Chikmagalur - our favorite hill station

Chikmagalur – Best Places You Shouldn’t Miss

Ah, Chikmagalur! Our personal favorite. You’ve heard this a million times but words don’t do justice to the beauty of this place during monsoon. If you’re a soul who wants to be close to nature, this one’s for you!

Chikmagalur, the coffee belt of the south is located in Karnataka, India. Famous for (no points for guessing) the finest quality of coffee, this place is just right to witness the natural beauty of the Western Ghats. We can’t stop talking about why you should visit this place – for the climate, the warm & welcoming people, waterfalls, coffee estates, and viewpoints that’ll leave you awestruck! 

This blog gives you detailed info about everything you need for the trip to one of our favorite places.

Best Places To Visit In Chikmagalur

Best Time To Visit

Situated at the foothills of the Western Ghats, at an elevation of 1,090 m (3,580 feet) above sea level, Chikmagalur generally has moderate (25-32℃ during summers) to cool temperatures (11-20℃ during winters). The best time to visit Chikmagalur is during post-monsoon, between September and March when the Western Ghats will be as fresh as ever after the rains.

Languages Spoken

Kannada is the native language spoken throughout the city. As Chikmagalur is a popular tourist destination, people also speak English and Hindi.

ATM Availability

ATMs are available only in the city. Carry enough cash as there will not be any cash in the ATM during weekends.

Network Availability

You’ll get good signal strength in the town, but expect little to no connectivity in almost all the other places. However, in some places the BSNL network is available.

How To Reach

By Air

Chikmagalur does not have an airport. The nearest airport to reach is Mangalore International Airport (Airport Code: IXE, 156 Km). From Mangalore airport, you can hire a cab or hop into the KSRTC buses which are frequent.

By Train

There is no railway station in Chikmagalur. The nearest railway station is Birur, 46 Km (Station code: RRB) or Kadur (Station code: DRU, 40 Km). Birur is well connected to places like Chennai, Bangalore, Hubli, Mysore, Hassan, Shimoga, Kochi, and Kollam. You can hire a taxi right outside the railway station to reach Chikmagalur.

By Road

Chikmagalur is well connected by roadways from Bangalore (240 Km), Mangalore (150 Km), and Mysore (178 Km). The private and government-run KSRTC buses are available frequently throughout the year. You can also enjoy the climate by driving your vehicle as the roads are well maintained.

Getting Around

Renting a two-wheeler/ four-wheeler of your choice would be the best option to get around as there is no public transport available within the district. Tuktuk/ auto rickshaws are available to get around at reasonable rates. Hiring a jeep on a daily basis will also be a good choice.
Note: OLA or Uber services are not available, although you can hire private cabs or jeeps.

Where To Stay

Chikmagalur offers numerous homestays, resorts, and luxury hotels. To get the best out of Chikmagalur, we recommend you stay in a homestay or the center of the city. Some of our recommendations include Zostel Chikmagalur, Coffee Kaadu Homestay, and Coffee Bean Homestay.

Here are a few recommendations.

 

Where To Eat

Local cuisine in the region is Malanadu, Kakadu, and Akki Roti. Indira Gandhi Road in Chikmagalur town is home to various veg and non-veg restaurants. Some of our recommendations include Siri coffee, Eats of Arab for Arabian cuisine, Maharaja Restaurant for non-veg, Town Canteen, Cafe Agape, and Vishnu delicacy.
Note: Swiggy or Zomato service is not available.

Top Places To Visit In Chikmagalur

Mullayanagiri Peak

View from Mullayanagiri Peak
Clouds playing hide and seek at the peak

The highest peak in Karnataka at a height of 1930 m (6330 feet). This peak is covered by almost a mystical mist and is accessible either by vehicles. You can also trek to the top. You have to climb about 300 steps approximately after reaching the parking to reach the peak where a Shiva temple is located. Don’t miss the hot sizzling Maggi sold by small vendors near the parking. 

Mullayanagiri sunrise is definitely one of the top things to do when in Chikmagalur. For adventure seekers, you can trek from the start point, Sarpadhari which is fairly steep, and inclined at 60 degrees. Beware! The trail is extremely slippery during the monsoon but the climb will all be worth it when you reach the top. 

  • Trek Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
  • Trek distance: 3 Km
  • The time required: 3 hours approx.
  • Camping: Allowed
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Parking: Available at charges with limited capacity 
  • Timings: No restrictions. The place gets crowded after 9 AM.

Note: Wear Good shoes, a jacket, or a sweater as the weather changes drastically, Raincoat/ Poncho, especially during the monsoon. Carry a reusable water bottle.

Ayanakere Lake

Ayyanakere Lake

The most serene lake surrounded by mountains on three sides is known for the sunset and is a great picnic spot. The roads to the lake pass through a village, are very narrow and not well-maintained.  Drive with your own snacks and water bottle to enjoy a pleasant sunset by yourself as not many tourists visit this place.

