CHIKMAGALUR – The Coffee Land of Karnataka

Summer begins early in Bangalore, largely in the past few years. For reasons I won’t bore you with in this post, come February 2013, all we wanted was a getaway to escape the soaring temperatures and avoid getting baked in the afternoon sun. Chikmagalur seemed like the perfect place to do that and more. Located at the foothills of the Mullayanagiri Range, this little town bestows the clichéd “picture perfect”, watercolour painting-like scenes that not only deceived us into being in a parallel universe but also astonished in a way because this beauty lay so close to home. Well, close because it’s a short road trip away, about 4 hours although it did take us longer since the husband and me were keen on a stopover at a little town called ‘Channarayapatna’. Significant mainly because my husband spent a good chunk of his childhood here. A serious case of nostalgic fever was evident on his face as we clicked away pictures of him and a bunch of students from the alma mater. The little things, no?
Chikmagalur is also called The Coffee Land of Karnataka, which means acres of rolling green hills displaying elegantly scattered white blossoms. These coffee flowers look like exaggerated  forms of the simple daisies but it’s the way Mother Nature decided to present them that catches the eye.Rather than a stem that holds a single flower, these stems balance a long row of ivory flowers that can cheat you into believing that a mortal meticulously arranged them.
Our home for the next few days was the Eagle Eye Resorts. It was midday when we checked in and our benevolent hosts welcomed us with a glass of fresh strawberry juice & a hot lunch. I have to say, the real magic began early next morning when a peek outside our cottage window revealed a jaw dropping view of the mountains enwrapped in a cloud of silvery mist….enchanting to say the least. Might I quickly add that holidays, of any kind, have a way of transforming a hopeless nocturnal into a morning person…guilty as charged!
A quick breakfast and we were on the road rudderlessly driving our way off the beaten path, stopping & snapping pictures, with only music, light drizzles of rain, sweeping views of coffee estates & silence to keep us company. It was about an hour into the drive when my husband remarked as to how we didn’t happen to find a Cafe Coffee Day ( a popular coffee hot spot in India) considering the fact that Chikmagalur is where they primarily source their coffee from. A google search and the next thing I know, he’s  pulling over at the The Serai….a luxurious Cafe Coffee Day resort that we visited four times in the next 2 days. Not only do they have stunning views of their property and an incredible coffee lounge, their chef happens to conjure up the most extravagant of buffets with a vast vegetarian spread (these short visits for our timely lunches & dinners prompted us to plan a stay at their other resorts in KABINI & BANDIPUR).
The following day we drove through serpentine roads up the Mullayanagiri hills (which is the highest peak in Karnataka), amidst heavy rains pitter pattering noisily on the hood of our car.I have to admit, I was a little jittery every single time I saw a vehicle coming from the opposite side because as we went higher, the roads were extremely narrow, allowing for just one vehicle to pass, forcing us to be more cautious than ever. But, we eventually got to the top and the rain continued to tumble from the grey skies. We were standing on the mountains, in the midst of clouds, letting the rain soak us. After all, how often does one get to experience something like this?
At one point the clouds wrapped us snuggly like a blanket, obscuring all vision except a faint sight of each other.An illusion of being alone, of being one with the skies. Few seconds later, they parted to unveil mist kissed mountains with a haze of emerald green. This happened for a while. When Mother Nature is in a mood for some joyful play, you do nothing but play along and simply thank her for the stroke of serendipity…
Next stop,Kudremukh,meaning, “horse face” in Kannada . Belonging to the Western ghats as well, it is the third highest peak in Karnataka, India. We drove in the thick of the Kudremukh National Park,  a rainforest, for about an hour. While the Rain Gods had settled, the dense canopy of green smattered with sparkling droplets of water came to life. The soil still wet, the air fragrant of dampened earth, a faint, fresh breeze…..I would seem greedy if I asked for more….
Let’s take a look at some pictures, shall we?

The Coffee Plantations
53 - They played with fire
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Pretty flowers of the Coffee plant
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Breathtaking views from the resort
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Our hut-like cottages at the resort
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The view from atop the Mullayanagiri Hill Range

Here’s a video of the drive through a rainy Mullayanagiri mountain range (notice how narrow the roads are & the lack of barriers along the edge)

The Serai, Chikmagalur
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“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, 
  There is a rapture on the lonely shore, 
  There is society, where none intrudes, 
  By the deep sea, and music in it’s roar
  I love not man the less, but nature more.”
-George Gordon Byron
Be sure to stop by my other blogs on art & food,
Divya’s Art Room
1 Part Ingredient 9 Parts Love

2 thoughts on “CHIKMAGALUR – The Coffee Land of Karnataka

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