The more I travel around South India the more it starts to feel like the endless bottom of a treasury. The number of incredibly beautiful places and journeys I have had the last two years of living here is more than I have experienced in my whole life. So I rarely say no to a day trip out of Bangalore. Cities drain me and I consider the outside soothing for my mind, body and soul. Here are my top 5 recommendations:

1. Hogenakkal waterfalls: Mini Niagara in Tamil Nadu

Hogenakkal is made up of two Kannada words, ‘Hoge’ meaning smoke and ‘Kal’ means rock. The force of the water hitting the rocks makes it look like there is smoke coming out of the waterfall. Hence Hogenakkal literally translates to smoking rocks! True to its meaning this sight blew my mind!

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There are coracles (round hide boats) that take you very close to the falls. Pity I visited in October 2017 and the water current did not permit me to see the view up close.
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You can see the view point on the right hand side corner. During season one can take the boat right into the waterfall or near it however off season this is the best view.

Distance: 160 kms from Bangalore by car. (It is close to the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu). It takes 3 hours to get there one way and can be done in a single day.

Weather: Mar – Jun are the summer months and it will be way too hot given how hot and humid the region is. Jul – Oct are monsoon months and the current will be too strong plus the river overflowing depending on rainfall.

What to expect: Enjoy a few hours by the waterfall, then head into the village for simple local food. Don’t expect five star standards as it is a remote place with limited options.

Best time: Nov – Feb, the winter months would be ideal with moderate temperatures of 20 C/26 C.

2. Avalabetta

If you are bored of Nandi Hills and looking for something less popular, Avalabetta would be your go to. It is a small, nice and peaceful spot which is basically a hanging cliff juxtaposed with a pond.

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This place is surrounded by monkeys. Don’t be scared but please do not feed them.
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I highly recommend you climb to the top where you can see the flag of the temple for a spectacular view.

Sunrise or sunset views are pretty amazing from here. We went to catch the sunrise but unfortunately it was too cloudy that day. We left at 5:30 am since it is only 90 Kms from Bangalore. I’d recommend an early morning visit to this place to avoid the crowds and enjoy the peace for a few hours. If you are planning an evening visit remember the gates will close at 6 pm.

Distance: 90 kms from Bangalore by car. (It is on the same route as Nandi hills; google map route)

Weather: Get’s a bit windy and chilly early mornings and late evenings but pleasant otherwise.

What to expect:  Lots of monkeys. If you carry food please don’t feed the monkeys as you never know when a difficult situation arises. There is a temple above the cliff you could visit. You also get home made food made of rice for really cheap right outside the entry gate.

Best time: Throughout the year. Ideally mornings but feel free to explore other times.

3. Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve

I had no idea that there are five Blackbuck sanctuaries in South India:

  1. Vallanadu Wildlife Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu
  2. Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu
  3. Guindy National Park, Tamil Nadu
  4. Ranibennur Blackbuck Sanctuary, Karnataka
  5. Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve, Karnataka

I happen to visit 1 of those 5 early last year. You can find more information on the others here.

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This hazy image is all I have from my trip here unfortunately. It was a very hot day and we waited far too long to see a Blackbuck

 

I have heard of tiger reserves and elephant sanctuaries or even bird sanctuaries but Blackbucks? Who would’ve thought someone is actually trying to preserve these beautiful animals. For those who have never seen these antelopes before it’s much like a deer probably a tiny bit smaller. The male Blackbuck is a treat to spot. It has beautiful spiral horns, however you have to be really quiet to get a good look. These creatures will run the second they sense something unfamiliar and believe me they are fast. You have to be a silent, distant observer if you wish to get any closer. There are also some unique birds to spot if you like bird watching.

The only way to know you have arrived is a an entry point through an indescribable/ ordinary gate. Once into the gate you will see huge open grasslands with zero trees.

Find eateries here is impossible and so it’s best to carry food and water with you.

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Rebecca and I got lost and couldn’t find the route. We also didn’t find anything to eat through out this 6 hour ride.

Distance: 132 kms from Bangalore by car in Tumkur District. It borders Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh. Close to Madhugiri town.

Weather: Summer temperatures can be as harsh as 43 C and winters could be as low as 8 C.

What to expect: Enjoy a few hours by the waterfall, then head into the village for simple local food. Don’t expect five star standards as it is a remote place with limited options.

Best time: Early mornings or before sunset in the evenings

4. Sangam

Most of you will know this but I’ll mention it anyway, Sangam refers to confluence of rivers. One such point in Karnataka is the meeting point of River Kaveri and Akravathi. There is even a dam near by this point which they say is worth a visit but I didn’t end up going there.

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(Left to Right) Bhavika, Rohit, Charanya, Mansur & me.

This is a nice, relaxing spot to spend a few hours with friends and family. If you feel adventurous enough to take a dip in the water feel free! Other than that, there are some waterfalls 30 kms from this point which you could consider visiting if you have time. An exceptionally clean restaurant serves delicious non-veg/veg food at reasonable prices.

Distance: 90 kms from Bangalore by bike.

Weather: The day time is incredibly hot and it is likely you will find a shady tree and sit under it most of the time. Early mornings and evenings would be ideal to walk around and explore this place.

What to expect: The water body has decent amount of water and I saw people taking a dip. You could trek around the small hills near by to go see the view from top if the authorities permit. Comfortable shoes with good grip is a must as there are small patches of rocks and water you cross along the way. It is easy to spend half a day here.

Best time: Best to arrive by 7/8 am and leave by lunch time.

5. Bandipur National Park

Also known as the Bandipur Tiger Reserve is a very popular day trip spot especially known for its unique wildlife. Apart from tigers it is said to be the home of Deers, foxes, monkeys, various birds and even elephants. It is exceptionally well maintained and what I found to be the most interesting thing about this park is it is spread across three states Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

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The Bandipur Tiger Reserve along with Nagarahole, Mudumalai, Sathyamangalam & Wayanad Landscape is the source population in the Western Ghats landscape complex with an estimated Tiger population of about 382 (354-411), constitutes the single largest Wild population of Tigers in the world (Jhala et al, 2011).

To spot a tiger you have to be here early in the morning which we unfortunately didn’t do. However we saw a ton of Deers and monkeys all along. Apparently there are cottages and private resorts you can stay in that schedule some eco-tourist activities like jungle safaris, educational and training programs for wildlife conservation etc.

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More information on where to stay, how to reach and what to do in Bandipur is available here.

Distance: 236 kms from Bangalore by bike. If you continue for another 40 kms you will reach Ooty.

Weather: Pleasant conditions with mornings being chilly and afternoons sunny.

What to expect: For tiger spotting please arrive a day before or early in the morning before sunrise. There are places to stay near by and outdoor activities if you want to explore the area.

Best time: Winter months

 

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