  • Timings: No restrictions.
  • Entry fee: Free
  • The time required: 1 Hour

Jhaari / Buttermilk / Dabdaba Waterfall

Jhari falls or Buttermilk falls

Surrounded by dense forests, this waterfall is located en route to Mullayanagiri on the Bababudangiri road. Private vehicles are parked at the entrance near the main road. From here you have to hire a jeep or walk about 3.5 – 4 Km along the narrow steep damp roads to reach the waterfalls. Spend as much time as you want by taking a dip at the pool at the foot of the falls and returning in a different jeep.

  • Entry fee: Free
  • Timings: 9 AM – 5 PM
  • Jeep cost: Rs. 700 per jeep for 3.5 – 4 Km with 6-7 person max
  • Network coverage: Nil
  • Best time to visit: August – January
  • Trek Difficulty: Easy
  • Trek distance: 3.5 – 4 Km 
  • Changing room/ Washroom: Available near the parking entrance

Bababudangiri hills/ BB hills/ Datta peeta

Baba Budan Giri hills - Datta Peeta

Also known as Chandra Drona Parvatha, BB Hills is a pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Muslims since there is a temple and a Masjid located adjacent to each other at 5905 feet. The Hindus believed that Dattatreya, an incarnation of Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma is dedicated to the three caves there. This was the origin of the names Datta Giri or Datta Peeta by the Hindus. The Muslims believe that Baba Budan, a Sufi saint lived in those caves and hence the name Bababudangiri Hills. Visiting the cave temple is a surreal experience & you shouldn’t miss it.

Just a piece of trivia: BB Hill Peak is the second highest in Karnataka after the Mullayanagiri Peak.

  • Entry fee: Free
  • Distance from Mullayanagiri peak: 25 Km
  • Trekking: Allowed
  • Trek distance: 9 Km
  • Trek charges: In the Attigundi office, you have to pay the forest department.
  • Camping: Allowed with permission from the forest department office near the temple. Permission will be denied if it is windy.
  • Restroom: Available near the forest office.

Note: If you are planning to trek, please use GPS while trekking as there will be no signal along the trail. Look out for white marks on the rocks and if you feel like you are lost, always remember the BSNL tower located at the top of the peak.

Manikyadhara Waterfall

Manikya Dhara Falls

About 3 Km away from Bababudhangiri are the Manikyadhara waterfalls that offer a great view of the BB hills. It is known for the cold drizzling water that falls throughout the year. This waterfall is believed to be a holy cascade as it is said to have medicinal value. Several shops sell herbal medicines around this waterfall. There is also a sunset viewpoint near this holy waterfall. 

  • Entry fee: Rs. 2
  • Timings: No time restrictions.
  • Best time to visit: August – January
  • Restrooms/ washroom: Available

Hebbe Waterfall

Full view of Hebbe Falls - Chikka Hebbe & Dodda Hebbe
Full Guide to Hebbe Falls

This one should surely be on your bucket list. Its river Bhadra drops from a height of 551 feet and cascades over two levels namely Dodda Hebbe (big falls) and Chikka Hebbe (small falls). Located in the Bhadra Tiger Reserve, en route to Kemmangundi, this popular waterfall is accessible only by jeep (run by the Forest department). After a 40-minute bumpy ride through the forests and a short trek of over 1 km, you will be a witness to this stunning waterfall.

Related: Is the Jeep ride to Hebbe Falls worth INR 500?

  • Timings: 9 AM – 3 PM
  • Jeep ride cost:  Rs. 500 per person/ Rs. 3500 per jeep for 12 Km.
  • The time required: 2:30 hours
  • Best time to visit: August – January
  • Restrooms/ Changing rooms: Available
  • Parking: Available near the Checkpost.

Note: Carry enough water, food, and spare clothes if needed. Beware of leeches. Have trekking shoes with you if you’re planning to trek. We do not recommend this place for children below 5 years and elderly people.

Z-Point, Kemmangundi

Z Point Kemmangundi valley view
Detailed hiking guide to Z-point

Located en route to Kemmangundi, a 3 Km trekking trail that’s lined with breathtaking views of lush green valleys on one side and hills on the other side will lead you to this vantage point with Shanthi waterfalls midway. Beyond the Shanthi waterfalls, the route gets narrower and steeper with no fences and railings for support beyond that. The 360-degree viewpoint during the golden hours is worth every step you climb uphill.

Shanthi waterfalls enroute Z-point, Kemmangundi

Related: A detailed hiking guide to Z Point and Shanti Falls

  • Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
  • Trek distance: 3 Km
  • The time required: 1-2 hours
  • Camping: Allowed
  • Entry fee: Free
  • Timings: No restrictions. Safe to descend before sunset.
  • Best time to visit: August – March as the temperate will be around 25 ℃ in the daytime during summers making the trek difficult.

