Chikmagalur is a calm, serene hill town full of scenic surprises. Coffee plantations, colonial era planters houses, scenic trails amidst rolling coffee plantations, pepper vines, and tranquil hillsides await you in a mere five-hour drive away from Bangalore. This refreshing nature’s bounty is located at the foot of the Sahyadri hill range, at the height of 1,000 meters from sea level and is surrounded by a multitude of peaks, making it a trekker’s delight.
The hills and forests of western ghats near Chikmagalur are enchanting, to say the least. Beautiful hill stations and places of picturesque beauty can be found aplenty here. It would seem that the hills, forests, streams and snow-white spread of coffee blossoms are all conspiring to woo you.
The air here is rich with the aroma of coffee, hence the nickname – Coffee Land of Karnataka. Even the typical ‘decoction coffee’ a strong concoction of boiling milk and sugar is distinct from that available elsewhere.
Game tourists can enjoy walks offered by the various coffee plantations in and around the town. In these guided tours, tourists can see, feel and experience first-hand the various stages of processing. Most tours culminate with a view of the sunset from the top of the Mullayanagiri hill range, one of the loftiest peaks in Karnataka at the height of 6,329 feet.
The more curious explorers can go on a jungle safari to the nearby Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, home to tiger, bear, bison, gaur and spotted deer among other species. The sanctuary is surrounded by hills, and the river Bhadra flows through it. Those strong in body and mind can opt for a rafting trip here.
Apart from spectacular landscapes, a multitude of challenging high altitude treks await the adventure lovers. Popular trails take you to Mullyanagiri, Kemmangudi, and Baba Budangiri. Hugely popular with the trekking community as well as the usual tourists are the Hebbe Falls, a 168 meters tall cascading tower of water amidst captivating scenery.
The district is strewn with numerous holy spots associated with legends from the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Prominent among these are the Sringeri mutt, Hornad and Dharmasthala Temples (96 km).
Close to Chikmagalur are the 900-year-old temples of Belur (Vishnu) and Halebid (Shiva). They are host to some of the most detailed, intricate temple architecture and sculptures in India. Some archaeologists are of the opinion that the sculptural splendor of the Belur-Halebid rival those of the more famous Khajuraho and Konark in North India.
Lavish hospitality is Chikmagalur’s trademark, be it on the plantation, the various clubs or the town-folk. One can enjoy long meandering walks and savor the spicy Malnad cuisine. You should definitely try the akki rotis (made of rice flour) with the typically fiery chicken curry native to the region.
Accommodation is aplenty, ranging from the five-star Taj Garden Retreat and the upscale Planter’s Court to standard rooms and cottages in and around the town. The many clubs of the planter’s circuit in Chikmagalur offer exclusivity in accommodation along with reasonable tariffs. Paying guest accommodation coffee estates and local residences can also be availed. However, during peak season it is advisable to plan and book ahead.
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