Chikkamagaluru district is also known as the land of coffee.
Coffee is not native to India. They are originally from Brazil. In India, they came through the Arab route.
In the 17th century, Baba Budan, a Sufi saint, brought seven coffee beans from Yemen to Chikkamagaluru. He went to Arab to perform Hajj and on his way back crossed Yemen. There he tasted coffee and wanted to grow them in India. However, the Yemen administration was strict about exporting any raw beans outside the country, as they wanted to have a monopoly over the trade. Baba Budan somehow managed to smuggle out the beans and sow them in the Baba Budan range. Luckily for him, Chikkamagaluru and India, the seeds germinated and grew into healthy coffee plants.
Apart from Chikkamagaluru, two other districts grow coffee in India — Coorg and Sakleshpur.
In Chikkamagaluru, two types of coffee plants are grown – Arabica and Robusta. Both have distinctive characteristics that make them commercially in demand globally. From a farming perspective, it is more viable for planters to grow them both to optimize their RoI.
Places of Interest
Mullayanagiri – This is the highest peak in Karnataka. There is a temple at the top and the view is splendid. The peak Mullayanagiri got its name from tapasvi Mulappa Swamy, who meditated there in a cave. The temple is built on his samadhi. The other temple is Sitalayanagiri, which is 2 kms before reaching the top of Mullayanagiri. It is an old temple and is a favorite spot of the Karnataka film making industry.
There are two routes to the top — one is the concrete road via Sitalayanagiri temple and goes all the way up to the foothill of the final stretch to the peak. From there you have to climb up stairs to reach the top. The climb is not a difficult one as the steps are low to moderately high; the other road is for trekkers and starts at Sarpadhari.
Dattagiri / Baba Budangiri — Baba Budan range or the Chandra Drona Range consists of some of the highest peaks of Karnataka or the entire South India. Mullayanagiri is one of them. At a distance of approximately 24 kms from Mullayangiri is the Baba Budan / Lord Dattatreya temple or Dargah in a cave. It is equally revered by both Hindus and Muslims.
There are a couple of waterfalls in the area: Manikyadhara and Jhari. It is advisable to visit them on weekdays to avoid the rush of the local crowd. We could not see either, as it was a Sunday and the places were jam-packed with people. We even got caught in a traffic jam. Can you believe it? Traffic jam in the hills of Chikkamagaluru.
Belur-Halebidu — These are the sites of two temples built by the Hoysala Kingdom and are known for their beautiful architecture and carvings on rocks. The carvings are finer and more detailed than what today’s craftsmen can do with wood. Each stone mural is different in its mudra. Variations can be seen in the form of minute details such as a change in eye-expression.
Of the two, Belur is a complete temple where rituals are performed and festivals are celebrated. Halebidu has been declared as a heritage site and no Pooja or rituals are performed here.
Coffee plantation — Coffee plantation tours are not a commonplace in India, unlike tea plantation tours. We were lucky to get a tour as one of my colleagues, who has a coffee estate in Chikkamagaluru was in town at the same time and was kind enough to show us around the whole estate. He even introduced us to the whole coffee-making process, the varieties of coffee, and other interesting facts about growing coffee in India. And the best part of this whole things was we went around the whole estate in his Willy’s jeep. A very old one, but o boy! what a jeep.
While these are some of the places that we managed to visit over our short weekend trips, Chikkamagaluru district per se is huge, spread over 7,201 Km2. There are many other places to visit that cannot be covered all at a time. You need to plan separately for them. Here’s a link that lists them all.
Town Canteen — The place in Chikkamagaluru to have masala dosa. Nothing can beat it. You have once, you will want to have again and again, is all that I can say about this place. So when in Chikkamagaluru go, DO NOT miss out on this place. It is one of the oldest places in Chikkamagaluru town.
Homestays — Most homestays in Chikkamagaluru offer good food. The place where we stayed (or stay whenever we go) is Atithi Homestay. Their cook Krishna is awesome. Call it breakfast, snacks or chicken recipes, he has mastered them all.
I wish I had some pictures to share, but unfortunately I am always too busy eating and enjoying. May be next time. 🙂