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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Chingaara Coorg Trip

We did this 2 nights, 2 days trip (3 nights and 3 days from start to end) to Coorg by road from 31st Oct to 3rd Nov 2013. Chingaara is not a home-stay, and it is not a resort stay too. It is a estate guest house stay, inside the Chingaara coffee estate.

The 600 KM (round trip) road trip from Bangalore was overall a great trip. The weather was perfect during our stay (A week before the trip, by seeing the rains in Bangalore, we were actually thinking that the rains might spoil our trip). Chingaara estate is a place away from crowds, calm and peaceful, not easy to reach, it is amongst a coffee estate, close to dense plantation / trees, hilly terrains, valleys and mountains, sprawling western ghat ranges, water streams and water falls, birds and nature. Chingaara is located about 40 KM away from Madikeri town, half of that distance towards Talakaveri and then a left turn for the rest of the distance.

Before the trip, as usual I got my car checked up for a long drive at my regular service center. I also got my old tyres replaced with new ones, since recently they had troubled me going flat often, due to aged wear out of their 49k+ km life. I also got together a list of service stations with contact phone numbers along our route, just in case I need due to any breakdown. 

Our stay at Chingaara was booked for 1st Nov and 2nd Nov. But we started from Bangalore on the previous evening and took a break at Srirangapatna. While going from Bangalore to Madikeri / Coorg, since we can take a right turn from Srirangapatna itself (without having to touch Mysore) we decided to halt at Srirangapatna for the night. We did this also because, that way we can drive leisurely, and secondly, by starting from Srirangapatna on the next morning, 1st Nov., we can reach Chingaara around their check-in time of 12 noon. If we start from Bangalore directly on the same morning of the first day of stay, 1st Nov., it will be a long tiring drive as we will also need to start very early in the morning.

Amblee: This was our fourth time stay at Amblee Resorts Srirangapatna, a place we had always liked so much, due to their duplex type rooms, that overlook the Cauvery river, and the nice riverside breakfast we can have; but I must admit, now, Amblee has faded and jaded significantly in maintenance and quality of rooms; this would have probably been the last time we have stayed here.

Our stay at the Chingaara estate guest house and the entire trip was very good. As I mentioned above, Chingaara is about 40 KM away from Madikeri. The Last 2.5 KM can only be traveled by their 4 wheel drive jeep into the estate that is a little up the hill. During our stay at the guest house, we took short walks to the Chingaara water fall within the estate, strolls around in the plantation, an off-road jeep drive 30 min. through the plantations on the hills, a 1 hour trek up and down on a sprawling grass land western ghat mountain called Kabbe Pass, a visit to the Cheluvaraya water fall, a visit to the old royal hunting lodge Nalaknad Palace, and a trip to the Padi Igguthappa Temple. It was a relaxed and memorable trip, in a serene peaceful surroundings for 2 nights and 2 days.

Review: Highlights of Chingaara and this entire trip
     * Great guest house. Attractive red brick building, tiled roofs, large lounge, library, terrace, and sit-out.
     * Fantastic room. We opted for the type-I room that had a mezzanine level with 2 additional beds.
     * Simple vegetarian traditional food, served as buffet, breakfast and dinner included in the tariff itself.
     * Room, food, jeep drive, additional food order, all are economically priced, for such a good place of stay.
     * No staffs here are after our money. I gave zero tips during this entire stay!
     * The calm surroundings of the estate with dense vegetation, birds talking the sound of nature all the time.
     * Serene Chingaara water falls that was completely our own since no external visitors come in.
     * Friendly manager, Sharath Somanna and all the helpful cooks, jeep drivers, and other service staffs.
     * They have made a booklet with details of various trek routes in the estate, mountains and valleys around.
     * They assure that the place is very safe to go on treks on our own using the small booklet as a guide.
     * No one was pushing us hard to be a guide with us for treks or trips to try and make money from us.
     * Trek at the Kabbe Pass on the ghats, with unbound ranges of still and silent grasslands was exotic.
     * The jeep driver doubled up as the trek guide on the Kabbe Pass. The cost was very reasonable.
     * Rustic, 18th century's Royal hunting lodge, Nalaknad Palace at the base of the big Tadiandamol peak.
     * No AC, TV or telephone in the room, that is good; Airtel and other cellphone as well as data work well.
     * Insects are always around (see pictures) in such a place of stay. A highlight, if you look forward to them.
     * Our son spotted a small snake on top of the Kabbe Pass grasslands during our trek. So watch-out.
     * While walking in the surroundings, my wife had a leech bite, she spotted quickly and pulled it out.
     * Their pet dogs (may not be so cute) and their two donkeys (!) keep the place a little lively.
     * Staffs of Chingaara and all estates around strive to keep the place litter-free & plastic-garbage free.

Review: Lowlights of Chingaara and this entire trip
     * Amblee Srirangapatna has been a let down.
     * Housekeeping in the rooms at Chingaara could have been a bit better. Not so bad though.

