What will you choose to do in a luxury resort that is set amidst the stunning rainforests of the mighty Western Ghats with its rolling hills, sparkling waterfalls, shimmering lakes and lush greenery?
Will you go out there all adventurous and trek and hike and climb and explore?
Or will you just cuddle up in your warm bed and luxuriate in the lavishness of your cottage, just as cosily as the place you have chosen to stay … the Java Rain Resorts which is snugly tucked away in the picturesque hills that surround the tiny but charming city of Chikmagalur.
Well there are no right or wrong choices at the Java Rain Resorts and whether you are Out or In, you are guaranteed to have an amazing time in the midst of verdant surroundings and stunning vistas.
Come with me on a tour of this beautiful resort and discover what they have in store by way of entertainment.
Read on for Part 2 of 3 – Java Rain Resorts, Activities
Amenities within the resort –
The resort has an indoor activity area which is equipped with a host of games like table tennis, carrom, chess, indoor mini golf, foosball etc.
Adjacent to this is a toddler play area with blocks, trampoline and other such toys.
There are some outdoor activities near the main lobby, like sliding board, archery, a tiny badminton cum volleyball court and a basketball net.
Cycles and helmets are provided for those who want to ride around the resort.
There are also a couple of hammock chairs for those who want to indulge in non activities. You can guess who from the picture, along with a little baby who was jailed in there by his mom 😀
There is a plan to install Zip lining, rope climbing and other such adventure equipment in future, which will make the resort suitable for team building and other relevant corporate activities.
Swimming pool – The ‘almost paisley’ shaped infinity swimming pool is the heart of the resort and the beautiful blue beckons swimmers and non swimmers alike. The adult section is 4.5 feet deep and the base is the children’s section at a depth of 2 feet.
Comfortable deck chairs entice you to lounge around with a pretty glass in hand, as you take in the view that lies beyond.
This is an absolutely charming place to hang out and the lovely mountain climate tempts even non swimmers to lie around sunning themselves for hours and taking in the crisp, fresh air.
Shwah the Spa –
Apart from rhyming :-D, Shwah is formed from some of the alphabets from Shiva and Shubha, the owners of the resort.
The spa is small with 2 therapy rooms but offers quite a range of treatments and massages like Swedish massage, foot reflexology, aroma therapy, deep tissue, facials, body scrubs etc, performed by trained staff. It is said to be quite a hit among the guests from big cities, especially with its non city rates 😀 and a large percentage of visitors avail of its offers.
I experienced a foot reflexology session as I usually do on the day that I have trekked, even though my idea of trekking is very different from most people’s 😀 but let us not undermine my baby steps now.
Plantation walk –
Java Rain Resorts is set in the heart of a live coffee estate, complete with fruit trees, coffee plants, indigenous plants and trees, several species of birds and even the occasional animal, like deer.
Amjith is a certified naturalist who works with the Java Rain resorts and he is an able guide who handles some of the outdoor activities, including the Plantation walk which is a complimentary part of every guest’s package.
He is well versed in the flora and fauna of the place and is also highly knowledgeable about the history of the region, the landscape and even the story of coffee which he fluently narrates to his eager audience.
Luckily for me he is also a very good photographer and solved my problem of clicking my personal pictures, which I find is the biggest issue when I travel solo, considering my poor selfie and self timer skills 😀
The Plantation walk takes place everyday at 8 am and 4 pm, which is the best time to sight a few birds too. There are around 60 species of birds in this region and one can spot nearly 20-25 within the plantation. Within the resort itself 10 – 15 species are usually easily sighted like the bulbul, babblers, jungle mynahs, woodpeckers, drongos, barbets etc. Many of them are the hyper active, tiny ones 😀 and hence difficult to capture on camera through the dense vegetation.
Peacocks call through the day but viewing them is tough since they are very shy.
The variety of ficus trees (figs) make the place attractive for many of these birds who come to feast on the fruit.
