This year’s Holi week is what every traveller wanted. Our readers in Bengaluru will be spoilt for choice while looking for a Holi escape.
Here are our suggestions:
The enduring vision of Ooty involves rolling hills, covered in a carpet of tea plantations, strewn with brightly coloured Lego like houses. Interspersed with lush patches of fern and eucalyptus, the hills immediately put you in a good mood after leaving the bustle of the city behind. Though the destination itself has a repertoire of travel clichés which endures a typical hill-station type experience, it cannot be missed. Ooty is a delight for photographers but the innocent bystander will have to duck quite a bit to stay out of other people’s pictures. Visit the Doddabetta Peak, the Botanical Gardens, the tea factory and museum and the Rose Garden. If you have a few hours to kill, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (also known as the Toy Train) is your best bet.
Make it happen: Ooty is only 265 kms from Bengaluru and if you were driving on State Highway 17 or the National Highway 81, you could get there in around 6 hours. For those keen on public transport, there are multiple KSRTC buses to Ooty from Kempegowda bus stand (7hr 30min, Rs 349 onwards)
The hook for this circuit is the two famous temples of Belur and Halebidu built during the Hoysala Empire, sometime between the 11th and the 13th centuries. These temples are the apex of one of the most artistically flourishing periods in medieval Hindu culture. It took 103 years to complete the Chennakesava Temple, famed for more than 4000 exquisite carvings. The Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu is equally stunning. The stunning Shettihalli Church, 18 kms from Hassan was once said to have been submerged by the waters of the Hemavathi Dam. Built by the French Missionaries in the 19th century, it makes for a good change from an otherwise temple dominated trip.
Make it happen: Belur is 185 kms from Bengaluru and the driving time is barely 4 hours on the National Highway 48. KSRTC buses originating from Kempegowda bus stand stop in Hassan (Rs 328 onwards) on their way to Chickmanglur.
For trekkers, Coorg’s highest peak (and Karnataka’s third highest) provides the ultimate buzz. Treat yourself to a wonderful view of stacked blue mountains rising from a sea of clouds and deep coffee clad valleys. This spectacle from Tadiandamol peak is the reward for braving dense Shola thickets and low grasslands on the steep ascent. For the trek, ensure that you are equipped with these items: enough water, sunscreen, hat or cap, windcheater, chocolates/ dry fruits and mosquito repellent for night halts.
Make it happen: The trek starts at the small village of Kakkabe, around 273 kms from Bengaluru. The driving time is around 6hrs 30 mins. KSRTC has one bus (leaves 11:15 pm, reaches 6:15 am) heading to Bhagamandala, the stop closest to Kakkabe (Rs 315). From here, take a local bus (under Rs 10) to Kaikamba.
Kabini’s lure is its stunning landscape of beautiful backwaters and stunning forestland, home to an amazing variety of wildlife. It’s perfect for those seeking solitude and tranquillity, as you awaken to the chirping of birds and are lulled to sleep by the gentle lapping of the Kabini River. Wildlife enthusiasts can marvel at the herds of elephant and deer and hope for a lucky tiger of leopard spotting in the jungle.
Make it happen: If you are driving, follow the well-marked State Highway 17 to Mysore. From Mysore take the SH 33 for Mananthavady and follow the signage till you reach Kabini (240 kms, 5hrs). A KSRTC super deluxe bus departs from the Central bus stand at 7:30 am daily, returning at 1:30 pm from Kabini.
To know more about these destinations, and indeed about many many more interesting places, check out Short Escapes from Bengaluru.
The article was first published in 2013 and has been updated since