Chikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature’s Bounty

 

Chikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature’s Bounty

Chikmagalu, the coffee capital situated at an altitude of about three and a half thousand feet in the western Ghat of Karnataka, is less known among tourists. It doesn’t have a wealth of traditional sightseeing spots, but the natural beauty is not to be missed. Nestled in the heart of Karnataka, Chikmagalur beckons with its enchanting landscapes and natural wonders. In this article, we embark on a journey through the captivating allure of Chikmagalur, a destination that sparks a profound love affair with the bounties of nature.Chikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature's Bounty

Chikmagalur’s Natural Tapestry: Perennial Rivers, Serene Lakes, and Healing Herbs

Rivers like Bhadra, Tunga, Hemavati, Netravati, and Vedavati flow perennially in Chikmagalur. The beauty of this place is enhanced by beautiful lakes and more than fifty small waterfalls. According to a legend, when Lord Hanuman was carrying a mountain of Sanjivani herb from the Himalayas to Lanka for Lord Lakshmana, a piece of that mountain fell in Karnataka. Due to this, even today, various types of herbs grow in the mountainous regions there. Many medicinal plants also grow in Chikmagalur.

Unveiling the Charms of Chikmagalur

Discovering Tranquil Retreats

Chikmagalur, renowned for its serene ambience, offers an idyllic escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. From lush green coffee plantations to mist-kissed hills, every corner of this picturesque town whispers tranquility. Embrace the serenity as you explore the hidden retreats that promise a peaceful respite.

Coffee Plantations: A Green SymphonyChikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature's Bounty

Dive into the heart of Chikmagalur’s charm by delving into its sprawling coffee plantations. The region is a canvas painted with the vibrant hues of coffee beans and the soothing melody of rustling leaves. Traverse through the plantations, where the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafts through the air, creating an immersive experience for every nature enthusiast.

Caffeine Chronicles: Unveiling the Rich History and Rituals Behind Your Daily Brew

The coffee museum gives a great insight into the history of the coffee industry here: the coffee plants, the beans, their drying, and finally all the rituals that are done to turn the beans into coffee powder. We consider the coffee used in daily use as a common thing, but after several ‘filters’ of various processes, it becomes a powder.

Brewing Success: The Coffee Culture and Heritage of Chikmagalur, India

About 80 percent of coffee produced in India is exported. South Indian states have a great share of this amount. Also, Karnataka is leading in coffee production. The geography and climate of Chikmagalur,Chikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature's Bounty Kodagu, and Hassan in this state are suitable for coffee, tea, pepper, and cardamom crops. Chikmagalur is also known for its coffee plantations in India, as it produces the most coffee. Chikmagalur did not have coffee plants years ago. In the seventeenth century, the Sufi saint Baba Budan brought coffee seeds on his way back from Mecca to the Hajj, planted them, and reared the plants at Chandragiri Hill in Chikmagalur.

After a few years, the locals became interested in coffee plantations, and in the middle of the 19th century, Chikmagalur became a major center of coffee plantations. There are two types of coffee plants grown here. Arabica and Robusta. The period from flowering on the plant to the ripening of the small fruit is seven months in Arabica and nine months in Robusta. It is picked when the fruit is fully ripe and dark red in color, around December or January. After that, the fruit is put into a machine to remove the top layer. The shelled seeds take on a darker color when dried in the sun. The coffee beans prepared in this way are transported to the vendors.

Mullayanagiri Peak: Scaling HeightsChikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature's Bounty

For adventure seekers, Mullayanagiri Peak stands tall, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the Western Ghats. As you ascend this natural marvel, the crisp mountain air invigorates your senses, making the trek a journey of self-discovery. Capture the awe-inspiring landscapes that unfold with every step, leaving an indelible mark on your memory.

 

Mullayangiri Hill:

Chikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature's Bounty

About 25 km from Chikmagalur lies Mullayangiri, the highest (1,930 m, 6,330 ft) peak in the state of Karnataka. On this peak is a small temple of Mullappa Swamy, from whom the hill derives its name. According to folklore, Mullappa Swami meditated for years in a cave on top of the peak. This cave is not that deep. The sanctum of the Shiva temple can be reached directly from the entrance. A three-kilometer trek (about 500 steps) can be done to reach Mullayangiri. The trek will be a pleasant experience as the cool breeze blows at the summit and the beautiful views of the green mountains everywhere you look Taxis are also available to reach the summit from the foot of the hill. During the monsoon, it is very fun to reach the peak by trekking among the clouds. This place is ideal for watching the sunset.

