Whoever coined “One State, Many Worlds” for Karnataka Tourism got it spot on! The diversity of geography, languages, food, climatic conditions, and the history, wildlife, culture across the state is unbelievable!
Someone asked us to stitch up a road trip across the state inside of a week to cut across and sample various places, so we thought we’d share it for everyone’s benefit. The idea is to keep the drives to 4-6 hours, and cover a decent variety. The whole state is still too vast for seeing inside a week, and we usually recommend more time at each place. Hampi, for instance, alone needs about 3 days!
Bangalore – Sakleshpur/Chikmagalur via Shravana Belagola and the exquisite Belur Temple.
About 300 km : 4.5 hours + breaks
The drive itself is fantastic, and gets into a scenic countryside pretty much as soon as you get out of Bangalore on to the Mangalore highway. There’s a bunch of options along the highway for a quick snack.
Sravanabelagola – about 150 kms out – is one the most important pilgrimage centres for Jainism, and goes back to the 3rd century BC! It’s totally worth a stopover.
The Belur Temple at Belur, 35km past Hassan, is one of the best crafted and preserved temples in South India. Do use the services of a guide while there – they tell the story really well.
And then you’re amidst the coffee estates. Rolling hills, low clouds for a major part of the year, rivers and streams born in the Western Ghats, and a cover of green as far as you can see. We’ll be happy to host you at the Balur Estate or at Golden Wood, Sakleshpur.
Spend a day or two here soaking it in, going on long walks/treks in the estate, understanding growing, picking and producing coffee and its different grades and forms. A planter’s life is a blissful one, if tough.
Malnad – Tirthhalli – Shimoga – The Sharavathi Valley – Honnavara – Gokarna.
About 310km – 6 hours + breaks.
The Malnad – male’ nadu or the land of hills – is one of the prettiest terrains we’ve ever driven through. The roads are not always great, but the treat of the eyes, the clean air and the lack of traffic make up for it. Tirthalli is one of the wettest districts in the South!
You could stop over at the Jog Falls which plunge 830ft. This is especially gorgeous just after the monsoon, and a sight to behold.
At Honnavara you get to the coastline after a lovely drive through the Western Ghats – the lush green Sharavathi Valley which drops to the coast in a matter of a few kilometres. The roads from here are good, and you keep catching glimpses of the Arabian Sea. Turn in to Gokarna (stay with us!) for quiet, long beaches, pretty estuaries with sandbanks, hills and forests, right upto the sea, mangroves and numerous fishing villages. The temple town is ancient and psychedelic, and the area – unlike Goa – retains the feel of the ages old world that it is – great for exploring on foot.
Gokarna – Hubli – Gadag – Hampi
Another 320km – 6-7 hours. No real stops on this.
The drive starts out along the coast, winds back up the Western Ghats and then gets deeper into the Deccan Plateau. Gadag has an ancient Jain Temple worth a quick stopover at.
But it’s Hampi you want to get to! A whole city built of stone and abandoned completely a few hundred years ago.
The drive back to Bangalore should take you about 7 hours, and is mostly zippy highway. Except a quick stopover at a dhaba, not much there, unless you want to stop and ogle at the magnificent Chitradurga Fort. It’s amazing how much history dots the landscape everywhere!