With relatively moderate temperatures and abundant natural beauty, Chikmagalur has been a popular holiday choice for families and backpackers alike. In case you’re looking at heading to Chikmagalur, here are some of the most popular places and attractions:
Chikmagalur is believed to owe its history to some coffee beans that were purportedly smuggled out of Mecca and planted in the fertile soil of this region where the coffee shrubs flourished. Hence, it is but natural that Coffee plays a very integral role in the cultural fabric and livelihood of the region. A good way to soak in this experience is by staying at one of the several homestays that are attached to various plantations.
Speaking of coffee, we have to mention the Coffee Museum. An initiative of the Coffee Board of India, the museum showcases the history of coffee and takes one through the various processes from the picking of the bean to the final grinding. However, an important point to note here is that the museum is shut on weekends so plan a visit accordingly.
A protected wildlife reserve, this sanctuary gets its name from the River Bhadra that flows through the sanctuary. Part of Project Tiger, the Sanctuary falls within the Western Ghats area and lies between Chikmagalur & Shimoga. The lush green natural vistas and the opportunity to see several exotic species of animals and birds in their natural habitat make this a popular attraction for tourists.
If you’re looking for a spot of adventure, try rafting down the river Bhadra. There are trips calibrated to different proficiency levels and many a time, the hotel or homestay can help organize a tour. One can get in touch with a company called “Capture”, a renowned service provider in this region to organize these trips as well.
Those looking to get some downtime over a prolonged stay can fit in a spot of golf at the extremely well maintained 9-hole golf course here.
For trek enthusiasts, Chikmagalur is a haven of sorts with trek routes aplenty. The region has 4 main peaks: Mullayanagiri, Sheethalagiri, Baba Budan Giri and Kemmanagudi. Mullayanagiri is the highest peak in this region with an altitude of approximately 1900-2000 m. The peak has some of the best nature/trek trails in the country and also has a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva on the peak which is flocked by hundreds of devotees. The cold winds slapping you on the face and the shrouds of mist as you ascend the peak only add to its allure. Monsoon trek, however, are best avoided. Sheethlagiri is popular for the ancient temple dedicated to Mallikarjuna Sway that is located here. The temple is said to date back to 1000 years old and has a natural waterfall trickle within the temple. Baba Budan Giri hill, also known as Dattagiri Hill Range or Inam Dattatreya Peetha is named after the famous saint who brought coffee to India. The hills house three caves that are believed to be holy as they house three ‘Siddhas’ (religious texts). There is also a cave that is believed to have provided shelter to Guru Dattatreya and Hazrat Dada Hayath Mir Khalandar and this has been converted into a shrine that is frequented by people of all faiths, including Hindus and Muslims. Located at 1800m, the shrine is a great vantage point to enjoy spectacular views of the hills. Like the others, Kemmanagundi is replete with natural beauty and used to serve as the summer retreat palace to Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV before being handed over to the Indian Governement. Now under the maintenance of the Royal Horticultural Society of Karnataka, the place boasts of exquisite, well-tended gardens. Popular places of interest here are the Rose Garden, Raj Bhavan & Z Point. The latter two are especially popular as they provide a fantastic view of the sunrise and sunset.
Given the rugged terrain of the region, there are several streams, lakes and rivulets in the region. Needless to say, there are two major waterfalls here too that are popular tourist attractions: Hebbe Falls and the Kalhatti Falls. Kalhatti Falls is part of the Kemmanagundi range and attracts trekkers and religious pilgrims alike. The latter come to pay their respects at the temple near the Fallls. The Hebbe Falls are a double tiered waterfall with two parts: Dodda Hebbe (Big Falls) and Chikka Hebbe (Small Falls). Getting to the falls is an adventure in itself that comprises of going on a bumpy 13KM ride across rough terrain followed by an 8 KM trek along a narrow route to get here. In case, one is planning to go here in monsoon, one must be cautious that the approach can be tricky plus one must be prepared to ward off leeches.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of the Global Tiger Conservation Priority-I, the Park has an impressive number of rare and exotic flora and fauna which creates an experience unlike any other. Approximately, 96 KM from the city and 1800m above sea level, the park enjoys pleasant weather even during peak summer.
Between the 11th & 13th Centuries, there were a total of 92 temples built during the Hoysala regime. Three of them, Somanathapura, Belur and Halebidu, are ubiquitous on the tourist circuit for their detailed engraving. Additionally, there is a fourth temple called the Belavadi Temple which is within 30 KM of Chikmagalur and is lesser frequented by tourists. So if crowds are not your thing, but architectural history is, you should definitely pay a visit here to see the engraved soap stone pillars and idols.
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