When your surroundings are beautiful, you just feel calm. Time slows down and you unwind without any effort. Even if you are doing something adventurous, it does not seem like a strain. And that is a mini holiday that we all crave for every now and then. If you are in Bengaluru (Bangalore), then you are in luck today, for here is where I share a holiday just as I describe. Introducing you to an offbeat hill station – Sakleshpur where a weekend is all you need to freshen up and beat down your stress.
Just 220 km from Bangalore, Sakleshpur was quite a discovery for me. I did lots but felt as if I did nothing. The place is filled with green fields that are separated by clear water streams while the lovely Western Ghats frame the backdrop. Somehow you feel that you must not talk and keep silent – a rule that is broken by the winged beauties. Sakleshpur is indeed a balm for your stressed nerves. Here is my travel guide to Sakleshpur that will convince every visitor to Bangalore or a resident of Bangalore to visit here for at least a weekend.
Introduction to Sakleshpur
I had heard of Sakleshpur a few years back and since then had been attempting a weekend getaway to the place. What interested me was the fact that this hill station was like a green overload, especially in monsoons, with an abundance of streams and musical notes of the birds. One of the best trekking trails in the Western Ghats – the railway track trail had my adrenaline going from the time I read it. When I saw some of the pictures on the internet, I was totally bowled over.
The place is a coffee county that is a part of the lovely Western Ghats. It is also, a part of the Bisle Forest Reserve, which explains the diversity of the flora and fauna there. The best part of it was that it was just a 4 – 5-hour drive from Bangalore, which is lesser than what you would spend going to Coorg. The fact that it is offbeat, is what adds to the attraction for the place is not as crowded as the other coffee counties of Karnataka like Coorg and Chikmagalur.
Smooth Drive to Sakleshpur
Rise and Shine early is our motto for any drive outside Bangalore. Staying true to it, we set off at the wee hours, beating the traffic onto the highway NH 75 that went towards Hassan. While Ash zipped on the roads, I got bored. The drive is very smooth – with perfect roads, zero traffic and no major views. If it isn’t for rumbling tummies, I doubt you will make any stop before you reach your main destination – Sakleshpur. Note the phrase – “rumbling tummies”. This is not just out of hunger for food but one that might want you to take a few detours & see some places along the way.
There are plenty of interesting pitstops and this is why going to Sakleshpur is a good idea. Here is a quick list of detours that you can take on your drive to Sakleshpur
This is a major stop, being one of the key cities in Karnataka. This is almost like a nerve center on the highway from where you can take several detours. If your tummy is rumbling from hunger, you will find plenty of restaurants out here – most of which might not even require you to enter the town. For us, this became a breakfast point.
2) Belur – Halebid
Stories and Poetries carved in stone is the way I would describe the twin towns of Belur and Halebid. The 12th century temples of the two towns are a must-see for its excellent craftsmanship and detailing. A detour here is around 25 km from Hassan. The best is that you do not have to come back to Hassan for there is a direct road to Sakleshpur.If you have not even done it once, then you are sure to love it. I have been there at least thrice and still not satisfied. Take a look at what you can expect at Belur and Halebid by clicking through the respective links.
A little over 50 km from Hassan, you will find a giant statue of Lord Bahubali towering over the cliffs. At 57 feet, this is the World’s largest monolithic statue built in 980s AD. Beside the statue, a lot of ancient inscriptions have been found in the place. Known for its Jain population, this place is also, believed to be the death place of the famous Chandragupta Maurya. It might sound a little out of the way for you when heading to Sakleshpur but it is well worth the effort. You might even choose to do this on your return to Bangalore.
4) Shettihali Church, Hassan
A 1860s church built by the French missionaries, the Shettilhali Rosary church is just minor diversion on the same NH 57 highway from Hassan. It is just 22 kms from the city but with roads that lead you to some scenic settings like this one.
The church is in ruins but the Gothic architecture is still visible for anyone who visits here. The structure was abandoned in the 1960s after a dam was built on the Hemavati river near it. However, they say that the beauty and the mystical part of the church is best when the river is full during monsoons and the church is submerged halfway in water. Since we visited in January, we were not treated to this spectacle. However, the one that we saw, was no less magnificent.
5) Manjarabad Fort, Sakleshpur
A star-shaped fort, that involves a bit of a climb gets high on Indiana Jones’ (a.k.a me) list. Built during the reign of Tipu Sultan, this fort holds a secret passage to Srirangapatna. I tried to find it but well, this time I did fail. The climb and the place more than made up for this.
Depending on where you are staying Sakleshpur, you might choose to do Manjarabad Fort either enroute to Sakleshpur or while in Sakleshpur. Irrespective, this becomes a must-see place in Sakleshpur.
The roads just become narrower once you enter Sakleshpur but are still in fairly good conditions. The best part is that this is where the whole scenery changes to green valleys and fields. A distinct drop in temperature and fresh air will tell you that you have reached your destination at the end of this drive.
