It was my Birthday last weekend, and as usual i was hyper about the birthday for a month now. We always need a reason to run away from the mundane, so birthdays and anniversaries are a perfect reason to go on a getaway.. relax, and spend some quality time with each other. Yes we do miss out on the celebration with friends, but we do make up for it in other ways. This time it was in Sattva retreat in Chikmaglur.
I was surprised when Garg told me that we aren’t going anywhere that weekend, coz we were not getting any good reservations. Well that was true, Bangalore gets crazy, if we get any signs of a long weekend, and hence an unanticipated long weekend, thanks to the bus strikes, meant a sudden dearth of reservations in all the good places. But we were lucky, Garg kept it as a surprise, but got a booking in a homestay that i had not heard of, i got to know that were heading to Chikmagalur, and it was even more special, coz it was on top of our jinx list.
Well this year looked like a year breaking all the travel jinx, first Pondicherry on Gargs Birthday, then the Epic Leh roadtrip, and now Chikmagalur. I had no clue about the place we were going to stay in, Garg did the bookings, and i wanted to just go with the flow, so didn’t even check it out before we started the trip. It was one of our best trips, like the one in Dona Paula, Goa, or the Gateway, Coonoor, or that in Ayur County Munnar, i will remember this one for sure. So we thought we will restart my journal on our travels with this one.
Being the tricky travel junkies that we are, we have too many constraints while travelling.. the food needs to be good, the stay away from the hustle bustle, and something unique, be it the Rajputana at Jaipur, or the Seashells at Lakshwadeep. We have always been happy about our choices, never too extravagant, well not always, we have been guilty that ways, but always a perfect memory.
So this short getaway to Chikmagalur for two nights, coinciding with a Birthday, was a special one, in a very special place. The Sattva Nature Retreat, Chikmagalur was a pleasant surprise, a quaint little home in a coffee estate owned by the Prabhakars is located 15 kms from the Chikmagalur Town. the town is located at the foothills of the Mulayanagiri Hills, the highest peak in the Karnataka region. Amidst coffee plantations, Chikamagalur boasts of a very pleasant climate all around the year, and monsoons are especially a delight, if rains all day long is your thing.
The drive to the retreat is a short 5 hours drive, we left home not that early in the morning at around 6:30, and were at the retreat by 1:30 pm, right before lunch. The route that we took was Yeshwantpur – Neelamangala – Kunigal – Hassan – Belur – Chikamagalur. For the entire Stretch the roads are good, upto Hassan the roads are 2 lane with a divider, so you can zoom through, only after that the single lane roads start, but still in very good conditions. The Belur to Chikmagalur stretch gets some curvy roads, but scenic, with monsoon adorned green stretches of bushes, pines and plantations. This somehow reminded us of the roads of south Goa. Upto Hassan you will see beautiful fields adorned with palm trees, or green patches or small hills with windmills or beautiful yellow and red-flowered stretches reminding us of the Ahmedabad – Vadodara Highway. Well, windmills hold a special place in my heart, so any route with windmills is a sheer delight.
We had our breakfast at a restaurant before kunigal called Shiv sagar, you will not miss it, as it was crowded with travellers, during the breakfast hour, the speciality of this route is its Thatte idly, served with a delicious Sagu, chutney and Sambhar, this place served one of the best i have had so far.
the map goes wrong just once, after crossing Chikmagalur town, when u are amidst the woods, and the place is just some 2 kms ahead, keep an eye for a green govt sign board for DROPADACOOL, right after that, there is a board for Sattva retreat, the road on the left that goes downwards, but the map suggests to go straight, don’t miss that and then Sattva is on your left in less than 1.5 kms.
Now coming to Sattva, it’s a quaint little homestay / retreat, owned by the Prabhakars, who let you into their lives and serve you royally, so its home away from home in a lovely resortish place with the mountain smiling right in front of you in an all day misty weather. Prabhakar Uncle and Kavita aunty are the real deal in this property, their simple faces, and love and warmth, instantly makes you feel all relaxed and at home. It has only 4 rooms to pick from, 2 villa rooms , and 2 cottages outside, towards the garden, facing the beautiful mountain. In July, its supposed to rain all day, but we were lucky to have rainless days.
