Chikmagalur is known as the ‘Coffee Land’ of Karnataka. I have been to many destinations to explore tea plantations in India. However, I had never visited coffee estates from where my favorite beverage originate. Because of this, Chikmagalur had been on my ‘to visit’ list for a long time.
So, one extended weekend, I decided to visit Chikmagalur and checkout the attractions it had to offer, along with the vast coffee estates. We booked our homestay in Chikmagalur and it was splendid.
To reach Chikmagalur, we had booked KSRTC bus from Bangalore. The bus takes 4 hours to reach chikmagalur and the rate is Rs 441 per seat. We had booked seats in Airavat bus, owned by KSRTC. The Airavat bus is volvo bus and we reached chikmagalur comfortably.
We stayed at Nesting Grounds Homestay, Chikmagalur and the experience was amazing. On day 1, we just relaxed and explored the surrounding estate. On day 2, we decided to go for a day trip covering selected attractions in Chikmagalur. The must visit was Mullayanagiri peak which is the highest peak in Karnataka. Apart from that, we wanted to cover Kalahatti waterfalls & Jhari Waterfalls which are major attractions in Chikmagalur.
We hired a cab for Rs 2,500 and planned the chikmagalur itinerary. First we headed to Kalahatti Waterfalls. There was great enthusiasm in the atmosphere and people were dancing to the tunes of dholak. But, our enthusiasm reached rock bottom when we saw the waterfalls. It was not worth a visit and a total waste of time. However, we tried to trek up a little to find an amazing view. But, to our disappointment, there was none. In addition, there was filth all around. The place is not recommended for a visit.
Next, we went to Mullayanagiri Peak, the best attraction in Chikmangalur. The Mullayanigiri is the highest peak in Karnataka and the view from the top of peak is surely spectacular. The trek is not that strenuous. The car can go right to the top and after that, you just need to climb 500 steps to reach the topmost viewpoint. After admiring the spectacular view, we headed towards Jhari Falls.
Jhari falls is located at a distance of 15 KMs from Mullayanagiri in Chikmagalur. After Kalahatti falls, we had less expectation from Jhari falls. When we reached there, we discovered two options to reach the falls. One was to take a jeep and drive down to the falls. The second option was to trek down amidst coffee estates. We chose 2nd option as it would provide a better experience. Moreover, the jeep cost Rs 600 for one trip. So by trekking down, you would save some money.
After 2 KMs of an easy trek, we were able to reach Jhari Falls. The site that we witnessed was way better than Kalahatti waterfalls. The water splashes on the ground from an impressing height. In January also, there was enough water. I guess post monsoon might be an even better time to visit Jhari falls.
As we were admiring the magnanimity of the falls, we realized that a rainbow had formed. The setting sun had penetrated the water droplets and formed a beautiful spectrum of colors. This was the closest I had been to any rainbow. We spent around 1 hour at Jhari Falls and started our trek back. We took shortcuts to include some extra adventure. Finally, we were able to reach where our car was parked. We savored some delicious omelet with coffee. As the sun was setting, we started our way back to the Chikmagalur Homestay where delicious dinner would have been served already.
Closest I have been to a rainbow, Jhari Falls, Chikmagalur
The 3rd day was 26th Jan, republic day. We started the day by witnessing Modi welcoming Obama on our television set. As the breakfast was being served, we decided to take a walk, with the Chikmagalur homestay owner, to the coffee estate.
Nesting Grounds Homestay in Chikmagalur is a property located amidst 50 Acres of Coffee Estate. Contrary to popular belief, the coffee estates do not smell like coffee. The smell is inherited when the coffee beans are roasted. We learned a lot about coffee plantation which was very informative. I have captured some details here.
Coffee plants are of two kinds. Arabica & Robusta. While there is not a lot of difference between these two from the end user perspective, the coffee estate owners prefer one of these varieties according to their needs. While Arabica coffee plants are smaller in size, Robusta coffee plants are larger. Moreover, Arabica needs more manual maintenance as compared to Robusta. Accordingly, a coffee estate owners decide which variety of coffee beans to cultivate. The cycle of accumulating coffee beans lasts for a year. The estate owners get yield once in a year around Dec-Jan. If you want to see a coffee plantation in its true magnificence, visit a coffee estate in Dec end or Jan beginning. It is post that when the plucking of coffee beans is done. You will be able to see a massive presence of reddish brown color in the estate due to coffee beans.
After plucking the coffee beans manually, peeling of skin is done by a machine. Post peeling, the seeds are dried in sun to evaporate all the moisture. Once the seeds are dried, bags are filled to the capacity of 50 KGs per bag. These bags are bought by vendors based on the current coffee market rate. After collecting the bags, these vendors roast the seeds and subsequently sell to players like Nestle.
Coffee is a commodity which witnesses differences in the market prices on a day to day basis. Brazil plays the most important role in influencing the global coffee price. India stands at 7th position in Coffee production.
After exploring the coffee plantation, we relaxed and spent some quality time. We had sumptuous lunch before leaving the homestay. We caught the bus for Bangalore.
We reached Bangalore 1.5 hours late than our scheduled time from Chikmagalur due to an accident. However, the Chikmagalur trip was certainly one of the best trips I made in recent times. If you are in Bangalore, do take out a weekend to explore the coffee estates in Chikmagalur. Not to mention, do visit the highest peak in Karnataka and Jhari falls while in Chikmagalur.
Have you been to Chikmagalur? What was your experience? Do let me know in comments.
If you are planning to visit Chikmagalur, you can have a look at my recommendations for places to visit in Chikmagalur