Take A Break In The Peaceful Hills Of Kemmannagundi

Its compact charms make Kemmannagundi one of the most fun-filled short breaks in Karnataka
Take A Break In The Peaceful Hills Of Kemmannagundi
Take A Break In The Peaceful Hills Of Kemmannagundi

The way to Kemmannagundi is planted with enough compelling road signs to waylay innocent tourists into some other, seemingly more tempting holiday. But if you stick firmly to your path, skirting the tangential charms of Halebid and Belur, the Chikmagalur coffee estates, and the distant road to Kudremukh, you&rsquoll reach a hill that was once preferred by a monarch.

Kemmannagundi is actually a single secluded hill that&rsquos been successfully posing as a hill station ever since Krishna Rajendra Wodeyar IV made it his summer haven in 1932. Its compact charms &ndash views, waterfalls, gardens, all in a day&rsquos work &ndash make it one of the most funfilled short holidays from Bengaluru. Every Saturday, families and college students burst upon this getaway that still carries the grand title of Krishna Rajendra Hill Station.


The 61-km journey from Chikmagalur to Kemmannagundi is like watching a nature programme on a shaky TV screen. Sprawling coffee estates shaded with silver oaks  line the route to the hill station. The Horticulture Department Guesthouse is thick with flowers that invite you to put your feet up and unwind in the garden over a cup of tea.

There&rsquos the Rock Garden within the guesthouse premises maintained by the Horticulture Department. The Kallahati Falls (10km), also known as Kalahasti Falls, descend from a height of 122m and are quite pretty. It&rsquos a lovely place for a picnic lunch. You could take a short trek to the Hebbe Falls (8km), but don&rsquot attempt swimming here. And then there&rsquos Z Point, the perfect location from which to watch sunsets. The place is popular with trekkers.

In Kemmannagundi, the hilltop Horticulture Department Guesthouse is the only option. Most rooms here are ordinary with the barest facilities. But Raj Bhawan, right on top, has fantastic views and large rooms. Located a few kilometres away from the town, Ozone Valley is a beautiful hill resort set amidst dense coffee plantations. 

Around Kemmannagundi
Shivgiri Trails (35km) This 100-year-old estate is located in the Hoggarekangiri hill ranges of Chikmagalur district atop a remote hill in the middle of a tiger reserve. As you drive up the winding mud road, which offers you a spinetingling view of the valleys and the forested hills, you&rsquoll notice that the place is so isolated that nobody except those connected with the estate ever move around here. Disappear into the greenery here and don&rsquot return till evening.
Perhaps you&rsquoll never return at all, if you don&rsquot take the expert guidance of local guides. The Yemmedoddi Forests were once the favoured hunting grounds of the British. From here, you can take a trip to Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary (45km) in the Muthodi Range, at 12&ndash14 per km per person. Shivgiri has its tigers even to this day. Panthers, too, show up from time to time. You will also see mouse deer, barking deer, Sloth bears, and wild boars.
Many natural caves are to be found here. One such cave, up on a grassy flank in the deep valley ahead of the guesthouse, has always been a repository of bones left behind by one of the big cats. If you have the guts, a guide will lead you to it. 

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