Guide to the greenscapes of Karnataka

As the cityscapes give way to landscapes, the different hues of green reveal itself in the verdant pockets of Karnataka_ the forests, hillocks, plantations and rivers. While the monsoons breathe life into the greens, most of the state’s greenscapes stay lush throughout the year.

Curated here is a set of pleasant hills and valleys in Karnataka that are sure to be a refreshing change.

Madikeri: Scotland of India.

Surrounded by the forested slopes of the Western Ghats is Madikeri, a quaint hill town in Karnataka with vast coffee plantations, lush forests and misty hills. This charming capital of Kodagu, situated at an elevation of 1525 meter, is known for its awe-inspiring scenery and splendid views. The bustling bazaar and cluster of red-roofed dwellings that have withstood the test of time adds character to the township. Kodagu, also called “Scotland of India” is lined with coffee plantations along the foothills of the misty mountains.

Chikkamagaluru: India’s pioneer in coffee cultivation.

Chikkamagaluru is a calm, serene town nestled in the Baba Budangiri hills. Thousands of tourists throng to the town owing to its picturesque landscape, cascades, wildlife sanctuary, pilgrim centers and coffee plantations. Chikkamagaluru, blessed with pleasant weather throughout the year, is a trekker’s delight due to its rugged mountain trails, numerous hills, valleys and freshwater brooks. The significance of the area also stems from the fact that coffee was planted here for the first time in India. The coffee museum here, surrounded by lush plantations, showcases the interesting history, processes and varieties of coffee.

Agumbe: The Cherrapunji of the South.

Agumbe is a tiny village in Shivamogga district of the Malnad region in Karnataka which receives the heaviest rainfall in South India. It is home to many rivers, streams and waterfalls and is the perfect place to experience spectacular sunsets, sparkling streams and verdant vistas. Situated at an elevation of 826 meter, Agumbe provided the perfect setting for the cinematic version of RK Narayan’s novel Malgudi Days. Forested trails that lead to a jungle pond called Emkal Kere, a hillock called Nishani Gudda and Barkana Falls are popular hikes in the region. Due to the prevalence of King Cobra, Romulus Whitaker, the famous herpetologist, chose Agumbe to establish the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station as a center to study the reptile.

Kudremukh: Peak of serenity.

The word “Kudremukh” means “horse face”, as the side of the mountain resembles the face of a horse. The hillocks located 95 kilometer south-west of Chikkamagaluru town, overlooks the Arabian Sea and are adjoined to one another by deep valleys and steep precipices.The range is home to the third highest peak in Karnataka, a national park and popular trek routes. The hill station is also a pilgrim center, owing to the presence of many sacred ponds. The Ganga Moola in the Bhagawathi Forest where the three rivers Tunga, Bhadra and Netravati originate, the shrine to Goddess Bhagavathi and a 1.8 m high Varaha image inside a cave are the other attractions here.

Kemmangundi: Ooty of Karnataka.

The picturesque hill station of Kemmangundi is located at a height of 1434 meter above sea level. This was the summer retreat of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV and lies on the fringes of the Baba Budangiri range and offers a spectacular sunset view from the Raj Bhavan. Waterfalls, dams and lovely flora adorn the entire stretch of the Kemmanagundi trek. Jeep trips, safari tours, walking trips and picnics to the waterfalls are some of the key highlights, if you wish to spend a few days in and around the area.

Kodachadri: A serene and spiritual adventure.

The Kodachadri hill is a part of the Western Ghats and forms a lovely backdrop to the famous Kollur Mookambika Temple. Famed for the glorious sunrise and sunsets, this hill range is part of the Mookambika Temple Nature Reserve. The Kodachadri peak (at an altitude of 1343 meter above sea level) is a five-hour trek. Trekking in Kodachadri can be an adventurous and spiritual experience at the same time. On the western side, the hill descends steeply for about 1220 meter, and joins the forests of Udupi district. The trek up to the ancient temple from this point involves a climb of 4 kilometers through thick jungle trails. Kollur is an ideal base from which to explore the hills.

Nandi Hills:Enchanting cloud beds.

Nandi Hills, also known as Nandidurg or Nandi Betta is an ancient hill fortress situated in the Chikkaballapur district of Karnataka. Perched at a height of 1445 meters above sea level, the cool breeze and scenic environment of Nandi Hills makes it a popular weekend getaway. It was the favorite summer retreat of Tipu Sultan and the British. The sunrise amidst the cloud beds from atop the hill edges is a magical experience. Nandi Hills shot to prominence during the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in the 1960s and the leaders of the SAARC countries in the 1980s.