All packages from Karnataka > Mysore

Mysore
The City of Palaces
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On an extended weekend, we decided to go Mysore for a quick holiday. We left early morning. About 30 kms on the Bangalore – Mysore road, we took a deviation of 10 kms to see the Big Banyan Tree or Dodda Alada Mara as it fondly referred to by the localites. This 400 year old tree is spread over a staggering 3 acres and stands on 500 prop roots and is incidentally the 4th largest Banyan tree in the country! 

We came back to the highway and proceeded to Ramnagaram. The landscape with its big boulders and hillocks was enough reason for us to stop and enjoy the place where the blockbuster film Sholay was filmed. 

About 10 kms further, we entered another different world known as Chennapatna or Gombegala Ooru. This small town on the highway is famous for its colourful wooden toys and lacquerware. 

We bid the toy city goodbye and then stopped for a quick bite of the famous Maddur Vada in the town which it was named after. 

We then proceeded to Srirangapatna, where the decisive battle was fought between Tipu Sultan, the tiger of Mysore who roared in defiance against the British forces. We engaged the services of a local guide and made a quick visit of the sightseeing places – Tippu’s Summer Palace, Gumbaz (Tippu’s tomb), the beautiful garden Daria Daulat Bagh, the Fort and the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple.

We took a 5 kms deviation from Srirangapatna to go to Ranganathittu Bird Sactuary, an island on river Cauvery and home for an astonishing variety of migratory birds from as far as Siberia. 

We reached our resort in Mysore in time for lunch. After a couple of hours rest, we left to see the Philomena’s Church - a beautiful Cathedral of Gothic architecture. Make sure to check out the musical organ at the church as well.

Our next stop was the Railway museum, a small but fascinating place which reflects the growth of Indian railways. There is even a Maharani’s (Queen’s) Saloon carriage dating from around 1888, complete with the royal toilet! 

We then decided to call it a day and got back to our resort for a hearty dinner. The local cuisine is good out here with a lot of delicious sweets to savour. 

 

On the next day, we visited the Mysore Palace and Residential Museum. The Palace, formerly the residence of the Wodeyar family, is one of the largest of its kind in India. It is said that its architecture was inspired by Buckingham Palace in London.

We really felt that without the service of an authorized guide, we would not have been able to enjoy the architecture and artifacts. We finished the tour of the Palace in half a day, though it could have occupied our entire day easily. The Palace is illuminated on weekends and public holidays and it is indeed a sight to behold!

In the afternoon, we also visited the Sri Jaya Chamarajendra Art gallery which is housed in the Jagan Mohan palace and has wonderful antique instruments and wall paintings.

We decided to do some shopping and visited the Cauvery Arts & Craft emporium (a Govt. of Karnataka undertaking) which is famous for carved sandalwood, silk sarees and ivory inlay works. You can be sure to get genuine products from this shop. Beware of other shops that the driver/ guide may take you to such as Kaveri Arts & Craft emporium.

We also went to the Devaraja market, a lively bazaar which has different sections selling flowers, fruits, vegetables, spices, incense, souvenirs and numerous other things! Our bargaining skills came in handy and we managed to pick up many items. 

 

On the third day, we checked out of the resort early in the morning to visit Chamundi Hills. The Chamundi Hills speaks of the legendry story of how Mahishasura (from whom surprisingly Mysore got its name) was defeated by Goddess Chamundeshwari.

We opted not to take the motorable 13 km road to the Chamundi temple, but instead chose to climb the 300 year old flight of 1000 steps laid by the Mysore Maharaja in the 17th century.

Halfway up the hill is Nandi, Lord Shiva’s bull, a majestic 16 feet monolithic statue. From the summit, the view of the landscape was simply beautiful with a paranomic view of Mysore city. As we were tired, we requested our driver to come to the summit and returned to Bangalore after a weekend well spent.

Time did not permit us to visit the Zoo, which was set up under royal patronage in the 19th century and ranks amongst the best in India, offering a natural habitat for the animals and birds. We also skipped the Brindavan gardens and Krishnarajasagar dam this visit. 

There are many other interesting ways to enjoy Mysore such as going on a night walking tour, vintage jeep tour, Mysore Silk tour or even a Yoga and Spirituality tour. Get in touch with us to find out more!



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Other Packages from Karnataka

Karwar
Go Gokarna
11844 people have seen this

Karnataka has a rich variety of landscapes. A few of us decided to explore the coastal belt. What better than a road trip to Karwar and Gokarna , which boasts of some of the best beaches in the state? Bangalore to Karwar, a distance of about 520kms, took us almost 9 hours.

