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“Vital Tour of Karnataka”
Karnataka is a tapestry of colors, cultures, flavors, landscapes, timelessness and heart stopping beauty. A place where vibrant worlds seamlessly meld into one another every few hundred kilometers. Sedate plains suddenly rise to dizzying mist covered hilly heights, and then plunge with careless abandon in a white watered freefall to become languid rivers that flow past cities where time has stopped altogether, and cities where time rushes a relentless rush to keep up with the world; cities that sometimes escape into the deep quiet of thick forests and sometimes, stretches their arms wide open to embrace the sea. Host to some of India‘s largest and most powerful dynasties, the state has across the centuries, carried a legacy of art and culture as its geography – making it, by all means, a 191,791 square kilometer trail of whimsy.
Karnataka has hosted and continues to host a wide melting pot culture community. Along with the native Kannadigas, Kodavas, Tuluvas, Konkanis and several tribal sects have, across the centuries, lent color and content to the vibrant culture the state calls its own. Karnataka is also home to the largest Tibetan settlement in South India. The recent past has seen a more inclusive populace with a large expatriate community making a beeline for the capital city of Bangalore. In addition to Kannada, knowing Tulu, Hindi, English, Telugu or Tamil will safely get you by. Jainism, Hinduism and Islam are the predominantly practiced religions. But in recent times, Sikhism, Christianity and Buddhism have also found their place and people.
In dance, drama, theatre, crafts, art, poetry, architecture and scholarly pursuits, Karnataka brings with it a legacy of learning that predates the earliest dynasties. Perhaps the reason why the state, even to this date, is also home to some of the country’s best academic institutions.
BANGALORE: is the most alive city among all in South India. A melting point of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, the hoi polloi of Bangalore is charmingly mixed. Nearly every one speaks English, even if it’s only a smattering, and everyone is aware of the privilege they’re bestowed with. Malls, parks, pubs, theatre, cafes, art galleries, palaces – at any given point, Bangalore is buzzing and alive with activity.
Bangalore often reminisces about its days as a sleepy cantonment area of the British – tree lined avenues with quaint sounding names like Richmond Town and Victoria Layout hint that the city does get sentimental about its past. The Bangalore Palace, the Attara Kacheri (High Court), St. Mary’s Basilica, Tipu’s Palace, ISKCON Temple and the Bull Temple highlight Bangalore’s many personalities and are monuments that mark its journey, ante-IT. Now Bangalore is known for its thriving industry and as an IT hotbed.
Apart from sightseeing, markets, and night life; Bangalore is also a preferred place for avid golfers.
CHIKAMAGALUR: It has played host to an event, thanks to which, countless Indians wake up to brighter mornings. Centuries ago, when the Sufi mystic Baba Budan smuggled seven coffee beans from Yemen into India, he probably didn’t bargain for millions of coffee junkies unwittingly blessing his soul everyday, with every sip of their coffee. Chikmagalur, whose hills nurtured the coffee culture at its bosom, is a green slice of heaven on a permanent coffee high.
Rambling hills, pristine pools, fascinating nooks and crannies with a shrine, intriguing caves, lush mists and dreamy woods make the geography of Chikmagalur. The journey to the highest peak in Karnataka is so engaging that you forget to be scared – when there is reason to be afraid, very afraid. The roads are tricky, yes, but getting to the top is worth the while. Just like the 10 km trek to the gorgeous Habe Falls is – it’s almost impossible by vehicle and is inaccessible in the monsoons. Despite all that coffee, Chikmagalur is far from a gracious host. You need to work hard to win her affections. Well, its not for nothing Chikmagalur was a princess dowry. When King Rugmagada Raya’s younger daughter was given away in marriage, she brought with her a pretty portion of the Western Ghats as her dowry, thus giving the place its name – Chikka-magal-uru or Younger Daughter’s Village. Long treks, safaris and breathing plenty of fresh, coffee-scented air – Chikmagalur makes you feel so good that you want to throw your arms around the world.
ST. MARY’S ISLAND – MALPE: About 6km from the Malpe coast into the Arabian Sea, one gets to see the palm-fringed St. Mary’s Island which bears the cross that Vasco Da Gama placed when he landed in 1498. The island is 300m long and 100m wide. It is famous for its unique salt rock formations. Due to this geological importance, St. Mary’s Island is declared as a National Geological Monument.
