If you have been living for too long in your urban jungle without a break, then it is time to wake up and smell the Coffee … quite literally, as you take in lungfuls of pure, unpolluted coffee perfumed air and say Hello to nature, at the Java Rain Resorts.
Java Rain Resorts is a luxury stay tucked away in a coffee plantation that is perched in between the pleats of the Baba Budan Giri hills which form a portion of the mighty Western ghats range, one of the world’s major bio diversity regions.
Located in Chikmagalur (or Chikkamagaluru) district in the state of Karnataka in the southern part of India, this resort is one of the few luxury options that exist in this area.
Chikmagalur is known as the Land of Coffee and ‘Luxury brewed strong’ is the tag line of the resort, where they certainly seem to have Filtered out the best for you.
Ascend with me into its verdant environs and bask in the bliss that it offers, even as it balances nature with the modern, giving you state of the art comforts that blend subtly with the jungle that ensconces them.
Read on for Part 1 of 3 – Java Rain Resorts, the Overview
About Chikmagalur –
Chikmagalur city (once a tiny town) is the headquarters of its eponymous district. The name translates to ‘Younger daughter’s town’ since in the days of yore, it was said to have been given as dowry along with the younger daughter of Rukmangada who was the chief of Sakkarepatna, a nearby town.
Chikmagalur’s biggest claim to fame, is that it is the birthplace of coffee in India and it also is the largest producer of this heady bean in Karnataka. Its location in the Baba Budan belt of the Western Ghats that stands tall at an elevation of 1090 meters (3580 ft) above Mean Sea Level (msl), makes its environment conducive for coffee plants that flourish well at an altitude of 800 – 1800 meters above msl.
The mountain range was originally known as the Chandra Drona Parvatha due to its crescent moon like contour and obtained its new name from Baba Budan, a Sufi saint of the 16th century, who initially smuggled in the coffee beans from Yemen, thus beginning the saga of coffee in India.
The city albeit small, is surrounded by mountains and the hilly regions with their verdant rainforest landscapes, innumerable water bodies and waterfalls, trekking trails, wildlife etc, have gradually put the place on the traveller’s map, after inexplicably having remained off the mainstream tourist radar until just a few years ago.
My connect with Chikmagalur –
Well what can I say about this place? To everyone else, Chikmagalur smells like coffee but to me it has the distinct scent of nostalgia that is sensed only by the heart.
My grandfather owned a coffee estate a few kilometers away from Chikmagalur city. Hence this was also my holiday destination ever since the time I was born. Nearly every school vacation was at the estate, thanks to which my childhood was spent climbing trees, scraping elbows and knees, picking wild berries, chewing on beehives dripping with fresh honey, scaling mountains, trekking on unending paths, fishing in ponds, playing in fields, and generally revelling in the glories of nature.
Even after I completed my education, I made sure to visit the place at least once a year with my family so that my children would also benefit from my grandfather’s legacy. The estate was sold nearly 5 years ago and these past years have been the longest period ever that I have stayed away from the place.
Thanks to Java Rain Resorts, I had a homecoming of sorts but this time to a Chikmagalur that has come a long way from the sleepy, rustic town that it used to be and one that has woken up albeit a bit late, to establish itself on the tourist circuit, with resorts like this which offer luxury stays that were unheard of in the past.
About Java Rain Resorts –
The resort is a labor of love, created by Shivprasad and his wife Shubha, a couple from Bangalore who have been successfully running well known restaurants like the 100 ft (now called Bob’s) in Indiaragar and Bayleaf Restaurant and bar in Koramangala.
Like me, Shivprasad had this love affair with Chikmagalur ever since his childhood and despite not having any connection to the place by way of a home, he still made it a point to visit the place as frequently as thrice a year. The Mullayanagiri mountain, at the foothills of which the town lies, was his favorite haunt and his aspiration was to own a coffee estate in the region.
Well this story had a fairy tale like ending (or beginning as it were), when his search of several years resulted in his buying a property in 2009, that encompassed all that he was passionate about. A 40 acre derelict coffee estate was on sale, which to his absolute delight was situated in a ‘dream come true’ strategic location with 360 deg views that framed Chikmagalur city on one side and the Mullayanagiri peak on the other, with the omnipresent cloak of forest green occupying every gap in between.
The first 3 – 4 years were spent literally rejuvenating the estate and bringing it to shape, right from creating a motorable path from the entrance, to building internal pathways, to redoing the entire plantation. A small house was built so that they stay onsite and supervise the construction. The resort structure began to eventually come up in 2012 and the place was finally operational and opened to public by 2016.
The fabulous location and his excitement, resulted in disrupting his initial intention of creating just a small and cozy homestay and ended up in a lavish resort that nestled in the newly restored coffee plantation. Today Java Rain Resorts is easily one of the most sought after Luxury destination in the region.
However, Shivprasad does not believe in resting on his laurels and expansion plans are underway where more facilities and amenities are being added. The enhanced features will make this resort even more attractive and open to a wider audience, including corporates and large gatherings.
An overview of the resort –
Spanning 10 acres within the 40 lush green acres of coffee plantation, the resort is perched at an altitude of 1400 meters (5000 ft) above msl. Its strategic and extremely enviable location gives it the advantage of having the best of views, right from Chikmagalur city below, to 2 large and beautiful lakes on either side and of course the star of the show, the Mullyangiri peak that stands sentinel a bare 12 kms from the resort. Of course the verdant forests fill in all the other spaces, offering an unbroken vista of delight.
And how many locations do you know which offer stunning views of both sunrise and sunset from within the same resort?
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Coffee is the name of the game here and the name of the Name too, if I may say so. Right from the resort to the rooms to the restaurant, coffee rules the nomenclature and Java, Fika, Mirra etc, words that will become very familiar during your stay.
The label Java Rain has been chosen to represent the aura of the place … the Indonesian Java which is synonymous with coffee … and Rain, which the region of Chikmagalur is blessed with.
The logo itself skillfully represents both themes, symbolizing a splashing raindrop and also the beautiful coffee flower inflorescence in full bloom.
Features of the resort –
Java Rain Resorts lies just 500 meters off the main road where a sign board declares the turn off point. As you glide up the driveway in your car, the first view that greets you is the stunning and stylish Reception area which is designed to be open on all sides so as to give you unhindered views of the surrounding expanse.
As you will soon discover, openness and space is the mantra here and great attention to detail is paid, to craft an experience that truly keeps you connected to nature, while simultaneously enjoying modern luxuries.
Guests are greeted personally at the entrance and after a welcome drink, they are given time to gasp at the beauty of the surroundings as they are briefed about the various features of the place 😀
I was welcomed by Jafar the Front Office Manager who very kindly gave me a narration of the place and its amenities.
So much thought has gone into every aspect, that even the 3 pillars that hold up the roof of the lobby, are fashioned after the Java Rain logo as they surge out of the ground to eventually support the roof.
A curved stream along the periphery of the floor, denotes the water which has flowed after the imaginary splash from the giant raindrop pillar.
Well these are the kind of details that only a highly curious mind (like yours truly) will scoop out and Jafar really had his brains picked clean by me. Of course he willingly obliged 😀
The roof itself is unusually shaped into what I might call a polygon with curved sides, for lack of a better phrase 😀
There is a hint of Indonesia in the Bali’esque statue of Saraswati at the lobby and so also in the gentle Buddhas that rest in various nooks and corners of the property.
This main block of the resort is a centralized area where most of the facilities can be accessed. The resort is huge and spread across 10 acres but the localizing of many of the important features is a very comfortable design which eliminates the need for the guest to go hither and thither for every small need.
The main building stands on 2 levels, with the open air lobby at ground level and the restaurant, swimming pool, amphitheater, spa, activity area and children’s play area at a lower level, which one drops into via a winding stairway from the floor of the lobby.
To the right of all this is an open air play area, followed by all the cottages. At the edge of the premises stands the Crimson Peak Bar and restaurant.
A couple of gazebos are perched on rocky outcrops that afford a position of vantage.
There is a subdued grey and white color scheme throughout the resort, which is a deliberate choice since the aim is to make the greenery the hero and not have it disrupted or dominated by more conspicuous hues. The cottages blend subtly without seeking attention, their nondescript exteriors belying the luxury that lies in wait within. Thus, flashy exteriors have been eschewed here but the interiors more than make up for it in lavishness.
They have also endeavored to retain the indigenous vegetation of the region, to keep it as original to the land as possible. Hence flowering trees like gulmohar, jacaranda etc have not been planted, even though they would have no doubt added color but would have not been the natural vegetation of the area.
Only 10 feet in front of the cottages have manicured gardens while the rest of the space retains the look of a regular coffee plantation, which is the experience that the resort particularly strives to give the guest.
As far as possible, no trees have been cut during the construction, to the extent that a few trees actually pass through the cottages and other structures.
There is great care also maintained in the choice of building material, resulting in an eco friendly usage of re-purposed wood, locally sourced granite etc.
Though it is not difficult to access any of the cottages, there is an electric buggy in case any of the guests need to be transported.
There are 25 cottages/stay options at the property which are very generous in size and well appointed with amenities like flat screen TV, tea and coffee making facilities, mini bar, electronic safe, stand fan on request, iron, hairdryer, bathroom slippers etc.
Glass water bottles provide an unlimited supply of purified drinking water and the mini bar is stocked with a one time complimentary supply of snacks and juices.
Indonesia finds its way into the cottages too, by way of some of the artefacts.
An L shaped floor to ceiling glass wall on two sides, bring the outdoors inside, providing a near seamless experience of being in the midst of the plantation. Sheer as well as heavy curtains run parallel on channels and can be used according to the needs of privacy. However, the cottages are designed so skillfully that there is little chance of anyone accessing the back of any cottage, hence ensuring seclusion.
Ventilation is provided by way of net windows that allow fresh air while preventing insects (you are in a forest after all).
Strategically placed skylights reduce the need for using electric lights during most of the day.
The large comfortable bed and mattress faces the outdoors and it is an amazing sensation to lie down with the forest in view.
All the cottages are endowed with a porch in front and a huge sit out at the back.
A jumbo, cozy, round patio chair is the most endearing piece of furniture at the back, where one can curl up for ever with a book or just stare into space for eternity. I went through quite a bit of calorie loss, jumping up and down trying to shoot myself in the chair with the help of a side table that propped my self timer camera 😀
The bathrooms again, are lavishly spacious with a large bathing area and almost flat ceramic washbasins that seem to defy physics, to provide a splash resistant surface 😀 The design is rustic yet innovative and these sinks (that do not sink) are quite an interesting feature of the washrooms. I also loved the wooden ladder towel rack. All bath toiletries and amenities are provided.
Cottage categories –
As I mentioned at the beginning, the cottages have coffee themed names and we have the Kaffa, Qahwa and the Fika.
Kaffa is the base category and is named after an old province in Ethiopia where coffee originated.
This cottage is more like a suite with a large bedroom and an attached living room, both of which also have individual entrances.
It provides all the aforementioned amenities and also had a delightful shower in the bathroom, that is open to the sky, apart from the regular shower for the less adventurous 😀 It was hard for me to understand why this was was the basic category because it seemed to be quite on par with the next category too.
The Kaffa cottages are independent units.
The next type of cottage is the Qahwa, named after the strong Arabic coffee brew. These single bedroom cottages are a bit larger than the Kaffa and have all the usual amenities as well the luxury of a 2 person private Jacuzzi in the bathroom.
The Qahwa cottages are in pairs and have an interconnecting door that can be used if and when needed.
They gave me this cottage probably because I am brewed strong like the Qahwa … a dose of Qahwa’line Radhakrishnan anyone?
Cottage 204 was beautiful but unfortunately I had no time to enjoy the relaxing pleasures of the hot tub.
The Fika is the presidential suite. Fika translates to coffee break in Swedish but is said to be not just a break but more of an emotion, just like the majestic 3 bedroom suites here.
There are 2 such clusters of 3 bedrooms each, which are separated from each other by a lawn that overlooks the valley and the city. The lawn is also a charming space to hang out and is provided with a rustic table and benches.
Flexibility is the key here and the villa can be booked as a whole or even in parts. Large majestic entrance ways lead to an equally large living cum dining room and kitchenette.
There are 3 bedrooms, all of which have access to the main living room. The bathrooms are huge too and all of them have a portion that is open to the sky.
Each of the bedrooms have unique features, the sum total of which makes for an uber luxurious experience. One bedroom has a large annexe with a seating area, another has a jacuzzi and the third has a private swimming pool.
In addition, the villas also offer stunning views of the city and lake in the distance.
These villas are ideal for a large family or groups.
Dining options –
Mirra and Crimson Peak are the 2 dining cum bar locations at the resort, apart from private candle light dinners that are organized in the gazebos. There is also a 24 hours In Room Dining service. Details about the cuisine and restaurants are available on the post on Dining options at the Java Rain Resorts.
Banquet halls and meeting rooms –
Expansion of the resort is in progress and there is an upcoming Banquet/Conference hall that can accommodate 300 people.
Amenities and facilities –
The resort has a host of indoor and outdoor activities which you can read about in detail on the this post on Experiences at the Java Rain Resorts.
Coffee on sale –
The resort also sells packaged coffee products by the brand name Classic and guests can buy this and rekindle their memories with every sip.
Phone and internet connectivity –
Remember you are somewhere in the hills of Karnataka and dependent on the vagaries of your phone service provider. My Vodafone signals were rather patchy. However, the resort provides a reasonably stable WiFi and I did manage with that.
Visitor profile –
The place is suitable for any type of traveller. It is a very good option for a family holiday because children have enough to keep themselves occupied. It is also a safe place for them provided the usual precautions are taken care of. The Crimson Peak bar however, is out of bounds for those below the age of 12.
Though the conference hall is still under construction, the place does get a good share of corporates and business travellers who use the premises for team building activities etc. Arrangements are made to accommodate their requirements and can be discussed with the management. The conference hall that will shortly open, will also take care of the needs of larger gatherings.
It is a good destination for reunions and get-togethers of families and friends.
Apart from this, it is obviously a romantic place for honeymooners, couples and so on. It is very safe for solo travellers and is a very convenient luxury option for adventure enthusiasts who seek to trek or explore the surroundings, some of which have no proper stay facilities even within a 50 – 70 km radius.
The resort is suitable for artists, birdwatchers, photographers and even those who would like to visit the many well known temples in the surroundings, including the stunning heritage sites of Belur and Halebidu.
The residents of Bangalore city in particular, find this to be a convenient weekend getaway and currently form a large percentage of the guest profile.
Social and environmental commitment –
The attempt to be environment friendly is strong, since the owners believe in the usage of eco friendly material and practices.
At the resort, they have resorted to using glass bottles that contain RO purified water which is provided limitlessly to the rooms. This has drastically reduced the generation of one time use plastic bottles.
There is no usage of plastic straws and bamboo is being looked on as an alternative.
Every room in every cottage is designed to let in as much natural daylight as possible, thus eliminating the need for using electricity for the to brighten the rooms in the daytime. A liberal use of glass along most of the walls, bathrooms with frosted glass and skylights in nooks and corners, totally do away with the necessity of using electric lights in the daytime.
Energy saving bulbs have been used through the premises.
Natural ventilation is provided via netted windows, thus reducing the need to use the air conditioning. Stand fans are also provided on request.
They have a water treatment plant where the output is used for gardening purposes.
Food waste is converted to compost.
Afforestation is taken up on a large scale and till date they have been planting 1000-4000 trees every year and plan on continuing to do so.
Best time to visit –
Chikmagalur is a year round destination. The resort is open throughout the year with the peak season being during April and May due to school holidays and the weather though not as cold as in winter, is still pleasant even through summer. Winter, which falls between October to March, though far colder, is another peak time and also sees a large number of tourists who come to enjoy the bonfire warmed evenings and the crisp cold air of the daytime.
Monsoons in the rain forests have their own charm of course and though outdoor activities may be restricted, this is a good time to enjoy the amenities at the resort like the indoor games that one might not have given priority to otherwise 😀
What you should carry –
The resort provides a host of amenities and apart from walking shoes, binoculars, cameras, raincoats in the monsoon etc, one does not actually need anything in particular.
Getting there –
By air – Chikmagalur has a very small landing strip for private chartered flights. The nearest relevant international airports are at Mangalore 150 km (3.5 hours) and Bangalore 250 km (4.5 hours)
Rail – there is a small railway station that does not have any access from any major city.
Road – the city is best accessed by road. There are luxury and state run bus services from cities like Bangalore and Mangalore. The most convenient way of getting there is by private vehicle or cab.
If leaving from Bangalore, make sure to leave the city before 6.30 am to avoid the traffic that might lengthen your journey by at least an hour.
The highway is excellent and is 4 lane for most of the way. There are several decent restaurants and wash room stops on the way and that makes the journey really pleasant.
Nearer to Chikmagalur, one passes by several fields, lakes and water bodies where birds can be spotted, usually in the mornings and evenings.
The resort is 12 km from the city and there are cabs that can be used for the commute.
Booking and contact –
Girija Estates, Survey no – 618, Chikmagalur, Karnataka 577101
Phone – +91 90086 66000
Email id of – firstname.lastname@example.org
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