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The Malnad experience

Kolavara Heritage near Thirthahalli offers a house with a view, some peace and quiet and great food

Photo: By author

Back to nature The entrance with the tall stone pillars reaching up to the sky is a bit of surprise to the city dweller

A home in rain-drenched Thirthahalli opened its doors to discerning tourists four months ago. And, as if it was just the thing they were waiting for, stressed-out IT people from Bangalore have been making a beeline for Kolavara heritage near Thirthahalli to relax in the midst of areca nut plantations, verdant greenery and the blue-green mountains.

The drive to this homestay is as beautiful as the heritage building itself. Until some months ago, the ‘thotti mane’ as it is locally known, was home to just K.T. Narayan Murthy Kolavara and his family. A family friend asked them if they would allow outsiders a glimpse into a typical Malnad home, and the idea of a homestay was born.Narayan Murthy’s wife Kala, son Nishchal and daughter-in-law Vathsalya take care of the guests who visit their home, and personally at that.

Customised decor

How personal? Well, the furniture in the room is placed depending on the profile of the guest. If it is a bunch of boys, some single cots are stacked together, and the look is minimalist. But, if it is a couple that loves tradition, the setting changes to a heavy teak master bed, a sofa, and the works. Built over a century ago, the home has all the trappings of that era, with some modern touches such as the chairs with black and white cushions, decorative pots lush with plants, and a swing. The entrance is a bit of a surprise to the city dweller who has never seen a home in areca nut terrain.

Tall stone pillars reach out to the sky for apparently no reason. “Aha!” explains a friend. “Visit them during the areca nut drying season, and you can see vats of areca nut being spread out to dry on reed mats placed on these pillars.” The vast aangan is a definite attraction.

In the hour that we spend there, we get to experience an inviting drizzle. Children soak in the rain, and dance to their heart’s content. The grown-ups try hard to behave, but it’s difficult. Great traditional food (included in the package), is one of the draws here. Even if guests prefer North Indian or continental food, Malnad specials such as akki rotti, shevige-kai haalu (coconut milk with string hoppers) and kadubu are definitely served.

And, by the end of their stay, they are usually hooked to it. The huge lawn is home to Kala Murthy’s prize-winning bonsai collection and sprightly garden. Bonfires are arranged on request.

“Some people have bad experiences with running a home stay, but we have had a great time so far.

And, we let our guests be. If they want to join us at the dinner table, its fine. If they want to have a boy’s day out, that’s okay too,” says Vathsalya.

The family also organises treks, a visit to the riverside and a coracle ride. You can go on a Nature walk, fish in the private pond, have a plantation tour or bird watch.

Tariff: Singles Rs. 1,500 a night; For a couple and Rs. 2,500. They can handle a group of 15 people at a time.

* * *

How to go

Kolavara Heritage is 18 km from Thirthahalli in Shimoga District (via Devangi – Gadikal) and 15 km from Koppa in Chickamagalur. It is 338 km from Bangalore and 128 km from Mangalore. Contact them at Ph: 08181-254722 or 94486-39444. Or mail them at info@kolavaraheritage.com, or

visit www.kolavaraherita.com

SUBHA J. RAO

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