COORG: A hedonist’s paradise by all means, Coorg is a dream you’ll never forget. Hills, old-world charm, coffee, amazing food, vivid cultures and warm hospitality – there’s something in the air of Coorg that makes all things beautiful. The people are tall and fair. Its hills, scenic and unforgettable. Its food, wholesome and tantalizing. Its pools, pristine and clear. Its cultures, vibrant and exclusive. Coorg is an aristocrat, through and through. The stronghold of the Kodava community, who are believed to be descendants of the Aryans, Coorg keeps its traditions and as warm as your reception might be, you’re reminded constantly that you are a guest – and certain decorum is expected out of you. A certain joie-de-vivre! Madikeri is a cornucopia of the times passed. The green, hilly capital of the Kodagu region has remnants of its past like the Madikeri Fort, the Raja’s seat – where you can catch a sunset just like the rajas once did – acres of coffee estates and the Raja’s tomb where the Kodagu king Veerarajendra and his family sleep their eternal sleep. About 9km away from Madikeri’s giddy heights are the Abbey Falls, which falls daintily in steps, looking like a pretty curtain of the finest lace. The Talacauvery where the Cauvery originates is the hotbed of a phenomenon every year – on the 17th of October, at a predetermined moment, the water gushes up at the fountainhead from a spring.
BANDIPUR: Go wild and see just how therapeutic it can be. Trade those concrete jungles for a fresh breath of green. Put a pause on the rat race and ride an elephant instead. Take a break from bearding the lion in his corner office and go looking for tigers. The Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary puts life back into perspective. Or rather it puts the perspective back into life.
Trying to spot elusive animals, listening for bird calls and commuting on the first elephant into the heart of the forests that were once the private hunting grounds of the Maharaja of Mysore himself – its a little like everyday life, only drastically different. The elephant safari is an experience not only because you feel like the lord of all that lies before you, but also because, you never know what you might see. Depending on the peacock temperament of the moment, you could get treated to a peacock dance, or you might catch it on a bad day when it might get modest and a vividly-hued tail peeking from the thick foliage is all you’ll get. You might spot a bison playing peek-a-boo from behind a bush, or a crocodile sunning itself on the banks of the River Kabini, its wicked grin intact. The Sanctuary is home to the spotted deer, the sambar deer, pythons, sloth bears, porcupines, monkeys and over 230 species of birds. That’s a lot of spotting to do – just might help you see the good things in life again.
MYSORE: A past thats made of kings, queens, conquests, rich patrons, extravagant durbars and pearled hallways must be hard to get over. The streets in Mysore are old and a good part of history can be traced by following their winding paths. The city that gets its name from Mahishasura, the troublemaker demon who was slain by the Goddess Chamundeshwari: whose temple atop the Chamundi Hill watches all over the city, has played host to the reign of a long line of Wadiyars, Tipu Sultan and the British Raj.
An ode to magnificence, the Mysore Palace is a marvel of ornate ceilings, jewelled corridors, open mandaps, stained glass windows, vivid paintings and Wadiyar memorabilia – including the jewelled throne. As the main host of the famous Mysore Dasara, the Palace still has the airs of the headquarters of a sovereign. Mysore’s other palaces include the Jaganmohana Palace, Rajendra Vilas, Lalitha Mahal (which is now the Lalith Mahal Palace Hotel) and the Jayalakshmi Vilas.
The MYSORE PALACE is illuminated on Sundays, national holidays and state festivals between 7.00pm and 8.00pm and during the Dasara festivities from 7pm to 9pm.
Day 01: Bangalore Arrival
Arrive at Bangalore Airport and meet our representative who will assist you in transfer to hotel. Settle in your room to rest and overcome the flight tiredness / overnight stay.
Day 02: Bangalore – Shravanbelagola – Chikamagalur (by surface – 05 hrs drive)
Post breakfast check out (0800 am) and drive to Chikamagalur. En-route visit to Shravanbelagola, Halebeedu and Belur. Arrive Chikamagalur and check into hotel. Day at leisure. Enjoy the nature or explore the local area on own. Overnight stay in hotel.
Shravanabelagola – Halebeedu – Belur
Karnataka’s Golden Triangle is a pilgrimage of every sort. In this day and age of TV evangelists and revival movements, to see human devotion manifested by such immeasurable beauty and sheer workmanship that has survived centuries, makes the journey from Belur to Halebeedu and to Shravanabelagola a litany of a different sort. Prayer might be the last thing on your mind as you marvel at that intricacy of the carvings at the Chennakesava Temple or while you absentmindedly accept the prasad at the Hoysalaeshwara Temple, and it would take a really devout pilgrim to focus on god while panting and wheezing up the 600-odd step climb to Shravanabelagola – but nevertheless, you’re following the path a pilgrim set towards god. If not anything else, it awakens you to the god in you and opens your mind to the extent of human creation.
Shravanabelagola reached its architectural and sculptural pinnacle under the patronage of Gangas of Talakad. Indragiri has thousand-year-old tallest monolithic statue of Gomateshwara, 57ft. in height installed by the Ganga General Chavundaraya. Bhagavan Gomateshwara Bahubali statue is considered to be the world’s largest monolithic stone statue.
