Top Weekend Getaways from Bengaluru
In the last two decades the city of Bengaluru has seen drastic changes and grown multiple folds as a metropolitan. Since the mid 90s it has seen a huge influx of immigrant and floating population due to the IT boom, and ever since the topography of the city has changed. Once referred as the Garden city, it has now become the Silicon Valley of India and also the Pub capital of the country. However, beyond the shopping malls and pubs, the city doesn’t offer much to satiate a traveller’s appetite. After five days of work, fairly a large percentage of the population gets out of the city to the numerous weekend getaways they can choose from.
One of the geographical advantages of Bengaluru is that it is centrally located in the southern part of India. The coast on either side is 350 KMs away, within 250 KMs are various hill stations, and there are numerous attractions that are a short drive away.
Here is a list of places that one can visit during the weekend to get away from the chaos of Bengaluru.
Home to the unique Kodava community, Coorg is laced with serene hamlets, paddy fields, misty hills, numerous trekking trails, waterfalls, lush green forests and wildlife. Known as the coffee country of Karnataka, Coorg is also a huge producer of honey. With large forests patches and sprawling coffee plantations, Coorg is an absolute delight to visit during the monsoons. Also referred as Kodagu, Coorg is well known for its Kodava culture, history, intriguing traditions and delicious cuisine. Attending a Kodava wedding offers a great insight into their culture and cuisine. Madikeri is the main city in Coorg that is known for its attractions such as Abbey falls, Raja’s seat, Madikeri fort and Omkareshwara temple. Some of the other must visit places in Coorg are Nalknad palace, Bhagamandala, Talacauvery (origin of River Cauvery), Irpu falls, Tadiyandamol trek, Brahmagiri trek and rafting at Dubare. The Tibetan Buddhist settlement at Bylakuppe is a must visit enroute Coorg.
Capital of one of the richest kingdoms in the world during the 14th century, the Vijayanagara empire, Hampi is a treasure trove for architecture aficionados. Presently in ruins, this UNESCO world heritage site displays the reminiscence of a bygone glorious era. Scattered across the banks of river Tungabhadra and amidst boulder-strewn landscape, Hampi is considered as one of the largest open-air museums in the world. From exquisitely carved temples to stepped ponds to ruined palaces to breathtaking sculptures; Hampi is adorned with magnificent art works and architecture. Some of the highlights of Hampi are Virupaksha temple, Mahanavami Dibba, Lotus mahala, Elephant stables, Queen’s bath, Vittala temple and Achyutaraya temple. A hike up the Matanga hill to view the sunrise is a great experience. Anegundi across the Tungabhadra is known for its bohemian vibe and cafes.
Located beside the river by the same name, Kabini lies along the fringes of Nagarhole and Bandipur wildlife sanctuary, two of the most popular wildlife regions in Karnataka. Apart from being a huge habitat for the Asiatic elephant, Kabini also has a beautiful landscape with the serene river, engulfing forests and distant hills. A safari through the wilderness is one of the major activities in Kabini. The place is known for its sightings of deer, dhole (wild Indian dof), leopards, elephants and the odd tiger. The safaris are early in the mornings and in the evenings as the chance of sighting wildlife are higher. Boating on the reservoir is another option to sight the animals. From aquatic birds to crocodiles to elephants, the boat ride offers interesting wildlife sighting apart from a gorgeous sunset. Most of the resorts also offer nature trails and guided walks to understand the forest better.
As per legends, Chikmagalur is where the seeds of coffee were first planted in India. This is one of the largest coffee producing hubs in the country, and where you can actually wake up to the smell of coffee. Nesteled in the Baba Budangiri hills, Chikmagalur is a scenic hill station with coffee plantations, rolling hills, waterfalls and lakes. Chikmagalur is also known for its popular treks such as the one through Kudremukh national park and Mullayanagiri, the highest peak in Karnataka. The must visit attractions in Chikamagalur are Coffee yatra museum (gives an great insight into coffee and its history), the mountain loop of Baba Budangiri, Kemmanagundi and Mullayanagiri, waterfalls such as Kalhatti falls, Hebbe falls and Jerry falls, and the lakes which include Gaalikere lake, Ayyanakere lake and Hirekolale lake. If you love wildlife, Bhadra wildlife sanctuary is well recommended. En-route, a visit to the Hoysala temples of Belur and Haleibidu are a must if you love architecture.
