Kolar is a unique weekend getaway from Bangalore. It has something different for everyone in the family. Gold fields, Valmiki's Ashram from Ramayana, Silk farms, Wool spinning units, temples like the Kotilingesvara temple with ten million lingams, Adventure Sports, Black Buck safari are on the menu. And just in case, you happen to be a Particle Physicist, you too won’t leave Kolar disappointed!
Kolar is around 70 kms from Bangalore towards Chennai on the Old Madras Road.
The most fun way of visiting Kolar is to make a booking at Morrit Farms. Major Morrit set up this farm more than a hundred years ago and is run by ATR resorts today. The organic farm is spread over 50 acres of banana plantations, coffee plantation and fruit orchards. The well appointed cottages are really comfortable. For those who want something different, a few caravans are also available.
You can contact Morrit Farms at 08153327467 or 9341610167. It is at Dk Halli Plantation near Gospel College. You will need to take right at railway crosiing after reaching Kolar and cross Bangarpet, Baharat Nagar and Bethamangala Road.
You can start the Kolar holiday with a unique Tractor Safari over the farm and adjoining lands for some Black Buck spotting. The Menaka Gandhi Black Buck Foundation has ensured these magnificent animals can run around freely on their natural habitat. Other than hundreds of Black Bucks, you can also spot Cobras and Flying Foxes.
Kolar Gold fields are located about 27 kms from the town. Gold mining started in the 2nd century AD and was at its peak during the British Period. The Champion Reefs mine was the second deepest underground mine in the world when it was operational reached a depth of 3200mts. In fact the British had employed a multinational work force with workers coming all over from Europe. KGF was in fact the first Asian city to get electricity from a hydro electric plant at Shivanasamudra! An interesting medical trivia is that Silicosis, a form of pneumoconiosis caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust, was first identified in KGF. The mines were finally closed down in 1992 as the cost of mining far exceeded the value of the gold left! You can have a tour of the mining area covering the pits, some left over machinery, the tunnels and sand piles which still have some specks of gold left!
Kolar also figures in the map of a Particle Physicist. In the 1960s, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Durham University and Osaka University carried out neutrino particle experiments. They were looking for atmospheric neutrinos. Seven detectors were deployed at a depth of 2.3 km in Heathcote shaft and Champion Reefs mines.The experiment was successful and the first atmospheric neutrinos were discovered here in an iron calorimeter.
Trekking, rock climbing and parasailing are options for those in the mood for less cerebral activities. The farm folks can organise guides and make other arrangements for these activities.
You can begin your temple leg of Kolar holiday with Kotilingesvara. Since 1974, more than 80 lac lingams have been installed and the target of 1 Crore is nearing. The tallest among them rises to 108 feet.
Avani is also called the Gaya of the south. It houses the Ashram of the Sage Valmiki where the twins of Lord Rama, Luv & Kush were born to Sita. You can visit the Shankar Mutt nearby build by the Nolamba dynasty.
One of the finest specimens of architectural style of Vijaya Nagara Empire is the Somesvara Temple in nearby Mulgabal. The bronze Dancing Nataraja is the centre of attraction. You will also appreciate the majestic temple tower, giant pillars, prakara walls, kalyana mandapa and the ornate door frames. The nearby Kurudumale temple houses a 13.5 foot tall sculpture of Lord Ganesh.
Bangaru Tirupati has been modeled on the original temple of Lord Venkatesvara at Tirupati. You can have a view of the deity from the small window at the sanctum. Virupakshi temple was built by Deva Raya II of the Vijaya Nagara Empire. A unique feature here is the lion in front of the shrine of Parvati, akin to the Nandi of Shiva temples.
Between the trips around Kolar, you can also have a look at the drip irrigation and power tilling going around in the farm. The stream running across the farm also provides an opportunity for some fishing. And, kids can have fun taking hay rides and chasing rabbits, sheep and turkey.
One needs to exercise caution while spotting Black Bucks. There are many Cobras and other dangerous snakes in the farm land and it’s safe not to get down from the vehicle. If you are travelling with kids, please hold on to them while visiting the mines as there are large open pits and tunnels around. Avoid staying in the Caravan during summers as it can get really hot.
For my travelogues on other weekend getaways from Bangalore, visit Bangalore Weekend Ideas.