Sakleshpur – A Blissful Weekend Getaway from Bengaluru

posted in: Asia, India, Karnataka, Nature | 54

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.

An offbeat hill station - Sakleshpur in Karnataka
An offbeat hill station – Sakleshpur in Karnataka

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.

A view of Sakleshpur from Pandharva Peak
A view of Sakleshpur from Pandharva Peak

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

Empty roads of Bangalore when you rise early for a road trip
Empty roads of Bangalore when you rise early for a road trip

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

1) Hassan

Our breakfast stop at Hassan
Our breakfast stop at Hassan

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 etched on stone at Hoyasaleswara temple of Halebid
Stories etched on stone at Hoyasaleswara temple of 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.

3) Shravanabelagola

Bahubali at Shravanabelagola
Bahubali at Shravanabelagola                                                                        Image Credits: Ananth via Wikimedia under CC by SA 3.0

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.

Shettihali Rosary Church in Hassan, enroute to Sakleshpur
Shettihali Rosary Church in Hassan, enroute to Sakleshpur

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

Star shaped Manjarabad Fort, Sakleshpur
Star shaped 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.

Entrance to Manjarabad fort at Sakleshpur
Entrance to Manjarabad fort at Sakleshpur

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

Streams of Sakleshpur
Streams of 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.

Walking on Burma Loops across the stream at Sakleshpur
Walking on Burma Loops across the stream at Sakleshpur

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

Tandem Cycling at Sakleshpur
Tandem Cycling at 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.

Cattle Egret in the fields of Sakleshpur

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

Pandarva Gudda Trek in Sakleshpur
Pandarva Gudda Trek in 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.

Bettada Byraveshwara temple in Sakleshpur, as seen from Pandarva Gudda hill
Bettada Byraveshwara temple in Sakleshpur, as seen from Pandarva Gudda hill

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.

At the second peak of Pandarva Gudda hill
At the second peak of Pandarva Gudda hill

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 –

Purple Rumped Sunbird in Sakleshpur
White Cheeked Barbet in Sakleshpur
Green Bee Eater in Sakleshpur
Greater Goldenback Woodpecker in Sakleshpur
Little Bittern in Sakleshpur
Oriental White Eye in Sakleshpur
Drongo in Sakleshpur
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Purple Rumped Sunbird
Shadow
Slider

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

Sunrise at Sakleshpur
Sunrise at 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.

Sunset Point at Sakleshpur
Sunset Point at Sakleshpur

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

 

Getting here

  • 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.

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54 Responses

  1. danncastillo

    This looks like such a charming place! I particularly enjoyed the enchanting streams and the sunsets and sunrises. I love travelling, but it can be a bit overwhelming sometimes, so this looks like the perfect place to disconnect and enjoy a bit of a quiet time. Thanks for all the tips!

    • Ami

      It is that perfect place that is not too far from the city and yet not too near. A lovely place to get away from the hustle bustle. Hope you can visit it.

  2. Lisa

    This looks like a stunning area. So interesting to see the remains of a Gothic church there too, I’ve only seen them in Europe. Great tips on not trashing the place and bringing mosquito repellent; I never leave home without it!

    • Ami

      Thanks Lisa. There are tons of Gothic churches here. We did have a fair bit of population from Europe visiting us 🙂 You should get here and see it for yourself

  3. Danila Caputo

    What an incredible place, I love to just soak in the nature, when I want to relax! You’re so right when you say that the beauty around you helps you to make you feel calm, especially when you need to unwind, away from the crowds!

  4. Anuradha Goyal

    I remember Sakleshpur for its popular ( at least it used to be) railway track trek. I did that ages ago – pre blogging, pre digital camera days, on an extremely rainy day. It was scary to walk on some of the railway bridges, I wish I had taken pictures. Barring the Gothic church, I think I have been to most places in your post, but have not written about any one of them. Thanks for the reminder and good to see your daughter. Lovely images as always.

    • Ami

      Thanks Anuradha. I wish I could have done the Green trek but it was not to be. Maybe someday when they open it again. 🙂

  5. Alok Singhal

    I would go there just to unwind myself from the concrete jungle that Bangalore is!
    The trails, streams, sunrise/sunsets, and attraction on the way speak of an extensive sightseeing.

    Btw, i can imagine the roads being that empty, we went to Ooty long back around that time of the hour.

    • Ami

      Yep, the roads are empty only around that time. The rest of the time – it can be a nightmare. All worth that amazing drive to Sakleshpur

    • Ami

      Thank you Priyanka. I think the contrasting colors was just fluke but a pleasant one.

  6. Rosie

    Wow it looks like you had an awesome getaway, surrounded by nature! We are headed to Bangalore in May so I will have to keep this in mind, I’d never even heard of Sakleshpur but now you’ve made me want to visit. The views from the nature trails are incredible!

  7. Juliette S

    I love that you did some cycling – I really believe it is one of the best ways to explore a city! Also, you had me sold when you mentioned the beautiful musical notes of the birds – it sounds delightful and way less crowded. Ideal to unwind!

