Nandi Hills makes it to almost every list on 'Places around Bangalore'. The reason why this happens is because of its proximity to Bangalore. It is the nearest hill station from Bangalore and a good option for somebody looking to go for a long drive. To reach Nandi Hills take the Hyderabad highway (NH7/Yelahanka Road) from Bangalore. After 38kms along the highway, couple of kms past Devanahalli, you can see a road going to the left towards Nandi Hills. There is a sign board there and you should not miss it, if you are careful. After another 10kms you will reach a T-junction, from where you should take a left. 4 more kms, it is one more right turn followed by a ghat road leading to Nandi Hills.The place offers a nice bird's eye view from the top. An early morning drive to the hills, in time for the sunrise, is an exciting option.
Skandagiri aka Kalavaarahalli Betta attained fame following a few pictures of the place, circulated by email. This hill is right next to Nandi Hills & is famous for night trekking in the moonlight and the sunrise among clouds, which is seen in late winters. Weekend nights in the hill top, especially around full moon day, could be very chaotic and crowded owing to the large number of visitors. The trek by itself is moderate and should take an average of 2hrs. Check the Skandagiri Trek Page for my personal experiences there. There are two approaches to Skandagiri foothills, both passing via the Kalavaarahalli village. The easiest is about 6-7kms from Chikkabalapur town, along the NH7/Yelahanka road towards Hyderabad and about 57kms from Bangalore. The other option is to follow the trail to Nandi Hills till the T-junction, about 10kms from NH7. Nandi hills is towards the left from here. To reach Skandagiri, turn right towards Nandi village. At Nandi village, take the Chikkabalapur road and then take a left towards Muddenahalli. From Muddenahalli, Kalavaarahalli village is a couple of kms along a village road.
Gaganachukki and Barachukki waterfalls is at Sivanasamudram (aka Sivasamudram) near Malavalli, Mandya district. Both the waterfall are around 50meters tall on River Kaveri (Cauvery) and are beautiful sights, especially during monsoon. To reach Gaganachukki, take the NH209 (Kanakapura road) and continue till Malavalli, past Kanakapura. Around 10kms past Malavalli, along NH209 (Kollegal road), you can spot a board to your left, indicating a 4km detour to Gaganachukki. Alternatively, one can take the Bangalore - Mysore road and take the Malavalli road from Maddur. This may be a little longer but better in terms of road conditions. Barachukki is about 15kms from Gaganachukki and provides the option of getting down into the river and right under the waterfall.
Talakkad (Talakad/ Talakadu/ Talakkadu), situated in the banks of Kaveri (Cauvery) is known for its sand dunes and the temples buried underneath. River Kaveri flows very shallow here and is ideal to take bath and play around. Talakkad is in Mysore (Mysore) district. To reach there, take the NH209 (Kanakapura road) past Malavalli. Soon after Malavalli, there is a T junction, with road on the right going towards Mandya/Mysore. Take the left and continue in NH209, towards Kollegal. About some 5kms before the detour for Sivanasamudram, there are sign boards indicating Talakkad, 22 kms to the right.
Somnathpur Channakeshava Temple
Somnnathpur completes the trio of tourist spots - Sivanasamudram, Talakkad & Somnathpur - accessible via Malavalli. It is located 32 kms off Malavalli and about 130 kms from Bangalore. The main attraction here is the age old Channakeshava temple, built in 13th century. It is an amazing example of the Hoysala architecture and is reminiscent of the temples at Belur & Halebeedu. There are many routes to reach Somnathpur. If your are going there after a splash in Sivanasamudram, head back to Malavalli and then take the Malavalli - Bannur - Mysore road. Just before Bannur town you should see a detour towards Somnathpur and T Narsipura. Somnathpur is about 7kms from Bannur and almost midway between Bannur and T Narsipura. The approach via T Narsipur is easier if one is coming from Talakkad. If you are coming directly from Bangalore, head to Malavalli via NH209. Alternatively, take the Bangalore - Mysore road (SH17) till Mandya and take the Bannur road from there. Mandya is about 100kms from Bangalore and Mandya - Bannur is another 26kms.