The tour starts right from the gardens of the resort where Amjith begins with explaining about some of the plants and trees including the cluster or elephant ear fig, of which there are quite a few along the driveway, spreading their thick green foliage that resembles the ear of a pachyderm.
You learn that there are over 700 species of figs in this world of which there are nearly 100 in India. The fruit is actually an inside out flower and needs a fig wasp to pollinate it and there are as many species of wasps as there are figs. So the next time you see a wasp fly out of your fig, you will know it is for real and not just a fig’ment of your imagination. No Amjith did not say that … I did 😀
After this lesson in birds and wasps and inside out flowers that pretend to be fruits, you go on to the main coffee plantation that is just outside the resort premises.
The surrounding estate is also home to Sambhar, spotted deer etc. However even these sightings are rare and I was lucky to have a fleeting glimpse of a spotted deer who fled before my camera could spot it.
Unlike the deer, there are plenty of Bonnet Macaques, which sounded very exotic to me until I realized that they were just our good ol’ regular monkeys 😀
Amjith also gives you an in depth history of the story of coffee and it is quite fascinating to learn about the journey of this tiny but powerful berry.
You can spot a few birds within the estate and also some interesting insects. I saw a Funnel web spider who played hide and seek with me for a while in his funnel shaped web which he burrowed in and out of, until he finally deigned to pose for a while, looking like a strangely bearded and helmeted Viking with 8 limbs. Can you picture that face? 😀
The entire walk takes between 45 – 60 minutes depending on how interested one is. I took longer of course, with several failed attempts at shooting woodpeckers, barbets, oriental white eyes and many other birds that flitted rapidly behind a network of dense branches, completely eluding my lens.
Things to do outside the resort –
Chikmagalur is a small place with nothing much to see within the city (in my head it is still a small town), other than a coffee museum. Its surroundings however, offer some excitement by way of treks, wildlife safaris and ancient heritage temple sites.
While people who are familiar with the region can figure out what to do on their own, the resort also offers guided treks and tours to those who are interested. Qualified guides, vehicles etc are arranged depending on the requirement.
The team also informs the guest about the various options and also gives them sufficient guidance in case they want to venture out on their own. In fact they even advise the guests to visit some of the more accessible places by themselves, which do not need assistance from the resort.
Given below, are a few popular places of interest. Of these, I visited only the Mullayanagiri peak and the Hirekolale lake this time. The rest of it has been written using the data given to me by the team at the resort.
The coffee museum has been set up by the Coffee board of India. Here the entire process right from growing coffee to processing it, is depicted by various means such as audio visual presentations, posters, exhibition of machinery and of course the berry laden plants. There is a wealth of information provided to the visitors and one can learn much about the journey of the bean from plant to cup. The museum is open only on weekdays and remains closed on Saturdays and Sundays and has a very nominal entrance fee of Rs 20/-. The entire tour can be done in 1 – 2 hours depending on individual levels of interest. I did not have time to visit but I obtained this information from Amjith at the Java Rain Resort.
Surroundings of Chikmagalur –
The Mullayanagiri peak in the Baba Budan range is one of the most popular places of interest. It has the distinction of being the highest peak in Karnataka, standing tall at 1930 meters (6330 ft) above msl.
Though clearly visible form the resort, it is a 12 km drive, a distance that is easily covered within 20 – 30 minutes since the roads are not too bad albeit narrow. However, on weekends and peak days (no pun intended), the roads do get jammed with hundreds of visitors.
The resort can organize this trip, right from arranging suitable vehicles, to an accompanying guide, as per the needs of the guest.
There is an option of trekking from the base, 5 – 6 km all the way to the top or just climbing the 450 steps to the Shiva temple perched atop, from the parking area beyond which vehicles cannot proceed.
En route the parking point is also another temple called Seethalayanagiri located at an altitude of 5000 ft above msl, which has been there for several years and I had visited this nearly 15 years ago.
