Most tourists tend to make a beeline for the Taj Mahal, Benaras and of-course Goa; but India has much more to offer.
For most foreign visitors, India translates into a mere handful of destinations. Most visitors tend to make a beeline for the Taj Mahal, Benaras and of-course Goa. But the south Asian peninsula has much more to offer the tourist – be it the well heeled or the backpacker.
As opposed to the northern region of the country where destinations can change hue with season, the southern region has a lot more to offer, no matter the time of the year. The delights on offer include the majesty of the Western Ghat hill ranges, an extended coastline that covers most of the bottom half of the country, and multiple architectural delights and archaeological sites. The hill ranges teem with wild life sanctuaries, trekking and hiking trails, ancient temples and palaces that are architectural marvels, tropical forests, pleasant home-stays in colonial plantations, opportunities for adventure sports and much more.
There’s so much to take in that the casual visitor would be dumbfounded to choose from. The best spot to kick off your trip can be Bangalore, the silicon valley of India, a hot spot of innovation, startups and one that’s teeming with global technology giants. Unsurprisingly business travelers to this cosmopolitan hub tend to explore the region during their downtime, thus opening up vast opportunities for the casual tourists as well.
So with Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka as your hub, we suggest the 3 following destinations for your itinerary.
The Royal Splendor of Mysore (180 km)
The erstwhile capital of the Kingdom of Mysore sports a glorious history of over 700 years and a glittering royal heritage in every aspect. One of the most well planned and maintained cities in India, it boasts of magnificent monuments, bustling markets, a cosmopolitan culture and a friendly populace.
The major tourist attractions in the city are the many palaces of yore that still maintain their royal grandeur. These include the Mysore Palace, Lalitha Mahal, Jaganmohan Palace and Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion. Also of note are the sprawling Brindavan Gardens, St. Philomena’s Church, Mysore Zoo and Chamundi Hills.
The region is also famous for sandalwood, incense and premium silk fabrics. Within driving distance of the city are the Srirangapatna and Shivanasamudra Falls for those who wish to indulge in nature.
The Architectural Wonders of Hampi (370 km)
The ancient capital of the Vijayanagara Empire is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the prominent tourist destinations in India, it hosts several splendid architectural monuments within the fortification. These include several temples, civil and military buildings that bore witness to a bygone culture. Major attractions in Hampi include the stone chariot at the Vittala complex and the sacred pushkarani tank located on the eastern side of Krishna temple.
The gateway to Hampi, Hospet is located on the banks of River Tungabhadra, is a prominent archeological site in itself. The site is host to the unique temple of Anantashayana Gudi, a major tourist attraction that reflects the medieval hues of the region. The hugely popular Tungabhadra Dam is just 6 kilometers away from the city.
The Natural Highs of Chikmagalur (240 Kms)
The quaint plantation town aptly nicknamed the Coffee Capital of India lies at the foot of the Western Ghats hill range. Surrounded by Coffee and Tea plantations dating back to colonial times, the town is a gateway to some of the tallest peaks in the region.
A favorite destination of trekking enthusiasts, numerous trails lead to the peaks of Kudremukh, Mullayangiri, Kemmangundi and Baba Budan Giri. The hills are resplendent with a number of natural streams and waterfalls of which the more prominent are Hebbe, Kalathigiri, Kadambi and Manikyadhara.
Close by is the Bhadra Wildlife sanctuary that is part of Project Tiger, which is also host to several exotic flora and fauna. One can opt to go for kayaking, rafting and other adventure sports in the river Bhadra that flows through the region.
A warm and hospitable homestay in Chikmagalur can by itself be ideal for those looking to spend some quality time in the midst of nature. Even a short stay in this plantation town can help you de-stress and rejuvenate.