    • Ami

      This is a nice nature outing and cycling here is more like mountain cycling. Fun nonetheless. Cheers

  8. Medha

    Never heard of Sakleshpur but then I always say, India is so big and there’s so much to see and do, one cannot possibly see it all in a lifetime! I love the temples, especially the one at Halebid, with all those lovely carvings. Also, the streams and the lush green forests in Sakleshpur itself are so calming and relaxing, looks like the perfect getaway from the busy city and it’s pollution!

    • Ami

      India is too huge and even for us who stay here, it is impossible to cover it all. Glad though that I can find these nuggets. Cheers

  9. Lisa

    I would love to follow in your footsteps on this trip and go to every single location you have written about :-). Your photo’s are lovely and it’s always nice to see that bloggers include their families in the trips .

    • Ami

      This was more of a personal trip and frankly, that is how I started my travels -with family. I still hold my vacations with them sacred for it is a great way to bond. I hope you can get here soon and maybe we can go for a trip together 😀

  10. Denny George

    This sounds like an idyllic rural retreat. I had heard of Sakleshpur, but did not realize it was so close to Bangalore. The railway track trek sounds interesting .

  11. Everything_Candid

    Your opening lines set the tone for me. I agree, a scenic setup is more than enough to unwind and relax. Sakleshpur is a new place for me and it looks a real offbeat place. Sakleshpur has many things to do which actually makes it a great weekend option from Bangalore.
    Being a road tripper, I would love to there on a self drive road trip only and would love to explore temple of Halebid en route.

    • Ami

      Belur And Halebid will be absolutely a delight to see along the way. Go for a road trip – this is one place that will not disappoint you. Cheers

  12. SkyeClass

    What a gorgeous location! I partcularly like the ruins of the Shettihali Church. I’m guessing I’ll have to set aside a few days to explore that part of India.

    • Ami

      South India is fairly unexplored and a huge region as well. Yes, keep aside a few days for it. It will be worth it.

  13. Ha

    Such a beautiful place! I would love to cycle along the fields and exploring the trails. Also, the architecture of the church is really interesting. I’ve never heard of Sakleshpur before but would love to visit here after reading this post.

    • Ami

      Not many have heard of it and am glad I did and went there. It is quite a lovely find. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Efthimis Kragaris

    Sakleshpur’s flora and fauna look magnificent! I love cycling and I would definitely take a bike to cycle next to these amazing cliffs while enjoying either the sunset or the sunrise! Great suggestion for a trip from Bangalore!

  15. TravelTheGlobe4Less

    Oh wow, this looks like an absolutely stunning place to visit. I love the scenery and how out there some of those statues are. I definitely need to explore more of the country.

    • Ami

      Yes, there are a lot of hidden nuggets and I hope you can come by to explore those. Thanks for stopping by

  16. Madhurima Dutta

    I lived in Bangalore for a few years and had no idea this place was so nearby and offers so much!

  17. Jen Joslin

    I visited my sister when she lived in Bangalore a few years ago, and while I loved the city I can see why a weekend escape to green spaces would be welcome once in a while. Sakleshpur sounds like a perfect weekend getaway with so much to explore! Belur and Halebid look amazing. I love stone carvings, and the detail just from your one picture is gorgeous! It would be very cool to see the Shethali Rosary Church half submerged during the monsoons. The Manjarabad Fort also looks really fun to explore. Thanks for sharing about these places!

    • Ami

      Now you know what to do the next time you are here Jen. It sure is a pleasure to get out of Bangalore for this. Cheers

  18. Elisa Subirats

    You named many reasons to visit Sakleshpur, maybe my favorite one would be its hiking (and coffee) opportunities! But with all those interesting pit stops between Bangalore and Sakleshpur it would be difficult for me to reach my final target, ha haa. The stone carved temples of Belur and Halabid look very beautiful and intriguing . .

    • Ami

      Thank you Elisa. I know those stops make it hard but once you are in Sakleshpur, you might not want to leave. 🙂

  19. Lucy

    Where you stayed looks lovely and I thought you were going to relax, but you did so much! The temple of the twin towns of Belur and Halebid is fascinating and I would like to see the carvings up close. The stream looks very tranquil, I would get in the water too!

    • Ami

      I didn’t feel as if I did too much. It was just sooo…relaxing . And getting into water, there is no escape. You will do it coz its amazing.

  20. Meg Jerrard

    Totally agree that beautiful surroundings have a calming effect. Sakleshpur sounds like a fabulous destination, and a great spot for us as nature enthusiasts. I would love to spend days exploring the hiking trails, take a bike and cycle through the fields, and enjoy the scenery of the Western Ghats. And such beautiful birds too – thanks for the tip on traveling with binoculars – you would surely be missing out otherwise!

    I do also love that there are so many cool pit stops to take in on the drive there. Belur and Halebid looks so fascinating – definitely worth the detour! Shettihali Church looks like an incredible stop too – sounds like a really cool region as a whole 🙂

    • Ami

      Thank you Meg for the lovely comment. Sakleshpur just gives you the feeling of doing nothing while you are doing everything.

  21. Sumit

    Thanks for sharing an inspiring tourism post. Keep exploring more beautiful destinations. I will again visit your blog soon.

  22. OYO room coupons

    That was great post! Thanks for sharing your experience

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