A picture-perfect place, the slopes of which produce coffee, tea, and spice plantations and the peaks of which give heavenly panoramic views, yes, that’s Sakleshpur for you. Sakleshpur is a hill station in the Hassan district in Karnataka. It has gorgeous neighbors like the hill stations of Kodagu and Chikkamagaluru and sits right between the lofty forests of the Western Ghats, now you can imagine how beautiful Sakleshpur must be!
You should visit Sakleshpur to witness the intricate carvings in its temples, for its uniquely shaped forts, and its dense plantations. The waterfalls, reservoirs, and hills of Sakleshpur never send a nature lover back empty-handed; there’s always something to do around this scenic town. You can wake up to the smell of Arabica coffee filling your hotel room and open your curtains to hills covered in pepper and cardamom plantations. Now get ready to visit some great spots in Sakleshpur!
Manjarabad Fort is the first place that anyone will suggest visiting in Sakleshpur. The aerial photos of this fort will attract even the ones who don’t have the slightest interest in architecture. The fort’s outer walls are built in the shape of an eight-pointed star, there’s a secret tunnel inside the fort, a cross-shaped well, and some ruined storage chambers. All of this lies in a weathered condition today, but the view of the Western Ghats from the fort makes it a must-visit place in Sakleshpur.
Diving a little into its history, Manjarabad Fort was built by Tipu Sultan back in the 17th century. Interestingly, the fort is built in European style by French engineers. The fort’s walls acted as the perfect watchtower to keep an eye on British soldiers approaching from Mangalore. Today, from its altitude of 3,241 feet, you can see a sweeping view of the Western Ghats. On a clear day, when there’s no fog enveloping the region, you can see the hills, the Hemavathi River, and plantations over the distance. It’s a tough climb of 253 steps to reach the Manjarabad Fort, but it’s worth the effort.
How To Reach Manjarabad Fort
The fort is at a distance of 6 km from the main Sakleshpur town. Local buses from the Sakleshpur Bus Stand will drop you at the base of the fort. You can even opt to come by private vehicle or a rented cab. Remember to visit between 8 am and 6 pm as the fort will be closed at other times.
Right next to the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Bisle Reserve Forest is a protected area with dense forest and diverse wildlife. Trekkers love hiking through the narrow curvy routes inside the forest, a great way to closely see this region’s flora and fauna. You can spot sambar deer, spotted deer, brown fox, and peacocks in the dense forests of Bisle.
The presence of the beautiful Kumaradhara river adds scenic waterfalls to the forest and offers some fascinating bird-watching experiences. If you’re lucky enough, you might spot the vulnerable Nilgiri marten, a rare marten found only in the southern portion of the Western Ghats. Be careful while you are in the forest though, because the Bisle Reserve Forest is home to the king cobra.
The best way to see a Bisle Reserve Forest panoramic view is from the Bisle Ghat View Point. The drive to this place is extremely beautiful. When you reach the Bisle Ghat View Point, walk up to the pavilion built for viewing the forest. The view of Doddabetta and Pushpagiri, Kumaraparvatha, and Jenukallu Betta mountain ranges from here will have you gazing in wonderment. Down in the valley, the Giri River flows through the mountains, this makes for a stunning view in the monsoon season.
How To Reach Bisle Reserve Forest
Catch a bus from the Sakleshpur Bus Stand as the Bisle Reserve Forest is just 55 km away from the bus stand. If you are visiting the Bisle Ghat View Point, it’s a 20 km drive away from Kukke Subramanya Temple, a nearby tourist attraction. Once you park the car, the pavilion is just a few hundred meters from the entrance.
The towns of Belur and Halebid around Sakleshpur are located in close proximity to each other and have similar architectural styles in their temples. Both the towns have some brilliant temples that tell epic stories through stone carvings; you can see mythological figures dancing, hunting, engaged in battle, and so on. These temples were built during the reign of the Hoysala empire between the 11th and 14th centuries.
The best of all temples is the Belur Temple called the Chennakeshava Temple. This temple is dedicated to the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Chennakesava. The stone sculptures in the Chennakeshava Temple depict episodes from the Upanishads, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.
There are 48 pillars inside the temple and huge statues of gods, the most awe-striking statue being that of Lord Vishnu himself. There are three entrances to the star-shaped podium and shrines dedicated to consorts of Lord Vishnu, adding to this are the intricate sculptures that are a spectacle to behold, no wonder the temple took three generations to complete.
