There are plethora of hill stations in the state of Karnataka which are perfect for a getaway. Among this is a place named Sakleshpur which is Karnataka’s best kept secret. This quaint hill station is not to be missed out while planning a weekend getaway. This foggy and misty hill station elevated at 950 meters, peacefully lies nestled in the Western Ghats. The hill station is cocooned with the aroma of coffee, tea, cardamom and cinnamon. Affectionately known as “Poor man’s Ooty”, this hill station is surrounded by hills covered with lush green trees and is filled with serenity.
Flora and Fauna
Boasting of rich biodiversity, Sakleshpur is home to many plants and animals including some of the endemic and endangered species. This place is one of the 18 most diverse spots in the world when it comes to flora and fauna. Elephants, deers, king cobras, tigers, Kadave are some of the animals that can be stopped easily. The reddish-orange pagoda flower which is locally called Ratha Pushpa is a beautiful flower that can be seen hanging from the trees in bunches.
The story behind the name of this hill station is very intriguing. Between the 10th and the 14th century, this region was ruled by the Hoysalas. During their reign a broken Shivalingam was found and it was named Sakleshwara. After this incident the neighboring villages started calling this place Sakleshpur and the name stuck. Another story tells that the place was also called “sakala aishwaryagalindaa kudida pura”. Thanks heaven it did not stick around for long because it would have been quite a task to pronounce it.
Places to Visit
1. The Bisle Reserve Forest
Located at a distance of around 65 km from Sakleshpur. The Bisle Reserve Forest is a biodiversity hotspot. This place is a safe haven for a lot of plants and animals. During the monsoon season, this forest looks splendid covered with mist and the dews that settle on plants make them look stupendous. If you want a bird’s eye view of the place, do not forget to go to Bisle View Point. You will be able to see the enchanting beauty of the western Ghats enveloped in lush green forests. The three mountain ranges, namely Kumara Parvatha, Pushpagiri and Dodda Betta which can also be seen enhance the beauty of this place.
2. Manjarabad Fort
Manjarabad Fort stands at an elevation of 3240 ft on the outskirts of Sakleshpur. The star- shaped fort was built by Tipu Sultan as a protection. The fort is a must visit to witness the grandeur of Islamic-style architecture. The trek up to the fort is a little bit difficult but the view of the Western Ghats from the top is spell-bounding.
3. Sakleshwara Temple
This Shiva temple that is the reason for the name of the hill station is guessed to be around 6 centuries old built by the Hoysala Dynasty. Since it is situated right at the beginning of the hill station, many devotees come and seek blessings before starting their journey. Make sure to visit this temple and see the beauty of the Hoysala architecture.
4. Manjehalli Waterfalls
This 20 ft long Waterfall is nestled between the lush green hills at a distance of 8 km from Sakleshpur. A trip to this waterfall will leave you rejuvenated. Stand under the waterfall and let the chill water flow on your body. You can also set up a picnic near the waterfall and enjoy the food with melodious sound of water flowing nearby. During the monsoon season the flow of the water increases which makes it the best time to visit it.
5. Agni Gudda Hill
Located at a distance of 10 km from Sakleshpur, this fiery hill is among the few active volcanoes in India. You might have witnessed its beauty in many Bollywood movies, so make sure on a trip to Sakleshpur to see it with your own eyes. Activities like trekking and camping are famous in this region. Or, if you simply want to relax have a picnic at this place and enjoy the view of rice terrains that surrounds the place.
6. Raxidi Estate
If you want to know the process that takes into making the coffee and the spices that you consume every day, make sure to visit this place. Raxidi Estate located at a distance of 10 km from Sakleshpur is a place where coffee and different spices are cultivated. Take a tour around the green plantation where a sweet fragrance floats in the air. Interact with the cultivators and get to know about the onerous tasks that they perform.
7. Hemavathi Backwaters
Just 10 km away from Sakleshpur, Hemavathi Backwaters is a perfect setting to sit by the water and relax. There are many attractions that are a must visit in this place. A half-submerged church and an old Brahma temple dating back to 12th century with intricate architecture are the hidden gems of this place. You will be stunned to know that coffee trees are used to make furniture in this place, so make sure to check them out.
