Chikmagalur is one of the greenest getaways in the south Indian state of Karnataka. It is one of those places where you can be at peace with yourself and discover a new side of yourself. Before I dig deep into the place as a traveller, let me introduce it.
400 years ago, saint Baba Budan, while returning from his Mecca pilgrimage, secretly pilfered 7 mocha coffee beans from Yemen, a safeguarded secret of the Arab world, and dropped them onto Chikmagalur soil as an experiment. There begins the story of the household essential and morning elixir, South-Indian filter kaapi.
India’s oldest coffee land, Chikmagalur, welcomes you with its towering silver oaks and winding hills; a perennially pleasant place, there’s really no season that is off, rain or shine. Though far beyond the sum of its parts, Chikmagalur may be summed up to its delicious steam-based Malnad cuisine, its rich 800-year-old Hoysala heritage, its lofty Sahyadri hills, its rich flora and fauna including a tiger reserve and at the heart of it all, innumerable coffee plantations & pepper vines.
Travelling to Chikmagalur: An Overview
|Mode of travel|
|By road (242 km from Bangalore)|
|Best time to visit|
|All year round (May-August, monsoon)|
|Nearby places to visit|
|Belur & Halebid, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary|
|Home-cooked Malnad meals- kadabu, akki roti, neerdosa, coffee|
Where to Stay in Chikamagalur?
Homestays in Chikmagalur are pretty much an all-encompassing experience. From being situated in plantations owned by the keepers to preparing traditional home-cooked Malnad dishes, these are the best ways to experience the local culture.
Many homestays in Chikmagalur also have other joyful add-ons like their friendly dogs that guests can play with or quaint little streams that pass through their property for a refreshing dip. Investing in a nice home-stay thereby completes the expense for most of the experience. However, for trekking enthusiasts and for those who would prefer more hustle or touristing, super-budget hotels are available in plenty as well.
Here are some of the best value for money stays:
|Homestays with Complete Address & Advantages|
160, Baba BudanGiri road, Thippanahalli Estate, Chikmagalur
| Thotadhalli Homestay
ThotadhahalliHomestay,Thotadhahalli Estate, Kaimara (P), Chikmagalur
| Gubbachi Goodu Homestay
GubbachiGoodu, Koduvally. Anoor post, Chikmagalur
| Nature Nirvana
Bababudangiri Hills, Bynekhan Plantations, SampigeKatte, Chikmagalur District
Top 4 Things to Pursue in & Around Chikmagalur
When you are in Chikmagalur, I would definitely recommend the following four things :
1. Trek the Mighty Kudremukh
Kudremukh translated to ‘horse face’ is a mountain range part of the Western Ghats. The trek up the horse-faced peak of the range takes almost 5 hours one way. For beginner trekkers, this might be a little difficult. For a more easygoing trek, one can always try Mullayanagiri, which is not only fairly easy but also has an old temple on the top. Though this trek lacks the joy of traversing through natural vegetation instead of steps and tarred roads, the sunset views from this peak are spectacular.
2. Amble along coffee plantations
Almost all resorts and home-stays in Chikmagalur are situated within plantations, so this becomes an activity you cannot miss. Stroll along the mud tracks and learn about different types of coffee and spices that grow along with it. There’s no plantation without leeches, so make sure you got your feet covered!
3. Pay a visit to the 2 Architectural marvels: Belur & Halebid
Around 40 minutes away from Chikmagalur are 2 ancient Hoysala temple towns, Belur and Halebid. Almost a millennium since their construction, the Channakeshwara and Hoysaleshwara temples have some of the most intricate carvings and retellings of epics on their walls, floors and even ceilings. With no wall nor roof left bare, these temples are actually far more intricate than those of Hampi, much older too. Several guides are available in front of the temples and are actually quite a necessity to understand the carvings and their meanings.
4. Relish some mouth-watering Malnad cuisine
A Malnad style breakfast would typically be your heartiest breakfast ever. Their breakfasts are also possibly the best of all 3 meals that you would have there. Kadabuor rice-coconut dumplings (no not idlis, a little more powdery, still as yummy) or some soul-pleasing neerd osawith coconut-tamarind chutney are your best bets. Neerdosatastes are delicious with their chicken saaruas well, though this usually won’t be served for breakfast. Akki roti is another must-try staple. Among their curriesAlasande(black beans)kaalusaaru, chicken/mutton saaruandmenthi gravy is a must-try. Eating the home-cooked meals at the home-stays is your best and most delicious option. Restaurants are not in plenty but you can try the age-old Planter’s Court for a buffet, the recently trending Coffee Barn Cafe for a good cuppa& fast food and of course, Cafe Coffee Day is always an option.
And finally, drink coffee! Lots of it. Most home stays and resorts keep quite a few coffee bean packs from their own plantations for sale. Make sure to grab a pack to reminisce about the freshly-grounded Chikmagalurkaapi.
I hope my blog on travelling to Chikamangalur helps you plan your getaway to this wonderful place.
Happy Wayfaring 🙂
About the Author
Shravani Bheema is a student of English Literature from Bangalore. An ardent lover of nature, she can be found seeking quietude in corners and canopied streets of Bangalore that the city provides in secret abundance. Her biannual family trips since childhood have influenced what she seeks and find in travelling along with a great interest in bird-watching. It’s always mountains over beaches and forest guesthouses over luxury resorts. She finds joy in experiencing a place as authentically as possible, which she believes can never come through environments that are altered too much. Arundhati Roy, Samuel T Coleridge, Neil Gaiman and Paulo Coelho are among her most read authors.