Monday, April 20, 2015

Top 10 Summer Weekend Getaways from Bangalore

Even though we Bangaloreans got a lot of rain these last 7 days, summer has arrived here in tropical India. Schools have started to shut down and it is time for that long summer vacation. This is the time for those family holidays. It is also the time for holidays with friends and for couples as long weekends are coming up soon. In fact, a lot of my friends and family have already been planning their summer getaways. And I happen to be their travel advisor, which is when I thought, why not share a list of some of the best summer weekend getaways from Namma Bengaluru so that all of you can enjoy great summer weekends and long weekends with your friends and loved ones. Here is my top 10 list of summer weekend holidays from Bangalore. The premise behind this list is cooler weather, great holiday destinations and avenues to have lots of fun.

Kabini National Park, Karnataka 

Tusker in musth at Kabini Tiger Reserve

happens to be my favorite wildlife destination in the state. It is one of those rare places where you will always end up sighting a leopard and sometimes if you are lucky, a Royal Bengal Tiger. And did I say huge herd of elephants, packs of wild dogs and lots of bird life. Summer is famous at Kabini as the increasing temperatures and receding water levels of the Kabini reservoir attracts a huge number of elephants who come to eat the grass that grows on the banks of the reservoir. This grass is like a delicacy for the elephants. Between the jeep safari drives and the boat safari drives, you will always spot lots of wild animals and birds. The calm ecosystem also offers great relaxation therapy.

Go For: Wildlife and Birdwatching

Ideal For: All types of travelers

Budget: Medium to High

Preferred Places to Stay: Jungle Lodges and Serai Kabini

Distance from Bangalore: 220 kms

Detour Options: Kuta Coffee Estates, Lakshman Teertha Falls and Bylaguppe Tibetan Monastery 

Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka

Wildlife Safaris at Bandipur Tiger Reserve

Another wildlife hotspot of Karnataka, but a much drier one, which makes it a great place to spot tigers is Bandipur Tiger Reserve. It is one of those places with a huge number of tigers in India. In addition to tigers, you will spot bears, elephants, gaurs, deer and many other animals. This place is great for wildlife, but mid day here might be a tad too warm and is best spent indoors either relaxing or playing indoor games. Summers are the best time to visit this tiger reserve and hence it comes heavily recommended by me.

Go For: Wildlife and Birdwatching

Ideal For: Wildlife lovers

Budget: Medium to High

Preferred Places to Stay: Jungle Lodges

Distance from Bangalore: 240 kms

Detour Options: Ooty, Red Hills and Gopalswamy Betta   

Valparai, Tamil Nadu

Green Western Ghats, Waterfalls Galore and the Kerala side all visible from the Nallamudi Pooncholai View Point

One of my favorite tea estates in tropical India, Valparai is a great hill station that is located right in the middle of dense greenery and wildlife. It has a very laidback charm and is a great destination for relaxation. You could go for walks in the tea estates, explore dams and view points or even spot some lion tailed macaques and gaurs in the tea estates around you. And did I say that it is one of the top places in South India to see the beautiful hornbills.    

Go For:
Tea Estates, Relaxation, Cooler Weather and Birdlife

Ideal For: All types of travelers, especially couples

Budget: Budget to High

Preferred Places to Stay: Monica Garden Bungalow of Woodbriar Bungalows

Distance from Bangalore: 460 kms

Detour Options: Athirampally Waterfalls and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary 

Kabinnakad of Coorg, Karnataka

World is dressed in fresh green

Coorg is a hot destination with most Bangaloreans, but not all places in Coorg are summer friendly. Only the densely forested and mountainous areas near the Thadiyendamol peak offer cooler climes. A very scenic and calm part of Coorg, the Kabinnakad area of Coorg is great for its coffee estates, hikes, Rudraksha trees and good ‘ol relaxation. The local Pandi curry, homemade fruit wines and local coffee are just the icing on the cake.

Go For:
Relaxation, Cooler Weather, Coffee Estates, Hiking, Bird Watching

Ideal For: All types of travelers. A bit of physical fitness is preferred. Great for Romantic Holidays too.

Budget: Budget to High

Preferred Places to Stay: Honey Valley and Tamara Coorg

Distance from Bangalore: 260 kms

Detour Options: Thithimathi Elephant Camp and Iguthuppa Temple  

Kodanad, Tamil Nadu

Nilgiri Holiday at Kodanad

In that belt, Ooty, Coonoor and Red Hills are very popular destinations, but these places have been beaten to such an extent that they face traffic jams and water problems in the summer months, which is why I have mentioned Kodanad here. Kodanad, Ooty and Coonoor are like 3 points on a equilateral triangle. It happens to one of the quietest spots in the Nilgiris and is also the relaxed getaway of Ms. Jayalalitha, Tamil Nadu’s chief minister.