Big Banyan Tree
Big Banyan Tree (Dodda Alada Mara in Kannada) is a 400 year old giant Banyan Tree in the village of Ramohalli. It can be reached via a road to the right of Mysore road - midway between Kengeri and Kumbalgodu - near the Raja Rajeswari college. Big Banyan Tree is about 8kms off this point. At about 30kms off, this place is probably the closest picnic spot from Bangalore. The tree is spread over a large area and has many trunks - there are more roots coming off the main tree and reaching the ground to form new trunks.
Manchinbele / Manchanabele irrigation dam and reservoir on Arkavathi river is about 10kms further ahead of Big Banyan Tree, 18kms off Mysore road and about 40kms from Bangalore. While heading to Manchinbele from Big Banyan Tree, there are two tri-junctions - take a left at the first (about 3kms off Big Banyan Tree) and a right at the second (with about 3kms to go for Manchinbele). The reservoir is visible right from the main road, but the road towards it is not very motorable - so walking towards the reservoir is a better option. Savandurga hills provide a very picturesque background to the reservoir.
This is a monolithic peak famous for trekking and rock climbing. It is situated 3.5kms off the Ramnagar - Magadi road. One can go till Ramnagar (via Mysore road) and then take a right towards Magadi or take the Magadi road and take a left towards Ramnagar. The shortest and most scenic option is to take the Mysore road till Kengeri and then take Big Banyan tree road to the right near Raja Rajeshwari college. At Big Banyan tree, go towards Manchinbele and then continue (8kms more) to reach the Ramnagar - Magadi road. Take right at Ramnagar - Magadi road and then take another right a couple of kms ahead on this road. There are a couple of temples at the foothills of Savandurga - which is also worth a visit. Savandurga has two peaks - the Billigudda and Karigudda - seperated by a green valey in between. Billigudda is totally rocky and the trail is easier to identify. The peak is taller than Karigudda and has a Nandi temple at the summit. In comparison, Karigudda is shorter, but the trail is through the jungle and difficult to follow. Check Savandurga Trek Page for my personal experience there or Karigudda Trek Page if you are a little more adventurous.
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Migratory birds (like Storks, Pelicans, Cormorants and Herons) arrives in Ranganathittu bird sanctuary as large flocks starting December, lays eggs on the islets and moves out with the little ones in August. Best time to visit the sanctuary is around Feb - March when all the varieties are around and active. Boats are available here to take the visitors for a ride along the river and islets. To reach Ranganathittu, travel along Bangalore - Mysore road. Past Srirangapatna, take the road going to the right (connecting Srirangapatna to Mysore - Madikeri road). A couple of kms along this road take another right to the sanctuary. Ranganathittu is a paradise for ornithologists as well as bird photographers. Apart from the migratory birds, one can also spot Kingfishers and Peacocks here as well as crocodiles lying lazily in the river.
Village of Kokkare Bellur is another haven for migratory birds, as well as bird lovers. This otherwise undescript village springs a surprise with numerous Painted Storks and Pelicans roaming around freely in the village. Best time to visit is around Feb - March and try to make it early morning (as early as 6 - 7). Kokkare Bellur is a short deviation from Bangalore - Mysore road. 75 kms from Bangalore (infact, just after the milestone #75), before the Mysore Mylary hotel, there is a village road towards the left. Kokkare Bellur is abt 13kms from here. Almost half way through, there is a trijuntcion where you shud keep to the right. At Kokkare Bellur just park the vechicle(s) and walk around the village streets with trees on all sides infested with so many beautiful birds! This place offers a rare chance to spot some of the rare birds at very close distances. Yeah ... please remember to keep the silence and not trouble the birds/villagers.
