This has got to be a first—a cave resort (built entirely underground), just 28km from Bangalore. I enter Guhantara through a 500m cave tunnel. I’m still above the ground, but what an initiation. The tunnel is lit by dim skylights; the walls of the cave, moulded with concrete, have a rocky texture. The temperature is cool—nice, considering we haven’t had our share of winter in Bangalore.
The good stuff
The tunnel opens out to an amphitheatre that overlooks a small pond, doubling up as a swimming pool. Interestingly, the pool has steps that resemble the uneven make-do steps of a village pond.
There isn’t a specific restaurant space, but there are several tables by the pool. The area is well-ventilated and cool because of the air drafts that flow in from the ground. From a gastronomic point of view, the special buffet lunch on Sundays is a big plus—authentic Karnataka fare complete with jolada rotis and curry.
There are 20 rooms, all underground, lined along a passage. Each room has a skylight so bright that during the day, there is no need for artificial lights. The earthy decor is minimal, making the rooms spacious and uncluttered. The lounge area is directly below the skylight, making it a great place to read. Each room has a balcony that overlooks an artificially created pond. You might have to wait for the rains to fill the moat, but the sit-out is still peaceful. The bathrooms have stone-walled tubs and pots in which you can heat water on firewood. Don’t panic, there are electric water heaters as well.
After you beat the initial traffic on Kanakapura Road near the Metro supermarket, it is an easy drive on good roads until you reach Kaggalipura Lake, where you need to take a right on to a mud road. I would recommend a car with good road clearance, just to save you the ordeal of this rough, 5km drive.
The restaurant offers multi-cuisine food, and has a tried and tested menu of average north Indian and Chinese fare. I picked Chinese, and the spring rolls were good enough. The restaurant doesn’t have a liquor licence yet, but a well-stocked bar is on the cards.
Going back to the basics is what Guhantara did not do for me. The amphitheatre area with the restaurant has a rather powerful sound system that overpowers the calming sound of the waterfall by the pool. The two-room suite even has World Space radio.
A one-night stay for a couple costs Rs5,500, plus taxes. Food at the restaurant is fairly reasonable at about Rs250 per head, per meal. The one-acre underground area, plus three acres of open lawn area, already make it a popular corporate outings spot, at Rs750 per person.