It was by chance that Simon & Garfunkel were singing ‘Slow down, you move too fast, You got to make the morning last’ through my I-pod as the Serai guest van drove through the verdant green gates. I was instantly hypnotised by the smell of fresh jasmines around my neck and the sandalwood tika that was part of my welcome. This is the only ‘traditional’ aspect of living at The Serai Chikmagalur. This isn’t a traditional hotel, but more like a cluster of plush residences. A village of wellness built around a huge swimming pool. I was blown away by the visual appeal of the pool from the lobby area as I sipped on the nimbu pani. A blue-topaz-like pool- with lapwings hopping around the poolside – that was fringed with these huge vessels in which grew the most vibrant water lilies – and the town of Chikmagalur sprawled in the horizon.
Reconnect with nature
Before I knew it, a club car – something like a golf cart – had arrived to take me to my villa. But who wanted to sit in the room when the estate was beckoning me to explore it. Indeed, The Serai Chikmagalur, set on one of the town’s most beautiful coffee estates is tucked into the arms of nature and is surrounded by verdant greens. Fresh blossoms atop shrubs and trees, air laced with the tang of spices, butterflies fluttering alongside you and clouds leading your path – time does tread softly, should the tranquillity be disturbed. So I was taken on a tour of the estate where I saw, among their facilities, an open-air gymnasium, a children’s mini-park, their organic kitchen garden and nursery and the estate’s library. All along I was told how natural scenery had been integrated with minimal design to give an open feel, and I was eager to check out the villa.
Built along a central water axis to form a symmetry of balance and calm, every villa is engulfed by greenery and boasts natural rosewood floors, a private pool, a gazebo constructed with chapdi – a local stone and a very quaint outdoor shower area. The villas are an eclectic combination of classic and contemporary design, modern architecture and local material – old world charm embellished by luxurious amenities. In The Serai Chikmagalur, there are 14 Estate Villas with a pool and double bed, 6 Estate Villas with pool and twin bed, 4 Estate Villas with jacuzzi, 4 Estate Terrace Villas and the pride of the property – The Residence.
The Oma Spa is another haven of rejuvenation within the property. The best part – most treatments are based on coffee – that is grown and processed at the estate itself. Discover the healing, beautifying and rejuvenating powers of coffee as you surrender to the massages.
More to life
If adventure, treks, rafting, et al is your thing then The Serai, in Chikmagalur is your ideal luxury base station, geographically located as it right in the middle of some exciting and fun adventure options. Whether you want to go for walks in the coffee estate or laze around near the pool area, activities at The Serai Chikmagalur have been designed keeping myriad tastes in mind. Great for treks, Chikmagalur has peaks to scale and jungle paths to explore. Sight tigers, leopards, bison, wild boar and many other species at Muthodi and Bhadra. Seasoned hikers may enjoy climbing Mullayangiri, the highest peak in Karnataka. If your proclivities lean towards the historical and cultural, do visit the nearby temple towns of Belur and Halebidu. Shravanbelagola is a must-visit to see Gomateshwara – the highest monolithic statue in the world!
Even at the Estate, there is so much to do! Recapture the thrill of childhood adventures with all-terrain cycling – across trails with breathtaking views of the plantations and watch the birds fly past. Guides will clue you into the intricacies of nature, the trees, creepers, the various crops and, of course, coffee! Sign up for a ‘Bean to Cup Activity’ – where you are driven to the Kudregundi Estate – to see each step in the coffee-making process – the growing, the plantation, the harvesting, pulping, drying. Roast your coffee beans and grind them. It will taste so different from any cup of coffee you may have had. If you are tired of setting goals and trying to reach them, just turn it into a game at the archery grounds. You will have a great time chasing bull’s eye. Kids will have a whale of a time too, with an American air hockey table and two foosball tables in the children’s playroom.
Odyssey, the world cuisine restaurant blends each ingredient and subtle flavours from the world over. But when in Chikmagalur, there is no other cuisine that you will enjoy more than Malanad. The chefs will lift the most basic dishes – ragi balls, akki roti, soppu saadu to a divine level – perhaps thanks to the special herbs grown in the kitchen garden. The Cosmopolitan that the bartender served was the best I ever sipped! While here, do try the traditional pork curry.
Chikmagalur is 250km away from Bangalore. On the National Highway NH 47 between Bangalore and Mangalore, take a deviation at Hassan. From Hassan, Chikmagalur is only 55km away. Chikmagalur is connected to other towns like Koppa, Sringeri, Kadur and Birur by road. Chikmagalur district does not have an airport. Airports at Mangalore, Bangalore and Hubli can be used as alternatives.
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Text and images by Aarti Kapur Singh
Featured image by The Serai Chikmagalur