146kms from Bangalore, Shravanabelagola (Sravanabelagola/ Shravanabelgola/ Shravanbelgola/ Shravanbelagola/ Sravanabelgola/ Sravanabelgola/ Sravanbelagola) is a huge 18 meter high monolithic statue of Lord Gommatheshwara on the top of a hill (Vindyagiri or Indragiri) is considered the tallest in the world. The statue made in 983 AD, propelled Shravanabelagola to a legendary pilgrim center and shrine of Jains. Just opposite to the the Gomatheshwara statue is another hill (Chandragiri) with some Jain temples and the tomb of Chandragupta Maurya. To reach here, one has to take Tumkur road (NH4) from Bangalore, NH48 (Mangalore Road) at Nelamangala (KM27 on NH4) junction and continue till Hirisave (KM128 on NH48) and then take the state highway (SH8) going to Shravanabelagola. Infact, there are numerous roads going to Shravanabelagola, the major one being SH8 connecting Hirisave (in NH48) to Shravanabelagola to Channarayapatna (back in NH48 at KM147). Hirisave to Shravanabelagola is 18kms and from Shravanabelagola to Channarayapatna is 11kms. Check out my Mangalore Bike Trip Page for further details and photos.
This is a beautiful hill temple abt 32kms off Mandya, along Bangalore - Mysore state highway and about 135kms from Bangalore. About a km after Mandya town, towards Mysore, look for a road going to Melkote and then on follow the sign boards. Melkote is an ancient hill temple, which should interest pilgrims as well as people with an eye for historical monuments. Thanks to its location atop a hill, it also offers a beautiful view of the surroundings. The temple complex also has a couple of huge ponds, one of them being open for public to take a dip. There is also a lake just before the temple.
Hogenakkal is located in Karnataka - Tamilnadu border, around 200kms from Bangalore. Its situated near Dharmapuri. To reach Hogenakkal from Bangalore, take the NH7 (Hosur road) and go to Dharmapuri, via Hosur and Krishnagiri. At Dharmapuri, you can see a junction, one of the roads going towards Hogenakkal, via Pennagaram. Another route, which is shorter, but less travelled is via Hosur - Rayakkottai - Palakkodu - Pennagaram. Or even shorter, but bad roads, via Hosur - Denkanikota - Pennagaram. Hogenakkal is also along Kaveri river, this time dropping down around 100ft into a deep canyon forming waterfalls on all sides. Small round boats (called corracles) are available to take you to the middle of the canyon and from there to a river bank, where you can get an oil massage. Check out Hogenakkal Trip Page for a personal account.
Sangam is the confluence of Rivers Kaveri (Cauvery) and Arkavathi. One more nice picnic spot along Kanakapura Road (NH209) formed around River Kaveri, it can be reached by taking a 33km deviation to the left, soon after Kanakapura, along NH209. A big arch is placed there to tell you the route. About 16kms from Kanakapura you will reach a junction, to the right of which is Cauvery fishing camp. Go straight for Sangam. The last five kms to Sangam is an enjoyable drive through the ghat roads, with picturesque hills all around you. Water is not so deep at Sangam and is very clean, in spite of the huge crowd generally found here. But the surroundings is filled with litter and plastic. Its a pitty that a place like this is not kept clean.
After its confluence with River Arkavathi at Sangam, Kaveri flows through a deep gorge at Mekedatu. The gorge is deep and a maximum 30ft wide at places. Some other sections, the rock almost bridges the river so that a goat can leap across. Hence the name, Meke(Goat)Datu(Leap). A lot of strange looking rock formations and deep holes can be found here. To go to Mekedatu, one has to come to Sangam, cross the river and travel another 4 kms through a jeep track through the Cauvery Wild Life Sanctuary or along the Kaveri (Cauvery) river. The area is covered by hills on all sides and its very unlikely that you can spot wild life here. A special bus ply between these two places almost every hour. Walking along the river is a very good option, but not so adviced for families, since there is usually a lot of crowd and booze parties along this river route. And not to mention the huge amount of litter and cow/human dung.
This is a small water falls on the way to Sangam. Take the Sangam Road after Kanakapura and after 23kms you can spot a road on the left side going to Chunchi falls. 5kms more from here for the falls. Thanks to the Prime Minister's Gram Sadak Yojana roads are good to this place. This water falls is nothing particular, but worth seeing if you are going to Sangam/Mekedatu.
