With summers, comes the delight of vacations with family and friends. As the holidays are nearing, you might have to be quick on planning a getaway far from home. These options can be considered if you are looking at spending your summer holidays in South India.
Busy Madikeri (Mercara) is spread out along a series of ridges. An imposing fort, Omkareshwara Temple, the royal tombs, lush coffee and spice estates, and stunning panoramas of verdant valleys from Raja’s Seat are ample reason to visit this old-world hill station surrounded by dense rainforests.
Getting Around: Madikeri is a small town and easy to negotiate on foot. For excursions around the region, several places rent out motorcycles and cars with driver. In fact, most homestays, guesthouses and hotels have their own jeeps for hire.
Top Sights: Raja’s Seat, Madikeri Fort & Palace, Abbey Falls, Nalnad Palace & Iguthappa Temple, Omkareshwar Temple, Dubare Elephant Camp
Shopping: A browse around the old market in the heart of Madikeri will yield almost anything produced in Coorg. Coffee, honey, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, ginger, nutmeg, cashews, areca nut, are all up for grabs.
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Coorg has earned itself the rightful title of ‘adventure capital of Karnataka’. Located on the eastern edge of the Western Ghats, it has a diverse topography, with mountains, coffee plantations, thick forests, paddy fields and rivers. These form a suitable backdrop to a number of activities like rafting, kayaking, canoeing, trekking, camping and microlight flying. Club these with your explorations of Coorg for an adventure-packed break.
Getting Around: If you plan to visit several adventure hubs, hire a car for convenience and comfort. Roads from one location to another can be bumpy and a 20km stretch could well take an hour given the road conditions.
Top Adventure Bases: Kutta (Ideal for trekking, rafting and experiencing microlight flying), Kakkabe (ideal for kayaking or canoeing) and Kushalnagar (Pitch tents by the Harangi Dam and go kayaking in the still waters of the reservoir).
Ooty’s reputation as ‘Queen of the Hills’ is hard to beat. With many ‘tick off the list’ things to do, it’s an engaging destination with the toy train, Botanical Gardens, Boat House, and refurbished colonial bungalows.
Getting Around: Autorickshaws and taxis are commonly used to get around the town. There are fixed fares to most destinations.
Top Sights: The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (Toy Train), Tea Factory & Museum, Botanical Gardens, Doddabetta Peak, Boat House, Thread Garden
Shopping: Chellaram in Ooty is the right place to buy best quality Nilgiri tea, herbs, spices and Eucalyptus. Homemade chocolates are an essential part of the shopping landscape here. King Star and Modern Stores are worth a visit for these.
Tranquil Coonoor, off the beaten tourist track, offers memorable experiences. This tea country is an olfactory paradise for lovers of the cup that cheers. For views of the Coimbatore plains, tea terraces and nearby mountains, choose from a number of superb vantage points around.
Getting Around: Coonoor is easily traversed on foot or by autorickshaw.
Top Sights: Sim’s Park, Lamb’s Rock, Dolphin’s Nose, Lady Canning’s Seat, The Droog, Ralliah Dam
Shopping Buy tea, handicrafts and tribal products like organic food, pottery, handicrafts, garments and oils to take home as souvenirs.
Wayanad’s landscape is a symphony of verdant rice paddies, clumps of bamboo, spiky ginger fields and rubber, cardamom and coffee plantations. Given its lush forest cover, you’re almost guaranteed to spot wild elephants along with several species of birds and reptiles.
Getting Around: DTPC (District Tourism Promotions Council, Kerala) can help arrange car hire. Plenty of private buses connect Mananthavadi, Kalpetta and Sultan Bathery every 10 to 20 minutes during daylight hours.
Top Sights: Edakkal Caves, Pookode (Pookot) Lake, Kuruva Island, Thirunelli Temple, Jain Temple, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Banasura Sagar Dam, Pakshipathalam, Waterfalls of Wayanad
Bandipur offers a fascinating experience for wildlife enthusiasts. Once the Mysore maharajas’ private wildlife reserve, this easy-to-access sanctuary is noted for its herds of gaurs (Indian bison), cheetal, sambars, leopards, sloth bears and langurs, as well as tigers and elephants. It is a slice of heaven for birdwatchers too.
Getting Around: Resort vehicles are the best way to travel through the forest. Elephant rides are also available.
Top Sights: Jungle Jeep Safari, Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta