I can’t count the number of times, we have put off going on a short weekend getaway, telling each other lets save for a nice big holiday instead.. only to realize later that we didn’t end up going on any big holiday that year! So many things keep coming up, family functions, festivals, weddings, emergencies, not getting enough leave from work etc. And we sigh and say, we’ll just go later for a nice big trip.But life is short and there’s so much to see!
“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
Kids don’t care if its an expensive holiday or a weekend getaway, as long as they get to have an adventure, see something new and spend precious time with you as a family! I can tell you confidently, the spontaneous trips we’ve taken were the most fun and surprising ones. The ones with the most adventures and funny stories, getting lost, eating at a highway stop, finding a lake.. We’ll never forget those.
Our weekend in Chikamagalur was one of those trips. It was August and we suddenly realized on a Thursday that we had a long weekend ahead and started looking online for some nice hill station hotels nearby. We had never been to a coffee plantation before so were quite keen on staying in one. As expected, since it was a long weekend most of the large hotels were booked. But we were looking for plantations and there were a few that really looked awesome! We loved the rustic feel of the Coffee Village Retreat in Mudigere and decided to stay there.
This home-stay is on the Kimmane Coffee Estate and is literally in the middle of nowhere. Which is why we chose it! Right in the lap of nature, with no phone signal or GPS, this trip was truly an adventure into the wild. The GPS map faithfully guided us to Mudigere and then began our adventure… We drove slowly as we were travelling with a child and stopped to see the beautiful scenery so it took us about 6 hours from Bangalore to Mudigere town.
From there on, there were no signboards so we relied on the directions given on the phone by the home stay. Darkness was falling and we didn’t realize that in this part of town, there are just rolling hills and acres of coffee plantations with no lights and barely a road at all! (We really should have left Bangalore early morning) So we drove on, trying to stay on the road in the pitch black of 6 pm. Yes it was only 6 pm and we saw foxes and heard peacock sounds in the bushes on either side of the car. My daughter also chimed in with her own rendition of all the animal sounds she knew.
Finally at the end of this winding road, we saw a gate and rejoiced that we finally found this elusive haven in Chikmagalur. What a gorgeous place it was!! The main bungalow is a 150 year old British heritage bungalow with the rooms done up in a quaint country cottage style. They also have a modern villa on a little hill. You should stay in the new villa. It is large, beautifully designed and has breathtaking views! the owner is an interior designer so you can tell, each item is handpicked with perfection. All meals were included in the package rate and the food was home made, tasty and simple. The chef cooked special dal khichdi for the kids too. We loved having coffee and snacks on the porch overlooking the valley of coffee plants.
The next day we explored the coffee estate and looked for the dozens of peacocks who just prance around on the pathways. We also drove with one of their staff to the hills nearby staring in amazement at the beauty of the mountains and valleys.
Running through the clouds at the mountain top was the best! We drank what felt like barrels of excellent coffee and ate the delicious home made bhajiyas as we sat on the porch and watched it drizzle. We didn’t even think of the TV, computers, work, or phones… everything just faded in comparison to the the magnificence of nature.
Yes, when you plan and save for a trip, you can go for a longer time, stay at the choicest hotels and plan an itinerary in advance. And there’s also the anticipation of the holiday to look forward to. But with our stressful, busy lives and jobs, these spontaneous short breaks are just what we need to break the monotony! Unwind and chill out. Leave that traffic ridden road of the city behind you and take off into the countryside. For those of us who live in Bangalore, there are so many awesome destinations within driving distance. Like, Coorg, Chikamagalur, Ooty, Nandi Hills, even Pondicherry. From Mumbai too there are many awesome resorts within driving distance, and fantastic roads.
This one site I found was very helpful when planning our weekend getaways: www.abreakplease.com. They give you weekend road trip ideas from Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune.
www.plantationtrails.net : This is a Tata property and they have many room options on their estate.
www.theserai.in : This is a group of hotels that has properties in Coorg, Chikamagalur and Kabini too. Pricing is on the higher side, but the hotels and facilities are premium.
There you have it.. now fill up that tank and get driving!