Short Road Trips from Bangalore

Despite February being the shortest month in the year, you can make every weekend count when it comes to your travel goals. This month, we’re recommending gorgeous getaways a few hours’ drive from your city. This means you can have a mini vacation and head back to the city within a day! Think time constraints are throwing in the spanner for your travel plans? Think again! If you’re in Bangalore, rent a car and head to Bandipur National Park, Shivanasamudra waterfall, go rock climbing in Ramanagara or visit the temple in Lepakshi.

Bandipur National Park

Bandipur plays host to over 30 tigers, 3,000 asian elephants and has an area of over 874 square kilometers. Having cities like Bangalore (215km), Ooty (70km) and Mysore (80km) in its proximity, Bandipur National Park is one of the most well preserved and efficiently run natural reserves in the country. Situated between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, this reserve is separated by Nagarhole national park near the Kabini Reservoir. The most picturesque way to travel to this region and this world-famous national park is by either hiring cabs from Mysore to Bandipur or finding some car rentals that allow for a more leisure journey. The best time to visit the park is around the months of November to February, this ensures the monsoons have passed and the weather clears up during the winter months which allow for a better opportunity to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife.

Shivanasamudra

A scenic region located slightly off the Mysore Highway, Shivanasamudra is teeming with trekking trails and waterfalls. The main attraction here is the Shivanasamudra Falls, which is said to have a detoxing effect not only on your body, but also on your soul. The waterfalls have been included among the 100 best waterfalls in the world, and are surrounded by the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. Water cascades from a height of around 200 feet on to the islands of Shivanasamudra. It around 130km from the city, but the easy availability of cabs from Bangalore to Shivanasamudra have made things very convenient.

Ramanagara

If you’re looking for one-day trips near Bangalore with a bit of relaxation, adventure and sport, head to Ramanagara near Bangalore for a quick weekend getaway. If you’re looking for a longer visit, the town has some nice resorts you can stay at too!

With adventure sport like rock climbing, rappelling and chimney climbing. If you’re looking for a quiet time in the outdoors, there are a number of places you can go to camp overnight, kayak and trek in the wilderness. And since Ramanagara is a short distance from Bangalore, you can easily make it a pit stop before heading off to Mysore, Coorg and other destinations on the route.

If you’re planning on staying in Ramanagara for the night, you could book a room at Shilhaandara Resort. If you’re looking for a quick visit or organised group activities, you can book an activity with Adventure Nest and Skydream Adventure Services.

Lepakshi

Situated about 120 kilometres from Bangalore, Lepakshi is home to a temple built between the 12th and 15th century. The temple is known for its hanging pillar, gorgeous murals on the ceiling and intricate carvings on its walls and pillars. The nearby monolithic Nandi is considered the biggest Nandi carved from a single stone in India. Though the temple is not a live one anymore, it continues to draw crowds of tourists and history buffs alike.

Head to Dhanushkodi for your New Year’s Eve getaway

Dhanushkodi sits at the south-eastern tip of India in the Rameshwaram district in Tamil Nadu. Until recently, approach to the tip of the town remained a huge challenge with no proper road connecting the last 10 km. A bridge known as the ‘Pamban Bridge’ existed in its original form until 1964 when it was destroyed by a massive cyclonic storm. Subsequently, it has been repaired and reconstructed. Over the last 50 years, things have changed a lot in Dhanushkodi and changed for the better. In July last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid open a new road connecting Dhanushkodi to Rameshwaram.

Another factor that adds importance to Dhanushkodi is its proximity to Sri Lanka which is about 31 km from this village. Before strife-hit Sri Lanka and the LTTE became powerful, regular ferry services used to operate between Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. Yet, the town is among some of unexplored places which is not completely commercialised making it a perfect New Year destination.

If you have been considering exotic locations for the upcoming New Year 2018, Dhanushkodi does fit the bill for more reasons than one. This is one place in southern India where you will enjoy the incredible beauty of the clear blue sea and a confluence of two oceans, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. When you travel from Rameshwaram to Dhanushkodi, you will pass through a number of fishing villages with a mesmerising view of the Palk Strait giving you company on either side. Apart from all the mysteries and coastal charm of Dhanushkodi another aspect that makes it unique is its connection with Indian mythology.

