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The best part I like about being in Bangalore is that it offers a plethora of options to escape from the routine life, be it day outings, short weekend trips or long vacation. You are spoilt for choices.
Continuation in the series from discovering the places in and around the city, last post being about a wonderful day trip to A day outing from Bangalore -10th Century Avani temple and Kotilingeshwara temple, Kolar.
This time I am sharing our experience of weekend getaway to Chikmagalur, a beautiful and mesmerising hill station situated in Karnataka state in the foothills of Western ghat.
Chikmagalur is a small town, which can be best, described as a paradise for relaxation, rendezvous with nature and adventure activities like trekking. The town has quite a few laurels to its credit including the first place in India where coffee was grown. In addition to this, Mullayanagiri in Chikmagalur is the highest peak in Karnataka with 1930 metres height and is one of the best trekking place that the state has to offer.
Our Weekend getaway to Chikmagalur
I have been to Chikmagalur twice, both the times it was equally amazing. The characteristic light green mountains, fresh air and coffee plantation everywhere are something you can never get bored of.Sharing mix of the experiences from both the visits including the major attractions that the place has to offer.
We started our journey early morning in our own car; it takes around 5 hours from Bangalore to reach Chikmagalur. The Early you leave, better it is!
Most of the roads are in good condition. After entering the town, we had to drive little more as our homestay was away from the main town. It was a beautiful Cottage, not the best in terms of luxury and amenities but definitely offered a jaw dropping view of the mountains and a completely different feeling (before this I never stayed in a treehouse or elevated bamboo hut to be precise)
During our first visit, after relaxing for sometime, we went to explore the plantation surrounding our cottage followed by sipping aromatic coffee in the beautiful compound of our homestay.
During both the visits we explored different places, I am sharing a list of best places that you should visit when in Chikmaglur.
Mullayanagiri Peak – Most popular and the best attraction in Chikmaglur, which should not be missed at all, is Mullayanagiri. This is the highest peak in Karnataka with the height of 1930 mtrs. One of the best trekking trails; one can also drive till almost the top of the peak. Right at the top of the peak is a small Shiva temple, which offers a magnificent view of the valley. To reach this temple one has to climb couple of hundreds of precarious stairs.
In spite of the scary drive during both the visits, Mullayanagiri is something we couldn’t not miss.It’s a narrow and steep road without any railings that one has to drive through ,by far the scariest one that I have ever experienced. And if you have another vehicle coming from opposite direction than things become even trickier. So my advice until you are really a confident driver, its better to hire local taxi.
From the point where the car drops you till the top of the peak, you need to climb steep stairs. We could manage to reach the top with couple of breaks in between. While climbing you can experience the strong cool breeze against your face and the sound of the wind in your ears. All set and done view from the top is worth every effort and is a memorable experience.
Hebbe Falls – This is another popular tourist spot near Chikmagalur. Hebbe falls are situated in the middle of dense forest and coffee estate, so one can reach here either by walking or through four-wheeler. Hebbe Falls gushes down from a height of 551 ft in two stages to form Dodda Hebbe (Big Falls) and Chikka Hebbe (Small Falls.)
During our visit, we hired a government approved Jeep ( I am not sure if they allow private vehicles) to reach till the falls. It was quiet a bumpy ride with uneven terrain and elevations in the mountain. You really have to hold on tight in order not to get thrown away from the open jeep. From the point jeep drops you till the waterfall, one needs to walk through the dense flora. This area is full of leeches especially during rainy season so one needs to be careful. The waterfall was magnificent and we dint even get into the water but we were drenched with the mist from the fall.
Kalhatti Falls or Kalhattagiri Falls – Spectacular waterfall cascading down from Chandra Drona hills in front of Veerabhadreshwara temple dedicated to lord Shiva. So apart from natural beauty this place has a religious significance also. The temple has three stone carvings of 3 elephants at the entrance of the temple and the water from the fall cascades from these elephants. Devotees believe that these waters have the power to cure diseases. Kalhatti falls are usually very crowded with devotees.
Kemmangundi: A picturesque hill station located at a distance of 55 Km from Chikmagalur on the Baba Budan Giri range of hills. Although we just drove through this area, but the place has some really breathtaking views to offer with large stretches of greenery, thick forest, and charming mountains covered with grass (typical of this area) and occasional waterfalls. This entire area is a real feast for the eyes including a beautiful rose garden, which we could visit.
Sringeri – A beautiful hill town located at a distance of 90 Km from Chikmagalur. Sringeri has a religious importance, as it’s the site of the first matha, the Sringeri Sharada peeta established by Adi Shankara in 8th Century. It is situated on the banks of River Tunga. Sringeri has two special attractions – The Sharadamba Temple and Vidya Shankara Temple. Apart from this there are couple of falls too.
Sharadamba Temple – is dedicated to Goddess Sharada, the goddess of learning and wisdom.
Vidyashankara Temple – Another historical temple situated in the same premises is the Vidyashankara temple. Built in 1338 AD, This temple is a beautiful architectural marvel. There are 12-zodiac pillars in the temple, which are so constructed that the rays of the sun fall on the pillar corresponding to the month.It was a great experience to visit these 2 beautiful and ancient temples.
Some important information
Distance from Bangalore: 250 Kms
Best time to Visit: September to February
Time required- 3 days or more
Best way to travel: Car (Although the bus facilities are equally good)
Drive to Mullayangiri: Drive your self till the top only if you are really good and confident as it’s quite steep and narrow. Else hire a local cab
Must try: Coffee (no prizes for guessing 🙂)
Stay options: If you like to experience local cuisine and interact with locals, best option is to stay at Home stays.
Have you been to Chikmagalur? Do share your experiences.