Balur Estate – You rejuvenate best when you do nothing at all !
A good friend recommended one visit at least, to Balur Estate(A Linger property) @ Mudigere in Chikmangalur, Karnataka. Linger Leisure (http://linger.in/#introstart) takes over properties with character, that tell their own story, and converts them into an experience. So, when my sister visited from Mumbai, I was glad that we collectively zeroed in on this property. At a distance of 300 kms from Bangalore with a drive time of about 6 hours, “the experience” is what we arrived to at Balur estate in the month of November.
Balur estate is a fully functional 400 acres plantation. It is not difficult to believe that this village was the first ever coffee plantation in Mysore state (in 1800’s), when you are greeted by this board. And the first thought in my head – how exciting ! I couldn’t wait to see and experience the estate.
As you drive into the estate, you see the estate building on the right and the coffee processing area on the left. The living quarters overlook the vast plantation area and the surroundings are lush green and serene.
Highlights of our stay at the coffee estate
1) The Heritage Bungalow
The bungalow retains its old-world charm owing to the tiled flooring, red oxide walls, high ceilings, retro furniture and its unique skylights. The dining area had book shelves filled with books and an inviting easy armchair to snuggle in.
The rooms were really nice and clean and we had options of
- The Planter’s Room : Has an independent entry and one friends’ family stayed here
- The Guest Suite : This had 2 rooms and accommodated my sisters’ and my family
The generosity of my sister and friend resulted in me ending up in the most amazing room of the estate in the Guest suite.
It had a covered porch, with seating arrangement overlooking the plantation area. Ideal place to spend time with yourself with a cup of coffee.
In the evening, there was an arrangement for bon-fire where we met and interacted with other people on the estate, savoured amazing food doled out from the kitchen.
2) Visit to the plantation
We were offered a “Tractor” ride to the plantation in the evening. How does one refuse a chance to experience sunset on a tractor , right? Loaded onto the vehicle, off we went into the greenery of the coffee plantations, holding on to the tractor railing for support. It was an “experience” for kids and adults alike.
We could appreciate the vastness of the estate, the hard work put in by folks, got to know their daily activities, understood that they grow coffee, pepper, areca nut and vanilla and most importantly, experienced the pace of life on the estate !
We experienced the sunset and the serene atmosphere at the lake within the plantation. The only cacophony was from the sound of birds around the lake , once we got our brats to zip up. So, for the first time, we experience a beautiful sunset from atop a tractor ! Completely worth it 🙂 .
3) Keeping the hyper active kids busy
This one is unavoidable, as parents. We had kids ranging from 10 years to 3.5 years. While we were able to appreciate (and even welcome) an environment with no television, no wi-fi and almost no mobile connectivity – the kids had to be kept engaged
a) Indulged in games of cricket and badminton
The open area below the bungalow was a multi-purpose playing field. It was quite windy, so badminton did not work very well but cricket was a big hit. We just needed to ensure that the kids descend the steps carefully.
b) Carrom board to the rescue
This was a life saver when we wanted to just savour the coffee served on demand ! The breeze blowing, the nice cool red oxide verandah, the kids busy with the board game – it was a pleasure sipping hot coffee while reading a book, pure bliss !
c) Pitched tent
The kids were promised a tent, and the promise was delivered . The older ones helped with the pitching, the younger ones took over once it was ready. It was amusing watching the fun they had and I wished for one myself – maybe one day 🙂 .
4) Good ol’ bonding
The best for the last. The trip gave us a great opportunity to bond. Conversation carried on into the night, fading only until the eyelids grew heavy and sleep threatened to take over. Most importantly, the children got to interact in a distraction free environment and the experience strengthened these “bonds for life”.
I hope this inspires you to add Balur Estate to your list of must visit holiday destination – if you are looking for a low key, rejuvenating vacation or as Linger call it “Do nothing vacations’. Well, we certainly did a lot of catching up and bonding !
Travel Tips based on my experience
- Balur is at a distance of 300 kms from Bangalore with a drive time of about 6 hours. Try and leave early, so you maximize the time at the estate
- Don’t forget to pack the indispensable insect / mosquito repellent
- Pack cards, sports equipments if you would like to indulge in some leisure time with your family
- They serve boiled and filtered water in glass bottles. They don’t have mineral water.
- Kitchen staff is quite pleasant and accommodating. They are happy to take inputs on any food preparation requests
- The estate has some cycles around, though not all are in great shape. It was a good experience cycling on the winding roads early in the morning
- If you’re planning a longer vacation of over 3 days at Balur, or going as a large family, you could negotiate some deals