Rush n Respite: My way of one-night-stand 

Photo of Rush n Respite: My way of one-night-stand by Ayushee Chaudhary

Festivals are among those few things like travel that thrill everyone, that take us closer to our roots and intrigue us to explore experiences that lie beyond our familiarity.

There's hardly anything about festivals that has not been said already. But it still doesn't diminish the feast and fun that festivals field. What's the other best thing about festivals? They come as holidays for you to take a pause and unwind yourself.

One such festival around the corner is Dussehra and for those residing in Bengaluru and other adjacent areas, a bunch of holidays awaits, pre-marked in the calendars and pre- planned. But those of you who have been too caught up to plan, you don’t need to keep the wanderer inside you calm any longer, as here's some good news.

Owing to the near ideal location of Karnataka's capital, planning a trip is never a problem. While there are ample one-stop-destination to pick from and let your soul hang loose. If you are someone wanting to make the best of these 5 days at hand and explore the maximum, you can have it too. Here I am sharing my 6 destinations covered in a 4 days road trip with a blend of rush and respite. Yes, it sounds a madness but it was a lot of magic.

Day 1
Let the sun shine on you.

The earlier you rise, the better the sunrise. (Also less traffic for Bangalore standards and hence an uplifting start to your trip).

With clouds scattered across the clear blue sky over wide green fields bordering the road, we left the city chaos along NH-75 towards Hassan. The freshly cut cucumber and juicy pineapple, sprinkled with salt and spice sold by roadside vendors served as the perfect accompaniment for a tryst with nature. We carried some home-made breakfast and food for day 1 but you can certainly stop by one of the restaurants or dhabas (not so much like Murthal though) by the highway to eat.

Hassan windmills fields (Picture Courtesy: Ayushee))

Photo of Hassan, Karnataka, India by Ayushee Chaudhary

Through the windmills worth a sight spread across acres of fields in Hassan we made our way to our first stop in Belur at the famous Chennakeshava Temple after a drive of oddly 220 kms.

The entrance from the courtyard of the Chennakeshava Temple also referred as Vijayanarayana Temple of Belur (PC: Ayushee)

Photo of Belur, Karnataka, India by Ayushee Chaudhary

The temple offers a glimpse into the rich history, heritage, and architectural beauty. It is a 12th-century Hindu temple, constituted by King Vishnuvardhana in 1117 CE under Hoysala Empire. The temple which was built over three generations stands tall and beautiful with intricate architectural design all over and a huge courtyard contoured with airy corridors for you to sit back and glance at the artistry.

Different sections of the Chennakeshava Temple (PC:Ayushee)

Photo of Belur Chennakeshava Temple, Belur, Karnataka, India by Ayushee Chaudhary

After a sufficiently refreshing pause, we headed for lunch. There are options from guest houses offering to town canteen, hotels, and restaurants that will offer you decent veg, non-veg, Chinese cuisine, and even a beer or soft drinks to cool down the heat; not in their best of flavors but well within the range of ₹200 to ₹1500. If you are a history buff, Belur has more temples and emblems that will allow you to travel back in time.

Depending on the time in hand you can now either head to Chikmagalur or take a detour like we did to Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. It was not the best of the decision as we underestimated the distance and drove clueless for a 100 kilometers only to reach in time for the last jeep safari. Bhadra is a supposed tiger reserve and offers a wildlife safari that allows you to catch rare glimpses of a wide variety of flora and fauna. Before you hit the pathway in a jeep for the safari, you have a cosy area to sit accompanied by the natural sounds of birds and murmurs of people while you wait for your safari turn, sipping the hot tea. A lady with her son moves in and out of the little room with a jar of tea every time a group settles down for their turn; the warm smile she carries is sure to move your heart. A troll down the road outside, the shows you distinct trees through which sunlight sneak peeks. However, those who preceded us for the safari didn't have the best of feedback and the absence of any interesting wild species made us drop the idea. But the tea and the ride before made for a memory worth registering.

Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary area (PC: Ayushee)

Photo of Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Chickmagaluru, Karnataka, India by Ayushee Chaudhary

Sunlight peeping before the sun takes the dip in the valleys (PC: Keyur Joshi)

Photo of Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Chickmagaluru, Karnataka, India by Ayushee Chaudhary

On the way back from Bhadra we finally made our way 78 kms ahead to Chikmagalur. While you come down the valleys through the hairpin bends you can also stop at The Estate Cafe (around 15 kms from Bhadra) that you are least likely to expect but will provide you with a perfect coffee and light snacks across a beautiful valley view and engagements like pool table, camping etc as per your time, mood and money. After a coffee break, we continued the journey towards our next destination Chikmagalur, the land of coffee.

Being as famous as it is, Chikmagalur abides places to stay from luxury camping sites, hotels and resorts to highly reasonable lodges in the town market area. But you must ensure that you are booked in advance as during holidays Chikmagalur is mostly all taken. We had to settle for a lodge when we reached the lit streets of this town and finally our day one ended. Tired, we had some meal from a hotel and almost slept as another long day was waiting for us.

Next morning we advanced to the famous trek of the area, Mullayanagiri. While it is not the only option, it is the highest peak in Karnataka, standing at 1,930 metres. You can either climb to the top or settle at one of the stone rests that lie all along the way to allow the stunning view seep in as a cool breeze embraces you.

Day 2

The view from Mullayangiri peak being engulfed in a mist of cloud. (PC:Ayushee)

Photo of Mullayanagiri, Chickmagaluru, Karnataka, India by Ayushee Chaudhary

As the clouds took over, a slight drizzle made us head back. But right at the bottom of the trek, you can find vendors with garma-garam bhajjis and chai available to let you take the perfect feel of the weather, as we did. Chikmagalur has more breathtaking views to offer from other peaks like Kudremukh, Sheethalagiri and spots like Hebbe falls etc.

For us, we were satisfied with one trek and on our way back, we traced the curvy path down to reach the Siri Coffee House that nestles within a lush coffee plantation, welcoming us with the heady aroma of freshly brewed coffee. If you are a coffee lover, this is as close you'll get to the source of your daily fix. So why miss the chance?

The entrance of Siri Coffee House (PC: Keyur)

Photo of Siri Coffee Shop, Chickmagaluru, Karnataka, India by Ayushee Chaudhary

After the freshness of coffee, we decided to go a bit off-road. With Google's help, we searched for a lake and with complete uncertainty went forth through the green lanes to finally visit one of the least explored destinations of Chikamagalur town, Hirekolale Lake; a man-made reservoir located at about 10 kms from the main town. Its serene and sparkling water creates such a composed and magical atmosphere that you would just not want to leave the place.

Hirekolale lake, Chikmaglur should be a must on your list (PC: Abilash Mariswamy)

Photo of Hirekolale lake, Chickmagaluru, Karnataka, India by Ayushee Chaudhary

We ended up spending hours in the company of silence, birds, water, breeze and wished to set up a camp right opposite the lake and just be there. But there were still miles to go and a stomach to feed.

Hirokelale lake is certainly Chikmaglur's treasure and our best discovery of the trip

Photo of Hirekolale lake, Chickmagaluru, Karnataka, India by Ayushee Chaudhary

With a silent wish that the lake may stay as unexplored, as away from commercialization and as beautiful and peaceful as we witnessed it, we got back. The time we spent at the lake delayed us quite a bit in our schedule and we found only one restaurant allowing us for lunch. You can tease your taste-buds with the local Malanadu cuisine, Akki roti with Kaikabadu and others or just play safe with the known names. Our delay, however, didn't leave too many options for lunch as it was almost time for supper.

