A change in weather was much welcome after the balmy, humid time spent at the coast. The yearning to traverse the twists and turns of Charmady was quite strong. Instead of the straight route via Kudremukha – Kalasa and to Mudigere, the chosen path to reach our amiable home-stay was Karkala - Bajagoly - Ujjire - Charmady Ghat - Kottigehara - Mudigere - Belur road - KR Pete - Smarika Farms, covering 160 kilometres.
This mountain road comes alive in Monsoon with water cascading at the roadside flowing as scintillating waterfalls. By December, only a few of them survived to charm us. The incredible landscape, from vantage points, compelled us to stop, despite the boards announcing not to take photographs or selfies. The ascent to the Western Ghats begins after crossing the bustling traffic of Ujjire. Omelette from a non-descript restaurant right after the town perked up our energy levels for the road ahead. MalnadCafé is a customary stop when in the area. Based in Banakal, 5km after Kottigehara towards Belur, they serve scrumptious akki rotti with fresh filter coffee. The cordial owner Chandan is warm and welcoming. They are expanding the venture, and construction for a homestay is underway. Feeling at home in this part of Western Ghats – maybe because we lived in Kudremukha for 6 months, we were thrilled to be back in the familiar territory.
Smarika Farms, located amidst the coffee and pepper plantation, is a short 5-minute drive from the settlement of KR Pete. The place offers various accommodation facilities targeted at both larger and smaller groups. The skilled chef who hails from a nearby locale prepares delicious meals. The kind owner Sanjay is passionate about hospitality. One of the treasured routes is Chikmagalur – Aldur – Koppa, where a family-run Harsha Café dishes out unrivalled Neer Dose. Another obligatory pit stop we never miss when in Chikmagalur.
Moving on, we settled on the route suggested by the locals to Mutthodi. Covering 150 kilometres, the day’s ride was: Smarika Farms - Aldur - Magodu – Kanathi Lake - Mallandur - Muthodi Nature Camp - Mallandur - Chikamagalur - KR Pete - Smarika Farms. The unceasing steep path lead us to a serene spot, abundant with greenery, and the reflection of which was seen in the tranquil water of the lake. Time stood still while we basked in the placidness of nature. When we joined the main Mallandur road, the dizzying twists and turns gave way to wider roads. Certain spots in the last few kilometres of the route inside the forest are narrow and miserable. You will emerge at a junction that takes you to Dattapeetha once you cross the nature reserve.
After a restful night and interesting conversations with Sanjay, we bid adieu to Smarika Farms. Covering a distance of 2000 kilometres, the momentous road trip ended with our return to Namma Bengaluru.