A planter’s pride – Chikmagalur is the paradise.
Chikmagalur is a paradise for a nature lover, a bliss for a writer, and a delight for a coffee connoisseur; and, yes, not the least the pride of a planter. It’s a perfect summer retreat for a relaxing break from the monotonous routine, and when I feel the need of fresh breath of air to revive me into myself I head to malnad.
Hence today we hit the road for a trip to Chikmagalur and this is not my first trip to this place as I have spent some wonder years here inmalnad. We reached there late evening as the sun was setting and the birds were all going to their abode and the beautiful, mystical hills nestled together looked sun-kissed and the blanket of greenery as far as I could see was a treat to my eyes.
The morning was so beautiful as I woke up to the pitter patter of the occasional showers, the whole atmosphere was oh so green amidst the blue open skies. The window pane still had the droplets of rains telling the romantic saga of night. I woke up to the aroma of freshly brewed filter coffee and felt so very rejuvenated and happy.
Chikmagalur is like heaven and if I chance to come here I usually stay in a home stay. The property here was a coffee plantation and amidst it was the bungalow of the owner where we stayed in a cosy room. The floor was wooden and the ceilings high with a red brick terrace that slopes down to make it easy for rains to fall off since rains are very heavy here and hence the name Malnad, thereby implying the region of rains.
I could see the arica trees, the coffee below it, the teak leaves brushing against each other with every gush of wind, the nature seemed like freshly bathed and so green as if singing to the tunes of wind. The pepper climbers were creeping up the trees and there were occasional jackfruit trees here n there. We were taken for a tour of the plantation and explained extensively about the spices and coffee, when does a coffee plant bloom its white flowers that look like drops of frost on the plants, though this is not yet the season of flowers. Now taste the local coffee with me as the aroma of it lingers on like the sweet memories of your first love. The birthplace of coffee in India is Chikmagalur and as history tells it is the arab pilgrim known as Baba Budan who smuggled seven seeds of coffee from Mecca, and sowed coffee seeds at the same hill which is known after him. These are the local varieties of coffee
- Panduranga coffee
- Arabica coffee– this is light copper in colour and this is what you would love when you are camping on the misty mountains of the western ghats. This gives an unforgettable kick and makes you alive.
- Vanilla coffee where vanilla beans are locally dipped into the coffee decoction and traditionally it is served with black jaggery in black coffee. Mmm the addiction to vanillicious coffee is out of this earth.
- The blended coffee is a perfect mix of arabica 90% and robusta 10% . The beans are roasted to exemplary perfection. This is best used in cold coffee.
- Mysore coffee is the aromatic one, here the blend is with Mysore coffee beans which makes it unique.
We had a sumptuous breakfast which was typical to malnad, some kanchipuram idlis, Mysore bondas and set dosas with all sort of chutneys, tomato, coconut, peanut, and ginger.
Afterwards we went out to bike around. The whole day was full of fun activities. And then afternoon we left for baba budangiri hills. This is a hill and we drove down n then trekked up to the top of the hill to view the beautiful valleys of western ghats. The sunset is picturesque from this place so it is worth the climb and there is a ‘devasthana’ , ie, a temple where we attended the Pujo and started back. The trek was beautiful although this is not the season for trekking anymore since rains have started and leeches in the season to come will be in plenty.
We returned to our home stay where our hostess had arranged a beautiful spread of dinner for us. It was typical malnad cuisine, we relished on Kerala red rice, some rice balls called as ‘kodalu’, ‘hirekai palya’ ( ridge gourd veg), chicken local style preparation, and sambhar. The salad, rasam, and curd is a staple accompaniment. The sweet was ‘shavige’ ( vermicelli)n sweetened coconut milk along with it.
After the dinner we walked a mile, the drizzle had started again. A day well spent away from the chaos of city life.
The next morning we were starting back and on the way had planned to go to the Shanti falls. The Kemmanagundi is very beautiful too and an ideal place for a day picnic but monsoon season should be avoided if you are travelling to Chikmagalur. Thus hence we arrived at the Shanti falls where you trek and reach amidst the lush forest. As I reached there I splashed water on my face, it felt so good, I was back to life sorrounded with greenery of spectacular Kemmenagundi.
I perfectly had a lofty day on the mountains of Chikmagalur in the plantation and expect the following mornings to rush in the beautiful spectrums to my vision.
June 28, 2016