Chikmagalur is undoubtedly beautiful and a much less explored hill station in South India. Unlike many other commercialized hill stations in South India like Ooty or Kodaikanal, where it is very tiresome to find a place peaceful and without any buildings hindering our view; Chikmagalur is much better. This place is the major center of the coffee plantation in India.
Mullayanagiri, one of the highest in the Western Ghats is a major attraction here. But this time I ended up in another place, called Baba Budangiri, another mountain here which is only little shorter than Mullayanagiri. This place has a kind of mysticism attached to it. There are many stories related to Baba Budangiri like that of the saint who brought seven coffee seeds here for the first time from the city of Mocha.
So I had a long weekend, so with two of my friends, decided for a road trip from Chennai and it ended up in Chikmagalur. It was almost evening when we reached there, so tired and were looking for a place to stay. A cheap accommodation is what we were looking. Dialled many homestay numbers we got from the roadside advertising boards but didn’t get any positive response. Either they were full or couldn’t afford our pockets. Then, someone told that we can find more stay options in Baba Budangiri.
The road to Baba Budangiri is a climb and the condition was just not bad. It was getting dark, at one point the road became completely invisible due to heavy fog. On the way, saw a small village with few shops and we asked for any place to stay. Initially, they suggested some homestays which are quite expensive. When we told about our low budget, one person asked us to go to the dargah at Baba Budangiri top.
The fog was getting thicker on the way, it was pitch dark on both sides. Reached Baba Budangiri finally, there were few people on the streets. I came to know many things about this place once I reached there. The dargah is a famous pilgrim center related to a Sufi saint from the middle east, known to a direct disciple of Prophet Mohammed. Pilgrims visit here throughout the year. There were few shops (most of them selling offerings to the shrine), a couple of tea shops and a restaurant.
A person showed us the cottage, run by the dargah to provide accommodation for pilgrims. They are single rooms with an attached verandah. We were very happy with the rent and said okay immediately.
Early morning, started our hike. There were many roads going in different directions. We asked one person about which one to take. All are good trails and take whichever you want, that was the reply. We picked up a trail which goes to a waterfall. It goes almost parallel with the road. People have not yet started to come, so it was peaceful. The meadows are beautiful, green and wet. We can have a good view of the surrounding areas. There were many small flowers of different colors which took most of my time during the hike. The clouds, dark, were ready to bring the monsoon. I was expecting a rain.
The trail leads to the Manikyadhara waterfall, where there is a small shrine of another Sufi saint. The trail we were taking seemed to be the one pilgrims used before when there was no road. Found thick threads tied to the branches of most of the trees on the way. The belief is that tying threads will fulfill our prayers.
Later, vehicles started to appear on the roads, so kept a distance from them, took the trails which go far away from the roaring engines. I was completely dissolved in the beauty of this place. We got a friend, a dog was accompanying us from the beginning. He came with us till the waterfall and decided to take rest there.
The waterfall was crowded, not a place I wish to be. The way how some people coming to such places behaves is completely unacceptable for a person like me. The plastic they throw and the loud noise they make are disturbing. We need to learn a lot about respecting nature and our fellow travelers. Soon we left that chaos and went to look for a place far away from the crowd. And indeed we found it.
The valley and the mountains nearby were magnificent and enchanting. Soon we found out a trail that goes down to the valley and to a place which gives spectacular views. It was peaceful. We can see Mullayanagiri hills on the opposite side, there is a trail going from Bada Budangiri up to Mullayanagiri.
Baba Budangiri can be a religious place, but if you look beyond, you can definitely find so many amazing things out here. The trails are not difficult, you can walk over the mountains as much you want. The wild orchids are beautiful here, don’t miss them.
Few things to know about Baba Budangiri trek;
- Baba Budangiri is about 40 km from Chikmagalur town.
- Buses are there up to the dargah but very rare, the first bus will start from 7 AM from the Chikmagalur bus station. I would suggest not to rely on buses since the timing is not consistent. The best way to reach Baba Budangiri is by hiring a taxi
- You will find many homestays and accommodations on the way up to the dargah, either you can stay there or chose rooms near dargah.
- The stay in dargah is very cheap, rent is INR 300 for one night. Need to pay extra INR 80 for a set of mattress, pillow and blanket. It is a good option who wishes to travel cheap and a better way to understand what this place is all about.
- Ask for Mr. Ragu, to get the accommodations.
- There are several trekking trails all over this place and all are good. So it is your call.
- There are few shops near dargah, you will get basic things there.
- If you follow the road up, you can reach the Manikyadhara waterfalls and trek to Mullayanagari peak.
- The Manikyadhara waterfall which is about 4 km from dargah. It will take around 90 minutes to reach there if you are hiking at a decent pace.
- It is better to reach the waterfall as early as possible to avoid the crowd.
- There are few shops and tea stalls near the waterfall also.
- There are many view points and many waterfalls on the way between Chikmagalur and Baba Budangiri.
- You can also try staying in any homestays inside coffee plantations.
So have a nice time in Chikmagalur. Explore as much as possible and make good memories. Don’t forget to keep the place clean and pure. Don’t litter the trails, keep a bag with you to carry back the plastics. Small things we do today can change the future.
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