Chikmagalur (also known as Chikkamagaluru), is a city and the headquarters of Chikmagalur district of Karnataka, India. The name translates to “younger daughter’s town” – it is said to have been given as a dowry to the youngest daughter of Rukmangada, the legendary chief of Sakharayapattana. The city is in the Malnad region of the state, in the Deccan Plateau, nestled in the foothills of the gorgeous Western Ghats. Hills, forests, rivers, waterfalls – this place is surrounded by natural beauty, and a lot of it is still unexplored. That adds to the intriguing beauty of the place. I had visited Chikmagalur back in 2007. Such fun times! Recently, Tapash and I headed out headed out there again last month – to The Serai Chikmagalur – it was our anniversary, and we decided to make a weekend of it! This post is Part 1 of our experiences.
We started early, and made good progress. Took a small detour to see the submerged Gothic Church and then proceeded to reach The Serai Chikmagalur around lunch time. First view: the property is spacious and lovely, perched on a hillock with a gorgeous view of the forests and the sky. For city escapees like us, the verdant greens, the horizon with no other concrete in sight is as refreshing as the fresh crisp air itself! The property is built around a coffee plantation – spanning across 70 acres. The plantation provides coffee to the Cafe Coffee Day group, which Serai resorts is also a part of. We entered into the reception and lounge area, that had a view onto the pool and courtyard. The villas were beyond the pool with a nice walk way in the center.
After a seamless check in – and a lovely welcome with chocolate and coffee with jaggery, we were ushered to Villa #5, a short walk down the pathway beyond the pool. Our villa was nice and spacious, with a super comfortable bed, lounge area, outdoor pool and pool bed. And a bathroom of dreams! Soon after we arrived and settled in, the Serai team sent over lunch in cute little meal boxes. It was an assorted Oriental fare, I am going to do a separate article on the dining at the place, as it is so varied and interesting!
There are 3 main categories of room at The Serai Chikmagalur: a) The Estate Villa with private pool or jacuzzi b) Estate Terrace with two tiered villa and private pool c) The Residence with designer bedrooms, dining and seating areas and a private pool. All the categories offer luxurious and elegant living experience, offering privacy and exclusivity.
After the sumptuous lunch, we headed over to attend the estate tour, conducted by Pradeep. Having attended many, many estate and plantation walks, I can tell you we loved this one! We walked through the property, into the plantation area understanding coffee varietals and were also shown various other trees, plants, fruits and vegetables that grow and are used in the resort restaurants. Most of us were on foot, while some residents joined on bicycles available at the resort. The tour ended with a display of various grades of coffee, and a taste of the estate filter coffee.
Our evening plans were simple – to head for a couples’ spa. In Sanskrit Oma means ‘life giver’. The Spa is based on holistic and natural, back to the earth wellness and beautification. We called in before for an appointment, and then headed there. The spa menu is quite exhaustive, listing western and eastern holistic techniques. I opted for the signature therapy, which was the ‘coffee cure’ – a famed anti-oxidant which is terrific for skin, and great to be incorporated into a therapy. It was 90 minutes of dexterous massage working on tight and sore muscles and sinews, allaying tension and stress. Tapash opted for the Fitness Massage – that uses lavender, rosemary and clove oil, to warm up the muscles. Firm strokes and deep pressure therapy, designed to alleviate pain and aches. The couples’ room had a bath tub, steam and shower room, perfect for after therapy unwinding.
More Activities in Serai Chikmagalur
Usually, I love just lazing around when I head out of town. But Tapash is entirely the opposite. He likes to go for a morning run, then a swim, perhaps some photography before I make it to breakfast! We loved the activities that The Serai Chikmagalur offered. Tapash got his morning dose of workout with some cycling around the estate, and a swim in their gorgeous pool. It was so lovely, that I couldn’t resist a dip either! The walk through coffee plantation, that I mentioned before, is scheduled everyday at 4, albeit there is a little buffer for tardy folks.
An activity that’s really enjoyable here is Bird Watching – there are so many species right there at the property. It’s lovely walking around the plantation, amidst the robusta and arabica plants, and a whole lot of other greens and vegetation. The peace and tranquility almost envelopes you in a warm and comforting embrace. The calming lush greens is welcome to your eyes and other senses simply enjoy the quiet.
Another activity we loved participating in was the coffee picking. We were lucky that it was the start of the season that weekend. We walked around with the expert ladies who were deftly picking the coffee fruit. And then, the crew escorted us to an area with a lot of unpicked plants, and let us have at it! It can get very competitive in groups, but we had a lot of fun doing this for the first time!
Places To See Nearby
There are various tourist attractions in Chikmagalur, starting with Mullayanagiri – Karnataka’s highest peak with an altitude of 1950 meters, and various waterfalls en route. There’s also Baba Budan Giri, after the Sufi saint who smuggled 7 coffee beans to India, and planted them in Chikmagalur, bringing coffee to India. The folks at Serai also recommended the Hirekolale Lake – a beautiful manmade lake amidst beauty and surrounded by high mountains. We could see the hills of Mullayanagiri can be viewed from there. The beautiful Belur temple is also only 25 km from Chikmagalur.
There’s also a lovely Kodandaramaswami Temple at Hiremagalur, near the city, which has a beautiful lore about Rama facing Parashurama as he was en route home along with newly married wife Sita and his brother Lakshman. The brothers are shown holding their bows, and the deities have many uniqueness about them, which the kind pandit at the temple patiently explained. After a long time, enjoyed a temple visit and it felt beautiful and calm.
The Last Word
This was the Part 1 of my blog series on The Serai and Chikmagalur. This one focuses on things to do in and around the resort. For more information and booking queries, you can log on to their website. If you’ve had a stressed year, like us, or are just looking for a quiet getaway, this place would pretty much wake you up to smell the coffee beans and fresh air for the much needed R&R. The next post will talk about the various dining options at The Serai, Chikmagalur – Odyssey, The Blue Sky and the outdoor dining options.