It’s a brand new year and one where you can make the most of your travel plans as 2020 has 20 long weekends. Plan ahead and you can take breaks every month, yes you read that right. We tell you how you can make the most of these long weekends from Bangalore.
JANUARY : January 1 (Wednesday New Year); January 2 (Thursday Guru Gobind Jayanti, optional holiday); January 3 (Friday, take off); January 4 (Saturday); January 5 (Sunday)
Extend your Christmas break and start the New Year on a high quite literally when you take a trip to the Scotland of India Coorg (268 km from Bangalore). Take a trek amidst the Shola forests at Tadiandamol for stunning panoramic views of forests and coffee plantations. When in Coorg make stops at Bhagamandala, the birth place of the river Cauvery and to Bylakuppe to pay obeisance at the Golden temple at Namdroling. For a close encounter with elephants the Dubare Wildlife Camp beckons you to interact with these gentle animals. And for more wildlife adventures book a safari at Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuary.
January 31 (Friday, take off); February 1 (Saturday); February 2 (Sunday)
End the month in style with a visit to Badami (445 km from Bangalore). Known for its four cave temples that can be reached by walking up the stairway built to see one cave at a time, Badami is also a paradise for rock climbing and rappelling with many professional adventure companies conducting the same. Do visit Aihole (35 km from Badami) a group of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples and Pattadakal, a complex of temples widely believed to be the prototype for other temples in the region.
FEBRUARY: February 21 (Friday, Maha Shivratri, optional); February 22 (Saturday); February 23 (Sunday)
Hampi (340 km from Bangalore) the city where you can see poetry in stones is a great time to visit in February as the city gears up for the annual Hampi Festival and the sense of excitement is palpable in the air. This a UNESCO World Heritage Site was the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire and a stop at the Vittala Temple Complex that houses the stone chariot is a good place to start exploring the city. The nine tiered Virupaksha temple whose tower faces the famous Hampi Bazaar, The Royal Enclosure home to the 100-Pillared king’s audience hall, a stepped tank, an underground chamber and the Mahanavami Dibba are other sights not to be missed.
MARCH: March 7 (Saturday); March 8 (Sunday); March 9 (Monday, Holi)
Sakleshpur (220 km from Bangalore) is a good option in March as it is cooler being a hill town famed for its coffee that is also harvested around this time. You can also stay at a coffee estate where you can see the entire process of the coffee from bean to cup. Located close by is the Manjarabad Fort that has some stunning views of the Western Ghats as well as the Sakleshwara Temple a fine example of Hoysala architecture. For amazing photo ops head to the Bisle View Point and you have the perfect Instagram shot ready.
APRIL: April 2 (Thursday, Ram Navami, optional); April 3 (Friday, take off); April 4 (Saturday); April 5 (Sunday)
Hassan (183 km from Bangalore) is a treasure trove of Hoysala architecture and sculpture. This is where you can visit India’s second largest earth dam at Gorur as well as the twin temples of Nageshwara and Channakeshava in Mosale that are believed to be prototypes of temples in Belur and Halebid. When you are here do visit the stunning ruins of the 18th century Shettyhalli Church located on the banks of the River Hemavathi. For the spiritually inclined, the Mavinakere Sri Lakshmi Venkataramanaswamy temple and Narasimha temple at Holenarsipura are good pit stops. Do catch a stunning sunset over the Sri Ramadevara Dam as well.
April 10 (Friday, Good Friday); April 11 (Saturday); April 12 (Sunday)
Kabini (210 km from Bangalore) was the private hunting ground of the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore, and is a unique wildlife reserve with the river Kabini flowing through the national park. Hence apart from a jeep safari, you can also take a boat safari. Common sightings include elephants, Chital, Sambar, Gaur, Wild pig and the Langur. The backwater of the river is a great place for bird watchers too. You can also take guided walks with naturalists which is a great way to learn about the local flora and fauna.
MAY: May 1 (Friday, Labour Day); May 2 (Saturday); May 3 (Sunday)
Srirangapatna (120 km from Bangalore) is a destination steeped in the history of Tipu Sultan. This is where you can see the Dariya Daulat Bagh that has now been converted into a museum and has some stunning paintings that cover the walls and house his clothes, coins, arms and ammunition. Also check out Gumbaz, the tomb and mosque built by Tipu Sultan as a tribute to his father Hyder Ali and The Jamia Masjid built by Tipu Sultan in 1784. The ruins of the Lal Mahal Palace, the official residence of Tipu Sultan and the Srirangapatna Fort built by the Timmanna Nayaka in 1454 are other highlights. The Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is located nearby and is a must see for bird watchers.
May 7 (Thursday, Buddha Purnima, optional); May 8 (Friday, take off); May 9 (Saturday); May 10 (Sunday)
Chikamangalur (245 km from Bangalore) is Karnataka’s coffee belt that is also home to the famous Baba Budangiri hills (named after the saint who is believed to have bought coffee to India). When here a trek to the Kudremukh National Park and to the highest peak of Karnataka, Mullayanagiri are recommended. Kallathigiri Falls, Hanumana Gundi Falls and Hebbe Falls are in the vicinity too and will thrill nature lovers. Or simply sip the best coffee and soak in the stunning views of the mountains and you will have the perfect holiday.
May 22 (Friday, take off); May 23 (Saturday, Eid-Ul-Fitr); May 24 (Sunday)
Beat the heat by escaping to the cool confines of Kotagiri (302 km from Bangalore) a lesser known town in the Nilgiri Biosphere. The hill town is home to Pethakal Bunglow, the residence of John Sullivan, the founder of the British settlement at Ooty which now house his memorial. For a stunning view of the hills, head to the Kodanad view point where you can spot the resident bird of the region, the pied bushchat. A small walk amidst the tea gardens will get you to a view point from where you can see the double cascade Catherine waterfall. The St Luke’s English Church and the St Mary’s Church are some other places to stop by.
JUNE: June 20 (Saturday); June 21 (Sunday); June 22 (Monday; take off)
Wayanad (280 km from Bangalore) is home to Edakkal caves with cave art dating back to 6000 BC and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary which are the most popular places of the region. Head to Kuruva Island for a spot of rafting or boating and Chembra Peak for a trek. The Banasura Sagar Dam is a great spot for photos and is set amidst lush landscapes and needs a fair amount of walking. Also stop by at the Pookode Lake a perineal fresh water lake and the three tired Meenmutty Waterfalls.
This story first appeared in Bangalore Mirror dated Jan 6, 2020 here:
Part Two coming soon