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Old 5th October 2020, 16:48   #1
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Default Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down

Prologue to the Coffee Country Drive:



Like all of you on this forum, I do a lot of weekend drives. However, not every drive is memorable. In fact, many of these "routine" trips are forgotten soon. However, sometime, somehow, a few ingredients come together to make that drive all of a sudden very special, very memorable.

I experienced one such special drive a couple of weekends ago. It was somewhere in the hills surrounding Chikmagalur - the area well-known for coffee plantations! A little Coffee Country within Karnataka!

Now I have been to this area many times before. In fact, we (I and my wife) did our own drive to Chikmagalur just the weekend prior to this particular drive. But the beauty of this drive was that it offered such a refreshingly new experience that it felt like we saw something totally new. It just managed to create an amazingly fresh experience from otherwise well known ingredients. It added a small twist somewhere to convert the regular recipe into a magical experience!

OK, so coming to the point now, this was a drive organized by 'WindowsDownMotoring' (https://windowsdownmotoring.com/). Few of my friends participated in their previous event, and came back with a lot of positive feedback. That made me explore their website, and falling in love with the photos and videos there, I had to join the next drive. And this is how this story began.

One of the key people behind this WindowsDownMotoring (WDM) is a member of this forum - @megazoid. So this was also a great opportunity for me to meet megazoid and talk about his cars and his previous drives. He has driven extensively all over India, and it was amazing to talk to him on the common passion of cars and driving.

What made this drive so special was the detailed research done by the WDM team on the roads and the locations. They took us in a convoy through some of the most scenic yet lesser known roads. The entire organization and planning was fantastic, and they really went out of their way to ensure everyone had a great experience.

(Important Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with WDM whatsoever. I have no commercial interest or any other ties with them in any which way. I was merely a paying participant in this drive. In fact, I did not even know the organizers before and met them for the first time in this drive. Thus, this is merely my experience as a paying participant in an organized drive that I would like to share here with all of you.)

Along us (I and my wife), were our usual friends, bhpians @RSUDARSANAN, @robimahanta, @tilt, @Graaja, and then a couple of more friends. The great company made the drive even more fun.

Now unfortunately, I have a unique problem in composing this travelogue. We were a group of cars, doing two days of awesome driving, through the hills, through rain (varying from drizzle to heavy downpour), mist, fog (sometimes close to zero visibility), lush green landscapes, and absolutely scenic roads. But I have no pictures to show for any of that.

I was so busy enjoying the driving experience most of the times that I did not take any pictures en route. It was also raining most of the times on the first day which added to my reluctance to take my camera out. Thus, I have no pictures, no evidence, to show for most of the stuff I said above. You would just have to take my word for it. I also missed photographing the beautiful cars my friends were driving.

In fact, at the end of the first day I was worried that I would come back without any pictures at all. However, just like in a T20 cricket match, your fortunes can change at any instant when it comes to travel experiences. We woke up the next morning to some very pleasant weather and a blue sky! We instantly stepped out for a morning walk through the coffee plantations. Further, two cars stepped out for what turned out to be a very special morning drive where we got some great photo ops too! I got more than what I hoped for pictures in those two hours of the morning.

Thus, almost all my photos in this travelogue are about that two-hour morning session. I apologize to my friends for missing out on shooting their cars and making this travelogue a more representative of a group drive.

However, like in a T20 cricket match where a great player can change the game in one over, our expert photographer and videographer robimahanta came to our rescue by capturing everything in one video! He captured the drive and the cars in his GoPro, and compiled a beautiful video that summarizes the whole weekend.

Let's watch the below video by robimahanta that summarizes the whole drive more accurately, before proceeding to read my travelogue which is unfortunately a bit narrow in focus.


Last edited by Aditya : 7th October 2020 at 08:04. Reason: As requested
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Old 5th October 2020, 17:07   #2
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Default re: Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down

The Resort and the Surroundings:



One of the unique "features" of the WDM drives is that they keep the locations and the places secret till you actually arrive there. This made it a great experience because we enjoyed the day's drive with anticipation of discovering a new place, rather than already being biased by the detailed knowledge of the destination. This format took us back to the purest of joys of traveling - the feeling of adventure and exploring the unknown, the and joy of discovery!

