A trip to this heaven of a land was being planned for 3 years, but never saw it coming to reality anytime soon. It took us six semesters, a whole lot of exams, and a whole lot of other trips to finally decide that the next place we’re setting foot in, is going to be Chikmagalur. Luckily we did not have to find an accommodation, cause one of the guys from our ‘gang of six’, lives there and he was sweet enough to offer us to stay there. So it was decided that we stay at his house for the duration of our trip. Even though it sounds all well planned, there were frantic calls until the last moment deciding what kind of transport to take, how much luggage to carry, which common point to meet at, who’s bringing the snacks, and what to wear – for the girls obviously. Finally after this unhandleable chaos, the five of us set foot to what was one of the most amazing and fun trips of our Engineering life.
Day 1 :
A journey of 5 hours ahead of us, we were excited and filled with energy. From the Bangalore Railway station we caught a train to reach Kadur, a 3 hour journey. There is no direct train to Chikmagalur and anyone wanting to reach there has to get down at Kadur. Being the millennial us, we played charades, antakshari, and games like any other college student totally disturbing the co-passengers. After a lot of stares, stuffing ourselves with all the snacks and whining about the uncomfortable seats, we reached Kadur around 3 o’clock.. From here it is an approximately 45 minutes journey to reach Chikmagalur. There are numerous local buses available to catch every minute. The scenery that greets you on the way is something that cannot be witnessed anywhere. Acres together of sunflower fields waiting to be touched by the sun’s rays, huge plots of Coconut and Areca trees standing tall trying to touch the sky, and black pepper wounded as the climbing vine it is, to trees.
Most part of the road was under construction, so it was a pretty muddy, bumpy ride to reach the Chikmagalur city, and there he was, our friend, with the same excitement we had at the beginning of our journey waiting along the sidewalk, to tell us everything he had planned for the next 3 days. We drove to his house, freshened up our exhausted bodies, and played chowka – baara, a somewhat traditional version of Ludo that reminded us of our childhood summers. It was soon time for dinner, and our friend’s mom cooked us the best chicken biriyani that all of us were totally craving for and I can say that we definitely ate more than our capacity. With more than full bellies, he suggested we go out for a walk and Chikmagalur is such a small cozy city that we almost covered the entire city in about 40 minutes, in what was supposed to be just a midnight stroll. We were not done for the day, cause a gang of friends on a trip don’t sleep, and we surely did that. We went about ranting about college, teachers and life, played cards for hours, and snuggled on the living room sofa until the sun rose though we had a big day of sightseeing ahead of us.
Day 2 :
With 3 hours of sleep, we were all geared up to explore the most famous places in Chikmagalur. Our friend’s dad helped us rent a jeep, and we started the journey after breakfast. Our first visit was going to be Baba Budangiri which is 33 kilometers and takes about an hour and a half to reach. It is a mountain in the Baba Budan range of the western ghats, and is famous for a shrine inside a cave which represents a unique culture of both Hindu and Muslims offering prayers in the cave – like structure. We spoke to the keeper of the cave to learn more about the many mysteries we heard, and the story has it that there are routes from the cave to reach Mecca, Madina, and also Dubai. And it is believed that Dattaraya Swamy who meditated there for years, vanished to Kashi from one of the routes of this cave. It is apparently also believed that the insides of the cave which is closed to the public, is guarded by a Tiger. The keeper told us that the Tiger occasionally used to come out of the cave and stroll around in the temple years back. The insides of the cave is made of mud which has very strong medicinal properties and people eat this particular mud to cure themselves of diseases. There is a hand-size hole on one of the walls and the story has it that long back, if people put their hands inside it they could pull out hot rotis.
After spending a good amount of time learning about the place, we left for our next destination the Honnamnalla falls. It is a very small temple on the highway which can remain unnoticed very easily. If we go behind the temple, there is a waterfall that leads to a stream where people visiting the temple can wash their legs in. To get a glimpse of the waterfall we have to climb up and down big boulders of rocks and step foot in streams of water. The temperature of the water was so perfectly suited to drive us off our thirst in that hot summer afternoon, we played in the water, hung ourselves from tree branches, and took so many pictures almost enough to collectively spam our friends on Instagram.
