January 15, 2012
The second day of our trip was the auspicious day of Makara Sankranti in Karnataka-a day of the harvest festival which is celebrated as Pongal in Tamilnadu. On the same day the kite festival is held in Gujarat and Makara Jyothi is visible in the Sabarimala temple of Kerala. Only in India the same festival can be celebrated in so many different ways. Jai Hind! We were staying at Chikmagalur, the coffee capital of Karnatka, 160 kms from Mangalore. Chikmagalur is located at an elevation of 1037 metres at the foothills of Mullayanagiri mountain ranges and its well known for its coffee as well as a summer destination because of its pleasant weather all through the year. There are a lot of homestays and resorts in this little town for the discerning traveller, situated amidst the woods at the foothills of the mountains. The main tourist spot inside the town is the Mahatma Gandhi Park(also known as Ratnagiri bore) with stunning views of the surrounding hills. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the time to visit the park during our stay.
Chikmagalur is surrounded by scenic places like Mullayanagiri, Bababudangiri and Kemmanagundi. One of those peaks Mullayanagiri 20 kms from town, was our first destination for the day. Well rested on a night when the mercury dipped to around 10 degrees, we started early from Hotel Rajmahal located close to the bus station.
Here I must make a mention of a foodie’s delight in Chikmagalur-Town Canteen. This is the place we discovered the night before to have our dinner. Town Canteen is to Chikmagalur what Mavalli Tiffin Room is to Bangalore. The USP of the place, along with its small town ambience and old-world furniture is the Benne Masala Dosa ie Masala Dosa laced with butter. And boy did the dosa live up to its name! It was one of the delicious dishes I had tasted outside Tamilnadu. And for a change even my wife agreed with me. In the evenings this restaurant provides only dosas and we were back now for the full breakfast menu. We weren’t disappointed at all. For the quality offered, the prices are a steal.
We were now off to Mullayanagiri, the highest peak in Karnataka with a height of 1,930 metres(6,330 feet). It is said to be the highest peak between the Himalayas and the Nilgiris. The route from Chikmagalur town to the peak is a thrilling drive with fantastic views all along the way.
Two kms from Mullayanagiri peak is this small temple at Sitalyanagiri.
The final stretch of road from this temple to Mullayanagiri is steep and treacherous with no safety walls and absolutely no space for the oncoming vehicle. I wondered how this drive would have been on a foggy, wet day in the monsoons. If you are an inexperienced driver better avoid this stretch.
Thankfully our driver tackled the path skillfully(he told me that he had a gulf driving licence which was the strictest test for a driver, having worked in Saudi Arabia for some years)and carefully negotiated the final stretch even though it was his first time to Mullayanagiri. Being a Sunday there was a decent crowd at the peak. Letting the pictures take over now.
From Mullayanagiri peak, my plan was to visit the shrine of Bababudangiri and Dattapeeta. Mullaynagiri-Bababudangiri-Kemmanagundi is a famous trekking path frequented by the adventurous. This is a place of pilgrimage for both Hindus and Muslims in this region. But since repair works were being done on the road to the shrine, the locals informed us that we would have to walk the final 3 kms. So we dropped the idea of visiting the shrine. But still we decided to drive some distance on the road towards Bababudangiri and were rewarded with wonderful views. We stopped at a small temple with a little stream at a place called Attigundi. From here, we started our return journey back to Chikmagalur.
In the afternoon, we visited Belur and Halebeedu temples. That will be in my next post.