At a distance of 17 km from the Belur Temple lies the town of Halebid which was once the regal capital of the Hoysala Empire. The Hoysaleshwara Temple in Halebid will have you enraptured when you look at its sculptures of animals, birds, and dancing figures. When you enter the Hoysaleshwara Temple, a sculpture of a dancing Ganesha welcomes you, go ahead and explore because the temple has more than 240 intricate sculptures on its walls and pillars. The Hoysaleshwara Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the best time to visit the temple would be during the Shivratri festival.
How To Reach Belur And Halebid
Belur is 35 km from Sakleshpur and it will take less than an hour if you book a cab from Sakleshpur to Belur. Halebid is 50 km from Sakleshpur, it’s better to visit Belur first and then head over to tour the temples of Halebid. If you’re coming by train from Bangalore, Mysore, or Mangalore, get down at Hassan Junction as Belur is 40 km away from this railway station.
Also read: Mysore Travel Guide
If the large statue of Lord Vishnu at the Chennakeshava Temple took you by surprise, the Giant Bahubali statue at Shravanabelagola will have you dumbstruck. Did you know that the Shravanabelagola temple in Sakleshpur is one of the holiest destinations for Jains in Southern India?
Shravanabelagola is known as ‘The Land of Lord Gomatheeswara’ for a 58 feet high statue of Lord Gometeshwara. This statue is one of the tallest free-standing monolithic statues in the world. We haven’t reached the most interesting part yet, a single block of granite was used to carve out this giant statue!
You can see the statue from afar as you approach the Shravanabelagola Temple on Vindhyagiri Hill. This attracts many Jain devotees every year and is known for its archaeological and religious heritage. If you had no idea about this giant statue, you’ll recognize it immediately if you see the photos of the Mahamastakabhisheka festival. This festival holds great importance for Jains as it comes only once every 12 years, thousands of Jains visit Shravanabelagola for this festival.
You must be wondering what a Jain pilgrimage place has in store for you? But trust us, witnessing the grandeur of the humongous statue of Lord Gomatheeswara in person is one of the best things you can do around Sakleshpur.
How To Reach Shravanabelagola
If you’re coming by road, Shravanabelagola temple/Gomateshwara Temple is 90 km from Sakleshpur, we know it’s a two-hour drive from Sakleshpur, but don’t miss the temple if you are around the region. The city of Hassan is closer to Shravanabelagola falling 51 km away. If you’re coming by train, Shravanabelagola has its own railway station, the temple is just 2 km from the station. Ask around for Gomateshwara Temple or Bahubali statue and the cab will drop you there.
Also Read: Experience The Kodachadri Trek In Karnataka
Fans of Gothic architecture, you must visit the Shettihalli Rosary Church 40 km from Sakleshpur. No, this isn’t a worship place like the ones we talked about above, this is an abandoned church that today is a popular tourist spot. The church once was a grand structure with stained-glass windows and high pointed arches, it was built by French missionaries in the 1860s for a family that owned an estate in Shettihalli village.
When the Hemavati Dam and Reservoir was constructed in 1960, the church was abandoned. Many tourists today visit the church to see it in the monsoon, as the church is half-submerged in water during this season, earning it the name ‘Floating Church’. You can see the blue skies reflecting in the water around the church, a sight that makes Shettihalli Rosary Church a must-visit place in the monsoon.
When the dry months of December to May cast their spell, the church can be seen standing atop a hillock, a hauntingly scenic view to bask in. The arches, Gothic feel, and scenic background make the Shettihalli Rosary Church a great place for some photography.
How To Reach Shettihalli Rosary Church
The fastest way to reach the Shettihalli Rosary Church is through the train as Hassan Junction is 22 km away from the church. If you’re coming from Sakleshpur in a cab, start your journey 1 hour prior as the Shettihalli Rosary Church is 40 km from Sakleshpur.
Also known as the ‘Honey Stone Mountain’, Jenukal Gudda Peak is the second-highest peak in Karnataka. Standing high at 4,500 feet above sea level, Jenukal Gudda Peak is much loved by trekkers. When you reach the top, you can see the panoramic view of the lush green foliage of the Western Ghats. On a clear day when there are no clouds or fog blocking your view, you can even see the Arabian Sea over a distance.
The view of the sunset from the Jenukal Gudda Peak is completely worth the climb and is so impressive that you’ll forget to take photos or record a timelapse. Bring a thermos filled with hot coffee along and sip it as you see the forests laid out invitingly in front of you; beyond the forests lie the coffee plantations of Sakleshpur. The trek to Jenukal Gudda Peak will have you hiking really close to these coffee plantations. But be careful along the path though, the forest paths are home to many bugs, frogs, and leeches.
