Go rock-climbing in Badami, Karnataka
Out of Bangalore (450km)
If you’re the type that revels in adventure and would rather head out for a challenging activity on a weekend rather than just kick back and relax, consider rock climbing. Not only is it a test of your physical prowess, but it also puts your mental abilities through a rigorous workout. One of the best spots in India for the sport of rock climbing is Badami, Karnataka, where people go up against both rock formations and artificial walls. There are a fair number of climbing routes across Badami’s sandstone hills, and plenty of organisations such as Sports Climbing India, that offer courses for all sorts of climbers . The routes sport creative names such as Bunks Bum, Master of Biscuits, Babu Killer and Ganesha, and the difficulty ranges from 5a+ (easy) to 8b+ (diffIcult). What better way to explore the local landscape than clambering across it yourself?
When you’re exhausted by all the climbing, head to some of the other local attractions. The Mahakuta group of temples, is located close by and provide a fascinating glimpse into ancient Indian civilisations. Some of the climb operators also offer up campsite for stay and this is the perfect way to conclude an exhilarating weekend, by the campfire, under the open sky.
Mural spotting in Thiruvarur, Tamil Nadu
Out of Chennai (300km)
If you’re put off by the crowds in Thanjavur, one of the more popular spots for travellers in India, you could head instead to the nearby vibrant town of Thiruvarur. The highlight here is, of course, the Thyagaraja Temple which is even older than the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur on Sannathi Street. The murals in this temple were painted in the 17th century, during the Nayaka period, and recently restored by the Prakriti Foundation and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
The painted panels in the Devasiriya Mandapam of the temple tell the story of the mythical monkey-faced Chola king Muchukunda. It’s believed that Lord Shiva took up residence in the temple in the form of Thyagaraja Swamy after the king idened the correct image of the god from a set of seven identical ones. The ancient hall has ochre pillars holding up the ceiling, on which you will nd long rows of murals in vivid reds and greens. The details in the artwork are amazing, and you could happily spend a couple of hours taking in the craft. When done with the temple, head out to the village for a range of quaint experiences such as bicycling through paddy fields or even learn pottery making or bamboo-weaving from locals. It’s a wholesome experience that awaits you in Thiruvarur.
Eat your heart out in Hyderabad, Telangana
Hyderabad’s cuisine is a delicious showcase of blended influences. It would probably take weeks to get a comprehensive taste of all options available, but we’ve planned it such that you could do a sampling over a weekend visit.
Start off at Café Niloufer and Bakers with a menu of biscuits along with thick, milky chai. Next, head to Café Bahar for some authentic Hyderabadi mutton biryani, bheja fry, Bahar special mutton and, if there’s room, qubani ka meetha, a dessert made with dried apricots. Another noteworthy mention would be Dine Hill, known for its specialty, patthar ka gosht – succulent boneless mutton cooked on stone. If it’s the Arabic influence you want to explore, try Mataam al Arabi from mandi (a biryani sprinkled with nuts and raisins), served on a giant plate with laham (mutton), chicken, fish or quail. Of course, this isn’t all there is, but that’s for next time.