So it was a Deja vu (Deva view?) of sorts as I clicked pictures at the same spot, of a temple that hardly seemed untouched by time even after all these years. Cannot say the same in my case though … I have definitely changed for the wiser 😀
In those days there used to be a lunch that was available in the pujari’s (priest’s) house adjoining the temple, that was served to all the people who visited the temple and the payment amount was by choice. I was not able to get information on this during this visit and I assume that the practice has been stopped. The lunch was a very good home cooked meal though and it would have been nice to experience it again.
Ok I always get sidetracked by thoughts of food, so let me come back to the Mulanayagiri story now 😀 This is a climb that is not too strenuous as such but is made a bit challenging by the chilly and strong winds that almost blow you off the mountain. So dress warm accordingly and focus carefully on your path as you climb. Do not be immersed in your cell phone (like you know who) and stop at a safe spot if you wish to click photographs.
The 450 steps are conquered very quickly and then you can spend some time at the temple on top and click pictures of the stunning vista of hills that surge in wave upon wave of hills until they hug the horizon.
There is nothing available here by way of food, drink and washroom but there is a pay and use toilet at the Seethalayanagiri temple below, which is not in the best of condition but alright in times of sheer desperation.
Hirekolale lake –
This picturesque lake is visible from the Crimson Peak Bar and Restaurant of the resort and lies 4 km away.
It is also viewable from the Mullayanagiri peak.
One can drive up to the place, though at present there is nothing much to do there other than photograph the serene waters and visit the small temple in the premises but it is said that there are future plans by the government to provide activities like boating etc. It is a nice place for pictures though.
There are a few water birds that will probably be found in more numbers in the mornings and evenings. This lone cormorant was waiting for my camera around 12 pm.
The Baba Budan mountain which is also a part of the Baba Budan giri range, is another place of interest and is located 35 km from the resort and 23 km from Mullayanagiri. The resort arranges for a jeep ride to the mountain.
One can visit the Bababudan shrine and temple here.
Bhadra wildlife sanctuary is around 70 km from the resort and jeep and boat safaris have to be booked directly since they are government operated and there are no private players. This is a 2 hour drive from the resort. The 2 daily safaris take place from 6 am – 9 am and evening 3.30 pm – 6 pm.
Leopards, the occasional tiger and the other usual small fry are found here. Bhadra wildlife sanctuary is said to have a count of 33 tigers and sometimes they are actually sighted 😀
Bhadra dam which is 2 km from the sanctuary, also a popular spot to visit.
Guests can complete this entire circuit in half a day and then return to the resort.
Kemmangundi is another trekkers paradise situated 45 km from the resort. There is a 12 km trail that is popularly chosen. Guests can leave the resort early in the morning, complete the trek and return by evening. The route also offers scenic waterfalls like the Kallathigiri. The resort guide accompanies the guests on this tour if required.
Belur and Halebid are around 30 km from Chikmagalur city. These places are well known because of the world famous 12th century Chennakaesava and Hoysaleswara temples respectively. Built in the stunning Hoysala architectural style, these are characterized by a multitude of exquisite and intricate carvings in soapstone.
The team at Java Rain Resorts suggests that these places be visited while coming from or returning to Bangalore, since they are en route. Also by doing so, the guest can use that extra time instead, to enjoy the luxuries within the resort. I did not visit due to a lack of time and also because I have seen them before. But believe me, their beauty is addictive and one repeatedly yearns to go back to them again and again. The picture below, was clicked by me in 2013 with a poor camera and even poorer skills at that time 😀
There is yet another lesser known temple called the Veernarayana temple at Belvadi and is said to be equally beautiful, even though not as famous. This is also a legacy of the Hoysala empire and unfortunately I did not have the time to visit. But then, that is what ‘next time’ is for 😀
Please Note – This trip was made in collaboration with Java Rain Resorts. The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.
This itinerary was specially curated hence some of the features might have been personalized accordingly. Before booking, please check the facilities offered in your package.
Nov 25th-27th, 2019