After a long circuitous scenic drive through the hills, without knowing where we would end up, and at some point wondering if we were actually just lost in the forests, we arrived at an incredibly picturesque resort.

The cottages on the backdrop of the hills:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0588.jpg


The resort had just five cottages, which made it an ideal place for a small private group:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0592.jpg


Each cottage had a balcony facing the forest. Views from our balcony:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0381.jpg


We could just sit there enjoying views like this:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0369.jpg



Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0354.jpg


My car parked in the parking lot:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0587.jpg


My other favorite car, the "famous" BMW 3GT 330i M Sports, of Graaja, parked next to mine:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-img_20200927_12160301.jpg


I like his car so much that I spent some time photographing it in the parking lot. One photo to show for the effort:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0609.jpg

Last edited by Dr.AD : 5th October 2020 at 21:20.
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Old 5th October 2020, 17:24   #3
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Default re: Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down

An Idyllic Morning Walk:



As I mentioned before, we woke up the next morning to a very nice weather. After a cup of hot coffee, we stepped out for a walk through coffee plantations.

The ladies led the way and set the pace:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0387.jpg


That pace made the WDM team (Baiju and megazoid) hurry up to catch up:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0390.jpg



Scenic trails for walking through the plantation:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0413.jpg


Graaja and megazoid discussing benefits of morning walk during the morning walk (now this is called "walking the talk"):
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0406.jpg


Coffee beans in plenty! Some evidence to show that we were indeed in Coffee Country:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0419.jpg


Our cottages as seen from the road outside:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0431.jpg


Our fitness guru, Graaja, showing us how it is done, by running uphill without breaking sweat (for those who do not know, please check out his invaluable inputs in the "weight loss" thread):
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0426.jpg



The rest of us chose to stroll instead:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0445.jpg



The benefits of slow walk. We had time to look around and spotted this peacock:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0456.jpg


Not just the wildlife, but we also saw some really pretty houses nestled in the hills, hidden behind trees:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0435.jpg


And finally, a picture of that tiny and twisty road that is etched in my mind:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0464.jpg

Last edited by Dr.AD : 5th October 2020 at 19:13.
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Old 5th October 2020, 18:04   #4
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Default re: Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down

A Surreal Morning Drive:



While a few of the group members chose to relax in the resort and enjoy the surrounding with hot coffee, two cars stepped out for a drive to a nearby viewpoint, and to attempt a photoshoot on the scenic roads.

The two cars that stepped out, like two opening batsmen in a high stakes T20 match, were the two red members of the convoy: The sizzling hot VW GTI of megazoid and the BMW 320d driven by yours truly.

What followed was a truly special drive. The drive that made the whole weekend memorable for me. The morning air was crisp, clean and cold. The sky looked pretty with a few clouds and few blue spots. The fog and the mist was still lingering around. The landscapes were lush green. The roads were turning left and right with no straight patches anywhere and with hills on all sides. The distant valley views were mesmerizing. The light was perfect for a photoshoot. And we had two red subjects with natural contrast on the green background. What more could we ask for?


The two early risers arrived at a view point:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0471.jpg


We started climbing a small hill to a view point, which was completely engulfed by fog:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0480.jpg


Our cars barely visible in the distance while the cows were grazing in the most peaceful surroundings:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0481.jpg


A couple of other cars (not from our group) appeared there by now:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0490.jpg


"Morning Stars" :-)
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0495.jpg


Scenic roads in the distance:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0506.jpg


And scenic roads right in front of us:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0507.jpg


Mesmerizing valley views:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0509.jpg


A front shot of my car (you can see the GTI behind if you look closely):
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0511.jpg


Another angle that shows both the cars:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0512.jpg


Valley views continue to lure me away from the cars:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0546.jpg


Then we arrived here, with rolling hills in the background:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0551.jpg


Could not resist taking many photos here, even at the cost of repetition :-)
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0553.jpg


The Red Hot GTI:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0555.jpg


The hills all around provided beautiful backdrops from any angle:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0556.jpg


The two cars posing together:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0558.jpg


