Last 8 months have been the toughest for all of us and as a family we needed a break for emotional rejuvenation. While planning for a location I had a couple of things in mind
- With no sign of monsoon and mercury soaring high, beaches and jungles were out of question.
- I was not keen to drive more than 250 KM (one way) so no Ooty, Coorg etc .
- We wanted to relax and chill and not looking for activities this time.
- Wanted to avoid crowded places.
After searching for a while I came across Horsley Hills which pretty much seems to be what we were looking for. It’s a hill station, mere 150 KM from Bangalore, not much known and has absolutely nothing except some breathtaking view points. So there is no rush to hop from one spot to another.
Once location was decided the next question was, where to stay? Till recent times there was only option; the APDTC run Haritha Hill Resort. We found another privately run hotel there which is next to the resort but I did not see much about it in internet.
We booked AC Room in Governors Bungalow for two nights through APTDC Website which was easy and fast.
About Horsley Hills
Horsley Hills is situated in Chitoor district of AP and with elevation of 4,230 ft it is also known as Ooty of Andhra Pradesh. W.D. Horsley, the Collector of Cuddapah district established his summer home here and till independence British officers used to spend their summer holidays here. Now AP Forest department is custodian of the place and all colonial properties are part of the resort run by APTDC.
Nearest place you will get ATMs, shops and hospitals is Madanapalli. We got advice from fellow travelers in Trip Advisor to carry sufficient cash as credit card swiping machines are unreliable up there. If you are running short of cash , top up from Madanapalli.
Day 1 ( 3rd May 2014)
The resort has 12 PM check-in . And with less than 150 KMs ( 135 KM to be precise from our home at Kadugodi) there was no point in starting very early. So we woke up at 6.30 and got ready at our own pace. I checked vitals of car (all fluid levels, tyre pressure) and topped up battery water last night. Ultimately the wheels started rolling at 7.45 AM.
Google Map showed me two routes
Bangalore-Tirupati Highway (170 KMs)
Most of the journey is through national Highways which I usually prefer even if the distance is more and toll is more.
Whitefield => Hoskote =>Chintamani =>Madanapalli =>Horsley Hills ( 138 KMs)
90% of the journey is through state highways which I always tend to avoid because in most of the states ( including Karnataka) SHs are maintained in poor conditions. But some travelogues in team-bhp advised to take this route as its very sinic and its not in a bad shape. So I decided to take this route.
The journey was impeccable! First 10 KMs of the road after Hoskote is bad ( but not very bad in Indian standards) but after that it was like a twist in a movie! SH82 was well tarred, well-marked and had canopies of colorful trees in most of the stretch. Beautifully scattered hillocks here and there and clear blue sky was adding magic to the scene.
We took the bypass to avoid Chintamani and continued till Madanepalle. I was able to maintain steady speed between 80 and 100. I do not cross 110 considering Alto is an unsafe car on highway ( no ABS, no air bag, weakly built) but one can do 120+ at stretches. We were stopped after crossing the AP border by the police. They were looking for alcohol in our luggage.
After reaching Madanepalle I took assistance from Google Maps to find our way through the congested town roads. Soon we reached the entry point and after paying entry fee of Rs 20 we started to drive up. Drive uphill was not very difficult and in some of the stretches of 8 KM I managed to drive in 3rd gear. There are 5 hair pin bends which need careful drive, otherwise the drive was enjoyable.
We reached the resort around 11.45 AM , so it took 4 hours point to point with 45 mins break for various reasons.
Once all formalities were done and caution money of 500 was paid in reception we headed for our room which is at Governors Bungalow.
After dropping our luggage we headed towards the restaurant to have lunch followed by a little stroll. The little one was ready to jump into the pool but it was too crowded so we decided to try it next day.
After a nap we woke up and went to the Sunset view point next to the Bungalow and explored nearby area. The sunset was great indeed and we took some nice snaps of it. Slowly it was getting dark and we watched stars glittering. We were sitting on rock and were in no mood of coming back, but after sometime wind was too strong and we had to come down. There was a tea stall outside the main gate from which we had tea and some snacks. After a leisurely stroll inside the campus we came back to our room and ordered dinners. I had a couple of pegs and after dinner we sat on terrace for some time to watch stars before we headed for bed.
