Chasing clouds on Charmadi Ghat

Monsoon is the time to drive through the Western Ghats in Karnataka

If you like to drive in the rain and you love the mountains, the best place to visit is the Western Ghats. And, the best time to go is from June to October. Post-summer, the forests on the Western Ghats are rejuvenated by the rain. You can have the pleasure of driving under a green canopy, and you can reach for the clouds!

Many roads cut across the Western Ghats in Karnataka. One of the options is to set up base in Sakleshpur and drive on the Shiradi Ghat and the Charmadi Ghat. Total distance from-to the KSRTC Bus Stand in Sakleshpur is 175 km.

You can start from Sakleshpur at 6 am and head to Gundya via the Shiradi Ghat. On the way, there are many spots to stop, enjoy the view and take photographs. There are several tea stalls on the way. Or, you can have tea and breakfast at the Gundya check post, which is a popular pit stop among tourists and truckers, at the end of the ghat. About 17 km after the check post, take a right towards Dharmasthala and Ujire.

At Ujire, take the right towards Chikkamagaluru. The Charmadi Ghat begins after 11 km once you cross Kakkinje.

At the top of the ghat is Kottigehara where you can stop for tea and snacks, or even a meal. If you need a nice toilet, you should go further to Fresh Bean Cafe & Restaurant in Banakal. Also, it’s right next to a fuel station.

The Malnad Cafe
The Malnad Cafe in Banakal near Mudigere

Another 2 km away is The Malnad Cafe. Besides coffee and tea, they offer snacks, including akki rotti and neer dosa. I liked the akki rotti and puliyogere. The cafe includes a shop selling a lot of spices, pickles and, of course, coffee. They have a nice toilet.

Another 2 km away, you have Coffee Corner. It is located on the edge of a sharp turn. The cafe itself is nice, and is a good prop for photographs. The location is fantastic — it’s amidst a coffee estate. The view is easy on the eyes. You can get snacks, pickles, home-made wine, spices and coffee. I was not satisfied with the restroom, though. Well, you can’t have everything, can you!

Back on the road, once you reach Mudigere, take a right towards Belur. At Jannapura, which is 8 km away, take the right towards Hanbal and Sakleshpur.

Including stops for tea, snacks, lunch and photographs, you should be back in Sakleshpur by 4 pm.

I like Charmadi Ghat more than Shiradi, which seems like it has been tamed.

Charmadi Ghat valley view
Charmadi Ghat valley view. The road through this ghat connects Dakshina Kannada and Chikkamagaluru districts

On this route, the food options are limited to tea and snacks for the most part. For accommodation in and around Sakleshpur, you could try one of the coffee estates, some of which offer homestays. I hear these places are packed on weekends. Understandable, cos the number of options are limited. And, who would want to stay in a hotel in Sakleshpur town when you have the option of a coffee estate!

Itinerary suggestion

  1. KSRTC Bus Stand Sakleshpur – Gundya
  2. Gundya check post – 17 km – Right turn to Ujire
  3. Right turn at Ujire towards Mudigere (Chikkamagaluru Road)
  4. Right turn at Mudigere Canara Bank circle (towards Belur)
  5. Mudigere Canara Bank circle – 8 km – Jannapura
  6. Right turn at Jannapura (towards Hanbal and Sakleshpur)
  7. KSRTC Bus Stand Sakleshpur

Distance to Sakleshpur from nearby cities

  • Hyderabad – Sakleshpur — 800 km
  • Chennai – Sakleshpur — 600 km
  • Tiruchirapalli – Sakleshpur — 570 km
  • Dharwad – Sakleshpur — 385 km
  • Bengaluru – Sakleshpur — 220 km
  • Manipal – Sakleshpur — 180 km
  • Mysuru – Sakleshpur — 160 km

 

Happy driving

 

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