A hill station with breathtaking views, Chikmagalur is a treasure chest of tropical rainforests, coffee estates, and towering mountain peaks. Karnataka’s ‘coffee land’ is the classic definition of a mainstream tourist destination that you will find on every traveler’s map.
From unexplored peaks to offbeat wildlife sanctuaries, here are some stunning places in Chikmagalur that will paint a picture of a wonderland once you pack your bags and trace your steps to the ‘Land of the younger daughter’ in South India.
1. Baba Budangiri
Baba Budangiri is a revered pilgrimage site for Hindu and Muslims in the Baba Budan range. The mountain range is famous for the shrine of 16th-century Sufi saint Hazrat Dada Hayat Khalandar, also known as Baba Budan. The sacred hills currently derive its name from Dattapeeta Cave but were known as Chandra Drona Parvatha in ancient times.
Adventure junkies flock to Chikmagalur’s famous mountain ranges as it offers stunning trails for an adventurous trek. Finding your way through the dense forests, rocky terrains, you will also come across vast untouched greenery. Pay attention nature lovers! You don’t want to miss out on Kurinji flowers’ blooming, which happens every 12 years.
Baba Budan’s 7 coffee beans
Baba Budangiri hills are home to Baba Budan’s seven coffee beans. The Sufi saint introduced the coffee plant to India by smuggling seven raw coffee beans in his beard from Mocha, Yemen. Baba Budan bought seven coffee beans because the number 7 is considered sacred in Islam. On his return from Hajj, he planted the beans on the slopes of Chandragiri hills.
2. Coffee Museum
The Coffee Museum is an Indian coffee board initiative, and this haven reflects an aromatic journey right from growing to brewing the beans to make coffee. The sole motive to create this museum is to showcase the history behind one of the world’s most loved drinks.
Making coffee is a very complicated process. So, as soon as you enter these doors, you will know a whole lot more from picking to drying and roasting to grinding of the coffee beans. Tucked away amidst lush green gardens, you will find a stairway leading to the coffee encyclopedia. The documentary shown in this museum will lure you towards team coffee and educate you a little about the caffeinated beverage.
3. Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary
Tucked in Chikmagalur’s quaint hill station, Bhadra wildlife sanctuary is a protected area surrounded by the Western Ghats’ majestic hills on all sides. The tranquil Bhadra river passes through this sanctuary, giving a name to this home of dense forests and mountain grasslands. Spread over 490 sq km, this haven for wildlife enthusiasts is divided into two reserves Lakkavali and Muthodi.
Travelers plan a trip to the lush green Bhadra wildlife sanctuary to witness the exotic variety of flora and fauna. This place is a treat for all wildlife photographers as they can capture stunning pictures of tigers, mouse deer, bonnet macaque, slender lorries, Malabar giant squirrel, etc. The biodiversity hotspot is also home to racquet-tailed drongo, red spurfowl, painted bush quail, and emerald dove.
A trip to this wildlife sanctuary is incomplete without a visit to the 400 years old Jagara teak tree. Bhadra wildlife sanctuary is on the map of every adventure junkie because what is more beautiful than going for a trek, rock climbing, or water sports in an area far away and untouched by human civilization.
The mystery of Karnataka’s highest peak’s origins has its place in a list of camping stories. However, we only know Mullayangiri gets its name from a temple at the summit dedicated to Mulappa Swamy. According to legend, the sage meditated at the caves, which is just a couple of feet below the summit.
The Mullayangiri peak is recognized as one of the best trekking spots to rejuvenate a tired traveler’s soul. The trail frequented by trekkers is known as Sarpadari. If you like to wear hiking boots very often, this picturesque trail through jungles should be on your trekking map. The trekking experience is panoramic and allows you to experience what it’s like to stay away from the city!
5. Sharadamba temple
The ancient hall of worship is a treasure chest of legends and mystery, which has intrigued everyone since the 8th century. Located in Sringeri’s religious town, the Sharadamba temple is visited by devotees who want to redeem themselves and integrate the mind, soul, body, and spirit.
The Hindu temple was founded by Sri Adi Shankaracharya and is dedicated to the goddess Saraswathi. Legends state that Adi Shankara installed a sandalwood statue of Sharadamba in a standing posture. However, there is no trace of the ‘sacred’ figure in modern times.
According to Indian folklore, the revered temple was built at one of the holiest places. It is said at this religious site; a snake protected a pregnant frog from the hot sun by towering over it as an Umbrella. To mark the occasion, everyone can still see a sculpture of Kappe Shankara on the river Tunga’s footsteps.
Nestled in the majestic Western Ghats, the Kudremukh mountain range is known for rolling green hills, virgin forests. The name of the second highest peak of Karnataka means ‘horse face’ in Kannada. The “horse’s face” can be seen on the mountain’s panoramic side, similar to the face of the four-legged animal.
Kudremukh National Park
Kudremukh mountains are home to the second-largest wildlife protected area in the western ghats. The wildlife park is the second-largest area belonging to a tropical wet evergreen forest. Sloth bear, barking deer, lion-tailed macaque, and many more reside in the wilderness of Kudremukh National Park.
A monsoon trekking paradise
The heavy rains in Kudremukh mountain ranges are the perfect excuse to strap on your trekking boots. Touted as a monsoon trekking paradise, the trail takes you through mountainous paths of shola forests, streams, and lush green landscapes on the way to Kudremukh peak. This trek offers all at once, the panoramic view of waterfalls, valleys and an unparalleled beauty of the ‘Himalayas of the South’.