Enchanting Streams in Sakleshpur
The place that we stayed in was called Streamedge homestay with a stream that passes right by its property. I first thought that this was the case only with this property but when I got talking to the locals, I realized that a stream in Sakleshpur was as common as finding cars on the road in Bangalore. They all meet up at different places to form gushing waterfalls – some quite seasonal and some through the year.
The cool water is something I loved wading through. Even if you are not keen on walking through it, you will find it relaxing to just perch on a log and dangle your feet in the water. Most resorts and homestays in Sakleshpur offer activities around the stream like slush volleyball and in our case, a walk on the Burma Loops. If you are lucky, you will be treated to a shower under a cascade. Streams in Sakleshpur are just fun!
Cycling along the fields of Sakleshpur
Puff out your lungs and bring on that pedal power as you discover the joy of cycling on uncrowded roads. Adding relief to your sore city eyes are the green coffee estates and paddy fields, where you can stop a while for a few pictures. Not just of yourselves but of the rare birds who swing by to grab a twig or two. Peacocks grace the fields every now, especially during late evenings and early mornings.
Some of the stretches are quite steep and if you are on a non-geared cycle, you are up for a challenge. Most homestays here allow you to borrow their cycles. Ours even had a tandem cycle- which was an absolute novelty for the adults and kids alike. Cycling
Nature Trails of Sakleshpur
With green mountains of the Western Ghats and the Bisle Forest around, there is no dearth of nature trails in Sakleshpur. The most famous of them all being the Green route track. However, owing to the safety of the people, this trek is now not allowed and thus, my dream of doing it remained a dream. That does not mean that I did not do any trail at all. Among the other ones like the Sunset hill trail and the Jennukal Gudda trails, I ended up at a double cliff Pandavara Gudda Trail.
The trail starts at an 800-year-old temple called the Bettada Byraveshwara temple. The climb is not all that difficult but is quite steep and has loose stones and rubble that can get quite slippery if you are not careful. The first cliff is the easiest while the second one is a little tougher. By the end of the first cliff, in a group of 5 adults and 4 kids, only 2 adults and 2 kids made it the 2nd cliff.
The first cliff gives you a gorgeous view of the Bettada Byraveshwara temple while the second gives you an amazing view of the valley. In our case, we missed the sunset and the sunrise, which is when I know that these views would have been marvelous.
Birds of Sakleshpur
The biggest mistake that one can do when in Sakleshpur is to ignore their binoculars. There is no missing the calls of the winged beauties for you walk up to their tweets and end your day with them. I saw the most unusual of birds out here – trying to camouflage themselves or in some cases, trying to play catch. Goldenback woodpeckers, Sunbirds, Oriental White Eye, Barbets, Drongos, Hornbills – they are just all there. The best part of it, you don’t really have to go to a spot to find them. They are just everywhere. Take a look at my captures of them –
I spent most of my time by the stream, just catching these guys in my camera. I could have done this for a few more days for each time I spotted something, it was all new.
Enjoying the Sunrises & Sunsets in Sakleshpur
Sakleshpur is a place where you will not mind waking up to that first ray of light. You don’t have to go anywhere to enjoy it. Just sit in your porch and glance out at east, where you will see the golden ball of sun come up across the fields. As for your alarm clocks, the birds will take care of it.
Sunsets here are equally mesmerizing, especially if you head atop a cliff. The windy surroundings add a certain allure to the whole experience of the sun going down. And the little chill that creeps in, makes the twilight even more enjoyable. Again, you can enjoy this almost everywhere but a peak makes it even more enjoyable.
All of this might just seem words or adjectives to you but to understand its magic, you really must take that weekend out to this green destination Sakleshpur. I know that these reasons of mine have got you halfway there, the rest of it you got to do. As a note to yourself, pin this up on your board and check out when is your next long weekend holiday. 🙂
- Sakleshpur is well connected by road as well as railways. You can either board a train from Bangalore or Mangalore to reach here.
- A road trip from Bangalore would be around 220 kms while from Mangalore it would be around 160 kms.
- If you are coming from outstation, the nearest airport would be Mangalore.
Travel Tips for Sakleshpur
- There are plenty of homestays in Sakleshpur. They offer you decent accommodations, almost akin to a resort along with freshly cooked meals. There are a few resorts but with limited capacity.
- Don’t miss out on the authentic Malnad meals. The local food here will include Jowar rotis with vegetable or Rice rotis (Akki Roti) with Chutney. Piping hot, healthy and yummy.
- Sakleshpur is fairly good to visit throughout the year. The early morning and nights are quite chilly while the day is perfect. Monsoons are a good time too, for the greenery here is a sight to behold.
- Remember to carry your binoculars, mosquito repellants, a light shawl, torch , flat shoes, and a hat.
- Mobile signals are quite decent here. However, data connectivity can be low.
- This is a fairly clean and natural place. A request to all my readers to leave it green and clean. Avoid using plastic and paper And DEFINITELY, DO NOT trash it around.