At the risk of drawing an ire from many tea enthusiast , i am going to dive in the controversy of Tea vs Coffee debate and throw in my weight (and believe me its considerable) behind Coffee. Although after a tiring stressful day i would bargain anything for a cup of hot tea, nothing beats a hot brewing cup up of Coffee to start a hectic day. I loved both but after recent rendezvous with the coffee land Chikmagluru i must say i have become biased towards coffee , just enough.
After successfully sedating many,(even some chronic insomniacs swore they have never slept so peacefully in the recent past) with my long previous blog on sikkim, i assure you this will be a short affair, but a cup of coffee will surely help you to sail through this without dozzing off.
I have always been fascinated or attracted towards the one lesser blessed and hence decided to opt for Chikmaglur rather than its more popular cousin Coorg , the other practical reason being i wanted to club it together with Hampi, Badami and the logistics worked out fine with CHIKMAGLUR, THE LAND OF COFFEE.
I have some questions for the coffee lovers: Where was the first coffee planted in India? who is credited with first coffee plantations in India?, A Sufi saint Baba Budan (Hazarat shah Janab Allah Magatabi) brought coffee seeds from Arabia and planted them in his garden in ……. yes.. in Chikmaglur, the coffee land, the testament being his shrine standing tall on the hill named after him the Baba Budangiri, (the old name being Chandra Drona).
After witnessing the grandeur of Vijaynagar Samrajya in Hampi (thats a tale for another day) we moved into a paradise at the foothills of Mullyangiri hills a beautiful hill station enriched with coffee plantations. Its not that easily accessible as it has neither an airport (nearest airport is Manglore, about 3 and half hours drive) nor a train terminal (nearest one being Kadur, around 45 min drive), which could be one of the reasons for it being relatively unexplored.
As soon as you enter its boundaries the intoxicating aroma is difficult to miss. I had researched some hotels like Serei, Taj Gateway , the Triviks but after some suggestions from the experts went ahead by booking a homestay, It being light on pocket was always an added benefit. With lots of doubts and serious skeptism at insistence of my bro we booked Srinidhi Homestay from Airbnb, with no previous experience of both airbnb and homestays with cluttered minds we entered the gates of this homestay a few kms before Chikmaglur.
A beautiful homestay was nestled in midst of 30 acres of well maintained coffee estate, the rooms were clean and comfortable, the tall trees , the coffee aroma , wonderful greenery contributing to a serene atmosphere. The caretaker was at the tip of his toes in welcoming us and it were as if the hospitality was for a houseguest rather than customer.
There was a stream flowing along with a small artificial waterfalls through the property a perfect place for photographers and selfie addicts, It even had a place for campfire besides.
The food was delecious and the coffee, well the filter capi was everything we had asked for. We were handed cups of coffees whenever we even thought of it leave aside ordering it, and the taste…. well cant stop sipping it.
Our intention of our stay was to avoid travelling and just enjoy the tranquility there, but we had to visit the highest peak in Karnataka Mullyangiri, which is supposed to be a trekkers paradise with beautiful trails, nature walks here are supposed to be the best in business. You have an option of parking your vehicles at the parking at a few kms before summit which is highly advocated and there are jeeps which carry you to the top via some perilious tortous roads.
You have to climb up a few hundred steps to reach a small temple at the top , with photo perfect landscapes the view from here is mesmerizing and not to be missed.
The markets in Chikmaglur are flooded with coffees and spices, make sure that you buy a filter for filter coffee and its ideal way to enjoy the coffee, rather capi.
There are a few tourist spots like the Habbe falls, Baba Budangiri hills, Bhadra wildlife sanctuary, Kudremukh national park, Annapurneshwari temple, but we opted out of those and soaked in the coffee atmosphere. Then there are the twin jewels of Indian culture Halebidu and Bellur not far away (around 30kms) which are testament to our rich culture, The ancient temples are with exquisite craftsmanship and are the ones which are to be added to your bucket list. They were home to Hoysala dynasty for over 3 centuries.
An evening with an engaging novel on kindle in one hand and hot brewing coffee in another followed by night of antakshari with hot pakodas at the campfire besides the stream, (i felt the stream changed its course a bit and went bit far off after couple of my songs), the generous hospitality which would give the Taj and the Marriotts a run for their money , delicious food lip smacking food and i knew i had ticked off an entry from my bucket list.
If you are planning to visit Chikmaglur and money is not an issue for you, i still would vehemently suggest you choose homestays instead, I guarantee you will not repent and i would be generously accepting your thanks for this tip. For all the coffee aficionados if you have not visited this coffee land i hereby offcially strip you off the title of “Coffee lover” and for all the tea addicts just explore it and you may just edit out your preferences.
I have quite often come across the tag line of CCD, A LOT CAN HAPPEN OVER COFFEE and now i know why……