We had chosen to stay at Devbagh which is an iconic spot in Karwar, known for its pristine beach and water sports. So, from Karwar jetty (dock) a ferry took us to Devbagh. The beauty of the island had us spell bound.

We explored the adventure options at Devbagh and participated in a wide range of water sports.

Scuba Diving (the water is not as clear as Lakshadweep or the Andamans), parasailing, and banana boat rides were the best.Water sports can be arranged by the resort/hotel where one is staying, usually at a small extra charge. Snorkelling is another enjoyable activity one can indulge in. We were lucky to see dolphins at a distance, swimming happily in a group. There are also boat journeys available for dolphin watching. I would recommend at least two nights at Devbagh to soak up everything. The coastal cuisine was delectable. Karwar specials include vegetarian dishes (with a liberal use of coconut) and a wide array of sea food preparations.

Next, we drove to Gokarna, (about 65km from Devbagh) Gokarna means “Cow’s ear” and there is a story behind how it got this name. The most famous spot at Gokarna is the Om Beach. The coast line of the beach is shaped like the word OM (in the linguistic form).

There are only a few options to stay by the beach side. So, book very well in advance to avoid disappointment. There is nothing much to do here other than what we can do the best – laze around!!! The Mahabaleshwara ( Shiva)temple at Gokarna is well worth a visit. It is said to be next in sanctity only to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and is often called the Kashi of the South. There are five beaches at Gokarna – Gokarna beach, Kudle Beach (largest among the five and quite crowded), Om Beach, Half Moon beach & Paradise Beach. You can trek from Om beach to Half Moon beach which takes about 30 minutes.

We saw a glorious, mesmerizing sunset , at the end of a lovely day at the beach … The sky changes from Blue to Gold…just like that ( in the picture) and the sun seemed to say “I’ll be back” , as it disappeared into the sea. We echoed the sun as we headed back, with a tranquil mind, stilled by the beauty of what we witnessed. We really enjoyed our weekend at Karwar and Gokarna. We trust that you would too. For those who love coastal delicacies, you won’t be disappointed. Tip: Those interested in Wildlife, can head to Anshi National Park (Further North of Karwar at approx. 60km) or even Dandeli Wildlife Sactuary (North of Karwar at approx. 100km) where during season time, you even have the option to indulge in White Water Rafting. Best time to visit Karwar & Gokarna is during September to March. The weather is moderate. April to mid-June the heat and humidity is high. During Mid-June to early September, monsoons are heavy and best avoided. Goa is approx. 2 hour drive from Karwar.



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Hampi
The Empire of Vijayanagar
7258 people have seen this

My craze for architecture will never end. I decided to visit Hampi (a UNESCO World Heritage Site in North Karnataka) over a long weekend in the winter. It is the former capital of Vijayanagar Empire and can be reached by bus or train. The nearest railhead is Hospet, which is approx. 15km from Hampi. I chose to travel alone, and to go by an overnight train from Bangalore.

One can also drive from Bangalore, however the journey is long (approx. 350km) and once you take deviation from the National Highway near Chitradurga, there are several towns you will pass by and will have to slow down due to road humps. When you are nearing Hospet, the roads get worse and might damage your vehicle’s chassis if it has a low ground clearance.

I chose to stay at a hotel in Hospet keeping in mind the accessibility factor. After freshening up, I took a hand map and a cycle to go around. The first stop I made was at the Virupaksha Temple. Earlier there were shops and eat outs in the same street as the temple, but they were recently razed down.

The impressive Virupaksha Temple is still active with daily worship and is located close to the Hampi bus stand.

The best way to get around to see the monuments and sights at Hampi is by renting a bicycle. On a hot day, it will definitely be difficult to walk around the place. Due to the boulders, the heat reaches great levels.

As you go around the sites, a noticeable architectural feature is the Mantap (used as resting area or at times as town watch towers). There are single and double storeyed towers. There are a few Jain Temples close to the Virupaksha Temple as well. It is simply superb to see the confluence of two religions in different periods, but at the same destination. 

I then cycled my way to Badava Linga. The story behind this icon of Shiva is that a poor lady in Hampi promised to build a temple for Lord Shiva if her wishes are fulfilled. She then carved the linga out of a big boulder. As it was a poor woman who built it, it is called Badava Linga. Badava in local dialect means poor.

One of the famous icons in Hampi is the Ugra Narasimha temple, right next to Badava Linga. This is a depiction of Lord Narasimha slaughtering King Hiranyakashipu.