How To Reach Jenukal Gudda Peak
The Jenukal Gudda Hill is at a 40 km distance from the Sakleshpur Bus Stand, but after a point, you have to start trekking. You can visit the Jenukal Gudda Peak after a visit to the Betta Byraveshwara Temple, the distance between the two must-see spots is just 8 km. It’s better to visit the temple first and then head over to the Jenukal Gudda Peak right in time for sunset.
Also Read: Best Places To Go Mountaineering In India
The abundance of rivers and rivulets offers many waterfalls in Sakleshpur. One of them, Manjehalli Waterfalls, has a unique charm about it. The water flows in 3 levels and at every level, you can bathe and enjoy in the cool gushing water. During the summers, you can see locals having little picnics beside the Manjehalli Waterfall. The place is a hotspot for families, trekkers, and explorers as it is nestled right between the green hills of Sakleshpur.
The trek route to reach Manjehalli Waterfalls is lined with coffee plantations and lots of beautiful flora along the way. The trek route goes through the Manjehalli village, if you lose the sense of direction here, just ask for ‘Abbi Falls’ as that’s how the locals here know it. Surely monsoons bring out the best scenery around the waterfall, but be careful as the rocks of the waterfalls are pretty slippery. It’s better to carry your own food as there are no shops around the waterfall; the place isn’t commercialized since the waterfall is tucked away in the forest.
How To Reach Manjehalli Waterfalls
The waterfalls are at a 25 km distance from the Sakleshpur Bus Stand. Visiting Manjehalli Waterfalls in a private vehicle is a better option as it lets you enjoy the scenery en route to its fullest. If you’re using Google Maps to find the location of the maps, you might lose connection in the region, it will help to ask the locals for directions.
If you want to spend a quiet lazy weekend, plant yourself at a homestay in Sakleshpur and devour some homemade dishes. If you plan to have an adventurous getaway, trek through the hills of Sakleshpur and witness the wildlife at its finest. There is everything in Sakleshpur for every kind of traveler, you just have to step on the accelerator and zoom towards this place.
Which Are The Best Things To Do Around Sakleshpur?
Trekking on Agni Gudda Hill, Jenukal Gudda, and Parvathamma Betta are the thrilling things to do around Sakleshpur. You can see the forts and witness a submerged church around Sakleshpur. If you want to see some great temples and ancient architecture, tour the temples of Belur and Halebid, Betta Byraveshwara Temple, and Sri Sakleshwara Swamy Temple in Sakleshpur. There are many waterfalls in Sakleshpur to spend fun time around.
What To Shop For In Sakleshpur?
Since Sakleshpur is famous for its coffee and spice plantations, consider buying the locally produced coffee powder, cardamom, cinnamon, cashew, and pepper. The spices will be aromatic and fresh as they come from the plantations on the slopes of Sakleshpur’s hills.
What Is The Best Time To Visit Sakleshpur?
The winter months between November and February are the best time to visit Sakleshpur. Winters in Sakleshpur are pleasant and make your sightseeing experience smoother. The ideal time to go trekking in Sakleshpur is between August and September as the forests of Sakleshpur are the greenest in this season. The days in these two months are misty and the evenings are cooler, so you can consider visiting during this time.
Which Are The Best Hill Stations In South India?
Munnar and Wayanad in Kerala; Ooty, Kodaikanal, and Yercaud in Tamil Nadu; Coorg, Chikmagalur, and Sakleshpur in Karnataka are some of the best hill stations in South India. The hill stations of South India are famous for their coffee, tea, and spice plantations, beautiful views, and scenic rivers.
What Is Sakleshpur Famous For?
Sakleshpur, a beautiful hillstation at the foothills of the Western Ghats, is known for its expansive tea and coffee plantations.
What Other Names Is Sakleshpur Called By?
Sakleshpur, owing to its beauty and weather, is often called the Switzerland of Karnataka.
What Should I Carry On A Vacation To Sakleshpur?
Sakleshpur is a beautiful hillstation where you will spend most of your time trekking or plain walking. So, things like light cotton clothes (preferrably such that cover your arms and legs), sturdy shoes, sunscreen, and depending on the weather, a raincoat or a poncho are some of the must-haves in Sakleshpur.
How To Travel Within Sakleshpur?
There is a bus service that runs within the town and that will be the most affordable and convenient mode of transportation in Sakleshpur. However, you can also opt for walking or taking a cab.