Day 2 ( 4th May 2014)
We woke up at 8 and got ready quickly to head for breakfast . It was South Indian breakfast with usual Idli, plain dosa, porial, sambar etc. After filling our stomachs we went to the swimming pool and had plunge. Next we headed to the Eco Park just opposite to the resort which is run by AP Forest Department . The Eco park has some birds, crocodiles, rabbits and other small animals which kids enjoy a lot. There was a forest bungalow which I believe has the best view of the valley but getting a booking in such FD property itself is no less than adventure!
While returning me and Anindita did some outdoor activities like archery, dirt biking and Sanjivani enjoyed the trampoline.
After having lunch at restaurant we came back to our room for a nap. In the evening we went to the other view point, around 200 meters from the police station. Uniqueness of this site is you can see both Sunrise and Sunset and have wider view of the valley.
We sat on the rock and enjoyed the Sun set. The sky was painted with endless shades of blue and orange! The view and the ambiance was amazing and one can spend hours just sitting there!
On our way back we decided to try the Kerala Massage at the Ayurvedic Massage Center next to the pool. I got a full body and head massage ( Rs 1000) and wify had face and head massage ( Rs 350).
After such a relaxing massage, steam bath , few drinks and awesome dinner I was sure to miss the Sunrise yet again and I was not wrong!
Day 3 ( 5th May 2014)
As usual missed the Sunrise but woke up early to wrap up things. Before going for breakfast we explored the uncovered areas and found another view point towards Windfall block. This one has the widest view of the valley and we found another hotel just next to it. There were some tea and snack stalls and I believe this spot is open for general public.
We came back to room, had shower, packed things and were ready to checkout. After checking out from the rooms we had to collect the bills and the caution deposit from reception.
Started at 11.45 from the Horsley Hills and followed the same route. This time got stuck in nasty traffic at NTR Circle of Madanapalle, it was utter chaos. Anyway as the road was already known, I was able to manage a steady speed and reached home within 3 hours plus 1 hour of lunch break.
The holiday is over but we are still engrossed in the memories of trip.
About Haritha Resort
The resort is located on hill top and spread across 2 sq kms. It has various kind of accommodations like AC/NON AC Bungalows, Suits, Cottages, Double bedded rooms and dormitories. APDTC has converted some colonial stuff to accommodation besides some newly erected blocks. All accommodations and facilities are spread across different levels and the entire area is covered with beautiful trees.
When we called APTDC before booking they suggested to book AC room as during day time the temperature is going above 36 degrees. So we booked AC room at the Governors Bungalow. But we found AC is not absolutely necessary. The room was big with typical British style high celling a big bathroom and separate changing closet. The linen and towels were clean and well arranged. 36 inches LCD TV had Tata Sky with all major channels available and I was delighted to see a mini fridge to keep my beers chilled. We paid Rs6134 for two nights. Considering the room and huge property they manage it was value for money.
None of the rooms in this resort has a direct valley view except the Horsley Suit, but it is for larger group of travelers. But there is one view point just behind the bungalow which you can avail whenever you want.
The resort has a common restaurant where you get complimentary South Indian breakfast (need to pay for the kid above 3 years) . In addition to the South Indian Veg buffet Rs140/ head) you can order some non-veg side sides. They can serve dinner at room and offer some Chinese / North Indian varieties and the taste is really good. Haritha Resort has a bar but I had my own stock so cannot comment on it.
Guests get free coupons ( 2 adults and 1 child per room) for using the swimming pool for 1 hour per day. Between 8 to 12 it is reserved for boarders but open for outsiders after that, its utter chaos in pool after 12. Earlier you go better it is. There is an Ayurvedic Massage Center next to the pool where you can get Kerala Massage and you can also try some outdoor activities.
Distance Traveled : 269 KM
Petrol consumed: 13.34 liters (Shell Normal)
Fuel Economy: 20.16 KM/L (not bad considering 60% AC usage!)
Highest Speed: 105 KM/H ( between Chintamani and Hoskote)