7. Hirekolale Lake
Hirekolale lake is a man-made marvel amidst a serene environment and lush green mountains. Stunning sunsets make this tranquil place a favorite amongst travelers. One can view the majestic Mullayangiri mountains from here, making it a postcard destination for nature photographers. The calmness of Hirekolale lake is the perfect excuse for people to step away from their mundane city life.
Located 10 km from Chikmagalur, this lake can be visited at any time of the year. Hirekolale lake was originally developed to provide water to Chikmagalur and help in the irrigation of nearby villages.
8. Jhari Falls
Jhari waterfalls is a highly popular tourist attraction as it is surrounded by a lush green forest and coffee plantations. Located in the Chikmagalur district, the buttermilk falls is a one-day picnic spot and a place to unwind in a magical green setting.
The waterfall is created by springs in the mountains. As a result, the pool which is formed below offers a place for people to relax, swim, or play in the water. Nestled amidst a stunning natural environment, people can best experience Jhari Falls during monsoons. Head to this place to relax with a picnic basket if you are ready to walk down a rugged path to reach the waterfall.
9. Kadambi Falls
Kadambi falls is a secluded natural marvel located in Kudremukh National Park, Karnataka. One of the reasons why this waterfall is because it is surrounded by abundant greenery. The height of the waterfall is 30 ft and is best experienced during the monsoon season.
This waterfall is a classic example of the hidden gems near Chikmagalur. It offers a visual treat of the rain forests of Karnataka and a picnic getaway from the busy city life. You can relax by the waterfall with a picnic basket or take a dip to rejuvenate your tired soul and body.
Kadambi Falls is one place where you can witness nature in its most natural form. So, if you have a thing for monsoon getaways, this is one opportunity you will not like to miss.
10. Coffee Plantations
If coffee is your weakness, you will not be able to resist a trip to the scenic coffee plantations in Chikmagalur. A stroll through the plantations and the aroma of raw coffee beans will make you go weak on your knees. A stay in the rustic and old colonial coffee estates will bring you closer to Chikmagalur’s local way of life.
Owners of coffee plantations and estates organize tours where tourists know more about the history and process of making coffee. A few famous coffee plantations are- Taj Garden (Panduranga coffee), Jungle Greens (Black Coffee), etc. So, if you wish to start your day with the ‘perfect’ hot cup of coffee, head to Chikmagalur to know more about one of the most popular beverages in the world.
11. Ballalarayana Durga Fort
A trip to this 12th-century fort offers an exciting mix of history and adventure. Perched on top of a beautiful hill, Ballalarayana Durga Fort is surrounded by the majestic Western Ghats. To visit this ancient attraction of the Hoysala empire, you need to trek through magnificent landscapes that form a picturesque scenery.
Every fort belonging to a bygone era is shrouded in mystery. What remains in the modern world are fragments of a royal place that perished through time ravages. It was built in Karnata Dravida style by the wife of Veera Ballala 1, the 12th-century ruler of the Hoysala empire.
Tourists can now only explore a basement and a few walls. This fort is now an ideal campsite where tourists can witness a stunning sunset or light a bonfire under starry skies to see a beautiful sunrise the next morning.
12. Tea Plantations
A trip to the tea plantations is one of the best ways to experience a British Era culture in Chikmagalur. The best part about this trip is that you can easily book a tour through a tour operator or your hotel staff. A stroll through these tea plantations will allow you to get acquainted with local culture and click scenic pictures for your travel album.
A whiff of fresh tea leaves, and knowing more about the process of making tea is something you can truly experience in Chikmagalur. If you plan to visit, don’t miss out on the scenic Kelagur and Goomankhan tea estates.
The “Old Capital” is a testament to a town that has withstood the ravages of time. Once a royal capital of the Hoysala empire in the 12th century, it is now home to the Kedareswara and Hoysaleswara temples constructed in 1121 AD. Its culture can now be found in fragments of history after the 14th-century invasion of the Muslim invaders. The town, which is now in ruins, was initially called Dvarasamudra, a name derived from two Sanskrit words Dvara (gateway) and Samudra (ocean).
The Hoysaleswara temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Tourists frequent it due to the intricate depictions based on Hindu mythology, birds, animals, mythical creatures, and dancing figures. This ancient temple is a must-visit because of the narration of legendary Hindu epics on the temple’s outer wall. Don’t miss out on the Hoysala Mahotsava, a festival that celebrates King Hoysala through art, music, and dance.
Located at 40 km, Belavadi is a scenic village highly famous for Veera Narayana temple depicting the ancient Hoysala architecture. The national heritage site is a stunning example of Hindu mythology. It is described as Ekachakranagara of Mahabharata. People of Belavadi celebrate Band-Banna to honor Pandava Bheema’s victory over the demon Bakasura.
The Veera Narayana is an ancient 13th-century temple built entirely out of soapstone. It is popular because of the three different shrines (vimanas) built to worship avatars of Lord Vishnu. The three shrines are dedicated to Sri Veera Narayana, Yoganarasimha, and Sri Gopalakrishna.
Built on the Yagachi river banks, Belur’s temple town takes you back in time to witness the grandeur of the Hoysala empire. It is most famous for the 12th-century Chennakesava temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
One unique thing about Chennakesava temple is the sculptures, architecture. It took more than 100 years to construct this temple. The temple artwork showcases the way of life in the 12th century. You will also come across a pictorial narration of epics such as Mahabharata and Ramayana. This temple is a mere reflection of the cultural and royal heritage of the Hoysala Empire.
Curated by Ruchit Rastogi