‘Express Escapes’ Articles
While the Hoysala temples at Belur and Halebidu have earned global attention, the exquisite shrine at Somnathpur, considered to be the most complete and best-preserved Hoysala structure, has remained in the shadows. Just two hours from bangalore, the Kesava Temple here is a must-visit for its unparalleled design and craftsmanship.
Somnathpur Keshava Temple
Somnathpur Keshava Temple
Somnathpur Keshava Temple
Distance: 125 km
Direction: Take the Maddur-Malavalli route. At the first circle, take a deviation which will lead you to Bannur, and then Somnathpur.
Shivasamudram is a pretty island curtained by two waterfalls formed by the Cauvery River. Surrounded by wooded hills and lush follage, it is a popular weekend getaway for Bangaloreans. Visit post-monsoon (Jun-Sep) to see the falls at its most exuberant. You could take a dip in the lagoon formed by the waterfalls or take a coracle ride down the Cauvery. Or visit Asia’s first hydroelectric project just a few kilometres downstream.
Distance: 120 km
Direction: Take the Mysore Road (SH 17) from Bangalore. At Maddur, turn left and proceed to Shivasamudram via Malavalli.
Global fame has been bestowed upon the three fishing camps on the Cauvery River, run by one of India’s finest eco-tourism companies, Jungle Lodges and Resorts. Most famous of these is the one at Bheemeshwari, perhaps because of its proximity to Bangalore. Here you can angle for the endangered mahseer, which is reported to be one of the toughest game fish species. But if fishing is not your thing, you can take coracle rides, go rafting or trekking or just sit by the banks of the Cauvery and watch the river burble by.
Distance: 100 km
Direction: Take NH 209 towards Kollegal. Turn left at Sathnur. The camp is 5 km beyond Muthathi on the Sathnur-Halagur Road.
Mysore is Karnataka’s second-largest city. This erstwhile seat of the Mysore kings is graced with wide avenues, grand palaces and beautiful buildings, and the grand Mysore Dasara (Sept-Oct) is the state’s most spectacular event. Don’t miss the exquisite Mysore Palace and lush Chamundi Hills, and do pick up some Mysore silk, Mysore paintings and sandalwoods.
Distance: 140 km
Direction: Take Mysore Road (SH 17) and go past Channapatna, Mandya and Srirangapatna to reach Mysore.
Laid out over islets in the Cauvery River, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is the preferred choice of myriad bird species. the best thing about the sanctuary is that you tour the area in boats and come almost within touching distance of the distance of the birds. Egrets, cormorants, white ibis, storks, herons, river terns, spoon bills, storks, northern pintails, common teals, marsh harriers, great stone plovers, cliff swallows, large pied wagtails, whistling teals, red wattled lapwings and spot-billed ducks are some of the birds you can see here. Another attraction, the marsh crocodiles that lie deceptively still on the banks.
Distance: 129 km
Direction: Take the Maddur-Mandya-Srirangapatna route on SH 17. After Srirangapatna, turn right via the Paschimavahini Bridge. About 1 km after the turnoff, turn right again and proceed 2 km to the sanctuary.
You need an entire day to explore this fortress city. Srirangapatna was once the capital of the powerful princely state of Mysore and the bastion of Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali. Take a stroll in Tipu’s ornate summer palace, the Daria Daulat Bagh, or visit Gumbaz, the beautiful mausoleum of Tip and Hyder. And pay your respects at the Ranganathaswamy Temple, where a colossal Vishnu rests on his celestial serpent.
Distance: 127 km
Direction: Take the Mysore Road (SH 17) and proceed on the Maddur-Mandya route.
Just 80 km from Bangalore, Kokkarebellur is an obscure village off the Bangalore-Mysore highway, with not even a water body to justify it as a tourist drawn. Which makes it all the more incomprehensible that painted storks and pelicans ly from as far as Europe, Siberia and Australia to nest here! Go between December and August and the sight of these gigantic birds perched atop every tree and roof, or flying low over a group of nonchalant villagers, will keep you entranced.
Distance: 80 km
Direction: Take Mysore Road (SH 17) out of the city and post Ramanagaram and Channapatna. About 5 km before Maddur, take a left at Rudrakshipura. Kokkarebellur is 12 km from the turnoff.
Nearly 400 years old, the dodda alada mara (Kannada for ‘big banyan tree’) is a natural wonder. The tree has spread its roots across an awe-inspiring three to four acres. As sunlight filters through the thick foliage, pause to admire the labyrinth of roots and trunk. Or stop by at the small temple nearby.
Distance: 28 km
Direction: Take the Mysore Road (SH 17), turn right after Kengeri and drive for another 8 km to reach the tree.
Just an hour’s drive from the heart of the urban jungle, Bannerghatta National Park shelters many wild animals, including elephants. The main attraction for day-trippers from Bangalore is the Biological Park, which houses a zoo, a butterfly park, a reptile park and an aviary. Safaris within separate enclosures for herbivores, tigers and lions, and elephant rides, are the other highlights. For a more leisurely appreciation of the forest, stay overnight at Bannerghatta Nature Camp – treks and excursions within the National Park are part of the activities.
Distance: 25 km
Direction: Take the Bannerghatta Road and follow the signs to reach there.
A hill rising about 1,400 m above sea level and carrying aloft a clutch of shrines at its peak, Shivaganga attracts pilgrims as well as tourists. The hill is truly multi-faceted – it displays four different profiles depending on the direction from which you are viewing. From the east it resembles Nandi, from the west, Ganesha, from the north, a cobra and from the south, a Shiva linga.
Distance: 58 km
Direction: Take NH 4 towards Tumkur. At Dabaspet, take a left and proceed for about 10 km to reach Shivaganga.
Set up by danseuse Protima Gauri Bedi, Nrityagram trains dancers in Kathak, Bharatanatyam and Odissi. This residential dance school is modelled in the ancient gurukul tradition. Much of the charm of Nrityagram lies in its architecture – designed by Gerard da Cunha, the school is styled like a village, with thatched-roof mud buildings and plenty of greenery. An added bonus is the excellent residential options nearby, including the ethinically designed Taj Kuteeram next door and the eco-resort, Our Native Village.
Distance: 30 Km.
Direction: Take NH 4 out of Bangalore and turn right at the 8th milestone to cross Hesaraghatta and reach Nrityagram.
Arguably the Bangalorean’s favourite getaway, Nandi Hills has temples, trekking trails and even a fort. Located 1,478 m above sea level, it has an enviably pleasant climate throughout the year, which made it a popular summer retreat of the British as well as of local rulers such as Tipu Sultan. Stop to admire the scenery from the 600 m vantage point called Tipu’s Drop, from where, according to fable, Tipu had condemned prisoners pushed to their death!
Distance: 60 km.
Direction: Take NH 7 out of Bangalore past Yelahanka and Devanahalli, take a left at Betta Cross and head up to Nandi Hills.
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Fog at Nandi Hills