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This winter break we made a trip to Bananki, a place close to Shimoga.  We spent about 3 days at a home stay in the wild woods. The entire family made the trip with us. My mom, Mayank’s brother’s family, my sister’s family was there in full attendance. I think a home stay experience is best enjoyed in a big group. Luckily for the kids, Santa Claus had no trouble getting there. Wonder how he manages to find us , every year, no matter where we are.


There was one central cottage in which the landlord stayed. Along with that there were small cottages in the estate, making a total of 7 rooms available to host people coming over. The place reminded me of the government accommodations which used to be provided to the officer class, ages ago.  The campus is green, beautiful and well maintained. The peak season here is October and December. That’s when the place runs house full. It’s advisable to book your rooms about 2 weeks in advance during that time.

Dining Hall

Dining Hall

One small problem we faced was the spicy food. They had about 2 items from the Malnad cuisine at every meal. The food was delicious but way too spicy. They were unable to change anything despite our repeated requests. As a result, kids had to manage with curd rice and desserts. One plus point however was that they packed lunch with us when we went on a day-long sight seeing trip.

Srimane water falls

Srimane water falls

On day 1, we visited the srimane water falls. It was a usual water fall with one advantage, the climb down was short. The water was clean and almost fridge cold. The kids ran into the water at the first given opportunity. There was a room for changing clothes. That I think was a great idea given that otherwise people just have to hide behind nature. After that, we went to the Sringeri temple. The temple closes at 2 pm. Thats why we missed going inside. However, I remember doing darshan at the temple about 10 years ago. One thing that hasnt changed since then is the size of fishes present in the temple ghats. They are huge, I think we cant call them fishes. We should come up with a different name for them.

Scary fishes at Sibbligudde temple

Scary fishes at Chibbalagudde temple

On day 2, we went to Chibbalagudde temple. Once again I was stunned at looking at the fishes. There was a lady at the temple who would sell a plate of raw rice to visitors. This rice was later fed to the hungry fishes present in the rivers behind the temple. As we threw a handful of rice into the water, suddenly there was a huge commotion. Fishes which looked like mini-sharks started fluttering all over to grab the rice grains. They were huge, black and ugly. If they all got together they could easily over power us. They were like the underworld dons of the fish world. Since, fishermen are not supposed to catch the temple fish the fishes have nothing to worry about. Moreover, plates and plates of rice are fed to them at their doorstep. Now, who wouldnt like a life like that?

After that we went to a place close by to take a dip in the river. The people back at the home stay had given us a location that was filled with solitude. I must say that a bath in that river was the best part of the trip. All the kids just freaked out in the clean water. We could actually see the bed of the river which was shining with pure mica pieces in it. We collected huge, round pebbles and tiny mica pieces. We then headed back to the home stay for lunch and a quick nap.

Sunset point near Kuvempu's house

Sunset point near Kuvempu’s house

The sun sets in Bananki

The sun set in Bananki

In the evening we went to sunset point which is very close to where the renowned poet Kuvempu used to stay. We saw the sun set against the backdrop of hills. We also saw the house in which the poet used to stay. This place was just a 10 minute drive from our home stay.

Elephant camp near Shimoga

Elephant camp near Shimoga

On day 3, we headed back to Bangalore. We stopped at an elephant safari camp on our way back. The kids enjoyed the elephant ride (I am not sure about the elephant!). Soon after that we went to see the Bhadravati dam. It was like a huge lake with a few islands scattered around. Definitely a scenic place.

Bhadravati reservoir

Bhadravati reservoir

If you are travelling from Bangalore you need to drive down 300 kms to Shimoga and then about 60 kms of hilly terrain to Bananki. That way you end up spending around 8 hours on the road. So you need to consider the odds of a long journey before heading out.