It’s not often that a smuggling legend becomes the most important historic and natural lineage to a destination. But that’s exactly what happened when a 17th century Sufi pilgrim, Baba Budan Giri, tucked away seven seeds of coffee in his belt, while returning from Mecca.
He came back and sprung them on the fertile hills of Chikmagalur, making it one of the most rampant coffee cultivating spots in India. Around the lush plantations grew a culture of coffee that was hard to extract away, making the destination a retreat for lovers of this new beverage and cool misty hills. The perfect activity centric scenic getaway is speckled with heritage spots and adventure options with wildlife and nature themes. Home to the highest mountain range of Karnataka, Mullayanagiri, Chikmagalur is also a popular trekking option from Bangalore (245 km). The things to do in Chikmagalur are a mixed bag of many aspects.
Below is a detailed idea about what to do in Chikmagalur!
1. Explore the coffee culture in Chikmagalur
Perfect for a traveller who is happy sauntering between the thick undergrowth of the wild coffee bushes, eyes peeled for exotic birdlife and animals, Chikamagalur is the ideal pick.
2. The mountain circuit of Chikmagalur: Sheethalagiri-Baba Budan Giri-Mullayanagiri
The main highlight of Chikmagalur for most travellers lies in covering the three main peaks of the town―Sheethalagiri, Baba Budan Giri and Mullayanagiri.
Even though Kemmanagundi lies almost 500 m below the highest Karnataka peak, Mullayanagiri, the views from here are equally riveting as the hills cascade down, draped in coffee bushes.
4. Hebbe Falls
Adventure lovers are promised a bone rattling yet thrilling drive of 13 km, through forested paths (sometimes no paths at all) from Kemmanagundi to Hebbe Falls.
5. Kalhatti Falls
Given that Chikmagalur has a large forest cover and entire hillsides covered with plantations, it is not uncommon to see many small and big waterfalls and rivulets around the area.
6. Horanadu Temple
One of the most important pilgrimage centres in Karnataka and Chikmagalur, the Horanadu Temple was established to commemorate the deity of Annapoorneshwari.
7. Chikmagalur Golf Club
Golf enthusiasts should definitely pack their clubs when visiting Chikmagalur. Not many people think of this but Chikmagalur can make for an excellent golfing holiday.
8. Rafting down the Bhadra
River Bhadra skirts around the hills of Chikmagalur, gushing and bouncing in places, making it an apt spot for white water rafting.
9. Kudremukh Trek
The Kudremukh trek in Chikmagalur is a good check on your strength, agility and physical prowess. Conquer the second highest peak of Karnataka (1894 m) trudging through the alternating thick Shola forests.
10. Monument trail of Hoysala Temples
The famous Hoysala temple circuit is a short detour when driving from Bangalore to Chikmagalur. Apart from Halebidu and Belur, there are a number of others that are sprinkled within a radius of 10 km from here.
11. Coffee Yatra Museum
The Coffee Yatra Museum is an initiative of the Coffee Board of India. The museum is an attempt to create a thematic display of the coffee history, processes like picking, drying and grinding.
12. Special experiences―Neelakurinji blooms
The Western Ghats of India give a fabulous opportunity to the travellers, so see their hill sides covered with a spectacular carpet of purplish blue, when the Neelakurinji flowers bloom once in 12 years. The botanical name of the shrub is Strobilanthes kunthiana, which was once used by the tribals to assess their age. Chikmagalur is one of the few destinations in the region that is lucky to have to these blooms cover complete hillsides. This natural event was last scene in 2006, which means that travellers should ready themselves to visit in 2018. This is the one time in the decade that travellers from all parts of the country converge to see this phenomena. The flowers bloom in late April and May, at the mid and close of spring. There is due to be some change in the months as the seasons have become erratic over the years and the weather patterns have rapidly changed. Since these are forest flowers, much of the plantations have taken up their natural habitat. But even then, it is not difficult to see them clutching onto hillsides. You may have to head out on the outskirts of the manicured plantations for a glorious view in the wild.