5 cool ways to explore Karnataka

Heritage or adventure or wildlife You'll be spoilt for choice in Karnataka
5 cool ways to explore Karnataka

HERITAGE Sravanabelagola
No matter where you arrive from, for miles around, the statue of Gomatesvara will hold your attention and never let it waver. Out of the rural countryside, its paddy fields such an eye-catching green, rises the hill called Vindhyagiri (though the colossus atop can&rsquot be seen as you climb it). Here stands the naked monolith of Bahubali, the king who took to the path of renunciation and now stands tall, timeless and incredibly beautiful. The climb up is lovely in itself 614 rock-hewn steps you will be reluctant to descend, so serene are the views on top. (www.karnatakaholidays.net, www.karnatakatourism.org)

ADVENTURE Microlight flying in Coorg
Yeah, it&rsquos the closest you can get to flying like a bird. There you&rsquoll be, 5,000 feet up in the air in a hand glider that takes two people at speeds of up to 100kmph, with verdant Coorg sprawled beneath. Folks who sign up have to report at Ponnampet, a scenic vantage with barely one hotel to its name. Staying 6 kilometres away, at Gonikoppal, is better, or Madikeri being a district, you can drive down from wherever you are holidaying to notch up a once-in-a-lifetime-at-least experience. (from Rs 2,500 per adult flights last 10&ndash30mins and are scheduled between 10am and 5pm www.thrillophilia.com/tours/microlight-flying-in-coorg)

WILDLIFE Dandeli with Wishbone
Did you know that the dandeli wildlife sanctuary is the second-largest reserve forest in Goa and sightings of over 30 hornbills have been reported just off the main road Flying snakes glide over canopies the elusive black panther stalks stealthily sloth bears, gaur, yellow-footed pigeons and crested serpent eagles are sighted often, and aforementioned hornbills feed on figs.

Wishbone takes us into such a paradise, and thence rafting through the jungles for 10 kilometres over eight rapids on the magnificent Kali River. (Rs 14,000 per person, including accommodation in Swiss tents, all transfers ex-Bengaluru, meals, permits, guide and gear www.wishbone.co.in/tour/dandeli-wildlife-experience)

FOOD Snack time in south Canara
The district of dakshina kannada, birthplace of the complex, distinct and superlative coastal Mangalorean, Konkani, Kannadiga and Tulu cuisines, has a particularly delicious repertoire of snacks. When you travel in the region, keep an eye out for small &lsquoUdupi&rsquo eateries and local bakeries selling churmuri (puffed rice spiked with carrots, peanuts, chillies, lemon juice and coconut oil, typically served in paper cones), goli bajje (spongy balls of refined flour, deep-fried and served with chutney), ambade (potato-stuffed bondas), jeegujje podi (breadfruit fried with gram flour), biscuit rotti (coconut-stuffed savoury puris) and Mangalore buns (banana-flavoured, deep-fried maida buns). Best of all, it&rsquos all so reasonably priced that your wallet remains nonchalant even if you stuff yourself

SPECIAL EXPERIENCES Falling off the grid in Huli Vana
Even though it&rsquos only 164 kilometres from the mangalore airport and 33 kilometres from the Sakleshpur railway station, Huli Vana (&lsquotiger forest&rsquo) is 11 kilometres so deep into the rugged wilderness that the only way to get here is on horseback or a sturdy four-wheel drive vehicle. Far away from what we&mdashfor want of another word&mdashcall &lsquocivilisation&rsquo, they are totally off the power grid, and abide by &lsquozero waste&rsquo and &lsquono plastics&rsquo rules, and they follow organic composting and cook on fallen firewood. In these sylvan woods, separated from modcons and gizmos, yet ensconced in reasonable comfort, guests get to read, eat, sleep, bushwhack in the verdant rainforest and converse convivially with other guests around bonfires under star-lit skies, with nightbirds and insects providing musical accompaniment. (from Rs 2,500 per person per night, including meals and guided hiking www.hulivana.com)

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