Belur, the early capital of Hoysala Empire is located on the banks of river Yagachi and is famed for the Chennakeshava temple complex. Built in Dravidian style by king Vishnuvardhana is about 180fts high and has a magnificent gateway tower. There are many subsidiary shrines around the main temple. They conceived their shrines as star-shaped structures and not the usual cubical form Halebeedu, once known as Dwarasamudra (gate to oceans) was the capital of Hoysala Empire during 12th and 13th Century. This place attracts visitors from all part of the world for the famous Hoysaleswara and Kedareshwara temples.
The main attraction of Halebid is Hoysaleshwara temple. This temple has lord Hoysaleshwara and Lord Shantaleshwara. Plenty of sculptures have been carved on the outer wall and is the speciality of this temple.
Day 03: at Chikamagalur
With breakfast at hotel we take you for Plantation Trail.
Absorb the vibrant spirit of this evergreen land. Wallow in the lap of nature so luxurious that it has drawn royalty, artists and dreamers for centuries. A verdant land of hills mists and plantations that you’ll never want to leave. Our Naturalist will take you for a guided coffee tours and nature walks through lush plantations and tell you all you want to know about Arabica and Robusta coffees. Be surprised to get an aroma of vanilla, cardamom or pepper– they are grown as inter-crops with coffee.
Afternoon visit to Hebbe and Kalahatti waterfalls. The picturesque landscape of Chikmagalur wouldn’t be complete without the mention of its two beautiful waterfalls The Hebbe and Kalahatti Falls, located near Kemmanagundi. The waterfalls act as a perfect backdrop for a relaxing day after soaking in all the adventure of the coffee lands.
Overnight stay in hotel.
Day 04: Chikmagalur – Malpe (by surface – 04 hrs drive)
After heritage tour at Belur – Haleebedu and relaxing in the natures lap at Chikamagalur today you will drive to another destination located on Arabian Sea Beach.
Udupi may not be a famous beach destination, what attracts tourist is its ethereal beauty, sandwiched between the verdant mountains of the western ghats on the east and the vast, tranquil Arabian Sea on the west.
On arrival at Udupi check into hotel at Malpe. Afternoon proceed to explore the ancient temples and maths which still follows 16th century system of worship 14 times a day. Evening at leisure. Overnight stay in hotel.
Day 06: Malpe – Coorg (by surface – 05 hrs drive approx)
Post breakfast start your journey to Coorg – termed as Scotland of India.
Arrive and check into hotel. We leave the day for you to relax and enjoy the nature. Overnight stay in hotel.
Day 07: at Coorg
Have and early breakfast and get ready by 0730 am. Our guide / naturalist will pick you up and drive to Dubare Elephant Camp.
Dubare Elephant camp is a project undertaken by forest department. This camp has plenty of elephants which are trained under naturalists. A trained Naturalist is at hand to explain the various aspects of Elephant history, ecology and biology.
The visitor can not only observe and learn but also participate in various activities involving Elephants.
Return back to hotel. You can rest or can talk a short nature walk exploring the area. Those interested in spirituality and learn about other religion can make visit to Bailkuppe.
Located at a distance of 14 kms it houses 7000+ monks & nuns; and reflects rich cultural heritage of the Tibetans. One gets involved with the rhythmic chanting of holy text by the monks in line with the gongs and the temple bells. It is free to enter into any of the temples in the compound without any restrictions.
You can also shop for handicrafts items like carpets and incense sticks that are prepared by the monks & nuns staying here.
Overnight stay in hotel.
Day 08: Coorg – Bandipur (by surface – 05 hr drive approx)
After relaxing at Coorg and experiencing its delights, today we will drive you to Bandipur to get even more close to the wild life at Karnataka.
Arrive and check into hotel. Lunch at hotel. You may want to rest in your luxurious rooms or can even opt for activities such as Nature Walk, Bird Watching, Cycling etc. provided in hotel.
Evening we will arrange for bonfire where you can huddle round and let our naturalists entertain you with jungle yarns. Dinner and overnight stay in hotel.
Day 09: at Bandipur
Breakfast at hotel. Morning at afternoon game drive to explore the wilderness of Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary.
Lunch at hotel. Evening at leisure. Dinner and overnight stay in hotel.
Day 10: Bandipur – Mysore – Bangalore (by surface – 06 hrs drive)
Early morning breakfast and check out (0700 am). Drive to Mysore (02 hrs drive). On arrival visit to Mysore Palace. Continue drive to Bangalore. En-route you may opt for visit to Srirangapatna Temple.
Arrive Bangalore and check into hotel. Evening at leisure. Overnight stay in hotel.
Day 12: at Bangalore
Breakfast at hotel. Afternoon check out and transfer to Bangalore airport to board flight to onward destination.
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