My favorite shot of the weekend:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0561.jpg


The two cars quickly became close friends. They both loved the roads and of course the corners :-)
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0562.jpg


Rolling hills in the backdrop:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0568.jpg


The roads! I will always remember the roads from this drive. Small, narrow with no frills, but incredibly charming, inviting you to drive on all the time:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0573.jpg


Baiju of WDM, taking a group photo using self-timer. "A tripod with four wheels" :-)
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_05742.jpg


Wheels and Hills! What more can we ask for?
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0581.jpg


And finally, the wonderful couple behind WDM, megazoid and Shivali, next to their beautiful GTI:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc_0575.jpg

Last edited by Dr.AD : 5th October 2020 at 19:25.
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Old 5th October 2020, 18:26   #5
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Default re: Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down

Epilogue:



For me the above photo session was the defining moment of the drive. Sadly, I missed capturing rest of the drive and the rest of the cars, due to reasons mentioned above. Luckily, I had a few photos taken from my mobile phone during the pit-stops, and let me wrap this travelogue by sharing those.


During an "open-air" breakfast on the side of the road. The blue 320d belongs to RSUDARSANAN, and the Laura belongs to Baiju of WDM:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-misc1.jpg


The lovely GTI parked outside the coffee shop:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-misc2.jpg


The two 320ds giving each other company:
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-misc3.jpg


While on the return leg, the BMWs giving each other company (the 328i belongs to robimahanta - the real hottest car in the group!)
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-misc4.jpg


And a parting shot of four of the cars parked together on a coffee break (the silver Jetta belongs to tilt)
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-misc5.jpg


With that, let me wrap this up. It was a really memorable weekend and I hope the photos above are able to convey my excitement about the locations and the scenery.

And finally, many thanks to the WDM family and all my friends and bhpians on this drive. They all made this drive really special!

Thank you very much for reading. Until next time!

Last edited by Dr.AD : 5th October 2020 at 19:30.
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Old 6th October 2020, 06:06   #6
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Default re: Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 6th October 2020, 10:23   #7
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Default Re: Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down

Excellent writeup, AD! Mist and fog creates an amazing and surreal driving experience every single time. From the video though, it looks like monsoons are mostly over and may be, a week or two earlier might have been the best time?

Could you please share the name of the resort, as well as of the morning viewpoint. Thanks!

Last edited by PearlJam : 6th October 2020 at 10:24.
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Old 6th October 2020, 10:36   #8
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Default Re: Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down

Nice write up and awesome pictures AD! It was a fun trip indeed and I had a great time driving down to Bangalore and joining you all for the drive. Sharing some pictures I took with my cell phone.

A short coffee break on the way to Bangalore on Friday.
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-coffee-break-1.jpg

First pit stop for coffee on Saturday morning.
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-first-pit-stop.jpg

Cars lined up at the breakfast stop.
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-breakfast-stop.jpg

Another tea break.
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-another-pit-stop.jpg

A picture of my 3GT.
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-gt.jpg

Cars lined up under storm clouds.
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-cars-lined-up-1.jpg

Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-cars-lined-up-2.jpg

Driving through some bad roads in heavy rain. That is Dr_AD's car.
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-through-rain.jpg

The resort.
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-resort-2.jpg

The morning hike path.
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-morning-walk-1.jpg

AD, Megozoid and Baiju having some serious discussion!
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-morning-walk-2.jpg

I also took the chance to steal a nice run in the hills as AD was busy shooting the 320D and the GTi. A few pictures of the road I ran on.
Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-run-route-1.jpg

Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-run-route-2.jpg

Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-run-route-3.jpg

Overall, a fantastic experience. What a way to spend the weekend. Looking forward to the next drive already.
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Old 6th October 2020, 11:46   #9
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Default Re: Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down

Wow! Amazing pictures and writeup. I'm sure the experience was much much more thrilling, especially the drive up the narrow hills.
QQ to @megazoid: Are there any upcoming events? The calendar on the website is empty. Would love to experience this for myself.
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Old 6th October 2020, 12:06   #10
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Default Re: Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down

Lovely pics and writeup, as always, AD. I had to miss this due to work commitments, and looks like I missed a lot of good driving roads and windows down fun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.AD View Post

What made this drive so special was the detailed research done by the WDM team on the roads and the locations. They took us in a convoy through some of the most scenic yet lesser known roads. The entire organization and planning was fantastic, and they really went out of their way to ensure everyone had a great experience.
Hari and Baiju are excellent hosts and do make you feel at home. And their research on the route is just spot-on. Would recommend them as well.

