Saturday, January 21, 2017

Top 3 places to visit near Bangalore for the upcoming long weekend

The year 2017 started with ruining a long weekend plan as 31st December and 1st January fell on a weekend. Had it fallen on weekdays would have doubled the fun and we could have stayed longer in Kodaikanal (where I went for spending New Year's). But let's not lose our hope as January has a long weekend to offer. Republic Day, 26th January is falling on Thursday so we just need to ask for 1-day leave and combine it with the weekend to get a long weekend.

I've made a list of top 3 places near Bangalore where you can visit with family and friends.


Goa is an evergreen destination for spending holidays during any time of a year. December is somewhat a peak tourist season due to which hotel and other cost increases. Crowd recedes by January end hence this long weekend Goa seems to be the top choice. The weather will be beautiful as it won't be humid and hot. Goa is around 10 hrs drive from Bangalore and the roads throughout the route is quite good.
Goa roadtrip alto k10
"The love of my life. My Alto K10 and my wife" en route Goa. This location is after Karwar

Goa is divided into two divisions. North Goa and South Goa. North Goa has some of the most commercial beaches. Calangute, Baga, Anjuna are the most crowded beaches but equally happening as well. The shacks here are quite popular. One can spend hours sitting in one of the shacks, with a beer in one hand, watching the sunset.
Other beaches in North Goa are Anjuna, Morijim. Ashwem, Chapora, Vagator, Arambol. Every beach has its own specialties.
Ashwem Beach. Photo shot by my brother.

Arambol area was known for its hippie population and it's still a favorite beach among international tourists. It spreads across 16km and a short walk from here takes you to a freshwater lake at Kalacha beach. It's also known for hosting night parties and is an ideal location for paragliding as it's quite windy here.
Morijm Beach is one of the most secluded and peaceful beaches in North goa. It is a nesting zone of Olive Ridley turtles, one of the only two zones in India. Morijim village is home to lots of Russians, that's the reason it's also known as little Russia.
Chapora-Vagator Beaches beautiful beaches with white sand and black rocks. Chapora Fort overlooks the beaches. One can spend a good time in this fort. This is the same fort where the iconic scene of Dil Chahta Hai was shot. Vagator Beach is famous for hosting the famous Sunburn Music Festival.
View from chapora fort
View from Chapora Fort.

Other interesting attractions in North Goa are Aguada Fort, Dona Paula, Miramar. Dona Paula is the location where an action sequence in Singham was shot. Miramar beach is famous for street food.
South Goa has the most peaceful beaches. It does not have as many shacks as in Baga or Calangute. All these beaches are best places to witness the sunset. Colva beach, Canacona beach, Cabo De Rama beach, Agonda beach are must visit beaches in South Goa.
Agonda beach
Agonda Beach. Photo shot by my brother.
cabo de rama beach, goa
Cabo de Rama Beach. Photo shot by my brother.

Goa can be covered in about 3 to 4 days which makes it the top choice for 26th January long weekend. I'd recommend booking homestays or villa situated on the beaches such as Palolem or Ashvem.
Kids playing in Colva beach with sunset in the backdrop.
Tambi Surla temple's inner architecture. HDR shot.


Hampi is home to the group of monuments recognized by UNESCO as world heritage site. The architecture of Hampi dates back to 3rd century BC. It was one of the richest and largest cities in the world. It flourished the most during the Vijayanagara empire when it was the empire's capital. Hampi was blessed with a strong political location as it was bound by Tungabhadra river and surrounded by hills making it difficult for enemies to wage war.
Virupaksha Temple
Virupaksha Temple as seen from one of the hillocks.
Virupaksha Temple
Virupaksha Temple premises

Hampi is around 360 km from Bangalore and the route is quite scenic as well. The roads are in good condition and you can expect to reach in 6-8 hours. There aren't any staying options in Hampi and all the hotels and resorts are situated in Hospet, the nearest town from Hampi. Hospet is around 12 km from Hampi. If you're an architecture lover or love to know more about history, you'd love to spend as much time here as possible. I went to Hampi in Jan '16 for 3 days and felt like we could have stayed a couple of days more to learn more about Hampi's history.

Elephant Stables. Panorama Shot

All the architecture and ruins are situated on a single route and can be visited one by one. Some of the must visit attractions here are: Vitthala Temple complex, Virupaksha Temple, the statue of Ugra Narasimha, Elephant stables, Hazar Rama Temple, Pushkarini, Shivlinga, Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple, Queens Bath, Dasara Dibba, Underground Temple and much more.

