Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.

Haruki Murakami

For me, this trip was supposed to be about spending time in the hills and valleys, enjoying their calming green presence and soaking in the smell of wet earth. But this trip turned out to be all about freedom. Freedom from the confines of walls that you build in your head, to keep one foot in front of the other every day. We strive, thrive and make a living but often forget that we need new experiences in order to feel alive. Experiences that take you to a different world, filled with green fields, blue skies, open space and the freedom of solitude. Silence is a sound that is definitely worth hearing, once in a while. But nothing can match the symphony of a breeze that caresses the green tresses of rolling hills, whispering to the gushing stream and whistling through the old old trees. As I have said before, the hills are my muse and it was beautiful to spend another weekend nestled in the hills of Sakleshpur.

View of Agani Hills from the drive to Tusk and Dawn

Off to the Hills again!

A post on Instagram from someone I follow led me to Agani gudda, a small hill nestled in the folds of the western ghats, with some beautiful view of the hills and valleys around. After a quick check with the usual set of fellow travel enthusiasts, we decided to spend a night nestled in the hills around Sakleshpur. Soon the group expanded to 6 families and we quickly narrowed down on Tusk and Dawn(T&D) as our overnight halt. Added advantage was the guided trek to Agani gudda, which T&D was including as part of the deal. There was the issue of rain and 3-4kms of bad roads, but we decided to deal with it when we get there as we did have the option of parking our cars in a private estate and using the resorts 4*4 to reach T&D. We decided to take a small detour to Mallalli falls on the way to T&D 😉

Green fields after HN Pura

Gorur Dam Backwaters

5th Sep morning was a 5.30 am start and after a quick breakfast at Swati delicacy we took the detour at CR Patna and headed towards Arkalgud. Lush green fields welcomed us and we found ourselves slowing down every 10 min for a quick photo or just to take in the beauty around us. Just as we crossed Arkalgud, we found ourselves with water on either side. Gorur dam was keeping  Hemavathy river in check and the backwaters was a beautiful sight to behold.

Gorur dam backwaters

Majestic Mallalli again

After a relatively long stop at the backwaters, we made quick time to Somwarpete, where google decided to confuse us by saying that the direct road to Mallalli was closed. Asked around and got the green signal from a couple of folks, and off we went. The last few kms to Mallalli turnoff is WIP and the lower GC cars (Polo, Vento and Ritz) had to take it slow. We reached Mallalli and realized that the main parking area is still locked, post which we found parking on the road and headed to the falls. Many of the folks in the group decided to walk all the way to the base of the falls and it looked amazing from way down below.

Mallalli Falls from the base of the waterfall. Pic Credits - Chandrasekhar
Majestic Mallalli falls

Yeh dil maange more green

We had arranged for lunch at Chiguru Homestay and after a long lunch, we headed out towards hethur via shanivarasanthe. The road from Shanivarasanthe to Vanagoor is such a treat to drive, beautiful tarmac surrounded by all kinds of green. Fluorescent green of paddy fields, fresh green of wet grass and bushes, dark green of young trees and that special solitude green that I associate with old trees and forests. After a leisurely stroll around the lone tree that marks this grassland at hethur, we finally decided to head towards Sakleshpur and T&D.

Lone Tree at Hethur
View of grasslands from Lone tree at Hethur

We reached Hanbal at 4.30 PM and after a quick chat with the T&D manager who was waiting to lead us to the resort, we decided to drive up all the way. The last 3 kms to T&D was challenging, to put it mildly. We were literally crawling up and down mud roads, which at places was churned into slick muck by a few 4*4s. I remember one stretch of the road where I could see patches of green moss on the brown muddy mounds and could feel the tires slip and slide a bit before biting in. On the whole, the last 20 min to the resort was a fun drive and we got there and heaved a sigh of relief. The rest of the evening and night was just light hearted fun and banter accompanied by some hot food. Based on the discussions with the manager, half of us had decided to not undertake the trek to the top of Agani gudda(gudda in kannada is hill).

The hills of Agani

6th Sep morning, 3 families headed out to conquer Agani gudda and the rest of us woke up to a lazy beautiful day nestled among the hills. We had decided to sit out of the trek and hence spent time at the resort exploring and clicking pics. After breakfast we had some fun in the small waterfall that is adjacent to the dining area and waited for the other families to return from the trek.

Tusk and Dawn Resort
Tusk and Dawn Resort

After a relaxed lunch, we headed back to civilization at 2.45 pm. The return leg amidst the slush and mud was not very challenging as it hadn’t rained much overnight and we already knew what to expect. Decided to drive back via Mudigere handpost – Belur – Hassan to avoid the Sakleshpur – Hassan stretch. We made good time and reached Swati delicacy at 6 pm. After a long relaxed coffee session at Swati, we headed back home. Traffic on the highway made me think about pre-covid long weekends. Decided to avoid Nelamangala toll and drove back home after taking the detour inside Nelamangala town.

~650 kms on the odo and a lot of it was driving around the hills and valleys of Coorg and Sakleshpur. I can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend!

Green fields and empty roads

Route and Road Conditions

BLR – CR Patna – Arkalgud – Shanivarasanthe – Somwarpet:  Very good to great roads.

Somwarpet – Mallalli Falls:  Last 3-4 kms to the turn off towards Mallalli is bad as the road is WIP. Can be negotiated in any car with some careful driving. Do note that Gmaps will reroute you at Somwarpete as it still shows a part of the road between Somwarpet – Mavinakatte to be under construction. Don’t take the detour that Gmaps offer and stick to Somwarpet – Mavinakatte – Mallalli route.

Somwarpet – Shanivarasanthe – Vanagoor – Hethur:  Very good roads, especially the stretch from Shanivarasnathe – Vanagoor, which is interspersed with fields on both side.

Hethur – Byakaravalli – Anemahal:  Good roads.

Anemahal – Hanbal:  – Good roads with the occasional broken patch.

Hanbal – Tusk & Dawn:  – Driveable roads for the most part, except for the last 3 km stretch of mud and stones.

Hanbal – Jannapura – Belur:  – Wonderful stretch of twisty roads. Absolute treat to drive this in the afternoon with minimum traffic. Belur – Hassan – BLR:  – Nothing new here, roads are good but weekend traffic is getting back to pre-covid level on the Hassan highway.