After visiting temples, I then continued cycling further to about 1km. I reached the Hazara Rama temple, Queen’s Bath and the Stepped Tank. I was extremely exultant on seeing the archeology of the stepped tank. No one knows why it was contructed that way. It is not clearly visible in the monsoon as the water fills up. I had been here in October, hence I wasn’t disappointed.

I then referred to my map for my next stop. It was 6km away. As I was carrying water and juice cartons, I was comfortably cycling around. The next stop was Vittala Temple. I had arrived to the most exciting destination at Hampi. The Vittala Temple is in ruins. There are two highlights at Vittala Temple, Hampi. One is the pillared Hall, which was being restored when I had visited.

The second highlight is the Stone Chariot. The stone chariot is a leading attraction of Hampi. This is actually a shrine built in the shape of a chariot, located near the Vittala Temple at Hampi.

Just by the Vittala Temple, the river Tungabhadra flows elegantly post monsoon. There are coracle boats which one can hire and go across the river. There is a Hanuman temple atop a small hill.

By the time I returned to Vittala Temple, it was almost late afternoon. Had a quick lunch and proceeded to Hemakoota hill at around 5PM.

There are quite a few sunset points at Hampi. It is an awe inspiring, picturesque sight to see the entire landscape turn into a golden hue, and as the sun sets, the silhouettes of the boulders and monuments impart an ethereal feel.  Do get to the sunset point on time to avoid disappointment.

I recommend that you book your stay in advance as during season time or weekends, getting accommodation may be a challenge as there are not too many options. Also, make sure to carry water bottles with you, as there are hardly any shops once you leave the Hampi town area.

Tip:

You can extend your tour to go to the region around Hampi which is known as the cradle of Temple Architecture in South India - namely Badami, Aihole & Pattadakal. Get in touch with Hammock to arrange the holiday for you.



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Belur & Halebid
Architectural Jewels of the Hoysala Empire
7304 people have seen this

We decided to go on a weekend trip to explore the culture of Karnataka and shortlisted Hassan, with a short stop over at Shravanabelagola for this trip.  Hassan is approx. 3 ½ hrs from Bangalore and 2 ½ hrs from Mysore. 

We left Bangalore early in the morning at 6 am and took a deviation from Tumkur road NH for about 20 kms and reached Shravanabelagola by 9 am, after a brief stop enroute for breakfast.  

Historically Shravanabelagola dates back to the 3rd century B.C.  Carved from a single block of stone, the serene 1000 year old statue of the Jain deity Gomateshwara (Bahubali) stands majestically atop Indragiri Hill and is a marvel to behold. Regarded to be one of the tallest monolithic statues in the world, we had to climb 614 steps (carved out of sheer rock) to reach the top. Since footwear is not allowed, do not forget to carry socks with you to prevent your foot from being scorched!

We left Shravanabelagola by 12.00 noon and reached our resort in Hassan in time for lunch. After putting up our tired feet and taking a short nap, we proceeded to Belur (about 45 minutes from Hassan) – which was a flourishing capital of the Hoysala empire about 800 years ago.  Developed under their rule, Belur is famous for its strikingly beautiful temples and architecture. 

The largest and most ornate of the temples in Belur is the Chennakeshava temple built in AD 1116 and it is said to have taken almost more than 100 yrs to complete! Noted for its 38 exquisite bracket figures, we were amazed by the rich detail, gestures and subtle nuances of emotion that were depicted. 

The exquisite jewelry, elaborate coiffeures and the sartorial elegance of these carved figures would leave even modern designers and hairstylists awestruck. We would recommend taking an authorised guide along, so that you do not miss out the finer details.

We returned back to our hotel in Hassan after a day well spent. The next morning we left for Halebid, which was approx 45 mins away. Halebid has several Hoysala temples and Jain Shrines. For want of time, we decided to visit only the famous Hoysaleshwara temple. 

We were told that due to the Sultan’s invasion, the temple still remains incomplete in construction despite 86 years of labour! This temple is a sculptural marvel with excellent craftsmanship. What struck us was the way the temple was faceted with horizontal and vertical friezes creating a marvelous interplay of light and shade which was breathtaking. 

We were told that the Kedareshwara temple is a smaller version of the Hoysaleshwara temple and the temple was mutilated by an invasion and has sadly not been restored after that period. 

 

The Jain temple complex, which is close by houses 3 indisvidual shrines of the 12th Century. It is supposed to have unique pillars which produce different sounds.  

We returned to our resort in Hassan and checked out to leave back to Bangalore, making a quick stop for lunch at Hassan town. In hindsight, we realized that a minimum 2 night’s stay is required to soak up all the beautiful architecture that was around.

 



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