My earlier visit to Chikmagalur was more of a base for places around it – Belur, Halebid and Horanadu. So, itâ??s no wonder I didn’t have much of an impression about it. This time, however, the place of stay made all the difference. Thippanahalli Home Stay is situated right inside a dense coffee estate and is the perfect place to relax, unwind and clear all those mind-knots about existential worries. The rooms and cottages are perfect – large enough, clean loo, Tata-Sky enabled TV (damn!) and minimal mobile signal, that too at select places in the estate.

There is dense greenery all over the place and every small thing done at the estate is done very tastefully. There are so many spots in the estate to just sit and read or listen to music and generally (and literally) watch time passing by!

The family that manages the home stay is extremely cultured and even makes it a point to accompany you during the eating sessions. That brings us to the food – the traditional malnad cuisine is fantastic…akki rotis, neeru dosai etc. Perfect for the stomach and great for the tongue too. There’s unlimited coffee too…this being coffee country!

If merely sitting and day-dreaming (we rarely do it these days, btw) gets on your nerves (trust me, it will not – you’ll only want more of it!) there are some incredible places of visit nearby. But, before that, the estate itself has a fantastic trek route, right inside the thick coffee plantations. There are helpful boards all across the 2+ kms walk route in the estate and this is a perfectly rejuvenating walk – though this can be tiring, particularly when you start walking back to your room.

In terms of places outside, first is the highest peak in Karnataka – Mullayanagiri Peak. Itâ??s about 20 odd kms from the estate and on the day we visited the peak, it was unusually foggy and extraordinarily windy. We managed to reach the peak with great difficulty but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The temple on top had some kind of inauguration on 24th May, just a day before we visited it! The path to the peak is accessible by car till a point, where you just park the car and start walking the uneven, but thankfully-laid steps. If you’re lucky, you’d get a foggy day like I did – else, it usually is sunny, according to locals. This is a tiresome drive (about 25 mins, one way, from the estate) + trek (about 15-20 minutes, on way, from the base) combo – so be prepared.

I really would not recommend either Datta Peeta or Manikyadhara as other worthy spots – both are highly commercialized even by the relatively uncommercialized Chikmagalur standards. The next strong recommendation is reserved for the unnamed waterfalls inside a private estate, referred in hushed tones, only as ‘Muneer Estate’. The estate’s locked gate is about 12 kms away from Thippanahalli estate – should not take more than 15-20 minutes to reach. You need someone local to guide you to the actual spot. From the gate, itâ??s a trek down to the waterfalls – a 25 odd minute trek, which become totally laborious once you start your way back. The waterfalls, however, is incredible. Wild, almost-unknown and well-hidden, this is the kind of falls you see in movies. Itâ??s accessible at the base and is perfect for a cool shower – make sure you carry spare clothes, towels etc. Prepare yourself for a tiring walk back to the gate, where you parked your vehicle!

The last spot is the Hirekolale Lake. While there is supposedly a way to reach this natural and lesser-known lake from the main road, the best path is to drive right through the estate – the same way as the estate walk route! Driving through the dense estate is solid fun, though you need to ensure that you check your tire pressure since the roads all over the route – even in Chikmagalur – are messy. They’re not terribly bad, but are not smooth either.

If youâ??ve exhausted the usual suspects â?? Ooty, Kodaikanal, Yercaud etc. â?? Chikmagalur is a fabulous alternative. But, unlike other places, where you stay in Chikmagalur does make a huge difference. From that point of view and the fact that all the places mentioned above are close-by, Thippanahalli Home Stay is a dream-come-true!

The drive from Bangalore was super-smooth. We started early at around 6:30 am and took the Nelamangala bye-pass road. The route is simpleâ?¦Kunigal â?? Hassan â?? Belur â?? Chikmagalur â?? Kaimara â?? Thippanahalli Estate! From my home, it was exactly 275 kms and we reached by about 12:30, right in time for lunch! Since weâ??ve already seen Belur and Halebid, we did not stop in those places. Thippanahalli Estate is about 15 kms from Chikmagalur town and everyone seems to know about it since the family that owns it has done a lot to this small city. On the way back from Chikmagalur, we took the Magadi Road stretch due to the construction work on Nelamangala road and via the NICE road, reached Bannerghatta road!

Thanks to Kishore from Brown Potion & Coconut Chutney for letting me know about Thippanahalli Estate!

Here are some snaps from the trip!