The diocese of Chikmagalur was erected on Nov. 16, 1963, by Pope Paul VI with territory taken from the diocese of Mysore. Initially, it covered the three districts of Chikmagalur, Hassan and Shimoga. Bishop Alphonsus Mathias served as the first bishop. The district of Shimoga was detached in January 1989 to form part of the newly erected diocese of Shimoga.
Nestled at 3,400ft in the Sahyadri mountains, Chikmagalur is situated in the Western Ghats region, a major watershed in the southwestern part of Karnataka state. Typical of a ghat topography, the town offers vistas of mountains, streams, and coffee and pepper plantations. A number of rivers -- the Bhadra, Hemavathi, Tunga, Netravathi and Vedavathi -- originate in the hills surrounding the town. It was here that coffee was first cultivated in India, in 1670 by Baba Budan. The revered Muslim leader had brought coffee seeds from Yemen, and the Baba Budan mountain range to the north of the town is named after him. Later taken up by European planters, coffee production and trade has been Chikmagalur's main industry.