Junior or Assistant.
Sakleshpur is breathtakingly beautiful after monsoon. You may look at this post
Sakleshpur - Monsoon drive in western ghats!
Shravanabelagola - Serenity of Shravanabelagola
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Labels: Bisle Ghat, Kukke Subramanya, Sakleshpur, Western Ghats