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SIM­PLY BAN­GA­LORE TRAV­ELS THE STATE AND DIS­COV­ERS WEEK­END GET­AWAYS YOU WILL LOVE TO RE­TURN TO

India Today - - SIMPLY BANGALORE - BY AYE­SHA ALEEM

SIM­PLY BAN­GA­LORE trav­els the state and dis­cov­ers week­end get­aways you will love to re­turn to

KABINI

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.

DAN­DELI

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.

BANDIPUR

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.

BI­JAPUR

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

BR HILLS

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.

SAN­DESH RAVIKU­MAR

ELE­PHANT SA­FARI AT KABINI

DEER GRAZ­ING AT BANDIPUR NATIONALPARK

SUSHEELA NAIR

BI­JAPUR’S GA­GAN

MA­HAL

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