One of the most picturesque and tranquil tourist destinations in Karnataka, Chikmagalur is the tallest hill station in Karnataka at a height of about 3400 ft. It is quite famous for its coffee estates and favorable climate throughout the year.
The name is derived from “Chikka magala ooru”, that translates to “younger daughter’s town.” Legend has it that Chikmagalur was given away as dowry with the younger daughter of the chieftain of Sakhrayapattana. This perfectly idyllic getaway has numerous adventure options, heritage spots and abundant natural landscape to feast one’s eyes on.
The best time to visit this this scenic hill town is from September to March and the most preferred way to reach is via road from the IT capital of Bengaluru. The driving distance from Bangalore to Chikmagalur is approximately 250 km. Moreover, there are quite a few places to visit on the way.
It is best to take this drive on a weekend. Plan it such that you start off from Bangalore early in the morning, make enough pit stops on the way and still reach your destination by late noon/early evening. And there’s more than one picturesque way to reach your destination!
1: Bangalore-Kunigal-Channarayapattana-Hassan-Belur-Chikmagalur on NH 75. This route is the shortest in terms of distance, time and the most convenient. The road trip will take about 4.5 hours and take you through the bustling town of Hassan and the historic Belur. The roads are well maintained and offer a fantastic drive. Do keep an eye out for any expansion/repair work and also factor this in while planning your itinerary.
2: Bangalore-Kunigal-Tiptur-Arsikere-Halebidu-Chikmagalur on NH 75 and 73.
This route will take almost 5 hours, passing through the famous architectural twin cities of Belur and Halebid.
3: Bangalore-Tumkur-Hiriyur-Hosadurga-Kadur-Chikmagalur on NH 48.
The longest in terms of distance and time, this route will take you about 6 hours to reach Chikmagalur via the NH 48. The landscape that you pass by will vary from barren to vibrant greenery and an exhilarating experience for any road trip in the south.
The religious and spiritual headquarters of the Vokkaliga community, Adichunchungiri, is on the way. The popular Jain pilgrimage town of Shravanabelagola is only a few miles away from here. It is home to the Bahubali or Gomateshwara statue, one of the most important tirthas of Jainism. You can also enjoy the Begur lake at a stopover in Kunigal.
You can also make a stop at Gorur Dam on the river Hemavathi which is 20 km from Hassan. Another must visit here is the famous Drowning Church that remains underwater during monsoons and emerges once the waters recede.
The temple and architectural circuit of Belur and Halebid is a short detour on the way from Bangalore to Chikmagalur. It is host to several ancient temples constructed under the regimen of the Hoysala kings during the 11th-13th century. Of the over 90 temples built in that period, the ones in Somanathapura, Belur and Halebid have flourished till date. Make sure you engage the services of a local guide to learn about the nuances of the Hoysalan architecture in detail.
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