Chikmangluru - A Romantic trip turned into pious one 😃
Updated: Nov 10, 2021
Anniversaries are special, our 9th anniversary was coming up and I was looking for some quiet place to spend 3-4 days. Various places crossed my mind and being a mountain person I choose Chikmangluru. It's not like I don't like beaches but mountains have a special place in my heart. Chikamangluru is a beautiful hill station situated in the state of Karnataka.
The nearest airport is Mangalore Airport which is around 150 kms from Chikmangluru and the nearest railway station is Kadur which is just 40 kms from Chikmangluru.
So I immediately checked up the nearest railway station to Chikmangluru and booked our train tickets. Flight rates were high as it was a last minute plan, instead we preferred trains where our little one can climb up and down the berths and entertain himself. After getting confirmed tickets I searched for a driver on Google through just dial and got an awesome one. So he was supposed to pick us up, be with us throughout the journey and drop us at the railway station.
Ours was a 4 nights 5 days trip. We stayed 1 night at Belur and 3 nights at Chikmangluru. Our idea was to do some sight seeing and chill since we didn't want to make this trip a hectic one though we were in for a surprise ;-). We opted to first visit Belur & Halebidu and stay in Belur for one night instead of going to Chikmangluru and coming back for sight seeing. Belur is around 62 kms from Kadur Railway Station which takes one and half hour without any stops.
Note : Sight seeing in Chikmangluru is far away from each other and in different directions so you need to have a vehicle at all times.
Day 1 :
Our journey began on Thursday night when we boarded our train Sharavati Express from CST, Mumbai at 9:30 p.m. and reached Kadur Railway Station the next day i.e. on Friday at around 5:17 p.m. The train journey was convenient as we had a good night’s sleep and also because unlike Mangalore airport, Belur was less drive from the railway station. Our coordinator and driver were waiting for us at the railway station. It was October and yet it was raining heavily in Kadur. Since it was raining our driver hurriedly carried our luggage and all of us sat in the car. Our coordinator Mr. Vishwajeet was originally from Kadur but was staying in Hyderabad for employment. He introduced our driver and told us that the driver can speak only Kannada so if we have any doubt, he will be available on call at all times. Okaaay, now it was a bit inconvenient but it always works that way in south India. 😜
We dropped our coordinator at his Kadur office and continued our journey to Belur. Unable to speak Hindi or English our driver did not speak unless required. We reached Belur at around 7 p.m. and showed the driver Google maps to reach the desired hotel. He was a simple, sweet and smiley guy and I have to agree that even though we did not know each other's language, he was good at communication; he knew exactly what we wanted. We had booked a hotel named Vranda Belur near Yagachi dam. It is a budget hotel and fine for a one night stay. The Hotel is nothing like shown in the pictures, I mean yes it is huge but not maintained. When we reached all the lights of the hotel were switched off, only the restaurant was working. We felt as if we were staying in an abandoned place, just then a couple entered the hotel and we were relived that we were not alone. The staff put on the lights of the corridors and room as we entered. We freshened up and went to the restaurant to have our dinner. Food was average though the breakfast that we had next day was good. Typical south Indian dosa, idli and filter coffee. After Dinner we went to our room and immediately fell asleep.
Note: No good options to stay in Belur and therefore people prefer to stay at Chikmangluru and travel to Belur for sight seeing.
After having breakfast at the hotel we checked out and went to discover the ancient temple town of Belur. Our hotel was situated just besides Yagachi Dam so we first went to see the Dam. Not being a very famous tourist stop, it was less crowded and peaceful. Yagachi Dam was constructed in the year 2001 to meet the demands of drinking water to the town of Belur and nearby districts of Chikmangluru and Hassan.
Chennakeshava Temple, Belur
One of the most famous temples in the town of Belur is Chennakeshava Temple which literally means Handsome Keshava since Chenna means handsome in Kannada, the local language of Karnataka. The temple was built over three generations and took around 103 years to be completed. The temple is dedicated to lord Vishnu and one of the masterpieces of Hoysala Architecture and also a proposed UNESCO Site. The minute carvings on the temple of Mahabharata, Ramayana and Bhagavat Purana are worth observing. Our guide told us an interesting fact/story about the birth of the word 'Hoysala' and how the Hoysala dynasty came into existence. A young man named Sala, who saved his Jain guru,
Sudatta, by killing a tiger in an encounter near the temple of the goddess Vasantika. As the tiger approached the Guru & his disciple, Guru shouted the words "Hoy-Sala". The word 'Hoy' in the ancient Kannada language means 'Strike'. As you enter the temple, you can also find a statue of a man fighting a lion outside the temple. The temple is built in Soap Stone that the reason for some excellent carvings which give a 3 Dimensional effect. The carvings of the temple have different layers of carvings. The first layer at the bottom shows elephants for strength, the second layer of carvings show the lions signifying courage, the third layer of horses signifying agility.
Note: It is recommended to engage a guide to understand the complete history and minute details of the temple. The Guide charges are around Rs. 300/- and it takes around 1 hour to see the entire temple.
Halebidu Temple/Hoysaleshwara Temple is another Hoysala architecture temple built in 12th Century. The architecture of all Hoysala temples are more or less the same depicting Mahabharata, Ramyana and Bhagavat Purana but are very beautiful and mesmerizing. Hoysaleshwarar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is unique in its structure since it’s a twin-temple dedicated to Hoysaleswara and Santaleswara Shiva lingas, named after the masculine and feminine aspects, both equal and joined at their transept. It has two Nandi shrines outside, where each seated Nandi faces the respective Shiva linga inside. The temple has a huge garden area around and is worth visiting. The Monolithic structure of Nandi on the side of Hoysaleshwara temple is attractive piece of carving. The Halebidu temple has 11 layers of carvings compared to 7 layers in Belur. The temple in Halebidu has some of the kamasutra poses also similar to the ones of Khajurao.