Day 3

Our day two was supposed to end in Muppane, the nature camp at Sharavathi backwaters, at a distance of 200 odd kilometers from Chikmagalur. This place can easily make up to being the hidden treasure of this state. It will take you closer to nature, allow you to snuggle the silence, and give you feels of being deep in the woods and stranded on an island at the same time. While there is now a nature camp available to book, we went through a connection in the forest department as the forest rest house and tents are maintained by the Wildlife Division of the Karnataka Forest Service. The little house we stayed in was right at the end of the forest, too deep to make you doubt it's existence. We reached extremely late at night ending our scary adventure and woke up to one of the most beautiful views ever. The house door is followed by the stairs that lead straight to the lake and you are right in the middle of trees and water.

The view from the door of the rest house in Muppane. (PC:Keyur)

Photo of Muppane, Karnataka, India by Ayushee Chaudhary

Expect no networks and no luxury, be it food. You will get some food though arranged by the housekeeper but only to let your stomach have something. So carry some snacks, water, power-banks, sanitizer and tissues for the minimum. But this place is the best escape from everything you are dealing with and allows you for a perfect rejoice as you sit under the shed and drink with rain falling heavily around you. You can also set up a bonfire in the evening but do watch out for wild animals.

This all that you will have around you in Muppane, anywhere you turn. (PC: Keyur)

Photo of Muppane, Karnataka, India by Ayushee Chaudhary

Around Muppane, on the way, there are some more options like a safari and other adventure sports etc. but nothing beats the bliss experienced by just sitting here.

Post lunch we forced ourselves to leave Muppane and head to the famous Jog Falls in Shimoga. Enough has been written about this second highest waterfall in the country. However, our expectations had a higher fall than that. The mist and lack of water quite took the fun away and the Raja, the Roarer, the Rocket or the Rani (the four falls here) could not impress us. So do check about the water situation before you go (though this year with the number of rains experienced it should not be a disappointment). Nevertheless, it is still worth the checklist.

The Jog Falls with the Sharavathi river dropping down. (PC:Abhilash)

Photo of Rush n Respite: My way of one-night-stand by Ayushee Chaudhary

Post this we made our way to Shimoga. Stay and the food is again not a problem in this city. After being into the wild enough, we were lucky to find a fancy government guest house where we ate, took turns to take long hot showers and slept like babies.

Day 4

Next morning we got up with a less of rush and proceeded to Mysuru Palace to experience the grand Dussehra festivities. (Yes we still remembered its the festival time). Spotting vehicles decorated with garlands on our way, stopping to step inside some fields for pictures we finally reached KRS (KrishnaRaj Sagar) dam to munch some snacks. You can take a halt here to visit the Brindavan gardens or directly stop at the Palace which is densely packed with people. So think wisely if you really want to see that elephant take a walk or rather just go sit in a rooftop cafe in Mysuru and enjoy the parade on the screen with some food and catch the lit up palace as you head back later.

The Mysore Palace (PC:Ayushee)

Photo of Mysore Palace, Agrahara, Chamrajpura, Mysuru, Karnataka by Ayushee Chaudhary

The Mysore palace lit up in glory (PC: Ayushee)

Photo of Mysore Palace, Agrahara, Chamrajpura, Mysuru, Karnataka by Ayushee Chaudhary

After some good dinner, we finally made way back to the city chaos with traffic greeting us from Mysuru Road itself as everyone seemed to be getting back from the holidays.

This trip might come as highly exhaustive to read but trust me you will have a cringe in your stomach to get back but your heart will be refueled and your spirits rejuvenated, except if you are the only one driving through this whole trip. Each of this place is a weekend getaway in itself and offers a lot more than the time we spent. This trip can be made into a book with further details but this shall help you plan. So "to each his own", if you rarely get these opportunities and want to mark off the places in your list, plunge with this plan and have it all but if you want to take it slow just pick your favorite from the list and revive yourself.

From falls to treks, silent isolation to festival madness, history to wildlife, loads of coffee and much more, this trip has everything that the traveler in you enjoys, except beaches. And the best part, it suits all the possible groups be it your colleagues, your friends, your family or just your significant other. So get your vehicle ready or just book a Zoom car, pack your bags and get going this Dussehra break.