mullayanagiri chikmagalur

Chikmagalur is among the most famous hill station of Karnataka where Bababudan Giri ranges, Mullayangiri ranges, Kalhatti Falls, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Kudremukh national park, Manikyadhara falls, Kadambi falls, etc. are the top places to visit by the travelers every year.

Chikmagalur is situated on the foothills of the famous Mullayanagiri peak of the Western Ghats, which attracts tourists from around the year from India for its pleasant and favorable climate, tropical rainforest, and coffee estates.

Chikmagalur Trip Planning

Life was following the same routine of home, hospital and a much-wanted escape were due. One fine day of May 2019, post night duty, I was sleepy and cooking. The clock struck 1, the phone started ringing and it was my colleague who wanted an urgent duty exchange. I got 2 days off after week-long night duties. We (husband and me) didn’t have to think much about what next.

I had heard a lot about this charming beauty, about 250 kilometers away from Bangalore. Yes, that is CHIKMAGALUR. This beauty next door welcomes everyone to the magnificent Western Ghats. ‘Chikmagalur’ is a simple word in Kannada formed by Chikka-Magal-Uru meaning younger daughter’s town. History reveals that this place was given as a gift to the younger daughter of a local King.

Q) How to reach Chikmagalur from Bangalore?

By road: car or bus (state-run/private luxury bus)

  • NH 75: ~ 240 km takes about 4 ½ - 5 hours; expect toll gates (4, if I remember correctly) crossing Nelamangala- Hassan- Belur.
  • NH 48 and NH 69: an extra 30 km, takes about 5 ½ to 6 hours crossing Nelamangala- Tumkur- Hagalavadi-Sira Road- Hiremagalur.

By train: nearest stations are Kadur-40 km and Hassan-60 km away.

By flight: need to reach Bangalore International Airport and then take a cab/ bus.

Q) When is the best time to go Chikmagalur?

I would say anytime! Each season has got its own special feel. Summer is very pleasant and not very hot but the mighty waterfall may be missed. To watch the water-fall in its glory, you need to go during the rainy season (June- September), then trekking may not be feasible. So, just go when you feel like it.

Best option: road trip- car- August/September, driving through nature, enjoying the scenery and the cool breeze.

Day 1: Chikmagalur Journey Begins

mangalore to chikmagalur
Way to Chikmagalur from Bangalore

We booked a homestay, packed the bag; had lunch, and got into the car by 02:30 pm. Thanks to my driving skills (poor, then) and thanks to my husband (who loves driving), I could sit back and munch on a Dairy Milk Silk, glancing out through the windows and diving into Mother Nature. I had not enjoyed such a beautiful drive for a long time. Lush green on either side, blue and white above.Oh! That was a lovely drive to this beautiful town!

chikmagalur tourism
Shanthikunnj Homestay

Shanthikunnj Homestay, the one we booked was 40 km away from the hassles of city life and had narrow roads taking us deeper into nature. We got a bit confused about the location but the villagers helped. Name boards were placed in between and finally, we reached the destination around 07:15pm.

chikmagalur coffee
Kokum Juice

The Co-ordinator, Mr.Francis was very friendly, offered us a tempting drink in the pink-purple shade. I was surprised to know it was ‘Kokum juice.’ Being from Kerala, I knew kokum only as a part of fish curry. It tasted so nice and refreshing.

chikmagalur trip for 2 days
Yellow and black ‘Car-a-Van

We were taken to our room in a vehicle- car/jeep/truck? What do I call? Well, it was an old Maruthi 800 ‘renovated’ into a carrier van. It was exciting to see this innovation in the Land of Coffee! It was actually the owner’s car and they wanted to retain it rather than selling. Thus took birth, this yellow and black ‘car-a-van.’ What an idea, Sirjee! 

best homestay in chikmagalur

Located by the side of River Bhadra, displaying a lot of antique pieces, having multiple options of rooms- mud house, areca cottage, glasshouse- to name a few; campfire, music, delicious local cuisine, well-mannered people; well-ventilated and clean rooms; all in the middle of a coffee estate- this place seemed really unique and charming!

Day 2: Baba Budangiri Trip

We got up by 6 am, ready for trekking as informed the previous night. Waited near the dining area, had the special coffee and by then Mr. Arivu came, along with his 2 cute Indian dogs, Raja and Rani. I am afraid of dogs but these 2 didn’t trouble me. They were walking ahead of us showing the right path. This morning walk must be a routine for them.

mullayanagiri chikmagalur

The slow flowing river, the sun rays falling on the water and getting reflected, the gentle sound of water hitting the rocks; my heart was popping out. Arivu was explaining about the coffee plants and the areas where they spotted tigers, elephants, etc. We could hear the echoing sounds of a few animals and birds. It was more of a long walk through a huge plantation rather than a typical trek.

Chikmagalur is the first place in India to have a coffee plantation, to be specific, The Baba Budangiri– named after Saint Baba Budan who brought coffee seeds from Mecca and planted them, making all of us getting addicted to Coffee.

chikmagalur coffee
Chikmagalur Coffee

There are 2 types of coffee plants are commonly cultivated- Coffee arabica and Coffee robusta. Arabica is a coffee shrub that has a shorter harvesting time. Robusta grows taller like a tree and is more demanding when it comes to pollination, appropriate conditions for growth, etc. Most of the plantations have more of Arabica variety. The coffee fruit is called cherry which is dried and processed to make the seed and subsequently the coffee powder. Robusta seeds have more caffeine content and less sugar making it bitter compared to Arabica, but it has the greater yield and is less susceptible to pests and disease, hence obviously requiring lesser pesticides.

After a long walk and gaining some knowledge on coffee, we enjoyed hot ‘akki roti’ and coffee, sitting in the middle of nature. We went again to the river flowing through the middle of the jungle. I could spot my husband holding a dried branch and walking, like how our ancestors used to walk uphill. I walked across the rocks, splashed water overhead, and became a kid again.

I just had to close my eyes to open my eyes into nature, such a calm, serene environment. Sitting on a rock, feet underwater, sun rays on my face, breeze on my hair, voices of birds and animals, no honking, no sound of vehicles, it was like bliss! Time just fled and we didn’t realize that it had been 2 hours. On the way back home, we found an old coracle (the circular boat, you must have seen it whenever you checked on Hogganekkal).

Chikmagalur
Hanging Bridge on River Tunga in Chickmanglur

Back to room, freshened up, had lunch and then we left to the Hanging Bridge. But we ended up in front of a narrow muddy road and felt lost. Luckily, we met a person who was so kind enough to explain about the place and guided us. The bridge was actually between Sringeri Matt and Shri Sharadapeetham, built across River Tunga. I wanted a photo of just the bridge and had to wait for at least 30 minutes to get the bridge empty. We visited the Matt and temple, calm and soothing places.

Hanging Bridge on River Tunga
Beautiful Night View of Hanging Bridge

Outside the temple, I saw a disabled lady selling bhelpuri and her 10-year-old daughter cutting vegetables. I am a big fan of all types of chats and my partner was worried about typhoid and hepatitis, as always; but I insisted. That lady started talking to us as like she knew us. Every person has a story to tell and every travel takes you to many such stories. I ended up eating up 2 servings which were really tasty probably because she had added her extra love to it. We came back late to the room and slept off.

Day 3: Mullayanagiri Trip

mullayanagiri chikmagalur
Mullayanagiri Chikmagalur

One doesn’t have to go anywhere but just be there in this place to feel the calmness and peace. We just walked around the homes, accompanied by Raja-Rani in between. Relaxing over the wood logs and cane chairs, racing with the breeze on a swing, I just kept on adding moments to memories. After lunch, we checked out from the homestay, along with 2 bottles of Kokum syrup I brought from there!

Next in the list was Mullayanagiri, the highest peak in Karnataka standing tall amongst all the mountains. It felt that the road was ending right in front of we and the drive uphill gave a feeling that we were going to take off into the clouds!

Hill Station Chikmagalur of India
Sarpadri Mullayanagiri 

There is a parking area at the foothills of the mountain which itself is a great view-point. Earlier there was only a trail named as Sarpadri but now there are steps made of rock pieces. There is a small arch marking the beginning of the steps and you can see the steps going up like a snake.

As we started climbing, the velocity of the wind was increasing and half-way through it started drizzling. What more could I ask for…! The child in me started jumping, out of mere pleasure. There were a lot of people around and at each 2 or 3 step, you would cross one. Some were adventurous, taking the trail and climbing over the rocks; some came purely out of boredom; some nature-lovers and a few like that young girl who wanted to become a film director, seen shooting the climax scene for her debut movie. After climbing around 500 steps, we were at the summit.

Highest peak Mullayanagiri in Chikmagalur
Shri Guru Melu Gadrige Mullappa Swami Mutta

At a height of 6300 feet above sea level, all I could see was the brown mountains wearing a green top, the fog, the bluish sky, covered with dark clouds making me feel that I could just touch them if I leap enough. The people, cattle (yes, even at this height), the ‘say cheese’ voices around; it was noisy yet I could feel the inner silence.

There is a small temple at the top, which is of Mullappaswamy after whom the mountain is named. The Priest told us that the Saint used to meditate in a cave nearby and that there was a direct connection from the cave to the inside of the temple which was closed. It was really exciting to look around from the peak. As the sky started recruiting more and more dark clouds which were ready to pour on us; we started climbing down.

Caution:

  • The irregular surface of steps- use proper shoes with grip and be careful, not to slip.
  • Steps are slightly steeper at some places, better not to force elderly people to climb up.

Hirekolale Lake

Hirekolale Lake in Chikmagalur
Hirekolale Lake in Chikmagalur 

The next spot was Hirekolale Lake, a man-made lake amongst the middle of these mountain ranges; built for irrigational purposes. About 12 km from the mountain base, following a not-so-reliable route map, when we reached there finally; the scenery was beyond words! 

Hirekolale Lake (Chikmagalur)
Hirekolale Lake (Chikmagalur)

The multi-coloured sky was like a beautiful wall-paper. Picture perfect! There is a small bund/bridge which extends almost into the center of the lake. The moment I kept my foot on that, I was frightened by the heavy vibration of the concrete structure as if it was going to break apart. But nothing happened, it was just the pressure of the water hitting across the concrete walls. We sat down by the side of the road, looking at that beautiful sky at dusk, listening to the voice of birds and elephants from the deeper jungle.

Note: There is no toilet or shop, hence finish off all your needs before heading to this place.

During the return journey, we stopped at a juice shop, spent some time there sipping over a special lime juice prepared by the sweet lady; whose family had relocated to Chikmagalur, close to 50 years ago as plantation workers from Kerala. Another story to unfold..

Throughout the drive, my eyes were searching for a hospital to work and a school for kids because this place and the innocent lives of these people had touched me a lot that I wanted to go back and be there. As the journey proceeded, we were moving away from the blissful nature, to the crowded, noisy city life.

It has been a year and I really want to make another trip to explore the unexplored areas of this ‘younger daughter’s town.’

The mountains are yearning.

--------------- And I must go. -------------

Surya G K

1 Comments

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  1. This travelogue is sent by the Surya G K from the Bangalore. This article is published under the TouristBug Travel Writing Competition 2020

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