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Enjoy the coffee trail in Chikmagalur during monsoon

Great sunset views, iconic temples and beautiful landscapes — this coffee land of Karnataka is also a trekker’s paradise

Ashwin Rajagopalan | Published 01.07.23, 05:32 PM
Treks in Chikmagalur

Treks in Chikmagalur

Image courtesy: The Serai

You will hear about the legend of a local chieftain Rukmangada who gave this town away as a dowry for his younger daughter. That’s how Chikmagalur (or Chikkamagaluru), which literally means ‘Younger daughter’s town’ got its name. But that’s certainly not the most fascinating story you will hear in these parts. Coorg might be synonymous with coffee (it produces more than 30 per cent of India’s coffee output) but India’s tryst with coffee began in Chikmagalur.

Baba Budan’s bold move

Plucking coffee beans

Plucking coffee beans

Image courtesy: The Serai

Baba Budan, a wandering Sufi 17th-century cleric, is believed to have smuggled seven coffee beans from port of Mocha in Yemen.The pleasures of coffee were too much to resist even for this holy man; he planted these beans at his mountain abode at Chandra Drona Parvatha near Chikmagalur four centuries ago. This area was rechristened as Baba Budana giri and once the British arrived here, commercial cultivation of coffee began in full swing. Even if coffee is not your thing, Chikmagalur has a lot on offer, and it’s just five hours drive from Bengaluru.

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Go ‘Clubbing’

Chikmagalur Golf Club

Chikmagalur Golf Club

Image courtesy: Chikmagalur Golf Club

Aside from its small-town charm, the landscape within Chikmagalur town is fairly unremarkable. Kadur Club (accessible to affiliate club members), a planter’s club, is a throwback to Chikmagalur’s colonial era. The real adventures begin when you drive past the town, the area’s green and scenic environs gradually envelop you. I stayed at the Chikmagalur Golf Club during a recent visit. I could tee off even at noon at the 18-hole course given Chikmagalur’s mild weather. This may not be a club steeped in history but has developed into a favourite for serious golfers and newbies alike.

In the lap of luxury

The Serai

The Serai

Image courtesy: The Serai

Your choice of accommodation and location is the key to your Chikmagalur experience. The Serai is one of the finest resorts in the area. Ensconced within a sprawling 70-acre coffee estate, with villas that offer private plunge pools. Serai is one of the resorts that offer a curated cycling experience on mountain bikes — about 10-14 km trails — that work for occasional and serious cycling enthusiasts alike. If you’re looking to experience the plantation lifestyle, then check into one of many homestays or smaller bungalow properties. Ama Stays and Trails (From the Taj group) runs Arabidacool Bungalow that dates back to 1914 in the Mylemoney Coffee Estate and is close to Karnataka’s tallest peak.

The great outdoors

The Coffee Estate

The Coffee Estate

Image courtesy: The Serai

The Baba Budan giri range is a trekker’s paradise and offers picture-perfect views. Karnataka’s tallest peak (Mullayanagiri) is part of this range and is just 45 minutes away from town. The area is full of stunning views. Agumbe, nicknamed the Cherrapunji of the South, is just 35 km away and is famous for its sunset views on a clear day. The iconic temples at Belur and Halebeedu, considered one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture, are enroute from Bengaluru to Chikmagalur. I’d suggest an early departure from Bengaluru that gives you enough time to explore these historic temples and still reach Chikmagalur by lunch.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Arabidacool Bungalow

Arabidacool Bungalow

Image courtesy: Ama Stays and Trails

Even if you are not a coffee aficionado, there’s a good chance that you will find Chikmagalur’s coffee trails a rewarding experience. Most hotels and resorts can organise a tour, so make sure you don’t leave Chikmagalur without a plantation walkthrough. My coffee discovery tour began at the coffee estate at the Serai. Over the years, Chikmagalur’s Arabica Beans have acquired global recognition (Robusta is the other widely planted coffee bean variety). The quintessential Chikmagalur Coffea Arabica tree flourishes in sheltered mountains with a sloping landscape. The bean to cup process can take up to 10 months. Picking season (January - March) is a great time to walk through these estates but, with its verdant landscapes, there’s no better time to visit Chikmagalur than the monsoon months (from July). Nothing beats the experience of walking through lush green coffee estates during a mild shower and then curling up in your room with an invigorating cup of freshly brewed filter coffee.

Last updated on 01.07.23, 05:53 PM
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