Sakaleshpura is a hill station town and headquarter of Sakleshpur Taluk in Hassan District in Karnataka. The city is at an elevation of 3113 ft. The town lies in the Malnad region of the Western Ghats. Sakleshpur is listed as one of the 18 most diverse spots in the world in terms of flora and fauna. It has a temperate climate surrounded with lofty green hills full of Coffee, Cardamom, Pepper and Areca Plantations. These crops which contribute mainly to the economy of the Taluk are grown in the surrounding villages and entire taluk are brought to Sakleshpura city for sale. The town lies on National Highway 48 which connects port city of Mangalore with capital city Bangalore, of Karnataka state.
I have passed through Sakleshpur – also known as Munzerabad, many times on my way to Mangalore. I have always wanted to spend some time in this misty town which heralds the entry into the mighty Western Ghats. My brother passed away on 06 Oct 2012 and the event had taken a heavy toll on the family –especially on his wife Vishala and daughter Chitty. To provide a change of scene and for a bit of rest and recuperation I planned a trip to Munzerabad Club along with Jai Vishala and Chitty. The club is affiliated to WGC. A close friend of Chittu – Mithali, came along with us. We left Bangalore early at 0645AM and reached the club at 1030AM, with a halt in Kamath for breakfast.
Munzerabad Club is 118 years old having been established in 1894 by the British plantation owners for their families. The Brits had come to Sakleshpur to start Coffee Plantations in the area. The club takes you back in time – my childhood memories of visiting coffee plantations in Javali and Koppa in Chikkamagaluru District along with my grandparents, came back vividly. Huge bungalows guarded by ferocious dogs, incessant rains, mist, endless stretches of greenery – life ticking away at a slow pace – not to be dithered by the ordinary hum drum of life.
Figure 1 - Entrance to the club
Figure 2 - Munzerabad Club
Figure 3 - Claim to history
Figure 4 - Wet view from our rooms
We spent three lazy days relaxing in the club and enjoying the ambiance and the facilities the club offered. As it was raining in the evenings all of us made use of the gym extensively – it was a must after all the heavy eating one does during holidays. Breakfast was at hotel Surabhi conveniently located just outside the club. After a sumptuous BF, we used to head out into the open with packed picnic lunches and return by 3PM to catch a spot of ZZZzzzz. The drive on NH 48 is very exhilarating especially in the ghat section near Sakleshpur. Upto the city, the roads are in excellent state. We did not venture out further on NH48, but I am told the road is in a very bad state. We however went on a local road in search of the elusive ‘Bisle Reserve Forest’ – a stage reached when there were no roads or any sign of people. After a bit of misplaced adventure we gave up the pursuit and returned to the club. 18th Nov, TOI reported an incident wherein a taxi driver who was walking along a track near this area in search of a petrol station was trampled by an elephant and killed. Thank the Lord.
Figure 5 - Dense forest enroute to Bisle
Figure 6 - Picnic Spot
Figure 7 - Photo op
The evenings were well spent in the club. The sun sets early and darkness descends on the hills like a blanket.The stony silence suddenly envelopes the entire club only to be broken by chirping of birds returning home.The club has a very well appointed bar named ’Cock and Bull’ what an excellent name .The bar is well stocked and well appointed. The bar man Mr Poojari is always ready with a smile to dish out your elixir.
Figure 9 - Inside of Cock and Bull
Figure 10 - In the club verandah – a wild boar with its tooth
One day we went across to Muzerabad Fort – derelict remains of Tippu Sultan’s fort. The fort was used mainly as a look-out post because of the clear view from the hills around. The fort is in a state of neglect and the ‘Archeological Society of India’ has done little to protect the place – a sorry state indeed.
Figure 11 - At the entrance
Figure 12 - View from top
Figure 13 - Looking refreshed
Figure 14- Equally refreshed
At the end of three days all were rested well and Sakleshpur had done its job. The stay gave an opportunity to all of us to relax and unwind. The food in the club was good and their akki roti (rice chapati) was excellent. Swamy the attendant looked after us well.We went to the local market and bought some spices - they are good. Sakleshpur offers a very good opportunity for a quick getaway from Bangalore. Take a break and travel away from your home and do exactly the same things that you would have done at home – it will still be very enjoyable and comforting. The very thought of going out, drive and the company will make the mood. There are many home stays in and around the Sakleshpur meeting the bill.