Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Monsoon Bliss at Chikmagalur

Monsoon Bliss at Chikmagalur

When you are talking about a weekend get away from Bangalore, especially during the monsoon, Chikmagalur has to be there in the list of your priorities. Chikmagalur is a popular weekend getaway destination and due to its vicinity to the state capital Bangalore and some other cities like Hassan, Shimoga, Chitradurga and Mangalore and its cool climate, tourists flock into the city during weekends to visit various places throughout the year. The lush green scenic beauty of Chikmagalur takes a different shape during monsoon and that’s why, the number of tourist population remains at its highest during the rainy season.

The town of Chikmagalur is located in the foothills of the highest mountain range in Karnataka, the Mullayanagiri range. Chiklamaglur is also famous for its coffee plantations and is known as the 'land of coffee' in Karnataka. In fact, it is the place where coffee was cultivated for the first time in India. It was Babu Budan, a 16th-century Sufi who introduced the coffee plant to India by bringing seven raw beans from the port of Mocha, Yemen while coming back from Haj in 1670. He brought seven beans because the number 7 is considered sacred in Islam. Today a mountain range to the north of the town of Chikmagalur is named after him, Baba Budangiri, where he raised the coffee plants for the first time in India.

Chikmagalur is best accessed by road. There are buses running from Bangalore every hour heading for Chikmagalur. If anyone is planning to visit Chikmagalur during the weekend by Bus, then the person should book the tickets in advance, in order to avoid the non-availability of tickets for weekend rush. You can also hire a cab or drive your own vehicle to Chikmagalur. The fastest route is via Hassan, which is on NH 48 and the road condition is also pretty good, that will take around 4 hours to reach Chikmagalur from Bangalore. There is also an alternative route to reach Chikmagalur, which is via Tumkur and Arsikere/Kadur.

I planned my visit to Chikmagalur with my Mom, Dad and Granny in a Ford Figo, which I rented from Zoomcar. We started at around 7:30 AM on a Saturday morning in the month of July. After taking a short break on our way for having some breakfast near Hassan, we reached Chikmagalur at around noon. Our hotel was pre-booked with Rajmahal Hotel that is situated at the heart of Chikmagalur, near the bus stand. There are several staying options in Chikmagalur based on your budget. We booked our hotel at the heart of the town because I was travelling with my old granny and it would be more feasible to stay in and around the city centre, otherwise, I would suggest opting for a Homestay in the coffee estates if you are a going with a group of enthusiastic travelers. The charm of staying amidst the coffee estate is something different and I bet you don’t wanna miss it!

There are so many places to visit and so many activities to do in and around Chikmagalur. For me, since I was travelling with my aged parents, so, I had to skip certain attractions and activities from the itinerary, that includes visit to some of the water falls where trekking is involved.

After having our lunch and getting some rest, we headed to visit Ayyanakere Lake, located around 20 km away from the town of Chikmagalur in order to get a glance of the beautiful sunset.
The beautiful Ayyanakere Lake

Sunset view point at Ayyanakere Lake

Ayyanakere Lake from a different view

The happy Granny! 


After hanging around for around an hour, we headed back to the market area for buying some coffee. Rest of the day was spent roaming around in the market place, near our hotel.

The next day, we started at around 9 AM after having our breakfast and headed for Mullayanagiri Peak, the highest peak in Karnataka. There are certain things that you might want to note down while visiting this peak –

  • The approach road to the peak is not that good. If you are not a good driver, it is definitely not advisable to drive up to the last point.
  • Carry rain coat with you as it may rain at any point of time.
  • The best time to visit the peak is in the morning when you will find yourself amidst the cloud accompanied by unbelievable strong wind which might sometime make you lose balance!
  • You will not find any shops to buy food or water at the peak. So, it’s better to carry enough water and food/snacks with you.
Mud Road on the way to Mullayanagiri

Entry to Mullayanagiri Peak
Foggy Mullayanagiri

Mom & Dad

Somewhere at Mullayanagiri

Parking at Sitalayanagiri

Dense fog covering the green peaks!

It was during our onwards journey to the peak when the front and rear wheel rim in the left of our car got damaged due to the rocky uneven road between Sitalayanagiri and Mullayanagiri. At a certain point, our car was almost sliding down the slope of the hill if, a group of travelers would not have blocked our car with their bare hands and pushed forward in order to avoid any vital accident! It was a scary experience and somehow we managed to overcome the situation. But, that lead to certain mental disturbances on my parent's mind and so, we didn't stayed longer at Mullayanagiri Peak. Moreover, it was running in my mind to get the wheels fixed as soon as possible so that our upcoming itinerary doesn't gets ruined.

Due to this incident, we had to drop our plan of visiting Bababuddangiri, that is situated some 25 km from Mullayanagiri. While heading back to Chikmagalur, we found a puncture repair shop just at the base of the hill and we got our wheels fixed there within 45 minutes.

After we got everything fixed, we were all set to continue with our rest of the planned itinerary. We headed for Kemmangundi, a beautiful hill station that is situated around 60 km away from Chikmagalur. The road to Kemmangundi is pretty good with amazing scenic beauty that goes on through the coffee estates. On the way to Kemmangundi, we took a slight diversion at a place called Kallattipura and went to see Kalhatti falls (Kalahasti falls). There is a small Veerabhadreshwara (Siva) temple situated, that you can visit after crossing the running water.
Scenic road leading to Kemmangundi

Kalhatti falls / Kalahasti falls

Kalhatti falls / Kalahasti falls

Notorious snatchers!

After spending some time there, we headed for our final destination, Kemmangundi. Kemmangundi, as earlier said, is a beautiful hill station with perfect surrounding landscapes that made our day! A must visit tourist attraction of Kemmangundi is the Rose Garden, that is taken care by the Department of Horticulture and I should say that it’s worth a visit. The scenic beauty of the surrounding is best observed from this place. Another point of attraction here is the Z point. We saw the place from a distance because, in order to reach the Z point, one has to trek and go there. Since, I didn't had that option, so, we stayed longer at the Rose Garden and then started our return journey to Chikmagalur.
Amidst serene Kemmangundi

Kemmangundi submerged in mist

Maa da Laadla!

Rose Garden (Unfortunately there were no roses due to off season!)

The flower that follows the sun does so even in cloudy days - Robert Leighton

Z point from a distance

It was already dark when we came back to Chikmagalur and rest of the evening was dedicated for the last minute shopping activities. Next day morning, after having breakfast, we headed back for Bangalore and visited Belur & Halebidu on our way back.

Places to visit in and around Chikmagalur:

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