The weather was perfect, the greens all wet, exactly the way that makes our heart go all mushy and simply happy, the rustic cottage, with the low walls, with these super cute doors, and those lanterns! Oh well I was sick, but it all made me want to get better in a sleep and then soak it all in, and it was exactly that way, one sleep and I was actually feeling better.
Come evening and you could see the clouds playing around the pretty mountain right in front of you, wow! what a sight it was. They served the best coffee right out of their estate, and it was so so good, we aren’t regular coffee drinkers, but good filter kaapi gets to us, and this place had that kinda coffee. The red gates, the vintage jeep with a carrier, was all adding to the plantation charm!
This place is good if you want a silent getaway, good weather, absolutely nothing to do, read a book, sip that great filter kaapi, enjoy the mist, the rains on the flora and fauna, and enjoy silent walks, fruits hanging around you, appreciate the bonsai planted and maintained by Kavita aunty for 25 years, learn a bit about coffee plantations from the 5th generation plantation(well technically the daughter Ganga, staying in Bangalore, the brains behind the retreat, is the fifth generation, she sells hand-picked, 1st class quality ground coffee) owning family, enjoy great local food, then this is the place for you.
I was obsessed with the lanterns around the home, aesthetically picked and used, and the low-lying gates.
It’s such a big thing to let people into your personal space, and that’s why i was never comfortable with homestays, but first the coffee trails in coorg, and then this, it’s a beautiful experience to see the beautiful homes and people.
The property is situated in a place where there’s roads going downwards on both the sides, so if you want to go walking, theres beautiful walks amidst the woods on both the directions, the mysterious in lanes, they have always fascinated me, colourful leaves, mushrooms, and as Garg would see, healthy dinner some chickens 😀
Not to forget the charming full-time help Renuka serving us all day, she’s quite a character in herself, with the language barrier, will give us looks and quirky smiles in conversations, and the plantation workers, who were busy all day, spraying pesticides in the plantation all day long in rain.
I have to talk a little about the great food we had spread over the 6 meals we had over there, all prepared by Kavita Aunty, a great home cook, yes if someone can cook 6 meals in a row in a breeze, and all are great, and with a great variety to enjoy, you can easily say that she knows her craft well, and we were the lucky ones to enjoy her food, and make our trip memorable.
I had one of my the most peaceful evening here, sipping coffee, gazing into the twilight, reading a coffee table book, ON coffees, what else do you want!
Guess one of their garages was converted to a minimalistic yet chic dining space, lit perfectly to go with the wet climate of the monsoons.
You can ask aunty to make the Mangalore buns, akki roti and her best desserts, the chocolate mousse, the carrot custard, or just go with the flow, aunty has a beautiful array of local delicacies to offer.
Every evening we were served with some fried snacks apt for the weather, and that coconut barfi made with jaggery! I am craving for it right now! Not sure if aunty is the kinds who boasts of this side of hers every time, but we did get to see this brilliant side of hers, to talk to her and taste some of her wine collection, from betal leaves wine, to banana wine (dated back to 2001), to fig wine, to hibiscus wine, i loved the fig one and Garg gorged on the betal one!
Last but not the least their coffee was one of the best i have tasted, reminded me of the Sri Krishna Cafe Filter Kaapi i love, very fresh decoction, not at all bitter, but perfect strength you need in your morning Kaapi. I picked up some coffee for myself and also for gifting. Aunty big us goodbye with the traditional kumkum and chandan and a plant to take away, a beautiful experience wrapped up even more beautifully.
There was this unique sound all day long in the woods, i guess it was of the frogs, though am not sure. This was it, would start slow, resonate and fade away, very fascinating!
And a glimpse of the woods for the memories.
Pack along some board games or cards, or your favorite book or kindle, and some music along, to keep yourself entertained.
You can check the website for Bookings