The Legend of Chikkamagaluru

The Legend of Chikkamagaluru

chikmagalur, Chikkamagaluru, coffee estate

The mention of Chikkamagaluru or Chikmagalur brings to mind hills peeping through the clouds, pleasant weather, resplendent natural beauty and coffee estates. But, did you know that “Chikkamagluru” is actually an amalgam of three Kannada words which literally translate to Younger Daughter’s Town? And, the name of the neighboring town “Hiremagaluru” means Elder Daughter’s Town in Kannada?  

Chikka- Younger  +   Magalu - Daughter   +   Uru - Town = Chikkamagaluru

Hire/ Hiriya- Elder +  Magalu - Daughter   +   Uru - Town = Hiremagaluru

chikmagalur, Chikkamagaluru, coffee estate


More often than not Chikkamagaluru is mispronounced as Chikka- Mangaluru [Little Mangalore], in case you are wondering Mangalore is 150 Kms away and it takes roughly four hours to get there from Chikkamagluru. Now that we have this piece of information out of the way, let us get to the interesting story about how these towns derived their names. 

Just like most stories, this one too begins with the famous line- Once upon a time….

Once upon a time there lived a King who had two wonderful daughters. He loved both his daughters dearly. Days became years and the King’s daughters grew of marriageable age. 

When his elder daughter got married, the King gifted the newly married couple a town which to this date is known as Hiremagaluru. As time passed the town grew and became prosperous. The King was absolutely delighted. 

At the time of his younger daughter’s wedding, the King gifted her a town close to Hiremagaluru. He hoped his daughters would live close by and their bond would grow stronger. 

 ….. And they lived happily ever after. But, did they? 

According to another version of the story, 

Once upon a time there was a King who had two daughters. The King absolutely adored his elder daughter. When it was time for her to get married, he wanted to gift her a town to call her own. Since the elder daughter was his favorite he gave her a large, prosperous town and it came to be known as Hiremagaluru. The newly married couple were thrilled. 

At the time of the younger daughter’s wedding, he gave the couple a smaller town which was nothing more than a cluster of a few houses surrounded by the dense forests at the foothills of Mullayanagiri. The town gifted to the younger daughter came to be known as Chikkamagaluru. 

Although we can’t be sure of how happy the couple were with the aforementioned arrangement and the circumstances that lead to it, the one thing we do know for sure is this is not the end of the story for a quaint, little town that created a niche for itself in the world of coffee. 

Both these towns belong to the fertile region of Malnad - A land blessed with lush green forests, unmatched natural beauty, a wide variety of flora and fauna, fertile land and abundant rainfall. The land is teeming with endemic wild flowering plants, mushrooms, insects and reptiles. As luck would have it, a Sufi saint called Baba Budan planted 7 coffee beans on the slopes of the hills around Chikkamagluru. This event marked Chikkamagaluru as the birth place of Indian Coffee, a unique distinction among all coffee growing regions of India. 

Today, the town gifted to the younger daughter serves as the headquarters to the district named after it. Its produce of coffee and spices like cardamom and pepper are some of the finest in the world. Its natural beauty attracts visitors in flocks. Its forests are a safe haven for some endangered wild animals. But, the crowning glory of Chikkamagaluru is its cuisine and the warmth of its people. 

It is hard to say if the coffee derives its identity from this town or the town from its fantastic coffee. Either way, the world knows Chikkamagluru as The Land of Coffee

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