Chikmagalur : In the Cradle of Nature

Aug 23, 2009

After savouring the beauty of nature during monsoon in the Konkan, I was looking forward to explore the Western Ghats and Malnadu during  this season. I got the opportunity to fulfil my dream when my neighbour and childhood friend, Fr. Valerian Castelino, serving in the Diocese of Chikmagalur invited my wife Benny and myself to visit him during the first week of August.

We boarded the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus at Udupi, the only service from Udupi to Chikmagalur that started its journey at 1 PM. The route of the bus was through Karkala, Moodbidre, Belthangady, and Ujire to Charmadi Ghat before venturing into Malnadu.

While passing through Moodbidre, which is famous for Jain monuments such as the Thousand Pillared Basadi, I could see and take pictures of one or two Jain temples. As the bus proceeded from Belthangady to Ujire the gigantic rock which has the remains of Tipu Sultan’s Jamalabadu Fort (Gadai Rock) could be seen from a distance and I was lucky to have one clear picture of it.

As the bus began its ascent of the Western Ghats through the Charmadi road, my dream of viewing the natural beauty of the valleys and mountain peaks surrounded with monsoon clouds was shattered as the rains forced us to close the windows of the bus. However, the thick wild plants, the colourful little flowers grown on the moss attached to the rocks and little waterfalls throughout the journey upwards for duration of nearly one and a half hour made my day.

On reaching top of the Western Ghats, the bus approached Kottigehar, the first small township in the Chikmagalur district. I could experience the gradual change of weather from humid to pleasantly cool atmosphere and the sun high up in the sky even though the time was around 5PM.

Located in the south-western part of Karnataka, Chikmagalur is a Malnadu district. It is largely forested hilly region of heavy rainfall. This scenic coffee town takes its name from the word ‘Chikka-magala-ooru’ which in Kannada means 'younger daughter's town'.

According to a legend, the district was given as a dowry to the younger daughter of Rukmangada, a prominent local chieftain. Another part of the town that was given to elder daughter has been known as Hiremagalur.

It is believed that Chikmagalur was the place of origin of the Hoysalas, who ruled in the south for more than two centuries. Later, this region came under the control of Hyder Ali and his son, Tipu Sultan. After the final defeat and death of Tipu Sultan in 1799, the entire area was taken over by the British.

From Kottigehar to Mudigere i could see vast expanse of Malnadu plains with paddy fields under cultivation inter-spread with banana and areca nut plantations.

As the bus left Mudigere, i could notice the perceptible change in the topographical feature of the region and plantation pattern. On both sides of the road there are huge coffee estates with tall silver oak trees protecting the dwarf coffee plants which were lush green with raw coffee seeds. Many of the silver oak trees are dressed with pepper wines and the roadside fences of the coffee estates are being trimmed. For miles together these estates greet the visitor to Chikmagalur.

The bus reached Chikmagalur bus stand at around 7 PM. My friend, Fr. Valerian was there to welcome us. He took us to St. Joseph’s Cathedral where he is presently stationed and introduced us to Fr. George D’Souza, the Parish Priest, Fr. Agnel Fernandes, Principal of St. Joseph’s Boys High School and Fr. K.A. Mathew, a retired priest. For two days we stayed at the guest room in the Cathedral where we felt quite at home.

Fr. Valerian had made arrangement for a vehicle to go for site seeing on the next day. He too accompanied us. Our first destination was Mullayanagiri which is a part of the Baba Budangiri Hill Ranges. With a height of 1930 meters, it is considered as the tallest peak in Karnataka. There is a small temple on top of the hill and the hillock in the temple compound is the highest point in Karnataka.

The sharply winding rough narrow road, practically without any protective barrier against the valleys made the ascent quite spine chilling. But the view of the valleys and peaks of the mountains covered with mist and thick clouds made us to forget about any impending danger. Practically, at every height there was change of weather. Once it would become bright and we could see the surrounding valleys and mountains, a little later we would be surrounded by thick clouds that would make us to feel that the sky has descended in the valleys and as if we were floating in the sky.

We reached the top of the mountain and had to climb around 500 steps before reaching the Mullayanagiri temple. As we came out of the vehicle it was too cold and there was such a strong gust of wind with clouds that we felt as if we would be swept away by the sheer speed of the wind that was hissing like an angry king Cobra. We did not dare to go up to the temple. But the experience that we had at this point was just out of the world. On the way back half way through we visited the Shitalyyana Matha.