Note: If you have visited Chennakeshawara Temple, no need to engage a guide again of this temple.
Veernarayana Temple, Belavadi
I personally loved this temple since it was less crowded and the approach road went through small lanes of a beautiful village named Belavadi in Chikmangluru district. The temple was built during the rule of the Hoysala Empire. Belavadi is said to be the place mentioned in Mahabharatha where Pandava prince Bheema killed the demon Bakasura and protected the village and its people. While the famous temples at Belur and Halebidu are known for their intricate sculptures, this temple is known for its architecture.
After Belur sightseeing we left for Chikmangluru, we started to climb the hill up the windy roads that went through beautiful tea plantations and the cool breeze made us open up the window and breathe in the fresh scent of trees. We reached our Homestay at Lunch time. Thotadahalli Homestay is situated inside a dense coffee plantation nestled in Mullayanagiri hills and is rated one of the best homestay’s in Chikmangaluru. The host Prakash and Pallavi, personally look after you and serve simple but yummy Malanad Cuisine for lunch. We had our lunch and checked into our room. Our plan was to sleep, laze around and read some books but our driver had other plans. He called us up and told us to get ready. Unwillingly we got ready and left for Mullayanagiri peak.
The weather was beautiful but as we started climbing up the mountain, it started getting dark and misty all around and our driver could not drive further due to low vision. We took a break 2 kms below the Mullayanagiri peak and got off to have a cup of Tea. It was super chilled up and we could not stay out for long. We dropped going to the peak since due to weather anyway we would have not been able to see anything from the peak above, so we took a U-Turn and came back to our
home stay. On reaching we had filter coffee and pakodas for snacks, followed by yummy dinner. Since we were out the whole day we asked our driver to wake us up late the next day, but he was adamant on taking us to Sringeri Mutt, which is 80 kms from Chikmanglur. We were really not inclined to see more temples but no matter how many times we told him "No", he used to smile and tell us to get ready early in the morning. At last we gave up and woke up early to head to Sringeri and he added 2 more temples on the way :-D. The driver and our home stay owner spoke to each other in Kannada and both recommended us to visit Annapoorneshwari temple at Horanadu, our home stay owner also gave us a contact in the temple to get instant Darshan since the temple is usually crowded. So we again set on our temple journey.
Day 3 :
One of the most serene places to see around Chikmagalur, the temple is settled on the banks of Bhadra River and surrounded by the greenery giving a serene feeling. The temple is dedicated to goddess Annapurna goddess of food (incarnation of goddess Parvati), so if you reach here at lunch time it is mandatory to have lunch in the temple which is simple but healthy. In the earlier times, it was a small temple but with time it was expanded and glorified. We had our lunch in the temple and left for our journey further.
The temple is situated in a small village named Kalasa and is dedicated to lord Shiva. It is a beautiful, quiet and serene temple giving a feeling of being at peace.
So at last we reached our desired destination, Sringeri Mutt or Sringeri Sharada Peetham. This beautiful temple is situated on the banks of River Tunga. It is one of the math (monastery) established by Adi Shankara dedicated to goddess Saraswati. It also has another temple of lord Shiva. The location of the temple is so beautiful that all the travel time and efforts we took to reach here were worth it.
We took a short halt for coffee just outside the temple and started our journey back to Chikmanglur.
We reached our home stay at dinner time, had our dinner and called it a day.
Day 4 :
Due to constant travelling we told our driver that we will cover some spots nearby and intent to avoid long distance travelling so that we get some time to relax and unwind. We got up late and left to visit Jhari falls/Buttermilk fall. Jeeps are available to go down to the waterfalls and get back up for Rs. 700/-. Since we were just 3 of us in the jeep, our driver also joined us to the waterfall. 10 minutes ride to the waterfall was through a muddy bumpy road and filled with adventure. Waterfall is a pretty one with a cafe besides to have tea and snacks overlooking the waterfall.
Note : Hebbe falls is much famous here but too crowded and therefore if you want to avoid crowd choose Jhari falls over Hebbe falls
Baba Bundangiri Hill and Temple
Baba Budangiri is a temple situated at the top of the Baba Budangiri hill and the location is absolutely amazing. It is believed that Baba Budangiri was a follower of Datta Maharaj and the temple/shrine has Hindu and Muslim devotees equally. The shrine is one of a kind with its cave structure and is worth visiting. After we left from the hill top we got stuck in traffic for nearly 1 hour at Jhari falls junction. Traffic is a major problem in Chikmangluru due to small roads and half the road being occupied by car parking.
We reached Chikmangluru City and had Butter dosa for lunch at Town Canteen. This is one of the best places to have dosas in Chikmanglur. Our next stop was a coffee museum but we came to know that it is closed on Monday. So we went back to our homestay and spent some leisure time in the peaceful coffee plantation.
Day 5 :
We had a quick morning stroll in the coffee plantation and left for our journey back to Mumbai as our train was scheduled to reach Kadur railway station at 10:12 am. I would specially like to recommend this homestay named Thotadahalli for travelers who like it peaceful since the home stay is quiet off the main road and deep into the plantation but it was worth the stay.
Though the trip was full of temples, they were indeed worth visiting and overall we loved the experience we had at Chikmanglur with beautiful scenery, weather and coffee plantation. Though we missed visiting some places like Bhadra wildlife sanctuary, Bhadra Dam and Coffee Museum, the trip was fulfilling one and we definitely had a lot of blessings coming our way considering the number of temples we visited throughout the trip on our 9th Anniversary.