Go For: Hill station relaxation, Cooler Climes

Ideal For: All types of travelers. Great for Families.

Budget: Budget to Medium

Preferred Places to Stay: Home Stays

Distance from Bangalore: 320 kms

Detour Options: Nilgiri Toy Train Railway   

Kudremukh, Karnataka

Rolling Greens of Kudremukh

One of the greenest parts of Karnataka, Kudremukh faced a lot of trouble due to naxalites. But, now that there is no naxalite trouble, this is one of the top places to discover in Karnataka. Ideal for campers and trekkers, this place is also great for families. Between the Hanuman Gundi Falls, the Botanical Gardens, the Sludge dam and oodles of greenery and mountains, this place offers many avenues for a thrilling weekend.

Go For:
Nature and Outdoors

Ideal For: Campers and Trekkers

Budget: Budget to Medium

Preferred Places to Stay: Home Stays

Distance from Bangalore: 330 kms

Detour Options: Gomateshwara Jain Statue at Karkala

Kodaikanal to Munnar, Tamil Nadu and Kerala

Misty blue mountains

Both Kodaikanal and Munnar are famous hill stations and hence have been beaten to the core, but in between these 2 hill stations, there are lots of places where you can still enjoy solitude and the Blue Mountains in its pristine form. Berijam Lake, Eravikulam National Park and Top Station are some of my favorites. But, if you are adventurous kind, I would definitely recommend trekking the 75 kms from Kodaikanal to Munnar through the forests or cycling the 120 kms of mountainous roads between these 2 hill stations.

Go For:
Hill Station, Cooler Climes

Ideal For: All types of travelers. For adventurous getaways, medium level of fitness is required. Couples, families and kids will all enjoy here.

Budget: Budget to High

Preferred Places to Stay: Outdoor Camping

Distance from Bangalore: 470 to 500 kms

Detour Options: Periyar Tiger Reserve 

Dandeli, Karnataka

Kayaking - an adventure sport you can indulge in at Dandeli, Karnataka

If you feel like river rafting and kayaking in the summer months, this is your best bet in South India.  Due to the hydroelectric power project, the mighty Kali river always sees a lot of water in the summer months that offer great fun and adventure for those rafting enthusiasts. For those not interested in rafting, they can indulge in coracle rides on the river, visit the local tribes of Dandeli or go on jeep safaris to the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary and spot the elusive Black Panther. Or you can choose from any of these top things to on your Dandeli holiday.

Go For: River Rafting, Kayaking, Tribes and Wildlife

Ideal For: All types of travelers, though medium physical fitness is required for water sports

Budget: Budget to Medium

Preferred Places to Stay: Home stays and Tree Houses

Distance from Bangalore: 470 kms

Detour Options: Anshi National Park, Gokarna

Bhadra Tiger Reserve, Karnataka
Rich wildlife experience at Bhadra tiger reserve

Situated along the Bhadra river and surrounded by Shola forests and the pristine Western Ghats, the Bhadra Tiger Reserve is one of the of the best places in tropical India to see river terns and sometimes even the elusive tiger too. I would go here more for relaxation than for wildlife, though between the boat rides and the jeep safaris, you will see enough wildlife and bird species.

Go For:
Relaxation, Wildlife and Birdwatching

Ideal For: All types of travelers

Budget: Medium to High

Preferred Places to Stay: Jungle Lodges

Distance from Bangalore: 270 kms

Detour Options: Jog Falls, Linganamakki Reservoir, Agumbe and Sringeri

Kemmangundi and/or Chickmagalur, Karnataka

People look like toys in front of this massive water falls that is nestled deep in the western ghats

Kemmangundi is a poor man’s hill station, while Chickmagalur is a rich man’s holiday destination. Both places offer cooler climes and great greenery amidst the Baba Budan hills. Kemmandundi is more forests, while Chickmagalur is a mix of forests and coffee estates. Easy walks, Kalhatti Falls, Hebbe Falls, lots of relaxation and Mulayangiri, the highest peak of Karnataka are on the agenda here.

Go For:
Relaxation and Coffee Estates

Ideal For: All types of travelers

Budget: Budget to High

Preferred Places to Stay: In a coffee estate

Distance from Bangalore: 250 kms

Detour Options: Belur and Halebid Hoysala Temples, Sringeri.

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