Here are couple pics from two of our earlier drives.

Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc01709_1.jpg
My snowman leading a pack in the middle of a grassland/wildlife reserve near Madhugiri

Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc01529-2.jpg
The Batmobile trying to blend-in at SRPatna

Last edited by nerd1200 : 6th October 2020 at 12:28.
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Old 6th October 2020, 12:06   #11
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Default Re: Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down

Quote:
Originally Posted by PearlJam View Post
Excellent writeup, AD! Mist and fog creates an amazing and surreal driving experience every single time. From the video though, it looks like monsoons are mostly over and may be, a week or two earlier might have been the best time?
Thank you PearlJam! Maybe the video is a bit misleading about the weather because it mostly covers our drive towards the hills. That time it was dry. However, once we reached the hills, it was raining heavily, and at several places, we had thick fog with close to zero visibility. The pictures added by Graaja above show some of this. And then on the second day it cleared up a lot and we got to see blue sky. I think we timed it well to get a mix of heavy rain, fog, mist and then some clear skies.

Quote:
Could you please share the name of the resort, as well as of the morning viewpoint. Thanks!
The resort was "Sunset Valley Homestay". Looks like they do not even have a website (but if you Google the above words you will find this place). This is a tiny little homestay that WDM found for us. This is one example of what I meant that they had done a lot of research and recce to make this a great experience for all of us.

By the way, although I missed taking pictures of the full convoy, Shivali of WDM took some really great photos of the convoy. I am taking the liberty to share those below. All photos below courtesy Shivali of WDM:

Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc02746.jpg



Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc02983.jpg



Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc02985.jpg



Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc02997.jpg



Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc03008.jpg



Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down-dsc03014.jpg
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Old 6th October 2020, 12:49   #12
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Default Re: Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down

Beautiful pictures and excellent narrations. Thanks for sharing.

I have a quick question - Does Windowndown team organize only for a group of cars or will they do for one family/one car also ? Quite tempting to give it a go, honestly. And to think that its a fellow BHPian run initiative, all the more reason to give it a go as quickly as possible. Thanks.
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Old 6th October 2020, 14:31   #13
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Default Re: Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down

Hi!

Well world really is a small place. I think you were our neighbours! We were at the beautiful house that you'd mentioned. This particular stretch and the weather is always good. Also, if you are into birding you might have caught/missed hornbills, woodpeckers, buzzards, eagles and a ton of passerine.
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Old 6th October 2020, 15:09   #14
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Default Re: Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down

Quote:
Originally Posted by nerd1200 View Post
Lovely pics and writeup, as always, AD. I had to miss this due to work commitments, and looks like I missed a lot of good driving roads and windows down fun.

Here are couple pics from two of our earlier drives.
Thanks Nerd1200. Nice pictures! Thanks for sharing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrandTourer View Post
Wow! Amazing pictures and writeup. I'm sure the experience was much much more thrilling, especially the drive up the narrow hills. .
Thank you! Yes, the pictures do not do full justice to the experience we had. Driving in those hills is always a very lovely experience which is hard to express in photos or videos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkrishnakj View Post
Beautiful pictures and excellent narrations. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bhansali_hardik View Post
Well world really is a small place. I think you were our neighbours! We were at the beautiful house that you'd mentioned. This particular stretch and the weather is always good.
Oh wow! That is a great coincidence. That house looked very beautiful. Is that your house? Or is it a villa that you rented on the weekend? Or is that also a homestay? It would be great if you could please share some information. Thanks!
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Old 6th October 2020, 15:23   #15
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Default Re: Chikmagalur: Driving through Coffee Country, with the windows down

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.AD View Post
....that you rented on the weekend? Or is that also a homestay? It would be great if you could please share some information. Thanks!
Well that's owned by my uncle. We're lucky that he let's us use it
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