According to the epic Ramayana, Hanuman was ordered by Lord Rama to build a bridge from Dhanushkodi to Sri Lanka so that his army could go across to Sri Lanka and save the Lord’s consort, Sita from the captivity of Demon King Ravana. Hanuman executed the orders of his Lord and built what came to be known as Ram Setu with the help of his army of monkeys. In modern times, Ram Setu has been a subject of heated discussions and political controversy with the issue remaining wide open to this date.

Besides the iconic bridge, you can also explore the Gulf of Mannar National Park which is also a Biosphere Reserve.  It houses various species such as sea cow, seahorse, dolphins, pearl oyster, turtles and more. The Dhanushkodi beach and Pamban Island are also worth a visit. Both places are sparsely crowded and are the perfect destination to spend serene quality time while unwinding yourself. The sunrise and sunset views from the Dhanushkodi beach are truly mesmerizing.

The easiest way to reach Dhanushkodi is taking the road. You can take a direct bus or reach to Rameshwaram and take a connecting bus or book a cab. Travelling by air could be tedious as the nearest airport is 140 km away in Tuticorin. From there, again you will have to reach Rameshwaram and take a bus or cab. The closest railway station is also at Rameshwaram which is well-connected to other parts of the state and country. You can book a taxi from Trichy to Dhanushkodi and explore the surrounding places.

Happy Vacationing!

Golu Celebrations in Tamil Nadu

Navaratri festival in Tamil Nadu is celebrated to praise and pray to the Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. The tenth day which is the tenth lunar day in Hindu calendar is celebrated as the “Vijayadashami” or Dussehra. For anyone who has never witnessed the fervour and celebrations of Dusshera down South, the entire experience of the Golu celebrations can leave you enchanted.

When Is Navaratri Celebrated In Tamil Nadu?

Navaratri is celebrated from the next day of the new-moon day (Mahalaya Ammavasai) in the Tamil month of Puratasi. It starts with puja for Goddess Durga, Lakshmi, and followed by Saraswati. After the Saraswati Puja Day, Navaratri ends with Ayudha Pooja and Vijayadashami.

Why Is It Celebrated?

Navaratri is celebrated to remember the victory of Goddess Parashakti over the evil King Mahishasura. The festival is a representation of victory of good over evil. The tenth day of Navaratri is celebrated to remember the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana.

How Is It Celebrated?

People in TN place a Kalash on the first step of the Golu as a representation of Goddess Parashakti. The Kalash is filled with rice and dal and a coconut coated with turmeric is placed above the Kalash. People place dolls of gods and goddesses in 3/5/7/9 steps arrangements along with the Kalash. It is believed that the dolls are the court of Goddess Shakti as well as the representation that everything is her creation. The Dolls are collected over many years and are often passed on through generations.

 Pujas and Offerings

During the nine days of the festival, women perform various pujas and fast during the day. It is believed that performing prayers during this period is stronger than any time of the year. Every day after the puja and aarti, people offer “Sundal” made from one of the Navadhanyams (9 grains) for the goddess and distribute the offerings to kids and women in the neighbourhood.

Celebrations

Evenings are the most pleasant part of the day during the “Golu” festival. Devotees dress up for the occasion and visit each other’s Golu decorations at home as well as in temples. They sing songs & bhajans and pray to the goddess. Visitors are offered with beetle leaves, banana, coconut, and Vermillion along with gifts during Navaratri. In order to make things creative, these days people decorate their houses with models of parks, zoo, cricket ground, hills, sometimes even flyovers and city structures.

Doll Arrangements (Golu)

Mylapore one of the prominent Hindu community localities in Chennai is known for its year-on-year Golu decoration competitions. People bring the best of their creativity with innovative ideas each year for these competitions. Some of the notable doll decorations that you can find in every household include the Dasavatara (10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu), Asta-Lakshmi (8 incarnations of Goddess Lakshmi),”Durga Lakshmi Saraswati”, Families of Lord Shiva, Vishnu, Rama, Raas Leela enchanted /Krishna Leela and more.