From Mullayanagiri we proceeded to Baba Budangiri which is famous for Guru Dattatreya Baba Budan Swamy Darga. It has been venerated by both the Hindus and the Muslims. There is a laterite cave believed to have been sanctified by the residence of Dattatreya Swami as well as Hazarat Shah Janab Allah Magatabi also known as Baba Budan. In this cave the worship is conducted by a fakir and the annual 'jatra' or 'urs' is attended by both Hindus and Muslims with great devotion.

Baba Budangiri has the distinction of being the birth place of coffee in India. According to historical tradition, Baba Budan smuggled seven seeds of coffee from Mecca while he was on a pilgrimage and sowed these seeds in his garden near a cave in Chandragiri way back in 1670.

From Baba Budangiri we proceeded further up to a distance of around three kilometres to a natural waterfall known as Manikyadhara Falls. This place is also considered to be sacred for both Hindus and Muslims. It is one of the main attractions of Baba Budangiri. A set of stairs lead down to the bottom of the waterfall. It is said that the fall does not get drained during the summer. The spot also provides a splendid view of the surrounding natural beauty, while the mist covered hills and cool breeze add to the splendour of the sight. People believe that bathing in this fall can cure the ailments and both Hindu and Muslim devotees take a bath here since they consider it to be sacred. After the bath, the devotees leave their clothes and wear new ones.

On our return journey, we halted at Gavigal Gandi and climbed a small hillock from where we could have a view of the surrounding area in all directions with all its splendour. The scenery was mesmerizing. Being the monsoon season, the rainy clouds interfered with our viewing and interrupted my efforts to take the pictures of the beautiful valleys, mountain peaks and the habitats lying across. Throughout our sightseeing journey, the common factor was the coffee estates at the bottom of the mountain ranges and by the roadsides.

After lunch, we decided to explore the city in the afternoon. The first major stop was the Mahatma Gandhi Park situated on a small hillock, locally called 'Rathnagiri Bore' located on the northern side of Chikmagalur town. It has become quite a hot spot for the local people and tourists. It gives the most beautiful sight of Mullayanagiri on the back drop with ever-changing natural scenario. The Garden has beautifully designed pathways and lush green lawns on either side with a variety of beautiful flowers and ornamental plants.

On the way to the top, one can see the toy train track, a lotus pond, the amphitheatre and the Nehru Rose Garden with as many as 250 varieties of rose plants. One of the major attractions is the telescopic view the contours of Baba Budangiri hills on one side and the city of Chikmagalur on the other. With a variety of more than 300 species of plants and trees, the Mahatma Gandhi Park is a must to any tourist visiting Chikmagalur. Though one can see the fort-like construction nearby meant to be a prison, it is not yet commissioned and looks like a deserted place.

We visited few other places such as the Infant Jesus Shrine run by the Capuchin Fathers, Holy Cross Hospital and St. Joseph’s Boys High School, with which Fr. Valerian was associated as teacher and later as a Principal for 28 years. By the time we returned to the Cathedral, it was 7 PM.

The town of Chikmagalur offers unending vistas of mountains, streams, and coffee and pepper plantations. A number of rivers, such as Bhadra, Hemavathi, Tunga, Netravathi and Vedavathi, originate in the hills surrounding the town.

There are still more places of tourist interest in the Chikmagalur district that we were unable to visit due to the paucity of time. These places include Kemmana Gundi, Kallathigiri Falls, Mutthodi and Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Shringeri, etc. Those who are interested in history can visit Beluru in Hassan district which is hardly 23 kilometres from Chikmagalur.

Next day, early morning at 6.30 am we boarded the KSRTC bus back to Udupi. By the time we reached Charmadi Ghats it was quite bright and the view of the deep valleys, rising mountain tops, floating clouds, wet trees and green forests adequately compensated our failure to savour the beauty of nature while we were on our way to Chikmagalur. As we came down to the base of the Western Ghats and began to move further in Konkan, i felt the wonders of nature, be in Konkan or Ghats or in Malnadu. Though i was told that any season other than monsoon would be a good time for having a clear view of the mountain side and Malnadu, I would always prefer to be in the cradle of nature when the life giving rains pour from the skies.