Bheemeshwari is more known as the Cauvery Fishing Camp (CFC) and famous for the 'Mahaseer' ('Mahasheer') fishes. The place is pasrt of the Cauvery Wild Life Sanctuary. Log huts are available for staying at this place, which can be booked from Bangalore KSTDC office. This point is almost midway between Sangam and Sivanasamudram in River Kaveri. To reach Bheemeshwari, you should take the NH209 (Kanakapura road) past Kanakapura, take the road to Sangam, till you reach a junction (Halahalli), about 16kms from Kanakpura, from where you have to take a right. One can also trek from Bheemeshwari to Muthathi and also to Mekedatu. Check out Muthathi Trek Page for photos and trip logs from a Muthathi - Bheemeshwari trek.
Bannerghatta National Park
Located 22 kms from Bangalore city, along the Bannerghatta road, this is a good place to visit. Just about 10kms from IIMB campus, Bannerghatta national park is probably the easiest place, where you can spot wild animals like lions and tigers roaming freely in something resembling a forest. These animals are kept in fenced containment and safari is arranged to see them. There is also a zoo in the national park premises where you can have a look at a variety of animals. An Elephant joy ride or safari is also possible. A major drawback with the place is that it is more of a zoo than a national park and lacks a wild feel. Also, the animals kept in cages paints a sorry figure. Still, some of the tigers/lions kept in fenced containment looks healthy, offering a rare experience.
Pandavapura & Kunti Betta
Pandavapura is a small village near Srirangapatna, about 130kms from Bangalore. There are two approach roads to the village, going to the west (right side when heading towards Mysore) from the Bangalore - Mysore highway - one midway between Mandya and Srirangapatna and the other just before Srirangapatna. Both these roads are about 10kms of driving treat in between sugar cane fields and sugar mills on both sides, especially if you time it on early mornings. The most interesting picnic spot @ Pandavapura is the Kunti Betta, about a km deviation before reaching the town, if you are on the approach road towards Mandya. Kunti Betta is two rocky hills seperated by a valley in between, housing a temple. Mythology says that Pandavas and Kunti stayed here during their exile. The way upto the hills is interesting with beautiful views of the surroundings hills, valley and a lake. Pandavapura also has couple of other temples, contrasting in style and ambience. The first one at Hukkada, near the Pandavapura railway station, is thronged by devotees, especially on new moon days, to offer sacrifices and offerings. To reach Hukkada, one has to take the Srirangapatna road till the railway station (about 4kms from the town) and then take right. Look for a dhaba, with a road going to the left near it, which will take you to the temple. The other temple, the Sri Siva Shailam temple is inside a huge compound, also housing a sanskrit learning center, with a serene and sylvan ambience and streams flowing by.
Maidanahalli Blackbuck Sanctuary
Maidanahalli is home to the beautiful and endangered Blackbucks (Antilope Cervicapra). It is reachable from Bangalore via Nelamangala -> Dobbaspet -> Koratgere -> Madhugiri and Puravara village. Take the Tumkur road (NH4) and continue on the toll road till Dobbaspet. At Dobbaspet, exit the toll road and take the Madhugiri road via Koratgere. An alternate route is to continue on the NH4 till Tumkur and then take the Madhugiri road from Tumkur bypass. From Madhugiri, take the Hindupur road and continue for another 10kms till the Puravara village. At Puravara, there is a left turn towards Maidanahalli / I D Halli. The turn to Maidanahalli is about 7kms before I D Halli. There is no regulation within the sanctuary as of now. So, the visitors can have a free hand inside the sanctuary, driving or walking around to spot the Blackbucks. The lack of proper administration is evident in the high amount of gracing and herds of sheep inside the sanctuary limits. In spite of all these, there is a good number of Blackbucks in the sanctuary and they are indeed a beautiful sight to cherish.
