The plantation town cum hill resort of Chikmagalur holds many a delight for travelers of all kinds. However, for most visitors who opt for a homestay in Chikmagalur, the main objective is to cover the three main peaks known as the Chandradrona Parvatha Shreni – Sheethalagiri, Baba Budan Giri and Mullayanagiri.
The first stop on this route is Sheethalagiri, set amid lush forestry and a bird watcher’s dream come true. An ancient temple dedicated to Mallikarjuna Swamy which is more than 1000 years old can be found on the spot. Though the temple in itself is not much to speak of, it makes for a pleasant walk and the water from a natural stream inside the adjacent cave. You can take a car or jeep to the Sheethalagiri temple from your home-stay or the Kaimara junction at the foothills.
Next up is the Baba Budan Giri hill, also known as the Inam Dattatreya Peetha. Legend has it that the famous sufi saint introduced coffee to India by bringing beans from Yemen in 1670 AD. A small shrine atop the 1895 m high peak offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding valleys.
The shrine is visited by people of all religious faiths. A nearby cave is believed to have been the residence of Sri Dattatreya Swamy. Within a short distance from the Budangiri peak are three popular waterfalls – Gada, Kamana and Nellikayi.
The final stop is Mullayanagiri, which at (1930 m) is the highest peak in Karnataka. Towering majestically above the rest of the hill range, this peak offers magnificent views of its surrounding hills and valleys. Incredibly windy and spine chillingly cold, it’s still recommended for the marvelous view alone.
It is a favorite of adventurous trekkers who take on the mammoth elevation despite the heavy winds and near obscure paths due to the all prevailing mist. The tomb of Saint Mulappa Swamy, who is said to have meditated in the caves surrounding the hill is located at the top. A small Shiva temple can also be found on the summit.
A trek to Kudremukh (the horse-faced mountain) the second highest peak in Karnataka (1894 m) will take you through thick Shola forests and wide yellow grasslands. A favorite with the more adventurous of trekkers, the trail teems with wildlife, crosses several streams and has quite a few steep ascents.
If you still have time to spend, a visit to Kemmanagundi is a must. Though of a lower height than the aforementioned, it is more easily accessible and boasts of incredible scenery. An erstwhile summer retreat of King Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, a few viewing decks, restaurants and even a guesthouse of the State Tourism Board make it a pleasant outing for casual tourists. It is also the access point to Hebbe Falls, with local four wheel drives available for hire to reach the splendid waterfalls.
The perfect time to visit Chikmagalur is Mar-Apr when the coffee plantations bloom. The rich aroma of fresh coffee fills the air making it the perfect occasion to visit the plantation town. A stay at a local homestay or resort is recommended to indulge oneself in the local ambiance and plan trips during the day.
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