Now that the earth is still spinning smoothly on its axis and its end has been averted, go ahead and plan your New Year getaway as your travel instincts please. For those who live in Bengaluru, there are plenty of options to celebrate spilling over to the next year. Be it a backdrop of thumping music, bumping along a dusty highway or the sound of the jungle, swerve into 2016 with a holiday outside the city.
Entering a New Year does warrant a bit of shaking and swaying to music and Goa is the obvious place to be. For Bangaloreans, the lure of staying out long after the deadline of 11pm is even more fascinating. Give the usual suspects a miss (read Baga and Candolim beaches) and head straight to south Goa. Palolem is where you can find frenzied shacks, each competing for your ear space with sky rocketing decibels. The soundless cliff party on the south end of the beach can be explored by psychedelic music enthusiasts where a sea of ear phoned heads bob up and down to personal perceptions of the music. The spectacular fireworks at night are spread over the entire beach.
Other sandy destinations include Varkala and Pondicherry, where the crashing waves and music from the clubs are in complete harmony. Infact Varkala is at the cusp of exploding into a huge destination for New Year breaks. Earlier perceived as only a Russian haunt, you are bound to run into Indian groups now. While the North Cliff area is great for restaurants, live gigs and shopping, stay at the far edge of the action at Odayam Beach. Palm Tree Heritage (www.palmtreeheritage.com) provides ample privacy, a sea side garden and Ayurveda treatments. The metamorphosis of the easy going seaside town of Pondicherry is apparent during the New Year period. Asian House on South Beach Boulevard wallops loud EDM sound out of it till the wee hours of the morning.
For those who have well passed the party era and like spending time with family, Destiny Farm in Ooty promises a wholesome holiday for everyone. Line up a host of farm activities in the day like tending the horses, picking vegetables and waiting meditatively for a catch in the property’s fish pond. At night, start with the crackling bonfire and graduate to the in-house restaurant for a peaceful meal.
Similarly, at Flameback Lodge in Chikmagalur, the sound of the cicadas add to the lush setting of the resort while the swimming pool and lounge area are teeming with family specific activities to enjoy. Enjoy a game of pool, some board games and the company of three dogs in the lodge and soak in the serene ambiance. Angana, the traditionally inclined resort outside Bengaluru would be perfect for those who are just looking for a day long trip in the soothing aura of a kalyani (step well) and a sprawling garden.
If you are far more at peace with spending your New Year in the company of animals, book your stay at Fringe Ford in Wayanad. A four wheel drive to the end of an unruly coffee estate and no connectivity by phone or internet will keep you blissfully away from any intrusion. Who you may want to expect as company for the evening, is the Indian Gaur duo and an elephant herd, who often tread close for water and a mud bath.
For those who want a more accessible getaway, Coorg or Chikmagalur might be a more feasible. You can pitch your tents at the edge of the Harangi dam (off Kushalnagar) with Eco Habitat and wake up to see a hazy, surreal sight of the fishermen in their coracles. At Chikmagalur, have the wild coffee bushes for company at Hunkal Woods. If you are up or some walking trails, try the graveyard walk, sambhar track and those apt for bird-watching.
Make it Happen
Goa (587 km): Overnights buses, trains and convenient flights are available from Bengaluru every day. Book in advance as this is the most popular sector during the holiday season.
Varkala (709 km): The best way to reach Varkala is by an overnight train. There are 7 options of which the Bangalore- Kanyakumari (Island) Express runs through the week.
Pondicherry (311 km): Pondicherry is a 6 hour drive from Bengaluru and even though both buses and trains are available, the drive is scenic and a good addition to your holiday.
Chikmagalur (245 km): Depending on which part of Chikmagalur you are travelling to, driving time can range from 4 to 6 hours. One can also take a bus – Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has multiple overnight options.
Ooty (265 km): The drive to Ooty takes one through the forested regions of Bandipur and Masinagudi. If you don’t want to drive for 6 hours, take a bus. Plan well as the roads are closed between 6pm-6am; only a handful of overnight buses have permission to cross during this period.
Coorg (250 km): Driving to Kushalnagar from Bangalore, take a right after Hunsur, crossing Periyapatna and Bylakuppe towns. The time taken is about six hours.
All views expressed in this article are the author’s own.