To whomever I mentioned “I went to Chikmagalur”, they all had heard of it before. Could be the Coffee, as Chikamaglur is often known as the Coffee land of Karnataka. My first impressions of this town was – small, quaint and spacious. Broad roads (as per India), small 2-3 story buildings and beyond these buildings I could spot an undulating hilly landscape. Most importantly while Mumbai was sizzling in the summer, this place was quite pleasant.
The hills around Chikmagalur are surrounded by Coffee plantations. Most plantations here are huge over a few hundred acres for sure. Long walks and even treks can be a real joy. These plantations keep animals like cows, goats, dogs and such, they have wood-burning boiler geysers bringing you hot water, activities like drying pepper or beans is usually on – so overall we feel like we are in a place very different from our usual urban lifestyle.
The fresh air, water and food add to the charm that these natural homepads offer.
The place we stayed at took care of all of our meals. At times we had local delicacies while other times Knorr packet soups. For family travels this is a good setup as everyone enjoys. Every evening we had dinner around the campfire. My niece and I had a nice time dancing around it as well. Travel memories. 🙂
You haven’t been to a campfire if you haven’t danced, sang songs, fanned dying embers to get sparks and done a whole lot of other fun.
Only thing to check with regards home stay is the distance from Chikmagalur town. Our homestay was 30 – 45 mins away. So depending on your length of stay – keep at least couple of days to just stay in the plantation and experience that place. If you are going for outings everyday then taking a place so far out doesn’t seem to be the right choice. May as well stay somewhere in town.
The reason I was excited even for a two day trip into Karnataka was because I have explored many of the places and this would be a way to explore some more adjoining areas. Some of the main attractions near Chikmagalur are,
Halebeedu & Belur
The sites of two well-known Hoysala temples. Belur is 20 kms from Chikmagalur. Halebeedu is another 17 kms from Belur. So a comfortable day journey. I had already been to both these places. This was my second visit to Belur, we didn’t go to Halebeedu. If you are looking to go to just one of them, because of time constraints then I suggest go to Halebeedu because it has a garden, lake and two Nandi idols which are in the top 10 biggest in the world.
Halebeedu’s temple carvings might also be more interesting to many people because it depicts the Mahabharata scenes – some of which you can decipher yourself. The main attraction in both these temples according to me is the intricacy of carvings. How they have managed such intricacy so many years ago, in such minute detail is mind boggling.
A lot of people swear that the guides are a must to truly understand the magnificence of these temples. I have taken a guided tour in both places and honestly, found their way of giving the ‘lecture’ very uninspiring, but that is just me. I am usually looking to understand places much more deeply. I also like it when the guide narrates everything as a story, the way it happened rather than history class. I hope they have some well made audio tours installed in these places soon.
This is a sacred place for Hindu and Jains alike. On top of a small 20-min-climb hill, there is a huge Bahubali idol. Many Hindus know him as Gomateshwar. He is the second son of Rishabha – the first Jain tirthankar.
This is another Hindu religious place near Chikmagalur. Someone had actually recommended this place to me. Though I have not been here yet… but it maybe worth checking out. There is a famous Annapoorneshwari Temple here. Apparently, there is a 4000 year old Kannada dialect inscription on this temple’s back wall. It says that in the Future there would be flying machines and these would disturb human peace. So if we know some local stories and such then these religious places can be very interesting.
There are some other hill stations also nearby. These can be checked out.
The highlight for me about the excursion from Chikmagalur to Belur was this picnic in an open spot.
A farmer came to enquire as to what we were doing, quite a dilapidated looking fellow (as per me, an urban creature)…. and he was well versed in English. 🙂 Surprise. Surprise.
The surroundings are very picturesque and green. Reminded me a bit about Hampi….
I went from Mumbai to Mangaluru in overnight konkan railway. That train ride was also very eventful and enjoyable. Have a lot of pictures to share in a next post. I reached Mangaluru early in the morning at about 10ish. Mangaluru to Chikmagaluru I took a local bus ride. It is about 5-6 hours journey, there is quite a bit of Western ghats enroute and the bus connections are a bit flaky. So be prepared to really enjoy the local and very budget transportation. 🙂
You can also just take a car. That is what the others in my family did. They were coming from Bangalore. The time taken from Bangalore & Mangalore is pretty much the same.
All in all, a lovely place to visit. Staying in the plantations for a few days can really relax and rejuvenate.