Ever wondered what's it's like to stay within a coffee plantation? You wake up seeing the beautiful beans and being served hot aromatic filter coffee to fill your senses. I decided to take one such vacation this year. And with no thought it had to be to Chikmagalur.
This coffee land down south in Karnataka has always been on my list. It was a road trip that I was taking with my brothers from Bangalore and all I could think of was of the lush green coffee plantation, greenery and the pristine beauty of the place. A perfect weekend gateway from Bangalore, I hit the city from Delhi at around 10 pm and from there started the masti ki toil. Jet set go we hit the road. After around a 5- 6 hours drive, enjoying the beauty of countryside, stopping my local shops for quick coffee break and some idlis, the road look forever romantic.
Located in the foothills of Mullayanagiri range - in the native Kannada language Chikmagalur means "The town of the younger daughter". I was eager to be in this town. The moment I spotted the board "Chikmagalur this way", I knew the lushy green coffee plantations was all I wanted to see right then. As we drove, the view of Chikmagalur planes, mildly foggy weather, freshness in the air and thick forest charmed me all through.
Our booking were done at Forest Homestay - a home-stay located in the midst of scenic coffee estates in Gowdhalli, Sakleshpur, which nestles in the hill range of Chikmagalur. Around 4600 feet above the sea level it was a home in a quaint little surrounding where you could hear the birds chirping in glory and feel the true untouched beauty and splendour of the enchanting Western Ghats. We spotted out hideout in the middle of coffee and more coffee beans - the small little tent was just perfect for the four us. Though at the first glance it did look small but believe you me, it was very comfortable. There was even space for a table with four chairs that was placed inside the tent.
The moment we reached we were greeted with the traditional filter coffee. The rich aroma as ubiquitous as its availability. All the tiredness from all the travel and the driving just vanished. As Pradeep (One of the guy from the resort) poured the coffee in the mugs as the froth took me by happiness. All I could feel was the scents of coffee, wild orchids and fresh air.
After freshening up a bit it was time to explore this 'Coffee Land' and take little walk to the plantations. It was the first time I was seeing coffee beans at such close quarter and not only it was coffee, the jungle track greeted us with p vanilla, cardamom or pepper climbers, bay leaves, and other spices. Feeling nature such up close and personal was in itself an experience to remember. The idyllic plantations simply lifted my spirits. The fertile valley is a Naturalist treasure house. Seeing the Arabica and Robusta coffees beans in full bloom my excitement knew no bounds. The lush green coffee estates are simply a visual treat.
Our quiet little home for the next three days was one a perfect spot can can choose. Forest Homestay staff made sure they gave the best of Malnad style food experience to us. (For those who don't understand Malnad cuisine it's the cuisine of Karnataka includes many vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes). Be it the Ragi rotti, Akki rotti, Maamsa Saaru (Mutton Curry), Ragi mudde, Paddu/ Gundponglu, Kesari Bath or the Benne dosa all our meals was a wholesome experience served with pickle, palya, gojju, raita, dessert. The best part was the portions were always more than enough for all of us and yes not to forget the unlimited supply of fresh filer coffee - served with smile.
In between all the meals with so much eating happening I made sure that I take those short treks and taste that extra adventure. Walking along the forest on the full night was a walk to remember - all you could hear was nature making those unique sounds and feeling the cold breeze around you.
If you think that Chikmanglur is all about just coffee, wait to be surprised as the place also sees many small-big waterfalls that add to the beauty of the coffee land. One of the days it was about exploring that part. to my surprise where ever I went the coffee greens did not leave my company. The trio hoped on a jeep and we headed to the spot. Walking for another 15 minutes, amidst the forest and small water bodies- there it was. Seeing the enchanting waterfall right in front I could not control my happiness and I jumped into it.
Though three days never felt enough, I wanted to steal few more days and stay back but it was time for us to leave this coffee heaven and hit the road again to create some more memories. It's just right to say that a lot can happen over a fresh brew and this is proved when you are here. Chikmanglur's beauty simply left me craving for more of this place. Happy brew aroma's till I visit again.Places to see around Chikmagalur
Jhari Falls - One of the best falls nearby Chikmagalur. To visit here one has to walk to around two kilometers downwards from the road inside forest and see this beauty.
Athigundi: A small village known for its scenic view and a great spot for photography.
Mullayanagiri Peak: The highest peak in Karnataka. The view from here is simply splendid.