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Chikmagalur: Weekend Getaway to Karnataka’s Coffee Land

Chikmagalur is one of the greenest getaways in the south Indian state of Karnataka. It is one of those places where you can be at peace with yourself and discover a new side of you. Before I dig deep into the place as a traveler, let me introduce it.

400 years ago, saint Baba Budan, while returning from his Mecca pilgrimage, secretly pilfered 7 mocha coffee beans from Yemen, a safeguarded secret of the Arab world, and dropped them onto Chikmagalur soil as an experiment. There begins the story of the household essential and morning elixir, south-indian filter kaapi.

India’s oldest coffee land, Chikmagalur, welcomes you with its towering silver oaks and winding hills; a perennially pleasant place, there’s really no season that is off, rain or shine.  Though far beyond the sum of its parts, Chikmagalur may be summed up to its delicious steam-based Malnad cuisine, its rich 800 year old Hoysala heritage, its lofty Sahyadri hills,  its rich flora and fauna including a tiger reserve and at the heart of it all, innumerable coffee plantations & pepper vines.

Chikmagalur

Rice and paddy fields in Chikmagalur. Photography by Vatti Babu

Chikmagalur

A gorgeous waterfall captured at Chikmagalur. Photography by Karthik Anand

Chikmagalur

A flower in full bloom in the fields of Chikmagalur. Photography by Anand

Chikmagalur: An Overview

Location South India
State Karnataka
Mode of travel By road (242 km from Bangalore)
Best time to visit All year round (May-August, monsoon)
Nearby places to visit Belur & Halebid, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary
Budget accommodation Home-stays, guest-houses
Recommended food Home-cooked Malnad meals- kadabu, akki roti, neerdosa, coffee
Chikamagalur

Nature meets fine sculpture skills at Chikmagalur. Photography by Homeshwar Das

Where to stay in Chikamagalur ?

 Home-stays in Chikmagalur are pretty much an all-encompassing experience. From being situated in plantations owned by the keepers to preparing traditional home-cooked Malnad dishes, these are the best ways to experience the local culture. Many home-stays in Chikmagalur also have other joyful add-ons like their friendly dogs that guests can play with or quaint little streams that pass through their property for a refreshing dip. Investing in a nice home-stay thereby completes the expense for most of the experience. However, for trekking enthusiasts and for those who would prefer more hustle or touristing, super budget hotels are available in plenty as well.

Here are some of the best value for money stays:

Homestays with Complete Address & Advantages
Thippanahalli Homestay

160, Baba BudanGiri road, Thippanahalli Estate, Chikmagalur

  • Hosts are really nice
  • Locale is beautiful
  • Good food
  Thotadhalli Homestay

ThotadhahalliHomestay,Thotadhahalli Estate, Kaimara (P), Chikmagalur

  • Aesthetic in essence
  • Good food available
  • Locale is beautiful
 Gubbachi Goodu Homestay 

GubbachiGoodu, Koduvally. Anoor post, Chikmagalur

  • Very Economical
  • Locale is beautiful
  • Ideal for backpackers
 Nature Nirvana

 Bababudangiri Hills, Bynekhan Plantations, SampigeKatte, Chikmagalur District

  • Adventure activities available
  • Presence of a beautiful stream
  • Located in the woods
Chikmagalur

Nature Nirvana Homestay. Photography by Mohan Rajendra

Top 4 Things to Pursue in & around Chikmagalur

1. Trek the mighty Kudremukh
2. Amble along coffee plantations
3. Visit Belur & Halebid
4. Relish Malnad Cuisine



Trek the mighty Kudremukh

 Kudremukh, translated to ‘horse face’ is a mountain range part of the Western Ghats. The trek up the horse faced peak of the range takes almost 5 hours one way. For beginner trekkers, this might be a little difficult. For a more easygoing trek one can always try Mullayanagiri, which is not only fairly easy but also has an old temple on the top. Though this trek lacks the joy of traversing through natural vegetation instead of steps and tarred roads, the sunset views from this peak are spectacular.
Chikmagalur

Nature at its finest at Kudremukh. Photography by Babin Kochana

Amble along coffee plantations

 Almost all resorts and home-stays in Chikmagalur are situated within plantations, so this becomes an activity you cannot miss. Stroll along the mud tracks and learn about different types of coffee and spices that grow along with it. There’s no plantation without leeches, so make sure you got your feet covered!
Chikamagalur

Coffee Berries. Photography by Sampath Menon

Pay a Visit to the the 2 Architectural marvels : Belur & Halebid

 Around 40 minutes away from Chikmagalur are 2 ancient Hoysala temple towns, Belur and Halebid. Almost a millennium since their construction, the Channakeshwara and Hoysaleshwara temples have some of the most intricate carvings and retellings of epics on their walls, floors and even ceilings. With no wall nor roof left bare, these temples are actually far more intricate than those of Hampi, much older too. Several guides are available in front of the temples and are actually quite a necessity to understand the carvings and their meanings.
Chikmagalur

Chennakeshava Temple at Belur. Photography by Federico

Relish some mouth-watering Malnad cuisine

 A Malnad style breakfast would typically be your heartiest breakfast ever. Their breakfasts are also possibly the best of all 3 meals that you would have there. Kadabuor rice-coconut dumplings (no not idlis, a little more powdery, still as yummy) or some soul-pleasingneerdosawith coconut-tamarind chutney are your best bets.Neerdosatastes delicious with their chicken saaruas well, though this usually won’t be served for breakfast.Akki roti is another must-try staple. Among their curriesAlasande(black beans)kaalusaaru, chicken/mutton saaruandmenthi gravy are a must-try. Eating the home-cooked meals at the home-stays is your best and most delicious option. Restaurants are not in plenty but you can try the age-old Planter’s Court for a buffet, the recently trending Coffee Barn Cafe for a good cuppa& fast food and of course, Cafe Coffee Day is always an option.
Chikamagalur

Enjoy savoury malnad cuisine at Chikmagalur. Photography by Andrea and Prasanth

And finally, drink coffee! Lots of it. Most home-stays and resorts keep quite a few coffee bean packs from their own plantations for sale. Make sure to grab a pack to reminisce the freshly-grounded Chikmagalurkaapi.

Happy Wayfaring 🙂

Chikmagalur

Sip steaming glasses of filtered coffee at the canteen in Chikmagalur. Photography by Javed Anwar

Chikamagalur

Differently flavoured areca nuts for sale. Photography by Sampath Menon

Chikmagalur

The Coffee Grove Resort. Photography by Shreepad Kuthiyar

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shravani Bheema is a student of English Literature from Bangalore. An ardent lover of nature, she  can be found seeking quietude in corners and canopied streets of Bangalore that the city provides in secret abundance. Her biannual family trips since childhood have influenced what she seeks and finds in travelling along with a great interest for bird-watching. It’s always mountains over beaches and forest guesthouses over luxury resorts. She finds joy in experiencing a place as authentically as possible, and that she believes can never come through environments that are altered too much. Arundhati Roy, Samuel T Coleridge, Neil Gaiman and Paulo Coelho are among her most read authors.

Universal Studios Singapore  Chikmagalur

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