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Tuesday 13 October 2020

Giridarshini Homestay - BR Hills



Last updated on : 9th December 2022

Tucked away in the base of BR Hills is a quaint homestay. I first visited this place around 2011 and have frequented there pretty often. In this new 'We recommend' section we are starting, I thought I could introduce this place to all our readers in case a trip to BR hills is planned. This is the Giridarshini homestay.

The front view

The Journey

Located at about 180 km from Bangalore, the drive takes us via Kanakpura road to Mallvalli and Kollegal before reaching the forest gates. One can also take a turn after Maddur on the Mysore road and drive straight down to reach Kollegal.

The drive is about 45 mins after entering into the forest gates, but can take longer depending on the wildlife you get to observe on the way.  But it is strongly advised to not stop the vehicle or get off on the way. Forest guards also ensure that no one strays. 

The Accommodation 

During my first visit there, all that was visible from outside was the common restaurant area.  It looked simple and almost everyone who decides to visit the nearby temple, stop by there for a very authentic and simple south Indian meal.  

The sitout
The sitout


A view of the homestay
A view of the homestay


Honestly I was a bit worried about the number of people over there and wondered how the rooms would be. But from behind a tall set of trees, the building emerged.  The building has 8 large rooms that are distributed between the ground  floor and a floor above. What is very interesting about it is that each room has its own view and privacy. 

The room with a view
Inside the room

4 rooms face the green coffee plantations behind and 4 rooms face the tall trees in the front.  The rooms are simple, spacious, clean and have double beds with place to accommodate an extra bed if necessary.  The tall windows with a ledge next to it is perfect for sitting and staring into the greens.

If it is raining, it looks all the more amazing.  With the incredible bird life there, all one has to do is sit on the ledge and observe.

A view of the room
Inside the room

A view from outside the room
A view from outside the room

Along with this there are also a couple of double-bedded accommodations available that are called as the glass house. These were previously the tented accommodations. 

In our latest visit we were given our stay in the glass house. And it was the epitome of peace. The rooms are south facing, which meant in the winter months we had a perfect sunshine all day long. 

We spent our entire afternoons enjoying the sun and watching the birds. 

Cozy, comfortable and much closer to the plantations, it is a perfect place to hear the sounds of the insects trilling at their best during the night. 

This is also the preferred choice for hardcore birders. Also watch out for Draco during the cooler seasons from here.

Apart from this 8 more new rooms are available further inside. However it was occupied and I did not want to spook the occupants by clicking any pics while they were there.


A view of the glass house

Meera enjoying the view of the plantation

Inside the room

From another angle

A view from the glass house

The pathway to the tent
Pathway to the tented accommodation


Orange headed ground Thrush
Orange headed
ground Thrush

The Food
The food is simple and vegetarian.  Most of the vegetables are procured locally, grown by the tribal in the region. So safe to say, it is really healthy. In fact a lot of vegetables that I would barely eat at home, I've had it there with great gusto.  For those who would like to have non-vegetarian food, they procure and provide it from a place nearby. 

The dining area
The dining area

The food can either be had in a quaint dining area. The only disadvantage being, with so many birds around, it is so hard to focus on the food. 

The Tariff
This is inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch, Coffee/Tea with Snacks, and Dinner.  The meal is purely vegetarian. (Non- vegetarian food will be procured from outside if required. and will be charged extra. )

Above 12 years - 2250/- / day
Below 12 years - 50%  of the above


The People
The brainchild of Mr. Vasu, who is the owner and the proprietor of this place, it is a perfect balance between comfort and oneness with nature.

Prashanth Gowda, who is a naturalist there,  is an excellent guide with incredible spotting skills.  Go on a drive with him for excellent sightings of the amazing wildlife nearby, bird watching, or even a trip to the temple. Everyone else there are very sweet and friendly too. 

Activities 
Another important thing - if you are there during summer, do not forget to watch the carpet of stars that unfold each night. The absence of light pollution makes this a great place to watch the night sky.  

You can get to see a whole variety of birds including Malabar whistling thrush, Emerald doves, Orange-headed ground thrush, Paradise flycatchers, and even the elusive winter visitor, the Indian Pitta here.

For kids, it is an excellent place to run around and get introduced to nature.  

In Short
- Bird Watching
- Nature trails
- Forest Safari
- Visiting Coffee Plantations
- Nature and bird photography
- Visit to  Biligiriranganatha Swamy Temple
- or just relax and be meditative....

Try to pick up the locally grown and processed honey, pepper, coffee, ginger, syrups and other products from there before heading back. 

Rest assured, once you go there, repeat visits will definitely happen.


Footnote
The drive is enjoyable. Especially for those from Bangalore, this is an excellent getaway. Do remember, the forest gates close at 6pm, so you'll have to ensure that you reach much before that. 

In case you miss your chance to enter the forest gates before 6pm, Mr.Vasu now has an accommodation above his residence, which is outside the checkpost. You can get in touch with him and stay there for the night and move to Giridarshini in the morning. 



This place is equally beautiful. So if you choose to continue your stay here, I would not be surprised.  

Spottedowlets recommends Giridarshini. 

For more information, you can also call Prashanth Gowda on: +919741569797


Barking Deer
Barking Deer

Sambar deer
Sambar deer

Wild Dog/ Dhole
Wild Dog/ Dhole


Some birds seen at Giridarshini

Malabar whistling Thrush
Malabar Whistling Thrush

Puff Throated Babbler
Puff Throated Babbler

Indian Pitta
Indian Pitta

Orange headed ground thrush
Orange Headed
Ground Thrush




 

Location map:

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