Fondly called as the Queen of Hills, Ootacamund or Ooty is a part of the Nilgiris biosphere in the Western Ghats. Laced with tea plantations, eucalyptus trees, lush green hills, and colonial buildings, Ooty still displays glimpses of the bygone British era. The salubrious climate adds to the charm of the place. Nilgiri Mountains is also home to Todas, an indigenous tribe who have their unique cultures and traditions. The Nilgiri Toy train (a World Heritage site) that chugs between these hills and through numerous tunnels is a great way to experience the landscapes and quaint train stations in and around Ooty. The list of must visit places in Ooty are Doddabetta peak, Tea factory, Boat house, Rose garden, Botanical garden, St. Stephen’s church, Emarald lake, Avalanche lake and Pykara lake. Coonoor and Kotagiri, which are nearby hill stations, are also well recommended to visit.
The land of Chettiar community, Chettinad region is a cluster of 75 odd villages in the heart of Tamil Nadu. These villages are home to the grandiose Chettiar mansions known for its ostentatious interiors, decors and architecture. The mansion’s interiors have mirrors from Belgium, marble from Italy, teak wood from Burma and ceramic tiles from Japan to name a few. A walk through the Chettiar mansions is a great way to understand more about this region and the lifestyle of Chettiars who were traders and financiers during the 18th and 19th centuries. While many of these mansions are in ruins, some of them can be visited, while a few of them have been converted into heritage hotels. Chettinad is renowned for its cuisine, especially their meat preparations. The region is also popular for its floral tiles and silk weaving as well. A stroll through the antique market in Karaikudi reveals a plethora of interesting and quirky artefacts that one can pick from.
Wedged between the Western and Eastern ghats, Yercaud is cozily nestled in the Shevaroy hills. A small hill station known for its beautiful views, fruit orchids, silver oaks and coffee plantations, Yercaud is nice place to enjoy the fresh mountain air and devoid of the crowds. In the middle of the town is the large Emerald lake with boating facilities. Botanical Gardens and Horticulture farm houses some rare species of flora, and are great places to stroll through. Kiliyur falls which looks pretty post the monsoons can be reached via a short trail. Servarayan temple from which the hills get its name is the highest point in Yercaud and offers nice views as well. The hill station is also known for its numerous vantage points such as Tipperary point, Pagoda point and Lady’s seat. Sometimes referred as the Poor man’s Ooty, Yercaud is an ideal weekend getaway if you are looking for a relaxed holiday with a few attractions to visit.
An age-old town with a cultural milieu, Thanjavur has over the years been known for its temples, art, music and dance festivals, paintings and literature. The biggest attraction in Thanjavur is undoubtedly the Brihadeeshwara temple, also referred as the Big Temple. A part of the Great Living Chola temples, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, Brihadeeshwara temple is an 11th century temple built during the Chola era. The large entrance gates, imposing towers, magnificent architecture and stunning sculptures are a testimony to the Dravidian temple architecture. The other two temples that are a part of the Great Living Chola temple are Airavateeswara and Gangaikondacholapuram temples, which are a short drive away. Thanjavur palace with beautiful colours, carvings and displays gives an insight into the history of the place. Thanjavur paintings made on glass or wood, and Thanjavur dolls that are known as thalayatti bommai are lovely souvenirs to take back home.
Nestled in northern Kerala, Wayanad is known for its beautiful landscapes. The undulating hills, placid lakes, lush green forests, gushing waterfalls, verdant paddy fields, tea and coffee estates, spice plantations, sprawling reservoirs, wildlife reserves and tribal settlements make Wayanad an interesting weekend getaway from Bengaluru. Wayanad offers a smorgasbord of activities to engage, places to visit and is highly likely that you might need an extended weekend to cover this place. Edakkal caves is a stroll through prehistoric era with pictorial carvings from Neolithic age. Kuruvadweep, a large rainforest river island, has a unique ecosystem with various avian fauna and flora. While the beautiful Pookode lake offers boating facilities, Karlad lake is a nice option for adventure activities as well. Banasura sagar dam and Karapuzha dam have encapsulating backdrops and are a delight for any photography enthusiast. The waterfalls such as Soochipara, Meenmutty and Kanthanpara are at their best post the monsoons. As Wayanad borders the Nilgiri biosphere, it is also home to some of the popular national parks such as Muthanga and Tholpetty