Thursday, January 19, 2017


Sakleshpura is a hill station in Haasan district of Karnataka. It belongs to the Malnad region of the Western Ghats. Every time you drive down the Bangalore-Mangalore highway, you pass through its lush-green forests along the Kempuhole river. 

It is believed that a broken Shivalinga was found in this town. The linga was called Shakaleshwara which since then became Sakaleshwara and thus the place got its name. Two rivers originate at Sakleshpura: Kumaradhara and Kempuhole.The kempuhole river starts from Manjarabad Fort, joins Nethravati river and empties into the Arabian Sea. Incidentally, you can view the silhouette of the Arabian Sea from the fort.

The Manjarabad Fort was built by Pallada King and later used as a jail by Tippu Sultan. It can be easily spotted as you drive down NH48. Climbing the 250+ steps to the fort can tire you out.  Don't forget to carry water. 
The fort has a star-shaped fort, with a hillock in the centre and eight corners. It offers superb views. When we went, there was a prewedding photo shoot in progress. There is a hollow entrance in the middle, which is a tunnel leading to Srirangapattana. 
We stayed at Saalugudda Resort. A 1 Night 2 Day stay with two meals and a breakfast cost us Rs 5,500 for 2 adults and a child aged 10. The food was simple, home-made, Malnad style with both veg and non-veg options available.

Why are we city folks drawn to these village home-stays? We long for the quiet I suppose and the greenery. And the feel of the earth under our feet as we walk barefoot and pick up this leaf or that stone and wonder what it was. 

A dog, a cat, few hens and a cow complete the “I am in my village home” feel for the city executive, who, like me, hasn’t been to his village for years together or who, like Sathya, was born and raised in a metro like Bangalore and doesn’t really have a “village” he can call his own or go back to.
The home-stay has a pond for water games and a few rope games.  

This is the zip line water game where you sit on the iron enclosure and you are let loose into the water. The plunge into the lake is the fun part. And then the swimming back to the shore.

You also have a pukka local gym, if you are a stickler for fitness and never miss your exercise routine no matter where you go. 

The view as you go for an evening walk around the cottage. 
You can see the clouds beginning to engulf the majestic mountains in their arms.
One of the many waterfalls near the resort if you are in mood for a quick swim or frolic in the waters.

This trip we realized we had inadvertently covered four districts in a single day. We started from Sakleshpura (Haasan district), went to Malalli falls (Coorg district), then to Dharmasthala (Dakshina Kannada district) and returned home to Bangalore (Bangalore District) around midnight. We drove 800 km in two days, 14-15 Oct'16 and spent Rs 3000 for petrol to achieve this feat

After a day at the home-stay, we set out into Sakleshpura to do local sight-seeing, but mainly to see Bisile Ghat.
This was on the way to Bisile Ghat. A popular location for movie shoots.
Bisile Ghat Road follows the Kumaradhara river and links Sakleshpura to Kukke Subrahmanya in Dakshina Kannada. The Bisle Reserve Forest and the region around Sakaleshpura is listed as one of the 18 most diverse spots in the world in terms of flora and fauna. The watch tower at the Bisile Ghat will remind any Bangalorean of Nandi Hills. Many movies are shot here. This is the place where Mungaru Male 2 scene was shot - the Ravichandran and Ganesh emotional scene.

While on the way to Bisile Ghat, while asking directions, some locals said do visit the falls and that’s when we decided to go see the falls. It was a spur of the moment decision to take the detour. It meant we were ravenously hungry and the afternoon sun was beating us hard. But the falls was worth all the driving time and effort. We also had the best maggi ever in one of the two small stalls there. Hot, steaming and delicious! The other best maggi experience I had was in Sikkim - at Zero Point.
For a brief moment, I did shudder at the thought of plunging straight down from here! It was scary.
The bad part of the entire trip was the stretch from Malalli Falls to Kukke Subramanya. Horrible roads! Out of the nearly 35 kms between Malalli to Kukke, this 17 kms stretch of atrocious road drove us nuts. It took almost an hour. If I was the driver, I would have killed myself! Luckily, I can't drive. And Sathya, who drove, has tremendous reserves of patience.
In the name of a "road" this path of stones and potholes is what you get.
There was no sign of a hotel or a place to eat either. Just when we thought we'd die out of real hunger and accrued anger at driving down this road, we saw a house just outside the check post. The lady served us lunch amid stories of her life. Simple rice-curry-vegetable meal never tasted better!

We finally reached Dharmasthala in the evening.  

As you drive towards the temple, you will notice rows and rows of these pineapple stalls along the road. Small, juicy fruits, produced in abundance locally. 

You will also find sugarcane juice stalls alongside it.

Sathya has lost count of how many times he has gone there. It is the most revered and most visited temple in this part of Karnataka. In Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, where I come from, this is the holiest of holy places for us. As children, I remember our annual visits to the temple, all of us huddled together, in a hired white Ambassador. It was our only pleasure cum spiritual cleansing cum eat-in-hotels - all combined into one - trip. 

Duration of the trip: 2 days
Places Covered: Four. Sakleshpura, Bisile Ghat, Malalli Falls, Dharmasthala
Distance Covered: 800 kms
Amount Spent: Rs 10,000 approx