Also see:

by Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Mumbai
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Comment on this article

  • Anthony. K. R, chikmagalur

    Thu, Jan 01 2015

    No words to describe beauty of chikmagalur. I am the native of ckm district residing near kemmannugundi andkallathigiri working at st.joseph's school. Thanks a lot.


    Thu, Aug 27 2009

    Thank you very much for describing the nature''s beauty specially our great Chikmagalur. It''s a really a superb place, one has to see atleast for one time.

  • Donald Pinto, Chickmaglure/Abu-Dhabi

    Thu, Aug 27 2009

    Mr Kumar A udyavara/canada, if you log on you will get many resorts.S M Krishna our Minister has his own resort SERAI, or you can check Green valley Koppa.Wish you good luck enjoy.

  • Premalatha, Mangalore/Jappinamogaru

    Thu, Aug 27 2009

    Thanks for your beautiful article

  • Premalatha, Mangalore/Jappinamogaru

    Thu, Aug 27 2009

    Thanks for your beautiful article

  • Francis Fernandes, Chickmaglur / Muscat

    Wed, Aug 26 2009

    Thank you very much Dr. Eugene for the wonderful article on Chickmaglur. I have travelled the route explained in detail by you many times and remember every detail.One has to visit Chickmagalur to understand and experience its real beauty.

  • Donald Pinto, Chickmaglure/Abu-Dhabi

    Wed, Aug 26 2009

    Mr.Satish Rao M, Puttur/Mumbai,If you log on you will get many resorts.S M Krishna our Minister has his own resort SERAI, or you can check Green valley Koppa.Wish you good luck enjoy.

  • John Pereira, Kulshekar, M''lore/Ghatkopar, Mumbai

    Wed, Aug 26 2009

    I was happy to read the latest Travelogue by Dr. Eugene D''Souza on his visit to Chikmagalur. Since the visit coincided with the Monsoon, I understand it was all the more enchanting. I remember that in olden days the main journey route to Mangalore was via Kadur or Birur and then Via Chikmagalur through either Charmadi Ghat of Agumbe Ghat of Malnad.

    As a schoolboy, in the 1960''s, I used to go to Mangalore either via Chikamagalur or by Madras train with a Mangalore bogie attached to it via Arkonam. I remember while going to and fro via Chikamagalur, we used to always halt there for lunch before proceeding to Mangalore via the Malnad ghats or to Bombay via the narrow guage train via Kadur or Birur to Pune and then onward to Bombay.

    Anyway, congrats to Eugenebab for this excellent article with a tinge of History and also reviving my childhood memories of my journeys to/fro Mangalore. One must also not forget that Indira Gandhi contested from Chikmagalur once and she won against an ex-CM of Karnataka.

  • kumar A udyavara/canada,

    Wed, Aug 26 2009

    Thank you Dr.Eugene D''souza..Awesome article and breathtaking pics..could anyone recommend any tourist rest homes or hotels to stay? thank you!

  • Satish Rao M, Puttur/Mumbai

    Tue, Aug 25 2009

    Hats off to Dr.Eugene D''Souza. Chikkamagaloor along with Kodagu and Shimoga are really Paradise on Earth.These three Dts.are still not fully given full publicity by our Govt.Tourism Board in Karnataka.(Unfortunately......who is there to highlight) 0

  • J M Bhandary, Mangalore/ USA

    Mon, Aug 24 2009

    Dr. D''Souza, A wonderful article with beautiful pictures. All of your articles are very interesting.Chickmagaluru district is a nature lover''s paradise and you have described them well. Last October, I traveled in Chickmagaluru visiting Coffeee Estate in Koppa, Kuvempu Museum in Kuppalli and Sringeri on the banks of the river Tunga. Then, I proceeded to Agumbe ghat to descend down to our coastline. It was nature at it''s best all along. There is a link to my article on this trip in my blogspot " tuluva1". Looking forward to seeing more of your travelogues.

  • Antony Crasta, Mangalore/Sydney Australia

    Mon, Aug 24 2009

    Mr.Balakrishna T.Shetty : These comment columns are provided by the Publisher (Daijiworld) to give an opportunity to the readers to express their opinion - good and/or bad - and I have the freedom to do so, which I have done. Recently, we have had so many articles on the subject not only by Dr.Eugine, but also other authors, and hence, my earlier reaction. While I have expressed what I personally felt I have also complimented Dr. Eugine on his article. By the way Mr.Shetty, thanks for your suggestion that I write the articles on different subjects myself. I wish I could consider your suggestion, but sadly, I can`t because I don`t have the talent, gift and capacity to write, and that`s how my comments originated.

