Kemmanagundi translates to “pit of clay” in Kannada. Far from being a pit, it could be, most easily, the best-kept secret in Karnataka, about 293 km from Bangalore. Due to lack of adequate accommodation facilities, it is less touristy than the popular weekend jaunts in Karnataka. While hordes of tourists opt for the Mysore-Coorg circuit for a holiday, a few visit this charming hill station. Once the summer retreat of Krishna Raja Wodeyar, it is now the hotspot for the adventurous budget traveller. Also known as K.R. Hills, it boasts of magnificent waterfalls and scenic trekking routes amidst lush coffee plantations.

Accommodation: Unfortunately, the Horticulture Department Guest House seems to be the only staying option in Kemmanagundi. Ideally, one must book in advance for this reason. Among all the cottages in the Department campus, the Raj Bhavan is the most luxurious. The rest of the cottages have basic facilities. These are for the true-blue budget travellers. One can also stay in dormitory-type cottages. Camping out: If you have camping gear, you can even camp out in the wilderness with the help of a guide. Ask at the Horticulture Department Guest House. Not recommended during the monsoon season. Alternatively, one can stay in Chikmagalur and go to Kemmanagundi for a day trip.

Taj Garden Retreat and Planters Court are the popular hotels here. Nature Nirvana Homestay is another option. Important things to carry: Sunscreen, hat, mosquito repellent, Dettol, batteries. Trekking is ideal. Trekking: Many of the trekking routes can be quite slippery and wet. It is advisable to wear sturdy trekking shoes. Avoid slippers. Ask at the Guest House for a guide who can show you the way.

Places to visit : Z-point: This magnificent view-point is worth the all the trouble you took finding your way up. It takes about 30 minutes of trekking on a steep and winding path to reach here. But once there, you don’t want to come back. There's nothing much to do here except watch the whole world go by. Z-point could easily fool you into thinking you have reached the Scottish moors. Do not forget to bring your camera. On the way to Z-point, don’t miss the small, gentle stream of the Shanti falls. True nirvana less than four hours away from Bangalore. Hebbe falls: A downhill trek for about 8 km leads you to Hebbe Falls. The water falls down from a height of 168 metres in two stages. Kalahhati falls: Also Kalahasti falls, it is a religious site for both Muslims and Hindus.

A temple is built between a gap in the rocks. An annual pilgrimage to this spot attracts devout, God-fearing pilgrims. Avoid visiting the falls on that day. Rock Garden: Horticulture Department’s own creation, but nevertheless, a relaxing site to enjoy with friends and family. Visit the Orchid House to catch a glimpse of exotic flowers. Bhadra Tiger Reserve: A two-hour drive from Kemmanagundi will take you to India’s 25th nature reserve – a vast expanse of bamboo trees surrounded by coffee plantations. A forest jeep could lead you to the elusive sight of a tiger. Don’t be disappointed if all you can see is its pugmarks. Apart from the tigers, watch out for the elephants, deer, panthers, gaur, sambar, jungle cats and birds such as woodpecker, robin etc. More than 250 species of birds inhabit this forest.