Centuries ago, when the Sufi mystic Baba Budan smuggled seven coffee beans from Yemen into India, he probably didn’t bargain for millions of coffee junkies unwittingly blessing his soul everyday, with every sip of their coffee. Chikmagalur, whose hills nurtured the coffee culture at its bosom, is a green slice of heaven on a permanent coffee high. The roads are tricky, yes, but getting to the top is worth the while. Just like the 10 km trek to the Habe Falls is – its almost impossible by vehicle and is inaccessible in the monsoons. Long treks, safaris and breathing plenty of fresh, coffee-scented air – Chikmagalur makes you feel so good.
Do a proper coffee-plantation holiday at the Baba Budan Giri, the very hills that coffee made its debut in India many centuries ago, preferably between December and February when the coffee plucking season is in full swing. Be sure to take home some good coffee from Chikmagalur Town.
Go to the very top of Mullayyangiri, the highest peak in Karnataka and also the highest point between the Nilgiris and the Himalayas.
Take your trekking shoes and a good measure of resolve along on holiday. Chikmagalur abounds in trekking trails and options for plantation walks that are as pretty as they are strenuous. Do the trek to the Hebbe Falls at Kemmannagundi. Tucked well away from direct access by vehicle, these almost virgin falls that plunge in two steps are a treat, especially because large groups tend to give it a miss.
The Kudremukh ranges is a destination in itself with its sacred groves at Gangamoola, the Lakya Dam and its very own national park where you could spot wild elephants, peafowls, porcupines, the lion-tailed macaque, or a tiger or a leopard if you’re lucky.
Bhadra or the Muthodi Wildlife Sanctuary again offers the facilities of a true blue ecological hotspot: lush forests, thicker silences broken only by birdsong, a chance encounter with an elephant herd, maybe spot a big cat – tigers or leopards – the temperamental Tungabadra River with its crocodiles and over 250 bird species.
Karnataka’s Golden Triangle, Belur-Halebeedu-Shravanabelagola with their magnificent specimens in stone architecture is just a short detour away.
Chikmagalur is 251 km from the state capital of Bangalore. The highest point in this district is Mullayanagiri, 1926 mts. above sea level which is also the highest point in the state of Karnataka. You can reach by road, rail and air.
Besides the jaw dropping scenic beauty of hills and waterfalls and coffee scented winds Chikmagalur is known for its wild life too. Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary Occupies 495 km² of wildlife sanctuary and Project tiger reserve. The forests here are rich in Bamboo and birds species unique to both the Malabar and Sahyadri ranges. Kudremukh National Park is the largest declared Wildlife Protected Area of a tropical wet evergreen type of forest in the Western Ghats.