  • jude dsouza, pune

    Tue, Aug 25 2009

    Very good,very informative, beautifull pictures on our small town.Thanks to Dr Dsouza and Fr valerian castelino our teacher. jude dsouza & family pune

  • Max & Jessie Rasquinha, Mangalore/Houston, Tx

    Mon, Aug 24 2009

    What a beautiful and positive way to nerrate our "Maathra Bhoomy" and encourage many other tourists to visit India and enjoy the God-given beauty of nature. Both the scenic drives of Charmady Ghady as well as Shiradi Ghadi are worth conquering, but the roads need be broadened and upgraded. With so much of daily traffic back and forth, these highways need constant maintenance and upkeep. The green green landscape surrounded with mountains, water falls and green fields added with occasional scenes of elephants, monkeys and long snakes crossing the narrow roads is fantastic experience indeed.

    We took both our sons after 20 years and they were amazed to witness the progress and prosperity of Mother India and they realized why we love India so much. So long as our government can remain conscious of the safe and secured road conditions, our tourism will flourish and our country will always remain dear to us for as many frequent visits to enjoy and for as many Dollars and kind gestures to pass hands.

  • Balakrishna T. Shetty, Palladakody/Mangalore/Riyadh

    Mon, Aug 24 2009

    Hello Mr.Antony Crasta, Mangalore/Sydney Australia to be honest, why can’t try yourself to write some different articles? Dr.Eugine is a lover of nature, so he is interesting to write about nature, climate, floods, tourism and what he wishes. Try to encourage anyone, if you can but please don’t try to disappoint them one who has interested in writing. Respected Dr.Eugine… it’s very beautiful article, I have felt like I am in Chikamagaluru, keep it up.

  • premi dsilva, chikmagalore

    Mon, Aug 24 2009


    thanks a lot Dr Eugene D''souza for your beautiful article about the beauty of Chikmagalur.

  • John Pinto , Chickmagalur / Doha

    Mon, Aug 24 2009

    You are right Mr Flavian, Chickmagalur is Swizerland Of India. Only difference is Swizerland is made known through out the world by Europeans where as Chickmagalur''s beauty is not known to many people, in fact it is the best place on earth who Enjoy nature .

  • flavian, chikmagalur/banaglore

    Mon, Aug 24 2009

    Great article. If you cannot afford switzerland try chikmaglur its worth seeing this place . Fr valerian was one of the best teacher we had

  • Siddik Azad, Chickmagalore.K.S.A

    Mon, Aug 24 2009

    Thank you so much for your article Dr. Eugene.Indeed we are fortunate,where nature is blessed us with its Mesmerizing beauty.

  • Donald Pinto, Chickmaglure/Abu-Dhabi

    Mon, Aug 24 2009

    Thanks for this article, I am sure the explanation is not sufficient about Chickmaglure nature we should go & stay & enjoy it, LOVE CKM. Fr Valerian , was my pet English teacher ,

  • Lavina Jagtiani, Kuwait/Bajpe

    Mon, Aug 24 2009

    Great Dr. D''Souza, I am over excited to read your article and it reminded me my childhood vacation days with my cousins in Chickmangalore. wonderful ! keep it up.

  • Nolda, Udupi / Mumbai

    Mon, Aug 24 2009

    I am also a nature lover and has visited chikmagalur but unfortunately, I was small. Dr. Eugene D'' Souza your beautiful description of the nature has created a desire in me to re-visit the town and savour the nature''s beauty. Beautiful pictures they are witnessing India''s beauty.

  • yakub chakmakki/dubai, chakmakki/Kottigehar

    Mon, Aug 24 2009

    On a hot weather in Dubai it is chill to have a nice feelings, memories of our past feelings when we are walking in the street of Kottigehar,Bankal and chakmakki.Thanks lot

  • Antony Crasta, Mangalore/Sydney Australia

    Mon, Aug 24 2009

    While I have been recently reading and enjoying your various travelogues and articles on nature, climate, floods, tourism and places of interest, etc. accompanied therein the beautiful photography as well, with due respect to you Dr. Eugine, to be honest, I am getting a bit bored and tired of savouring these routine stories.