Shivaganga (Shivganga, Shivagange, Sivaganga, Shiva Ganga) has a famous 'Shiva' temple near its foothills and a spring water source midway to the peak. The spring is called 'Olakallu Theertha' (meaning water inside the rocks in Kannada) and it is believed that only 'good' people can touch the holy water here. Also, ghee smudged on to the 'Shiva Linga' at the foothills is believed to turn butter. Naturally, numerous devotees throngs this place. The trail to the top is about 2hrs for a reasonable climber and is along vertical rock faces in some stretches. Steps are cut on the rock and railings are provided to make the climb easier for the visitors. There are many beautiful 'Nandi's and various other pillars and idols all along this trail. The top of the peak, at an altitude of 1368m above msl, offers a good view of the entire surroundings. To reach Shivaganga, take the Tumkur road from Bangalore and turn left @ Dobbaspet about 50kms from Bangalore. From Dobbaspet town, Shivaganga is about 6kms. For people travelling by bus, autos may be hired from Dobbaspet to take you to Shivaganga. There are no good restaurants in the area, but one can find a few dhabas in the Tumkur highway. @ Shivaganga, there are numerous shops, especially in the beginning of the trail, selling juices, fruits and other eatables. So, there is hardly any need to carry anything. With monkeys patrolling the entire stretch for any eatables it may not be a good idea to carry food, while you are on the trail. Footwears are allowed for most part of the trail and a shoe with good grip is recommended, especially for inexperienced climbers. Check out my Shivaganga Trek Page for detailed personal experience and photos.
Devarayanadurga is a hill station about 90kms from Bangalore. It has a few temples on the way and a motorable road leading half way up the hill. Beyond this point, 10 minutes on foot should take you to the Yoga Narasimha temple, which opens at 10 normally. Following the trail up the hill for another 10-15 mins should take you to the top of the hill providing a nice panoramic view of the surrounding area. There are two ways to reach Devarayanadurga from Bangalore, both starts on NH4 / Tumkur road. The first option (which is also the shortest) is to exit the toll highway at Dobbaspet and take the right on to Madhugiri / Koratgere / Uradigere road. A few kms after Uradigere village, there is a left turn towards Devarayanadurga. The second option is to drive almost till Tumkur and then take a right towards Namada Chilume / Devarayanadurga. Please note that there are hardly any eateries past NH4 / Tumkur road.
Siddarabetta is a small hill, believed to be a habitat of saints, a few centuries ago. The place has a temple at the base, an open space with good views at the top and a cave in between. The cave and the top of the hill is accessible only by foot after a short trek of about 1.5 hours. The place is thronged by pilgrims and there are guides near the cave opening who can take you inside for a fee. The cave is reasonably long and exploring it is a nice experience. Siddarabetta is located at about 12kms from Koratgere. From Bangalore, take the Tumkur road (NH4) and continue on the toll road till Dobbaspet. At Dobbaspet, exit the toll road and take the Madhugiri road via Koratgere. After about 3kms from Koratgere (and about 8kms before Madhugiri), look for an arch (there is another arch just after Koratgere - the arch to Siddarabetta caves is the second one and has sign boards) on the left side and follow the road through the arch. The road from here is not so good and in some places is a mud road.
Lepakshi Nandi & Temple
This is for people interested in historical monuments. Lepakshi village hosts an old temple and a huge monolithic Nandi, constructed more than 500 years ago. Nandi here is 15 feets tall and 27 feets long, the largest in India until recently. The temple has several beautiful structures demonstrating the finesse of our ancestors. Lepakshi is about 15 kms from Hindupur along the Hindupur - Kodikonda state highway. Two alternate routes are available. Both involve NH7 (Hyderabad/ Ballary/ Yelahanka road, starting from Hebbal flyover in outer ring road) uptill Yelahanka. From there, one can continue past Devanahalli, Chickballapur, Begapally and Andhra border up to Kodikonda and then take the Hindupur road to the left. Lepakshi is 12 kms from Kodikonda and total 112 kms from Bangalore along this route. An alternate route is to take the Doddaballapur road from Yelahanka and continue through Gauribadanur and Andhra border, till Hindupur. At Hindupur, one has to take the road going to Kodikonda. Road is bad from Gauribadanur till the Andhra border.