We knew about it months ago and decided to make the best of it. My cousin was to get engaged at Hassan and it was a perfect alibi to visit the nearby Sakleshpur, which we have been planning to for quite a while, but just couldn’t with family and all at Hassan and nearby places.
We decided to leave a couple of days earlier as the event was on a Sunday, get in to one of the many home stays in there and explore the area.
As usual, the better half does the rest – books the stay and some of the other members of the family get to know about the plan and decide to join in.
After a delayed start on a foggy friday (it rained the previous night unexpectedly) changing the travel plans from a ride to a drive:( we made it to Nyritvilla about 5 KM before Sakleshpur, after a breakfast stop at new Anand Sagar near Kunigal.
NH 48, atleast this section of it, is a driver’s (Rider’s too) delight. One can easily make pretty good time up to Hassan (186 KM stretch) after which the jostling for space on the road gets real (ugly) – especially with the petro tankers… One wonders why there can’t be a pipeline between the port and the biggest consumer of auto fuels this part of the country. I guess that’s an easy guess why and I will leave it at that on this forum:)
Once off the high way, the road gets worse for a different reason, this time it’s the pothole riddled sections that make you wish for an SUV, although the same would have been slower on the smoother sections:). None the less, the entry in to the home stay is pretty dramatic to make it all worth it.
Nestled amidst 90 acres of coffee plantation, Nyritvilla is an idyllic emeraldescape destination from Bangalore. The hosts are amazing. We got to sip some hot coffee as we get in, waiting for the other two cars to join us. With kids in tow, they made it much later. While waiting for them, we quickly stroll across the near by sections of the plantation, which resembles a city grid, only all green. Muddy driveways and walk ways crisscross across the blocks of Arabica and Robusta, interspersed with Ginger et al on this estate.
The fresh, crisp air felt intoxicating. As one walks through the sea of green, one can hear a myriad of birds, the cries of which are pretty familiar to Satish, the person in charge at Nyritvilla. He identifies many a species, minivet, sun birds, babblers, parakeets, woodpeckers and the list goes on and on, just by their calls, something I have been trying to master in vain over the years:(.
We return to join the rest of the group who had arrived and set to engage in some bicycling and such other activities of the garden variety. The kids really enjoy the wide open spaces (there’s a huge lawn in front of the house, safely fenced from the estate, cautiously engaging with the dogs in the front yard, run about, scream and finally settle down for the sumptuous lunch. The lunch and pretty much all meals (breakfast and dinner too) are served piping hot in a semi open dining hall, right outside the house, amidst the many flowering bushes and the huge chiku trees, with chirping birds for company. The meals are all local flavors with a wide variety of dishes served up from the kitchen, fresh and tasty. We got to taste a lot of new dishes – ottu shavige and kai halu, paddu and chatni, gangal dose, rice kadubu, neer dose and so on.
After the heavy meal – some of us the drivers, settle on the snug beds for a rare weekday siesta, while the kids and the more energetic ones settle in the living room for some TV shows and board games et al.
After the evening tea, we decide the explore the near by pond and just fooling around the estate – marveling at the foot prints of peacock, tossing flat stones, bouncing them off the water surface on the pond and the dark clouds cut this all short. Back at the home stay, which by now, felt like our own (it’s a different matter that I cant afford one like this in this life time:)), we settle down for a game of cards, which almost all of us could play. After a couple of rounds of rummy, folks wanted a change and we switch to bluff. While we are busy with the same, Satish sets up a small TV in the living room as a make shift digital photo frame and ran a slide show of all the birds sighted and photographed by him at Nyritvilla. Its indeed an impressive list. One can but marvel at the level of ornithological prowess Mr Satish is at. The evening ends and its time for the lip-smacking dinner after which we retired for the day.
It was a long day the next day, we started at about 6.00 AM, looking for the birds, some of us perched on the tree facing sit outs and others (like me) walking through the estate. While the birds are aplenty, a combination of cloudy morning, very tall trees, as one can expect in a coffee plantation, and lack of light made it almost impossible to get good pictures. What we all managed, included across this article:)
Next we leave for the nearby fort, Manjarabad fort – which is a breathtaking piece of architecture (a star shaped fort, most of which is now asunder) with even more breathtaking views all around. The location is such that one can see the western ghats all around, although it takes a climb of 250 + steps. You should see the energy levels and a sense of amazement on the faces of kids, who seemed to have seen some thing like this for the first time in their lives – they run about, pose of pictures in the verandas, crevices and all over.
We returned home for a quick, yet elaborate lunch and almost immediately leave to see ‘Dodda Mane’ – some thing the eldest in the group had read about and wanted to see it. Apparently during it’s hay days, more than 250 people lived in this house and the family owned the entire village. The 300 year + house is now almost in shambles, but in its hay days, resembled the old Mysore Palace (the wooden one) and the family (living in this house) is reduced to 3 members. It would be wonderful if some one/ govt take up the act of renovating this to the olden glory, although one wonder’s if its even feasible in terms of material, skill and resources needed. I do hope it gets a facelift soon, so this piece of history (living history) does not meet the same fate as the fort we visited in the morning.
We also make it a point to visit the local temple through a very narrow fenced road, that challenges any driver’s skills to drive through without a scratch (from the barbed wires), of a local deity, which too is over 300 years old, but very colorfully painted, every year we are told. The pictures speak for themselves:) however.
It was at two more temples (Hallada Rameshwara and Guddada Basavanna) that we could witness some of the best sun sets so far this season. The one from Hallada Rameshwara is indeed breath taking, as its overlooking very large expanse of paddy fields, in a valley. The temple itself has been renovated recently, although the original temples are centuries old. Both are still worshipped although at the time of our visit, only Guddada Basavanna temple was open is and his blessings made the sun set even more memorable.
We returned to the home stay for a fun filled barbeque session by the camp fire. We played dumb charades, dance around the warm campfire – basically have a ball. Post dinner; we get together for another round of bluff, with Satish too joining us this time until almost midnight. He is good at this one too, finishing first:)
Next morning, some of us went for the plantation walk accompanied by the ever obliging host, Satish, while the others (including me) enjoyed ‘sakkare nidde':). It turned out to be a good thing after all, with most of the plantation explorers returning with leech bites. I had my share of leech bites earlier this month myself, near Idagunji though. Post breakfast, we all leave for Hassan, attend the engagement that started this all and return just before the week end rush hour at the toll booths entering Bangalore.
It was a fun outing, in the pretext of attending a family function. The destination itself is pretty unique with a dollop of greenery both natural and man-made. It’s amazing what a couple days spent in the lush greenery, fresh air, clear water and sumptuous local, vegetarian food can do for one’s spirits. The food and the soul food both make for a great experience, an emeraldescape indeed. Sakleshpur is just not a plantation hotspot after all.
I do hope to return for some serious photography, hopefully on my beloved two wheels (assuming the roads would allow for the same the next time I plan for a visit) to Sakleshpur, see you soon the birds of Sakleshpur.