Inspired by the pictures of striking green hills from my friends’ trips, I decided to take my brothers to Chikmagalur during the first week of January. Apparently, that wasn’t the right time for lush greenery. So all we got was sun-dried grasses and flaring sun, both en-route and on the hills. Nevertheless there were some stunning views and beautiful browns. On day two, we decided to chuck other places in Chikmagalur from our list and visit Belur on the way back to Bangalore, a choice we didn’t regret.
To finish the 3 KM trek to Mullayanagiri (from Seethalyanagiri), we had to ascend and descend multiple hills and climb around 350 steps. The winding trail was well cut and we had no difficulty finding the course. The view got better and better as we trekked up, sun-dried grasses dotted with patches of green and wild flowers here and there. Once atop the hill, we got a spectacular view of the Western Ghats. A small Shiva temple marks the highest peak of Karnataka, Mullayanagiri, which is about 1900 meters above sea level.
Jhari falls was within a private estate not accessible by road directly. We took a jeep for hire and before we reached the falls, we were painted red by the mud on the path. Although not very voluminous, the layered falls were beautiful; the charming rainbow is to be credited for adding an artistic touch to the Falls. The water was extremely cool, the falls had a decent height and there were green hills all around. But the falls were too crowded with tourists taking a dip in the water and hence unclean at the lower layers.
It was almost sunset time when we reached Baba Budangiri. The panoramic view of the Western Ghats from Baba Budangiri was breath-taking. I could imagine how much more beautiful these hills can look during on-season months. We spent a few minutes there and went back to the hotel.
I have been to many temples, both in North and South India, but this one is truly an architectural masterpiece that surpasses them all. I was awestruck by the detailed carvings on the soapstone temple walls. From the Hoysala emblem (the warrior Sala slaying a lion), Shilabalikas and Gods and Goddesses to miniature versions of elephants, lions and horses, each was beautifully sculpted. The pillars and floral designs and the shrine were equally mesmerizing. There are two smaller temples on either side but the main temple is undoubtedly the best. This UNESCO World Heritage site, which was built to commemorate the victory of the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana over the Cholas of Talakad, is definitely one of the best Hoysala temples. It’s a must visit place; maybe I will let the pictures do some talking!
Stay and costs:
The transportation charges (cab) were 8000 bucks, excluding toll. The jeep to Jhari Falls cost INR 1000. We stayed in Hotel Vishwas Residency; the place is very close to bus stand and affordable (1000 bucks for a three people room per day). Recommended for budget stay! The journey from Bangalore via Hassan took nearly 5 hours( started early: at 6 AM). Our trip was in the first week of January but I think immediately after the monsoon is a better time to visit Chikmagalur. A two-three day trip is good enough to cover all the places. Do try to include Belur and Halebidu in your trip.