Jhari Falls:

Chikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature's Bounty

Jhari Falls is located at a distance of 15 km from Mullayangiri. Nestled between dense forests and coffee estates, it is also fun to drive here. The water of Jhari Falls falls in three stages. During the monsoon, when the water content in it increases, the whiteness increases so much that it looks like milk is being anointed on the stones. Locals, however, refer to Zari not only as a milk waterfall but also as a buttermilk waterfall. One has to hire a jeep or trek for about five kilometers to reach Zari.

 

Baba Budangiri Hill:

Chikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature's Bounty

Baba Budangiri Hill, at about 1,895 meters (6,217 feet), is the second-highest hill in the state of Karnataka. The approximately 10-kilometer trek starting from Mullayangiri to Baba Budangiri Hill is very popular. Vast plains of grass are found on this route. Both mountains collectively form a crescent shape; hence, they are also known as Chandradron (Chandra means moon). As written earlier, the 17th-century Sufi saint Baba Budan, who brewed coffee seeds in Chikmagalur, named this hill after his name. There is a dargah of Baba Budan at the top of the hill, from where a staircase can be reached further up to the Dattatrey Caves, which is considered a holy place by Hindus due to the belief that Hindu Guru Dattatreya resides in this cave.

 

 

Manikyadhara Falls:

Chikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature's Bounty

Located near Baba Budangiri, this waterfall is popular among tourists. Many trekking trails originate from here. Tracking can also be done in the nearby plains. This fall can be visited at any time of the year, as it is an evergreen fall that never gets dried out. Manikyadhara Falls means the pearl stream. The water of the falls descends from 30 meters above. Water drops look like moving pearls in sunlight. Locals consider this waterfall sacred and bathe in it to cure diseases.

Ayyanakere Lake:

Located at the back of the Shankugiri range, this lake is spread over 1.89 square kilometers. It is the largest lake in Chikmagalur and the second-largest lake in Karnataka. Surrounded by mountains on three sides,  Ayyanakare looks picturesque. Many tourists come here for camping.ayyanakere lake

Chikmagalur is also famous for its cultural splendor. There are many temples located here, in which Kodand Ramaswamy, Sringeri Shardapith, Shardamba, Amriteshwar, Kodand Ramaswamy, Vidyashankar, etc. are the main ones. Sri Veeranarayan Temple is said to be 1,000 years old. Kodand Ramaswamy Temple is situated near the Tungabhadra River. The sanctum of the temple has idols of Lord Rama, Lord Sita, and Lord Lakshmana. A fine blend of Hoysala and Dravidian architecture is seen in the construction of this temple.

Chigamgallur is a place to enjoy. If you have more time, the surrounding Malnad forest and wildlife are worth visiting, especially the Kudremukh National Park and the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. It may take two to three hours to reach these two places, which are 110 and 8 kilometers, respectively, from Chikmagalur.

Preserving the Ecological Balance

Wildlife Sanctuaries: A Haven for Biodiversity

Chikmagalur takes pride in its commitment to preserving its rich biodiversity. Explore the wildlife sanctuaries that house a myriad of flora and fauna, contributing to the ecological balance of the region. Immerse yourself in the natural habitats, where every chirping bird and rustling leaf narrates a story of coexistence.

Kudremukh National Park:

Chikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature's Bounty

Kudremukh means the face of a horse in the local language. The 6,250-foot-high Kudremukh Hill peak in this national park is named after the shape of a horse’s mouth. One can trek to the top of this hill. Spread over about 60 square kilometers, Kudremukh National Park is a paradise for nature lovers. Terraces, photographers, dense forests, caves, ruins, etc. are the highlights of this park. Various animals like leopard, bear, bore, sambar, Malabar squirrel, flying squirrel, and barking deer live here; among the birds, the Malabar kastura, Malabar trogon, and royal pigeon are the main ones.

Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary:

Chikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature's Bounty

The site is a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site, situated between Chikmagalur and Shimoga in the Western Ghats. 120 species of plants and 250 species of birds are found here, and the Bhadra Dam built on the Tungabhadra River is worth seeing. Also, activities like water rafting, rock climbing, and camping can be done here. A visit to these two forest areas should be arranged only if there is time for the whole day.

 

 

The Culinary Delights of Chikmagalur

Gastronomic Pleasures

Chikmagalur isn’t just a treat for the eyes; it’s a haven for food enthusiasts. The local cuisine, enriched with flavors unique to the region, tantalizes taste buds and leaves a lasting impression. Indulge in traditional dishes crafted with locally sourced ingredients, and savor the essence of Chikmagalur’s culinary heritage.