Chariot, vitthala temple, hampi
The legendary Chariot in Vitthala Temple Complex

Ugra Narsimha
Myself standing next to statue of Ugra Narasimha

You'll love spending time at most of these attractions. The ones which I personally liked were:

Vitthala Temple complex- It's a huge complex which has multiple shrines, pavilions and Vitthala temple at the centre. It also has the iconic stone chariot inside the premises. Ranga Mantapa is a part of this complex as well. Ranga Mantapa is a set of pillars which are known to emit musical notes when touched. It's also known as Saregama pillars.

Vitthala Temple, Hampi
Vitthala Temple Complex

Viewing sunrise/sunset from Matanga Hill should be a must do item in your list. The hill gives a 360-degree view of Hampi and it's surrounding. It's about 30 min trek to the top of the hill where there's an ancient Veerabhadra temple. There are several trekking trails leading to the top. Make sure you carry a torch to keep track of the trail.

Panorama view from Matanga Hill

Another must do item in your Hampi trip is having lunch at Mango tree restaurant in Hampi Bazaar. It has a unique sitting style and is a favorite among the international crowd. The food here is amazing.

Shivalinga. Legend says the Linga is always surrounded by water whose source is unknown
Sunset near Tungabhadra River

There are some well known staying options in Hospet. Orange County, Malligi, Vijayshree resort, Royal Orchid. I stayed at Malligi and it's a complete value for money hotel. The hotel has 3 restaurants, a swimming pool, spa and massage center.
360 Degree planet panorama shot taken from the top of Dasara Dibba.


Bangalore is blessed with hill stations in its close proximity. Ooty is one such hill station. It's in the state of Tamil Nadu and around 300 km from Bangalore. That's approximately 5-7 hours of road travel. The route to Ooty is one of the best I've travelled. It crosses through Bandipur and Mudumalai National Parks. There are two routes to reach Ooty after Mudumalai. One route has 36 hairpin bends, is tough for new drivers and takes less time, the other one has relatively straight roads, easy to drive and takes more time to reach Ooty. The second one is more scenic as well. It passes through a stretch full of eucalyptus trees and feels like we're driving in a jungle.
Road to Ooty after Mudumalai with full of Eucalyptus trees

Once you reach your hotel, ask for a brochure which has the names of attractions in the city and plan accordingly. I had stayed in Astoria Residency which was a great place to stay and I'd recommend it. The hotel is situated in the centre of the city and has a big parking space. The rooms are huge and have all basic amenities. The staff gave a cake to all the tourists staying in their hotel on the new year's eve.
En route to Ooty from Bangalore

Some of the must visit attractions are Pykara Falls, Ooty lake, Pine forest, shooting point, Upper Bhavani Lake. Some points are avoidable like Doddabetta peak and botanical garden. Doddabetta peak is the highest point in Ooty which had a good view but not anymore due to commercialization. I didn't find botanical garden interesting as I've already seen Lalbagh and Cubbon Park in Bangalore which are good enough.
Me enjoying at shooting point. Photo shot by my wife
A lake near Pine forest viewpoint. My wife took this photo of me with fellow tourist's cute kids

Pykara falls is a pretty small waterfall if compared to some popular falls in India, but it has its own charm. One of the streams of Pykara river forms this cascading waterfall which is surrounded by green mountains and gives an awesome opportunity for photographers. The shooting point is a huge green meadow spread across hundreds of acres. It's mostly crowded here as its quite famous for the fact that many movies are shot at this location, hence the name. The view from here is just amazing. One can spend hours clicking photos and enjoy the weather here.
Pykara Waterfall. This is a long exposure shot with I took handheld

All the attractions can be covered in a single day. The second day can be spent in Coonoor which is just 45 km from Ooty. The toy train runs from Ooty to Coonoor and is a favourite among tourists. The toy train service is called Nilgiri Toy Train. Tickets can be bought from the counter itself or it can be pre-booked on IRCTC. I missed the chance to visit Coonoor as I had taken just 2 days of leave.

I have shared about these 3 places in a brief manner just to tease you guys what these places have to offer. I could write on and on about them but it's better to write about them in detail in their own blog posts.  I hope you choose one of these places for 26th January weekend or you can plan for these places after taking leaves any time of the year. The good part is, you don't have to take a week off for visiting these places. All these 3 places can be covered by including Saturday and Sunday, and taking either Friday or Monday off or both and make it into a long weekend.

Share your comments and travel stories in the comment section below. Happy travelling.

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