8. Pandavar Gudda
it is believed that during their vanvas, the pandavas resided in this place and hence the place is named after them. A temple that is believed to be a millenial old can be found in this place which i at a distance of around 45 km from Sakleshpur. This place provides a spectacular view during sunrise and sunset that embellishes the splendor of Western Ghats.
9. Kukke Subramanya Temple
Built in reverence for Lord Kartikeya by the subramanya, this 600 year old temple is at a distance of 74 km from Sakleshpur. The surroundings of this pious place is filled with mountains, lush green trees and serene rivers. By visiting this place you will purge your soul from negativity.
10. Temple of Halebid
52 km is all that you need to travel to witness the grandeur of this pristine place. Also known as the “Gateway to the sea” this temple was built by Jakkanna Acharya. The architecture of this temple is awestrucking full of intricate carvings of mythological figures.
Trekking in Sakleshpur
Since Sakleshpur is a hill station what better activity to indulge in than trekking? This hill station is the best place for trekkers since it provides with ample trekking routes, both long and short.
1. The Green Route Trek
The one you must visit is “The Green Route Trek”. It is situated on railway tracks and is 56 km long starting from Sakleshpur to Kukke Subrahmanya. On the way you will not only encounter lush green trees and plants but 58 tunnels, 109 bridges and 25 waterfalls. But a prior permission from the Forest Department is important. There are various homestays on this trekking route to relax.
2. Bisle Ghat Trek
A trek amidst this ghat which is replete with flora and fauna will leave you enchanted. During the the possibility of a tiger or a king cobra passing by you is high. The trek is full of flourishing trees adorned with colourful flowers.
3. Ombattu Gudda Trek
Ombattu Gudda which translates to nine hills is an amalgamation of nine bumps that completes to form a mountain.the rocky surface and the rugged terrain of this place makes it an enthralling spot to trek. The mountain is an an elevation of 971 meters and the view from top is impeccable.
Other things to Do when in Sakleshpur
1. Take a walk through the plantations
Along with strolling in the plantations, make sure to purchase coffee, tea and spices. The coffee, cardamom and cinnamon grown here are fresh and rich in quality.
If you enjoy cycling, register yourself for a cycling tour in Bisle Ghat which is conducted by a number of travel companies. Spend a day pedaling amidst verdant nature breathing in fresh year and seeing a myriad variety of colourful Flora and Fauna.
3. Relax in homestays
Homestays are a good option if you want to relax and quality time with your loved ones. There are a number of homestays at the outskirts of Sakleshpur that provides you with the opportunity to stay between nature in a comfortable surrounding. The homestays also organise a lot of activities and sports like cricket, walks in coffee estates, badminton and bonfire.
The picturesque hill station provides a lot of camping sites where you can live in the lap of nature and enjoy its grandeur. Aclat Meadows is the best place to set up your camp and surround yourself with trees and hills.
Sakleshpur is a perfect place to relax and be surrounded by nature. You will be enchanted by the greenery and the rugged hills that are found in abundance in this place. The people living in Sakleshpur are welcoming and you are bound to have a great vacation living between hills and trees.
November to April are the best months between which you should visit Sakleshpur. The weather is lovely which gets even more enhanced when the clouds precipitates and make the whole place look mystical.
Tips For Visiting Sakleshpur
1. Since the region is immune to rainfall, do not forget to pack umbrellas and raincoat. 2. Avoid wearing fancy footwear instead wear comfortable shoes because you will have to walk a lot.
How to Reach Sakleshpur
By Air: The nearest airport from Sakleshpur is Mangalore International Airport located at a distance of 138 km. From there cars can be rented to reach the hill station. By Rail: The nearest railway station is the Sakleshpur Railway Station located at a mere distance of 2 km from the hill station. By Road: There are many buses at regular intervals run by KSRTC bus service which connect major cities like Bangalore, Mangalore, Mysore and Hassan to name a few. You can also rent cars or take your own cars to reach Sakleshpur. From Bangalore the distance that needs to be covered to reach Sakleshpur is 221 km and from Mangalore it is 130 km. The roads are free of potholes and easy to drive on.
Sakleshpur is a very good place to visit any time of year, though I would recommend for November / December. I have been there twice once in December and once during rains in July. There are good budget hotels as well as resorts with camp stay are available. The place is rich in flora & fauna. You can go through my trip story for 2-day planning & accommodation. My trip story -