Malnad cuisine and its dishes

Chikmagalur is famous for local delicacies made from Malnade cuisine. In this cuisine, soft bamboo, small mashrrom, patra leaves, turmeric leaves, pumpkin, fanas, jaggery, etc. are used. Among the non-vegetarian dishes, chingli (red ant), nail-sized fish, and crabs are the main ones. Most dishes are cooked by boiling, so not much oil is required. Rice is the main portion of the diet here. Rice is also used to make roti (bread). A malnad meal is considered incomplete without pickles and chutneys. Here are some traditional dishes:

Kaduboo:

A dish made from rice flour is like steamed fistfuls, served with a special kind of chutney.

Halisna Hanina Kadubu:

Chikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature's Bounty

Usually, Idli is made from rice pudding, while the main ingredient of this dish is jackfruit. Pulp is prepared by extracting the pulp from the jackfruit. Adding jaggery, coconut, salt, and sooji a batter is prepared, and it is steamed and wrapped in banana leaves. Idlis prepared in this way are served with ghee on top. Papad of Jackfruit, pickles, and fritters are also popular in Malnad province.

Akki Roti:Chikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature's Bounty

Akki roti is a roti made from rice flour. Akki Roti is available in many places in the state of Karnataka. But the recipe of akki roti made in the Malnad region is different; it is seasoned with rice flour, onion, green chilies, cumin, and neem leaves.

Patroda:

Chikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature's Bounty

The Malnad form of Patra (Colocasia leaves) is commonly known as Elephant Ears due to its shape. Also known as Taro leaves in English, in other languages it has its own unique name; in Gujarati, it is Patroda. Better made using rice, coconut, tamarind, and other spices, it is spread on patra leaves and steamed. The prepared pataroda is cut and fried.

Thambuli:

This can be called a type of raita. In which the leaves of the herb called Brahmi or Ajwain are ground into curd along with coconut. It is served with rice and sambhar.

Chinikai Kaduboo:

Chinikai in the Kannada language is pumpkin. This idli uses pumpkin and gram flour. It can be made in two ways, spicy and sweet. Sweet idli consists of pumpkin, coconut, jaggery, and rava pudding prepared and steamed. Spiced Idli contains pumpkin, red chilies, coconut, ginger, coriander, and rava.

Chigli Chutney:Chikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature's Bounty

Chingli means red ant, People from hilly areas of Malnad prepare chutney by adding garlic, chilli, onion, coconut, and other spices to the ant and eating it with akki roti. This chutney is said to be rich in protein and have medicinal properties.

 

Planning Your Chikmagalur Expedition

Accommodations Amidst Nature’s Embrace

Chikmagalur Rendezvous: A Love Affair with Nature's Bounty

To truly immerse yourself in the Chikmagalur experience, choose accommodations that blend seamlessly with the natural surroundings. Opt for resorts or homestays nestled amidst the greenery, providing a tranquil retreat after a day of exploration. Wake up to the symphony of nature and rejuvenate your senses for another day of adventures.

 

Good to know for planning your trip:

Chikmagalur enjoys pleasant temperatures throughout the year, making a visit at any time a pleasant one. Plan a trip in late July or August to enjoy the monsoons. A trip here will be fun, even in the winter.

The nearest airports are Mangaluru, Mysore, and Bengaluru, at a distance of 110, 250, and 180 km, respectively. For railways, major cities in Karnataka can be reached by bus or taxi. It would be better to have a taxi to go around Chikmagalur.

There are many resort homestays located in coffee estates to stay in Chikmagalur. There are other budget hotels too, for which more information can be found online. Website: https://chikkamagaluru.nic.in/en/accommodation/

Plus know this: December and January are the months for picking coffee beans.

Chikmagalur to Mysore and Udupi are 170 and 165 km, respectively. A visit there can also be arranged according to time.

# Both Robusta and Arabica coffee beans are available in shops on Market Road.

 

Conclusion

Chikmagalur, with its scenic beauty and ecological richness, offers a rendezvous with nature like no other. Whether you seek tranquility in the sprawling coffee plantations, adventure atop the Mullayanagiri Peak, or a taste of the local culinary delights, Chikmagalur invites you to embrace the bounty of nature’s love affair. Plan your expedition, and let the enchantment of Chikmagalur captivate your heart and soul.


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