    You have such an extensive life experience and wonderful gift of writing, how about your views and/or contributions on some different issues, say, present family set up, life and important social systems, values and religious habits of people, specially Catholics in and around Mangalore how they differ now, say, from the past 60 to 70 years.

  • Richi Fernandes, Muscat

    Mon, Aug 24 2009

    Dear Sir It was a nice article and more nice to note that after years of hectic work you have at last started enjoying your retired life. All the best and waiting to read your next article

  • Francis Lobo, Bejai,Mangalore

    Sun, Aug 23 2009

    I remember travelling through these places a year back.Motoring the Babu Budan hills in itself a adventure.Moving around the beautiful western Ghats hills and Kemmannagundi made me wonder the creation of god.The hills were so beautiful and unspoilt.Returning to Mangalore through the Kalasa-Kudremukh route surrounded by beautiful hills and cool breeze made me to love nature than the concrete jungle we live in

  • Stany Lobo, Bajal Mangalore

    Sun, Aug 23 2009

    Dr. Eugen D''souza I respect you because you remind me again some place and ghat section during my visit during 1974-1975 for my company work.I am eager to read like these article MANU BAHRAIN

  • lawrence d''souza, balur,mudigere.conakryguinea

    Sun, Aug 23 2009

    Dr.Eugene d''souza.thanx for covering our "beautiful ghatta"and thnx to daiji world.chikmaglur is a beautiful district in karnaataka.but,wheneve i visit this place,really feel bad coz of the bad roads...busstands..toilets.if karnataka govt spends money on this,deffinatly it will a tourist hub .dr.eugene d''souza...if u visit next time,don''t forget to see the sunset in "Augumbe ghat"and kudremukh...kelgur tea factory..srinigeri temple..Malayamurtha in Kottighera..and Kudrahabbi in near balehonnur..

  • Vijay Vas, Chikmagalur / Dubai

    Sun, Aug 23 2009

    Thanks a lot for such a wonderful article. You have explored Chikmagalur superbly. Thanks to our dear Rev. Fr. Valerian Castelino, for inviting guests to our place to show the real beauty of Chikmagalur. Mr. Eugene D’Souza, you can again visit Chikmagalur, during our availability at Chikmagalur, to view the rest of the parts that you have missed. There are many more places to visit. That time, it shall be our invitation to you. We pray for Fr. Valerian Castelino’s good health.

  • Hanif Kemmara, Kemmara / Saudi

    Sun, Aug 23 2009

    We always enjoy reading Dr. Eugene D’Souza''s articles about nature in the Daiji World. The article reminded my travels to Chickmagaluru and beauty of Ghats and plantations etc. Good one.

  • Frexy Pinto, Surathkal/Angola/Dubai

    Sun, Aug 23 2009

    Good to hear,see and recall about Chickmagalur. Fr Valerian Castelliono was our English teacher and always showed right path to the students. He must have forgotten to show his "Chapatti betta" which he used to keep in his pocket. Lilly Pinto and fly always remembers Fr. Valerian for his helping hand .We wish him good health and long life.

  • Borewell Puttaka, Laxmi nagar Uppinangady

    Sun, Aug 23 2009

    Very beautiful scenery.malnadu is always attractive place in all this season is specially amazing.thank you Dr.Eugene D.Souza and Daiji

  • Shridhara Achar, Puttur/ Bangalore

    Sun, Aug 23 2009

    Dr. D`souza, your beautiful article has taken us with you to the picturisque Malnad, the cradle of nature, as you have rightly put it. Yes, Malenadu is pride of Karnataka, besides our coastal region which is blessed with nature`s bounty. And the pictures you have taken are wonderful.

  • John Pinto, chickmagalur/ Qatar

    Sun, Aug 23 2009

    Great work by Dr Eugene D''souza , Thanks for your beautiful article about the beauty of Chickmagalur. Fr Valerian was Our school teacher who used to appreciate the beauty of nature . Enjoying nature Beauty is also A great Gift from God . We wish Fr Valerian good health .

  • sujithpolali, polali,k s a

    Sun, Aug 23 2009

    Good pictures.  Thank you daiji team & Dr Eugence Dousa

  • vincent pinto, BELTHANGADY/DOHA QATAR

    Sun, Aug 23 2009

    Good to see nature beauty. Keep it up Dr Eugene D’Souza.

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