Here is the snapshot of our itinerary that we had designed and followed.
31-Oct (Thu)
     05:00 PM: Departure from Bangalore
     07:00 PM: Dinner at Kamat Upachar after Channapatna
     09:00 PM: Halt at Amblee Holiday Resorts Srirangapatna
01-Nov (Fri) - Kannada Rajyotsava
    09:00 AM: Breakfast - Sandwiches by the riverside
    10:00 AM: Departure from Amblee
     12:30 PM: Lunch en route, at President hotel Kushal Nagar
     02:50 PM: Arrive at Kabbinakad junction [Yavakapady post]; park our car at the parking lot
     03:05 PM: Transfer by their 4WD jeep for the last 2.5 KM uphill to reach Chingaara guest house
     04:30 PM: Stroll to Chingaara wafer falls located within the estate at a 10 min. walk
     05:15 PM: Back to the guest house for coffee
     08:30 PM: Dinner
     10:00 PM: Rest
02-Nov (Sat) - Naraka Chaturdasi
    07:15 AM: Tea
    09:00 AM: Breakfast
    09:30 AM: Departure on off-roading jeep ride, trek on grasslands on the hills, Cheluvaraya water falls
     01:10 PM: Back from the trek and water falls visit
     01:40 PM: Lunch
     04:30 PM: Coffee
     05:30 PM: Strolls in the estate surroundings
     08:30 PM: Dinner
     10:00 PM: Rest
03-Nov (Sun) - Diwali
     07:15 AM: Tea
     09:00 AM: Breakfast
     09:45 AM: Check-out and jeep ride to drop off at the car parking lot
     10:30 AM: Nalaknad Palace; spent 20 min.
     11:10 AM: Padi Igguthappa Temple; spent 20 min.
     11:30 AM: Departure towards Madikeri
     12:45 PM: Lunch en route, at Prestige Residency Madikeri
     01:45 PM: Departure towards Bangalore
     05:30 PM: Coffee en route, at Maddur Tiffanys
     08:00 PM: Back in Bangalore

Route Map
Onward route: Bangalore >> Kamat Upachar >> Amblee Srirangapatna >> President Hotel Kushal Nagar >> Madikeri >> Napoklu >> Kakabe >> Kabbinakad junction (Yavakapady post): Click here for Google Map of our onward route. Here is a snapshot for quick view.
Onward route

At the start of our return route we did a couple of visits nearby: Kabbinakad junction >> Nalaknad Palace (4 KM) >> Padi Igguthappa Temple (7 KM) >> Prestige Residency restaurant Madikeri (33 KM): Click here for Google Map of the start of our return route. Here is a snapshot for quick view.
Return route (first leg)

Thanks for your time to read this travelogue. Do remember to leave your comments here.

Below, in the full posting, you can see a lot of pictures I have posted from this nice trip we went through during the 3 nights and 3 days from start to end. The captions I have added to the pictures would give you more details. Take a look, and visualize, the overall trip, the attractive terrain, the wonderful water falls, the great guest house, the tasty food, and all the specialties. Enjoy! Even more, you can see some Caught Special pictures from this trip in another posting here. Have a great time!

The Chingaara guest house stay and the estate

Yavakapady post office, at the jeep pick-up point

Jeep pick-up at Kabbinakad junction

Uphill drive in the estate towards the guest house

Oh, when a down hill jeep comes in front...

Chingaara estate guest house

Benches to hang-out, a small fountain, etc.

From the other side of the building

Front lobby, dining seats extended to sit outside

Reception, Library

Type-1 room, in the first floor

Tea table by the window side

Stairway to the mezzanine level

The mezzanine level, two single beds

View from the top

Dining hall

Coffee lounge in the first floor

Stairway to the upper deck

Upper deck

View from the upper deck

The estate in the surroundings

Strolls in the estate


The building at night

Camp-fire site near the building

View of our room from the first floor terrace

The friendly pet

The other pet!

The trek guide booklet

Chingaara water falls within the estate
Walk towards the Chingaara water falls

There it is

The final descent

The water falls in a serene, calm and peaceful setting!

Food at Chingaara guest house
Dinner, Fri.

Breakfast, Sat.

Lunch, Sat.

Dinner, Sat.

Breakfast, Sun.

Breakfast, Sun.

Insects we spotted
Shell-less snail



Giant spider

Our son spotted a snake right here near his feet

Leech bite

Our trek at the Kabbe Pass 
Route to Kabbe Pass

The jeep ride

Further up

Hill leading to Kabbe Pass

Start climbing

Half way there

Almost there

Our son spotted a snake right here near his feet

At the top - Grassland everywhere

A variety of views all around

Endless range of mountains

The western ghats: Mountains and valleys all around

Walking towards a cliff

One of the huge mounds

Sit and enjoy the chill air

The walk back

Return route

Cheluvaraya water falls
A scenic frame

More crowded


Jeep parking
Nalaknad Palace
Side view of the palace

Front view

Stairway access door to get down from first floor


Corridor, Lamp shelf

First floor hall

Padi Igguthappa Temple
Parking lot, temple in the background

Coming out of temple, renovations in progress

On the road en route
An interesting aspect during a road trip is that during the entire road trip drive up and down we come across many farms, agricultural vegetation, some people transporting their produces to their point of sale, and some selling them right near their farms as well. I caught some of those that we came across.

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  1. Good one. I really liked your post. Located amidst imposing mountains, dense forests, mist kissed coffee plantations, verdant valleys and challenging treks, Coorg (Kodagu) is the place to be for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike. And yes, this place is true to all those Coorg (Kodagu) tourism postcards. Explore all best places to visit in Coorg also.

  2. Very nicely written, considering to go there. Just 2 people.

    Could you please let know how spacious is Room-7 (which is on the second floor) at Chingaara?

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