Ruled by a succession of dynasties that wielded an irrefutable influence on the foundation of India, modern Bangalore's foundation dates back to the era of Kempe Gowda, a feudal ruler under the Vijayanagara Empire. Known as the "Silicon Valley of India", Bengaluru has seen a massive rise of industries across its landscape in recent years. The nation's leading IT hub, the busy life in the capital of Karnataka can be tiring and monotonous. So, over the weekends take yourself to some of the most beautiful and scenic locations that go beyond Coorg, Mysore and Ooty, and aren't too far from the IT capital of India.
Around 350 kms from Bangalore, Hampi was once the centre of the Vijayanagara Empire. Destroyed by Muslim sultanates, Hampi is an important religious centre with mentions of it in the Hindu mythology, Ramayana. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its temple architecture and art. With its architectural magnificence, the Virupaksha Temple is the ruined city's major attraction dedicated to a form of Shiva. The Balakrishna Temple, Achyutaraya Temple, Vitthala Temple are some other monuments that you can visit. Walk among the ruins and take a coracle (circular boat) ride in the Tungabhadra river when here. Also close to Hampi is the Daroji Bear Sanctuary where one can see rescued and rehabilitated sloth bears in their habitat.
Getting There: Hampi is reachable by road from both Karnataka and Telangana. Various buses, AC and Non AC ply from Bengaluru daily, traversing the journey in close to 6.5 hours. It is the easiest and hceapest mode of reaching Hampi. Once there, use public transport or autos to get around.
One of the most popular wildlife destinations in the state, the Kabini Forest Reserve is loved for its lush verdant landscape surrounded by a large lake. Part of the Nagarhole National Park, the reserve is spread over large areas of forestland, water bodies, and mountains. Its spectacular variety of wildlife is sure to leave you awestruck. With four types of deer and antelopes, tigers, leopard, sloth bears and Asiatic elephants populating this rich land, Kabini's serene environment offers a perfect getaway from the bustling city of Bangalore. There are stays around the backwaters in both luxury and budget category, however since gypsy safaris are only allowed for guests staying at the Kabini River Lodge operated by Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR), wildlife enthusiasts prefer staying there. One can also indulge in the luxury of an exciting boat safari when here.
Getting There: About 208 km from Bangalore, the Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary is easily accessible and a favoured weekend escape for city dwellers. Traveling by road, you can reach Kabini via regular KSRTC buses from Bangalore or Mysore (around 220 km away). Taxis or self-driving options offer flexibility and scenic stops along the route. Mysore has the nearest Railhead and airport, about 70 kms away.
An absolutely delightful spot for history lovers, Hassan is a city just like Hampi steeped in history and culture. Its temple-architecture is a hint into what to expect from the rest of the state. A trip to the Gorur Dam is a must. Carrying the water of the Hemavati River, a tributary of the Kaveri River, the dam is an important source of energy for the surrounding areas and is a provider of gorgeous views. The Shettihalli Rosary Church is a fantastic example of Gothic architecture originally constructed by French missionaries in the 1860s. Abandoned after the Gorur Dam was formed, the church submerges in the water every year during the monsoons. An irresistible sight during early monsoons when the church is partially submerged, a visit to Hassan should include a trip here as well.
Getting There: Hassan is an important centre for transport and links easily to Bangalore (187 km), Mysore (115 km), Mangalore, Madikeri, and Chickmagalur. The closest airport, Mysore (MYQ), sits 106 km away. Other nearby airports include Mangalore (IXE) (132.7 km), Kannur (CNN) (135.3 km), and Bengaluru (BLR) (175.9 km).
Just 280 kms from Bangalore, Chikamagalur is called the "Coffee Land" of Karnataka. The Kudremukh National Park is a destination close to this city and often sees numerous visitors. The Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary is another popular wildlife location with its tropical surrounding providing an ideal spot for relaxation. However, a walk through the tea estates of Chikamagalur is just as gratifying an experience. Furthermore, with a beautiful view on offer, if you trek to the top of the Mullayyanagiri Peak, the Hebbe falls and Manikye dhara, this small town is full of surprises.
Getting There: Chikamagalur offers road connections via multiple routes from Bangalore and Mysore, each taking around 4.5-5 hours. Trains from Bangalore and Mysore pass through Kadur, with a 45-minute bus/taxi ride to Chikamagalur. Air access is available through Mangalore, Bangalore, or Hubbali airports.
One of the lesser known hill stations around the area, Yelagiri is popular among trekkers. A trek to Swamimalai Hills will bring to one of the most pleasing viewpoints in the state. With paragliding also conducted here, one can capture the ideal glimpse of the location and the 14 hamlets that add to the unyielding gorgeousness of the place. There is a beautiful lake that you can visit too. The slow pace of life makes Yelagiri accentuate the need to plan a trip here.
Getting There: For reaching Yelagiri Hills, taking a train to Jolarpettai followed by a bus ride uphill is recommended. If you're starting from Chennai or Bengaluru, driving directly to Yelagiri would be the most convenient option.