Chikmagalur : The land of coffee
I finally decided to write a travel blog, this is exciting. I always wanted to make people travel along with me through my blogs and pictures. As it is said, better late than never, I finally am writing my first blog. This trip was a special one, firstly it was an unofficial trip and on the other hand it was an adventurous trip which is normally not my forte. I usually prefer travelling to calm and peaceful places like isolated beaches or hills or any place which helps me talk to myself.
My wife, unlike me is the do the dew kind of a gal. Her cousin happened to hail from this place called Chikmagalur, which I had never heard off. He insisted us to visit this place which he boasted off, due to his memories, experiences attached to the place.
We got our plans fixed thanks to a distant relative who was going to get married. The very next day we packed our bags and left for this memorable journey. We got into a train to Mangalore (Mangalapuram as they say down south), from there we boarded a bus to Kottigehara where my wife’s cousin was supposed to pick us. It was raining all the way, the road to Kottigehara was full of twists and turns (ghati wali area).
Anudeep, my wife’s cousin was there to pick us up from the bus stop. Before leaving to Chikmagalur we stopped by a “thattukada” (small roadside shop) which Anu suggested. I could see an aunty making “Neer Dosa”. They generally served it with nice fish curry, chicken curry and mutton curry. Just imagine the slight drizzles and foggy scenes aur some freshly made hot curries. One can only feel these things, it’s difficult to express it in words. There were no seating arrangements as such but who cares. We were enjoying the drizzles, chit chatting and just hogging all the Neer Dosas.
Then we left kottigehara for Chikmagalur. On the way we came across Malnad cafe where we stopped by to have a coffee. There for the first time I saw Coffee Liquor. For those who don’t know it is to be taken with Rum. Then out of curiosity I asked this young girl at the counter about this liquor, she said Chikmagalur and that particular Malnad stretch is where Coffee in India was born. So, this Malnad coffee liquor was very famous amongst people there.
Next, we straight away went to Chikmagalur town, upon reaching there we were joined by Mr. Shiva who was a traveller himself. Mr. Shiva told us how Cafe Coffee Day came up with its first outlet across India in Chikmagalur and also that Chikmagalur was Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s constituency (informative ha?). He informed us about the extreme cold uphill. We were supposed to travel 18 kms uphill to reach our home stay. We bought some liquor on our way which we thought would help us fight cold there. We were deadly combo of occasional and not so professional drinkers plus originating from a dry state called “Gujarat”. We saw this showroom kind of a liquor shop wherein there were wines all decorated and properly stacked which amazed us since Gujarat had nothing like this.
We started moving uphill somewhat late by 7 pm, one would wonder whether it is actually late but trust me it is. The road uphill was foggy and pitch dark, which to some extent was scary as well. We had called all the possible god’s by then. There are this basic guest house kind of places which they call “homestay’s’, which provide you a staying facility. To all who plan to visit this place after reading my blog, consider this as a place for backpacker’s. The rooms would be moist and cold. However, the homestays will provide you a comfortable stay. Chikmagalur is not much explored by tourists yet so there is this fresh feel to this place.
Mr. Abbas our homestay in charge was ready with a 4*4 Mahindra Thar to take us to the place because normal vehicles won’t be able to drive through those steep offroads. That’s the beauty of this place, you are in nature’s lap literally with offroads, animals making sounds, rains and what not. We soon dropped off our luggage and sat in the balcony although it was cold and on top of that it was drizzling. It was a beautiful feel altogether and Mr. Abbas prepared some hot bhajiyas and chicken fries for us which were an add on to the already mesmerizing feel the place was giving. So, we just had our little jamming session, a glass of rum, some old songs and sufi songs, rains, delicious food and it was a night we wished should never end. We were so much delighted we just kept on singing every song that came to our mind. But then even Anu had to drive back and reach town
Next day early morning we had our normal breakfast. Abbasbhai had already prepared the itinerary for us, we got ready and once the drizzles stopped, we went further uphill to Mulyangiri. Oh boy this was just breath taking, first the roads leading to this place and then the place itself. Once you reach Mulyangiri you need to climb some 500+ steps upwards, you might be welcomed by strong winds and rains and you may also probably get a feel the wind may take you along. We somehow managed to climb up taking small breaks because it was really tough with strong winds blowing and these many steps which were marginally steep. By the time we reached the temple above we had ran out of breath so we waited for some time enjoyed the view and the feel.
Although because of fog there was not much visibility, we could just enjoy this adventurous uphill trek we did. The scariest part was when we realized that it was just the both of us going up rest all were coming downwards because of the rains and winds, still my daredevil wife was just going on climbing as if all these things were invisible for her. Slowly we started climbing down, the steps are made of stones and since it was raining the steps were quite slippery. So please take note of your health conditions and weather before going for the trek. Kudremukh was one of the highest peaks of Karnataka at 6050 ft approx height.
We halted at the homestay to have our delicious food with authentic sambhar and also chicken curry with rice and roti. Those guys prepare these authentic curries where all vegies are pure and the non veg food is desi pahadi types, taste so good to be true. I will assure you wherever you go in Chikmagalur the roads will amaze you and scare the shit out of you with these local Micheal Schumachers on road, driving like anything so comfortably over those narrow offroads. The view was amazing and you would always find yourself short of time to enjoy those unbelievable views in front of you. You got to pinch yourself to be sure of what you are seeing is for real. The trek however is long and tiring. Proper health considerations should be done before going for such adventures.
We finally reached the place and there was this Baba Budan Giri Peetha, which is equally revered by both Hindus and Muslims. He is said to have brought coffee first to India, that too at Chikmagalur. There is Manikyadhara falls which is further uphill from the peetha. The view is breath taking from there. This was such a beauty and has lots of stories associated with it. The falls are to die for and are also safe for those who want to enjoy a brief shower. We just had a cup of tea there with some Maggie. There was this small pit with woods from where flames could be seen which would make you warm, “Taapni” kind of a thing. At the end its all about memories you build throughout your life. We headed back to the homestay since it was getting dark. We went back to have a glass of wine and some born fire to end the day.
Next morning we got ready and went to Jhari water falls. This is a private fall and not much boasted about, however I could spend my entire day there at any given point of time. If you have to be at such places you got to do some hard work as well. The trek to the falls is lengthy and a bit isolated. It will give you national geography kind of a feel. You may come across a lot of leeches and insects so you got to cover yourself fully. The trek was between those beautiful forests, woah what a feel. I will never forget that in my life. We walked down and down and down and finally could listen to the sound of the falls, which further was a huge boost to us because we were that tired. I could have easily become the man vs wild guy because of hunger and thirst walking through the muds in rains. The Jhari water falls should be one of the best I would have seen till date. A place of solace, where you can feel your inner self talking and admiring the waterfalls. Felt like crying out of joy, such is the place. Getting up and going back was a much more difficult task since you have to go all the way up to get to your vehicle without much of a motivation.
We headed back to the city with a heavy heart. There are lots of points that have different names but are all the same. It was a trip I wish could never end. I envy Anudeep who hails from such a beautiful place. Such a stress buster these places are. A definitely must visit place for all travel loving people.My next trip was to Belur, 40 kms away from Chikmagalur, which I will write about in my next blog.