Chikmagalur was our next hill station summer stop where we took our stuffed bags. I came across the few folks from meetup.com who were leaving for Chikmagalur, and I readily joined them.
We started our journey from Bangalore and zoomed through Channarayapatna, Hassan, Belur, and it was nearly past 2 pm when we reached Chikmagalur.
Most of the houses situated among coffee plantations now function as homestays, and so was ours. They offer solitude, with simple home-cooked meals, surrounded by coffee plants and extremely humble owners. There was no respite from the Sun, but thankfully, there were many more trees and greenery, unlike the city.
Chikmagalur has a variety of places to offer for sightseeing. This place is a haven of waterfalls, peaks to climb, a lake to sit by and watch, wildlife safari trails, coffee plantation trails, few temples; something for everyone.
This place offers much more than the place itself; it is the drive-through winding hills and forests that one can enjoy.
Every place is miles apart, you need to have your vehicle, and a significant amount of time goes into driving to the place. We decided to drive down to AyyanaKere as evening stepped in, and I love sunsets.
AyyanaKere Lake - A Beauty Near Chikmagalur
This is the second largest lake in Karnataka, and so it seemed filled with water even during this parching summer. A native told me that the lake would be so complete during the monsoon that some of the steps leading to the lake will be submerged.
It is around 25kms from Chikmagalur town, and when we reached the place, there was hardly anyone around. It is not a tourist destination, and the approach road is narrow.
But, the place looks clean, and lovely cemented benches are provided to sit and enjoy the peace. Mountains surround the lake, and there is the tall conical peak of Shakunagiri to the right. The serenity of the place, the wind brushing you're facing, the sunset playing colors; all made it one memorable evening.
We decided to leave once the darkness started to envelop us. This place is pretty isolated, so solo travel is not really advisable, and so is staying after dark.
This peak needs no introduction !!
The tallest peak of Karnataka, trekkers paradise and has made its presence in a lot of movies. This being summer, I was not expecting a green pasture-covered mountain.
We drove halfway up, and from there, around 400 steps take you to the top of the peak. Driving to the peak needs skill and a brave heart. Many vehicles stopped at Sitalayangiri about 2kms from the peak.
The rest of the 1.5kms drive, believe me, is more like a question to make it to the top?
Every time a vehicle comes from the opposite direction, one has to get down and navigate, so neither falls off the cliff; there are no railings. At one such point when I had to get down to navigate, I opened the car door and gasped as there was no place to put down my feet.
Despite the narrow roads, the peak is crowded, and there are plenty of vehicles at the top, with refreshment shops selling summer coolers, and it is a pakka tourist center. The place is a pilgrimage center, too, and you can see people climbing without slippers while you are on comfy shoes and puffing through the steep stairs.
At the top is the temple of Mullapa Swamy, who seems to have meditated there.
When we were settling down to enjoy the breeze at the altitude, clouds gathered and started to trickle. We descended the steps, and the drizzle began to pour.
Considering the narrow roads and muddy places, we were worried it could turn slippery and decided to get down as quickly as possible.
Sun disappeared and it was clouds, rain, pattern of droplets on the window pane.
Kemmanagudi Z point
I was once again looking for a sunset point as the evening stepped in. One of our co-traveler suggested the Z point, and the excitement on his face as he described it gave an assurance that a beautiful evening was lying ahead. We drove again through winding roads and thick forests.
We passed through the Bhadra wildlife limits and took our vehicle further up the hill. Pass the check post. There is a guest house maintained by the horticulture department, a rose garden, and a cafe. We wanted to catch the sunset, and hence we decided not to stop here.
Moving further, it was water and mud, and we had no idea if the vehicle could go further up but still took our chance and drove further up. A little way up came to a small parking place, and we continued to walk from there.
A small leading trail first leads to Shanthi falls. Some of the tourists were excitedly taking a bath there. Past them, it opens to the Shola grasslands of Western Ghats. The moods changed, no one was around, and a single lane path takes you to the peak.
Miss a step and I am sure I would have rolled down the cliff. I took the help of other mates several times. The orangish setting Sun peaked out of the clouds for a short while. And then, we reached the vantage point from where you can see the Z point.
We settled down at the peak; sometimes, having no one around gives the best feeling. The Sun was setting, the wind was heavy, and my friend added that sometimes wind could get so high that it feels like pushing you off the cliff. We decided to walk back before the Sun completely went down.
It is good to go there as a group. The lights of the horticulture guest house looked like fireflies among the forest. If at all I go back to Chikmagalur, I am staying here !!
It is nestled among forests, cut off from the city and the view from here, nothing to beat that.
Chikmagalur is a nature lover's paradise.
Next time, I need to cover the waterfalls and drive through Bhadra. It is not a weekend getaway.
Plan and relax for at least five days and explore the various peaks. Before leaving, we did the customary buying of filter Coffee from Panduranga wholesale coffee shop.
And now every morning it's filter coffee brewing at my house….
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