Horsley Hills – Retreat in AP
We see people from towns and villages, following the herd mentality, crowding bigger cities and metros jostling for space with dreams of making it big and striking gold. Here I am, thinking in the reverse following Gandhi’s quote “India lives in its Villages”. When people from smaller towns sell their land and settle down in cities, I thought this is the right time to invest in land and fulfill my dream of setting up a farm house in the midst of Mother Nature.
I set for a place called Horsley Hills near Madanapalle, close to the Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka border. I also took my family along, promising them a great weekend and was accompanied by a friend, who knew the place like the back of his hand. He had booked us in a Guest House at Horsley Hills so that we can take some rest before heading back home.
Madanapalle was our first destination. It is 120 kms from Bangalore and I was surprised to encounter excellent road all through despite heavy rains this time of the year. The traffic was sparse and the road was real smooth, making me step on the gas and drive at 100kmph consistently. Tirupati is 125 kms from Madanapalle and is often called the midpoint between Bangalore and Tirupati.
Madanapalle is a fast growing city at the center of an agricultural region noted for its fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes. It is the birth place of the famous Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti who founded the Krishnamurti Foundation. It is also known for its high quality silks, which are spun into exquisite sarees and other types of clothing. Rabindranath Tagore translated Jana Gana Mana from Bengali to English and also set it to music in Madanapalle. Madanapalle is also famous for the Besant Theosophical College named after Dr. Annie Besant.
Since Madanapalle is situated at a higher altitude, it has a relatively cooler and pleasant climate than the surrounding places, making it an attractive place for people to build their houses and settle down after retirement. This thought had been going on in my mind after spending all my years in polluted cities and metros.
Jiddu Krishnamurthy founded Rishi valley public school, which is 20 kms from Madanapalle. This is an International school, attracting students from all over the world, regarded as one of the leading residential schools in India. After visiting this Institute, I wished I had a time machine that took me to the 1970s so that I could learn here amidst Nature’s splendour.
After visiting couple of farm lands in and around Madanapalle, we headed for the real destination – Horsley Hills. This Hill station also known as Andhra’s answer to Ooty is located about 1,300 metres above sea level. It is about 35 kms from Madanapally and 150 kms from Bangalore. On the way, one comes across a small town named Angallu, which is famous for its Cattle bazaar especially goat and sheep. A little away, one can find silk farmers rearing silkworms for commercial purpose.
The road to Horsely Hills is very scenic. It is surrounded throughout its entire length with dense growths of trees. Horsely Hills is the departure point for the Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary located some 80 kms away. It is named after a British officer named W.D. Horsley, the Collector of Cuddapah district. He visited this place around 1840 and was impressed by the beauty of the hills and chose this spot for his summer residence. Now the Governor of Andhra Pradesh uses this house as a summer residence and hence this house is called the Governors bungalow.
AP Tourism has constructed a huge Resort around the Governor’s bungalow called Haritha. It offers excellent accommodation facility at value for money rates. The rates range from Rs 1000 for a double bed accommodation to Rs 2000 for AC accommodation in Governor’s bungalow. It has a Restaurant, which serves good food at very affordable cost and surprisingly I found the service level very high despite being run by the Government. Haritha offers lot of facilities within the large area, which includes Swimming Pool, Massage centre and many outdoor activities like Rock climbing etc. The Environmental park houses some wild animals and a huge park. I could see only greenery for acres together. The land is blessed with bountiful rainfall and excellent climate throughout the year. Please carry light woolens since the place can get very cold sometimes. There are very few places to stay here and hence the Resort is full on weekends. It is advised to book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
We encountered very heavy rainfall at night and thought we will not be able to start for Bangalore the next day. We were proved wrong. The weather had changed dramatically the next day. It was bright and sunny and reminded me of a naughty boy sleeping after a prankful day as if he did nothing while being awake. We left this place with a heavy heart promising to come back again in the near future and stay for atleast 3-4 days.
I hope my dream of owning a farm house close to Horsley Hills, growing fruits and vegetables and keeping pets for company, is fulfilled very soon.