SIMPLY BANGALORE TRAVELS THE STATE AND DISCOVERS WEEKEND GETAWAYS YOU WILL LOVE TO RETURN TO
SIMPLY BANGALORE travels the state and discovers weekend getaways you will love to return to
The region around the River Kabini in Mysore district, about 220 km from Bangalore, has one of the densest forest areas in Karnataka. At Kabini, you are in the centre of elephant territory although rare sightings of the elusive tiger happen as well and a supervised boat ride can take you within a viewing distance of massive crocodiles. Kabini River Lodge spread across 54 acres along the tranquil waters of the Kabini River is one of the most intimate experiences with nature that money can buy. Once the hunting lodge of the Mysore Maharaja, guests can now enjoy a unique holiday experience here while staying at one of the ten cottages that dot the banks. The location is quite secluded so don’t expect the best electric or mobile connectivity. This is precisely why this might be a good place to take a book and some mosquito repellant spray.
BEST TIME TO VISIT Before the rains begin because although the forest is green and beautiful, in the monsoons, the animals are harder to spot.
Also, it is best to stay away from the swelling river at this time.
DON’T MISS It might take a while to recognise a croc from a rock because they camouflage so well but keep your eyes peeled for crocodiles lying ever so still as they wait to snap down on unsuspecting prey.
GETTING THERE You can either drive the entire distance via Mysore. Or you can take the Mysore Express which operates on all days from Bangalore City Station and hire a cab for the onward journey to reach Kabini.
A short train ride and a little more than an hour’s drive from Belgaum in
North Karnataka, the landscape changes noticeably. Dusty roads and dry land give way to thick green forests with cooler temperatures. Located close to the GoaMaharashtra border, the Dandeli jungle is deep enough and green enough to make you forget you are in Karnataka at all. There are plenty of resorts to suit a variety of budgets that will allow you to try your hand at river rafting— one of the few places close to Bangalore where the experience is available. Alternatively, although the river will be off limits when it rains, the forest is truly worth a visit at this time. You won’t be doing anything else except sitting in the balcony of your hotel room, watching the jungle get drenched. One of the best times to do this is between June and September at the Old Magazine House, managed by the Jungle Lodges group, which is operated by the government of Karnataka. Don’t miss the guided treks to get a panoramic view of the river. They really do take your breath away as you marvel at a picture of untouched natural beauty. Day trips to the city for some sightseeing are also on offer. Clean rooms, friendly staff, a spacious terrace that turns into a dining hall at meal times when you can savour home cooked fare, Dandeli takes total relaxation very seriously. TARIFF Starting at Rs. 2000 per night.
INSIDER’S TIP The place is also great for bird watching and the best season for enthusiasts to visit is between October and March. You can spot Malabar Grey Hornbills and Babblers as well as Orioles and Flycatchers.
GETTING THERE Take a train to Hubli. Several operate through the week but the Janshatabdi Express plies on all days and leaves from Bangalore City Station. From there, you can either hire a cab or take a bus to reach Dandeli.
The tiger’s den is what you can title the Bandipur National Park, a pro- tected area and a famous tiger reserve. The Serai at Bandipur, is one of the best ways to enjoy the region, offering you modern day comforts in the heart of tiger country. You can sign up for a jungle safari, go for a nature walk or spend a day sightseeing in nearby Ooty. Thirty five sprawling acres have been converted into a luxury resort for getting as close as possible to the striped cat and his wild friends. The décor evokes a gaming lodge, complete with faux animal skin accents. Check into one of the villas that come with a private garden. Although the rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated, the bathrooms are the real highlight. Under a large skylight, you have a view of the sky and tree tops that complement the rain shower. At night, it gets so quiet, even the crickets seem to have gone to bed.
GETTING THERE Adrive is particularly pleasurable and the highway that connects to Mysore is smooth and dotted with eateries. In just about three hours,
you reach Mysore, and from there the journey is a little more than hour. The final stretch, along some unpaved road, is possibly the only difficulty you will encounter, but ends quickly.
The Sultan’s seat, Bijapur is the place where rich history once played out. Once a vital part of the Deccan Sultanate, Bijapur was ruled by the Adil Shahi dynasty around the Sixteenth century until it was conquered by Mughal emperor, Aurangazeb. The ‘ Rose Dome,’ atop the Gol Gumbaz that is perhaps one of the region’s biggest attractions, is so named because of the petals at the base that make it look like a budding rose. The dome has an external diameter of 44m and has been erected without any supporting pillars. Located two kilometres from Bijapur, it was built in 1656 and is the mausoleum of Mohammed Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur. Although its design is quite simple, a cube surmounted by a dome with minarets in each corner— the structure is considered a highlight of Deccan architecture. The minarets have staircases leading up to the dome which offer a splendid view of the town. Along the inside of the dome are the famous ‘ whispering galleries,’ where even the faintest sound is amplified ten times and carries as far as 37 meters. According to legend, musicians used to sit in these galleries so that their performance could be heard in the hall below, where dancers entertained their audience.
GETTING THERE Trains from Bangalore ply regu- larly to this destination 530 km away as do buses. The main bus stand is close to the city center.
BEST TIME Bijapur makes sense for a weekend otherwise the journey will just tire you. Because of the harsh summers, it is best to visit Bijapur between November and March.
WHERE TO STAY Budget accommodation is available in nearby hotels
The home of the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple, and once the main area of operation for sandalwood bandit, Veerapppan, BR Hills, which also gets its name from the deity, is a great place for some forest tourism. The wildlife sanctuary is a protected tiger reserve that covers an area of more than 500 square kilometers. And because it is higher than 5,000 feet above sea level, the weather here varies from cool to temperate, accompanied with plenty of rainfall. This fertile environment supports close to 800 species of plants. Wild elephants are the most conspicious mammal in this
region. To keep them company are sloth bears, sambar, leopards and the rare four- horned antelope. Along with as many as 250 varieties of birds, BR Hills is also home to different kinds of squirrels. Go here in the summer, when the hills provide a cooler, greener alternative.
CHECK OUT The Kyathdevaraya Gudi Wilderness Camp is a good way to get close to all of this. Jeep rides into the forest during dusk and dawn as well as long walks helps explore the area while trying to catch a glimpse of some spotted deer. Choose from a small number of loghuts, tented cottages or family rooms and three meals are served on location. The tariff also includes elephant rides.
ELEPHANT SAFARI AT KABINI
DEER GRAZING AT BANDIPUR NATIONALPARK