Chikmagalur Experience: My friends and I went recently to Chikmagalur and I must say this place is highly overrated and is off my personal tourism map. I would not recommend this place to anyone. It is a small, filthy city which has the good fortune of having some good sightseeing places around?nothing more. If you want to see Belur, Halebid and the mountains, better stay in Hassan or just do a day trip from Bangalore. The drive till Hassan from BLR is good but after that it is not so great with the narrow 2 lane road. You will read a lot of things on the web about how good this place is, but I guess that must be just marketing. We could not get a booking at the The Serai or Taj so we had to make do with a smaller hotel (with good ratings on many travel sites Planters Court). We arrived at around 2 pm, checked in and then in the evening went to M G Park which has a good walking path, toy train for kids and some musical fountain. It was ok?.nothing spectacular. If you stay around after 6, you will be of course devoured by mosquitoes, so be prepared with some repellant. And carry water.
Food, sight-seeing and shopping: The dinner at the hotel was quite an experience?we ordered 2 beers and it took them 45 minutes to deliver!! So now you can imagine what happened to our starters and dinner order. It was hellish experience even after all the guests screamed at the manager and waiters. They just don't react!! They were just helplessly hoping?it took us 4 hours to finish dinner!! And many orders did not even get fulfilled. Little did we know what was coming?.
The next morning began with NO WATER in the taps?with some effort we managed to get a bucket of water after 11 am. Breakfast was also a horrendous affair?there was no planning on handling people?.too few tables, too few plates, spoons, forks and FOOD! too. People standing in Q to get some food. And the empty trays were never replenished. Tables were not cleared, filthy filthy? And the rooms are not so cheap.
Activities & things to do: The trip to Belur and Halebid was nice with a good guide who helped us and told us all the stories. Belur is really worth seeing but again there is no decent restaurant where a family can have lunch. Its amazing how inefficient our tourism depts. are. There is no infrastructure to support tourism. Just building some road is not the end of the story. The trip to Kemmangundi was the height (excuse the pun). The first 40 km of road is excellent, the next 15 km is PURE HELL. It can make the NatGeo show PERILOUS JOURNEYS look like a walk in the park. You can feel your car crying for help and your lower back too! And once you reach there is a mountain view point, some small garden and play area for kids, dirty toilet that's it! And no food! Nothing to do there and you just went through hell to get there. Crazy. Why would any state/country promote such places.
Travel tips, How to reach, travel warnings etc: Dinner that night at the Taj was also a horror. Didn't get our table on time, never got what was promised in the buffet. Phew!
Breakfast next day at Planters court was the same rigmarole all over again. No place to sit, no food, no plates, spoons, people screaming?waiters disappearing and no manager in sight. Sigh! Dinner at The Serai was good although service is quite slow. Food was good. We left this town in real haste before we really went crazy. We also saw Soundarya Residency restaurant which greets you with a big board in Red which says ?No Fast Service?:..I am not kidding.
Overall I think we had a mixed experience but I would not recommend anyone to stay in Chikmagalur, especially at Planters courteven if its the last place on earth. Sadly even the Taj Gateway was disappointing. All the peaks and falls are quite overrated if you compare Ooty, kodai etc. So pls avoid going to Chikmagalur even if you have too much money and absolutely nothing to do. Believe me.
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