Our next stop was Galikere, situated 27 kilometers from the waterfalls. Galikere is a lake and can be very well called a secret lake as it is surrounded by great hills on all four sides. It got the name Galikere because Gali in Kannada means wind, and during winter the entire place is covered in fog and there are harsh winds, hence the name. The specialty of this lake is that it is not only surrounded by hills but is also located on one, so any amount of rain pouring, the lake never overflows. We were so occupied in visiting places that we never realised that it was past – lunch time. Shashank’s mom had packed us each boxes of food, and we decided to hike up one of the hills surrounding the lake and have lunch with the best view possible. Yet again, we were on the task of filling up our phone memory with the perfect picturesque background against our tired faces.
In the 30 kilometers journey back home, we were happy to go and get some rest and at the thought of it, we saw a theatre screening a movie none of us had watched. So there went our happy sleep dreams, and in no time we were finding good seats with good views and sounds. I cannot say that everyone was awake through the entire duration of the movie, but I was happy I kept my promise of getting a good sleep. Lol. The long movie and for me the long sleep woke up hunger in our tummies and we went to the famous eating spots. The Vijayapura Chat Street serves the best Masala puri and gobi manchurian, and a shop called Sri Rama Sweets serves the best Rasmalais. After this sumptuous snacking we reached home, and the night was still young to the six of us. We started discussing about ghosts, spirits, our encounters with them and made sure to not even get the 3 hours of sleep we got the previous day.
Day 3 :
We got up from the comfortable positions we were sitting in the entire night, ready for another day of mountains and mysteries. Today we were going to the famous Mullayanagiri, the highest peak in the Baba Budan range of hills. If you want to catch the sunrise, be amidst the clouds and not want too much crowd, I suggest you leave as early in the morning as possible. Mullayanagiri is 20 kilometers away from the city, and takes about 40 minutes to reach. In the same jeep we rented the previous day, we set out to travel at 6 o’clock in the morning. On the way to Mullayanagiri, we came across a cafe called ‘Siri Cafe’ with a gigantic stone figure of a lady sleeping on her arms, adorning all kinds of shrubs, plants and grass, the view of which will make you feel like you are seeing Mother Earth. Further in the journey, the views we witnessed were so enchanting, it felt like we were amidst the clouds already.
On reaching our destination, we were stunned to see ourselves almost above clouds without even climbing to the top. There are about 450 steps to reach the top and once you take the last step, you will find yourselves literally above clouds, speechless, and so insignificant in front of the vast infinite display of clouds. I don’t think there are words to explain how beautiful it was, but these pictures will sure do.
After soaking ourselves in the panoramic beauty of the clouds, we climbed a few more steps to find a small temple, and a shelter place that housed calves and puppies. As the clouds started to clear off, we realised it was time to descend down and so we did. We came down to a small stall that sold Maggie, and it was much needed in that early morning chill winds.
After a delicious morning snack, we came back to our jeep, played loud music and danced our hearts away because not everyday do we get a chance to dance among the clouds and the chill morning breeze. After spending two days at Shashank’s home, we decided to stay at a resort for the rest of that day and started travelling that way. There is a spot to witness the famous Jari Falls from quite a far distance. With a pit stop there, we went straight to the resort.
The resort was located in a very calm secluded area, and we got the most out of this vast outdoor area by playing volleyball, badminton, throwing Frisbee, and archery. The resort also had a huge coffee estate behind and they were one of the coffee exporters too. One can not visit Chikmagalur without visiting a coffee estate, and so we entered the estate, learnt about the different kinds of coffee plants, how they are picked, their drying and processing methods and how they package it for selling. We had a fulfilling dinner, danced away around the bonfire and screamed our throats out in our little karaoke session.
One point to definitely mention and which certainly was one of the highlights of this trip was 4 out of the 6 of us falling sick after eating something, we don’t know what until this day, that so heavily upset-ted our stomachs, we were up all night suffering. All in all, with 3 sleepless nights, phone full of pictures, mind full of happiness, pocket full of memories, and a body full of sickness, we came to the end of this trip, most definitely one of the best vacations of our Engineering life.