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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Basic Halli

Set in Kanakapura, not too far away from Bangalore, is a little resort. To say it's a resort is a massive overstatement. A few thatch covered tents, a small tank, five bathrooms, and a kitchen; surrounded by a elephant trench. There is no electricity save for the main administration building which also serves as a kitchen. This is Basic Halli.

Halli in Kannada means village and the resort boasts of really basic amenities.
Check-in here and you're handed a mat, a blanket, a bed sheet, an air pillow, a steel plate, and a tumbler. Then you're shown your tent. Or rather it is pointed out to you.

It's the views around that are fantastic. The Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary is way off toward the East and elephants often come here to raid the crops. The rolling hills beckon seductively in the early morning light, their accompanying vegetation washed fresh and the earthy aromas swirl around, mixing seductively with the thousand perfumes of nature.
Birds abound. They seem to be more fearless here than in places closer to the city. Babblers often cross your path, shrieking, gossipping, and belabouring each other's opinions. Scaly breasted munias throng the lantana and the grasses with gay abandon. When we had been there, it was the breeding season for these little birds and one could watch them strip the grass and carry it off to wherever they were building their nests.

A golden oriole flew over head unmindful of the raucous cries of the parakeets that busied themselves with their breakfast of fruits. Below the trees, in the shrubs, the purple rumped sunbirds flitted from flower to flower, gathering the nectar.
Our climb up the hill was easy. A gentle, tarred slope led us upward and wound its way around the fields of raagi and jowar.
Birders are not the best of people to walk with. Every other moment is relished by standing around, the destination and time forgotten. Knowledgeable people discourse on a variety of subjects. Us lesser mortals gather around to listen. Then the walk goes on. Photographers in the group stop at every vantage point to point, shoot, examine, shake their heads over the results and move on to the next.

Our host, Anand Shankar, is a big, bearded young man. His rough exterior hides a gentle interior. He has planned, laid out, and built, with his own hands the entire resort. He is an Enfield Bullet enthusiast, so much so, that he even named his dog Bullet.

He trooped up the hills with us talking earnestly about his plans for the resort. It was almost 9 a.m. when we reached a shelf of rock closer to the top of the hill. A few enthusiastic birders continued up the hill while the rest of us threw ourselves down exhausted and hungry.

Lobo, the other partner at Basic Halli, reached the rock shelf with a basket load of Thatte Idli and vadas along with chutney. We fell to the largess with much gusto, taking care to pick up the used paper plates and stuff them into a large garbage bag which would be disposed off closer to civilisation.

All too soon the morning came to an end and we trooped back to the resort for a rest and await lunch.

Meals at Basic Halli are simple fare. Vegetarian but wholesome and delicious. They are cooked by a trio of village women.

That afternoon, there was raagi mudde, pumpkin curry, sambar, rasam, and rice. The pumpkin curry made my day. Never one to try new stuff I shied away from this unusual (for me) curry. But the rapturous cries that I heard from the others prompted me to try it out and I was hooked. I didn't get around to eating the raagi mudde though, something I've disliked since I was a child. The sticky mass is not chewable and small balls of it have to be swallowed whole with a generous laving of sambar. I've never taken to it.

Lunch over, a gentle discussion on the resort and its surroundings turned into a full-fledged but friendly argument till it was time for the group photo in which Bullet, the dog, enthusiastically joined. Licking every face he could reach and running around a top speed, Bullet managed to leap into the photograph.

If you want an overnighter holiday and don't care about your luxuries, Basic Halli is the place to go.

Details are here: Basic Halli website.

4 comments:

molarbear's posts said...

Basichalli, I too agree with you on the assessment of this camp-resort!

Deepa.

Anu said...

This place looks really interesting!

Sanna said...

How lovely! =) It's nice to see that you have found the time to blog and tell us about it.

Lubna said...

Belated New year greetings to you and family.