Note: Carry enough water and food as there will be no shops available along the trek. However, you can refill your water bottle at the Shanthi waterfalls.

Kemmangundi

View from Kemmangundi park

Kemmangundi is located 61 Km away from Chikmagalur city near the entrance of Hebbe waterfalls and Z-point. This picnic spot is well-maintained and remains an ideal place for families and children. One can take leisure walks around the park and get a good view of the Bhadra reservoir and the surrounding hills. Kemmangundi Sunset Point and the rock garden have been improved a lot over the years.

  • Network coverage: BSNL services are available
  • Restroom: Available
  • Parking: Available
  • Restaurants: Available near Raj Bhavan which serves south Indian meals (Rs.50). Tea, snacks, and omelets are also available. 
  • Stay options nearby: The horticulture department guesthouse (known as Raj Bhavan), provides cheap dormitories and rooms as cheap as Rs. 250, especially for trekking groups. Make sure to book well in advance due to the huge demand.
  • Contact Numbers for bookings:
    • Department head office Lag bagh – 080-26611925, 26571925          
    • Horticulture Department Guest House  – 08262-24126, 235334

Coffee Plantations and Neelakurinji Blooms

Coffee plantations in Chikmagalur
Source: holidify.com

After all these places you can take a breather and just relax at the coffee plantations in the district. You can take an hour’s tour through these scenic coffee gardens, arranged by the estate owners. They narrate the story behind coffee making and its history. If you are a coffee lover, visit the Coffee Museum which is open only during the weekdays for Rs.20.

Neelakurinji flowers (Botanical name: Strobilanthes kunthiana) bloom once in 12 years during the months of late April, May, mid, and close of Spring in the mountain ranges of Bababudangiri and Kudremukh. Last bloomed in 2006 and 2018, a carpet of purple flowers covering the entire hills is a visual retreat.

Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary- Safari Tour

As the jeeps are limited and no wildlife has been spotted during the safari in recent times, we would personally not recommend the one-hour safari ride as there are other attractions in Chikmagalur worth visiting.

  • Contact numbers (Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary office): 08262 220202, 08262 234904
  • Timings: 6:30 AM- 8:30 AM, 4:00PM- 6:00 PM

Horanadu Temple/ Annapurneshwari Temple

Annapurneshwari Temple free food offerings
Source: esamskriti.com

Established by the great sage, Adi Shankaracharya, this pilgrimage center is dedicated to the goddess Annapurneshwari, the Hindu goddess of food and nourishment. 100 Km away from Chikmagalur, located on the banks of the Bhadra river in Horanadu, this famous temple is known for its golden deity, decorated with fruits and vegetables.

It is believed that the devotees who come here never face food scarcity in their lives. Don’t miss the delicious “Prasadam” which is served thrice a day for free. Check out the temple’s official website for more information.

Visit the Panchatheertha, 5 sacred waters in Kalasa, the holy town, and take a dip in them. The panchatheertha includes Ambutheertha, Nagatheertha, Rudratheertha, Kotitheertha, and Vashisthatheertha, dedicated to each Hindu God or sage. The famous festivals of Shivarathri, Girija Kalyana (wedding of Shiva and Parvathi), and Kalasa car festival (Rathotsava) are celebrated with utmost enthusiasm every year. Kalaseshwara Swamy temple is considered “Dakshina Kashi”. Check the temple’s official website to know more about this famous temple.

Also, visit the picturesque private Soormane waterfalls near Kalasa during the monsoon with locals or a guide. As Kalasa is located 100 Km away from Chikmagalur, you can plan a day’s stay in the homestays available in the region.

Nearby Attractions

A Trek to the Kudremukha and Nethravathi peaks would be a ravishing and fulfilling experience. You can also enjoy rafting in the Bhadra river from June to October which originates from Gangamoola near Kudremukh. 

Gangamoola or Varaha Parvatha, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is also a must-visit for trekking adventure enthusiasts.

On your way back, visit the Hoysala temples of Belur and Halebidu and get lost in the architectural beauties of the 12th century.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days are enough to visit Chikmagalur?

For tourists, 3 – 4 days are enough to explore Chikmagalur. If you are a trekking enthusiast, 7-10 days would be sufficient to trek through all the hills of Chikmagalur. However, you can enjoy the city at your own pace.

What is Chikmagalur famous for?

Chikmagalur is known for its coffee. Situated in the western ghats and home to the tallest peak in Karnataka, it is popular among tourists for its climate and exhilarating views!

If you have ever been to Chikmagalur, tell us what we missed in the comments section below and we would love to see Chikmagalur again, your way!

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