Other notable and most important doll arrangements include dolls of great saints, gurus, Alwars and Nayanmars (to praise humanity), dolls of birds and animals (to praise other creations), “Chettiyar Thatha and Paati” set along with pulses, vegetables, kitchen things (to praise the trading community), and other dolls that represent the Hindu culture.

Popular Beliefs

It is believed that worshipping Goddess Saraswati by placing books in front of her will help us gain good knowledge. During the Saraswati Puja day, people do not take their books out and read as it is considered inauspicious to take the books placed before the goddess.

Ayudha Pooja day is considered to be auspicious to start any new business, buy new vehicle or tools. During this day people perform puja of their cars, bikes, and instruments used at work by thanking them for being useful in their life and praying for a better future. During the Vijayadashami day, parents send their kids for the first day of school. It is considered as the best day to start any new learning activity.

Popular Temple Celebrations In TN

  • Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple
  • Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Mylapore
  • Mutharamman Temple, Kulasekharapattinam

These temples along with many other local temples in each town/city grandly celebrate the Navaratri festival. The temples are open throughout the day during all nine days.

Five Beaches South of the Vindhyas You Should Visit as Soon as Summer Ends

Come June, summer will start to make way for cooler temperatures, gloomy weather and rains. And many of us will want to head to the only place where we get the sun, sand and surf – the beach! But what happens when everyone else is there as well? Do you want to enjoy your sliver of the sun and some quiet moments with that special someone? Or a quiet, relaxing getaway with your friends without having to jostle for space with a hundred others? Here is a list of some less known beaches you are sure to enjoy in south India!

Dhanushkodi, Rameshwaram

Dhanushkodi

Number one on our list is the ethereal Dhanushkodi beach located in the state of Tamil Nadu. It was declared a ghost town by the Government of Tamil Nadu after a massive cyclone hit in 1964. But it remains a tourist’s paradise with many attractions!

The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park offers a breath-taking visual of the myriad of flora and fauna. Pamban island which is barely 20km away, can keep you occupied with many activities. And one cannot miss the awe-inspiring Adam’s Bridge which is a naturally formed bridge between India and Srilanka!

How to get there: If one is looking for a cheaper option, many Govt and Private buses ply from Rameshwaram to Dhanushkodi. One can also get down at Rameswaram railway station and take a cab. Multiple cabs ply, even directly from Chennai. Flying in? Madurai Airport is the nearest.

Mahe beach, Puducherry

Mahe

Mahe was originally a French colony and now forms a municipality in Mahe district (which forms part of the union territory of Puducherry). It is surrounded by the state of Kerala on all sides.

The pristine waters and palm fringed shorelines offer an enchanting getaway for all those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Enjoy a quiet stroll along the beach while taking in the quaint fishing hamlets dotted along the shore. Or what about a glorious sunset while taking a dip?

How to get there: As few trains stop at Mahe railway station, the best option is to drive down. Roads from major destinations like Bangalore and Kochi are well-maintained and many buses ply from all nearby towns. The Calicut International airport is the nearest airport with many flights operating from different parts of the country.

Mararikulam beach, Mararikulam

Mararikulam

The fishing village of Mararikulam is situated in Alappuzha district in Kerala. This is a must visit for adventure seekers with a ton of activities like parasailing, water skiing and sea surfing. There is much in store for nature lovers as well. One can contact a naturalist to take you on a guided tour and fall in love with nature at its best. With swaying coconut trees and beautiful skies, this is a haven for a stress-free holiday.

Oh, and dare we mention the amazing resorts and food?

How to get there: Easily accessible by road, with cabs readily available from Cochin. Cochin International airport is also nearby from where one can take a cab and Mararikulam has its own railway station, but better check since only few trains stop.

Malpe beach, Karnataka

Malpe

Just 6km from Udupi, this idyllic, neat beach is irresistible for busy city dwellers. Many attractions are dotted around or near the beach. Few of them being St Mary’s island, the Fort of Daria-Bahadurgad and the temple of Balarama. But, a hit with beach lovers has been the Free WiFi!

How to get there: The best way to get there is by road, as the route from Mangalore to Malpe is considered one of the most beautiful. One can get down at Udupi railway station if traveling by rail or fly into Bajpe Airport.

Yarada Beach, Andhra Pradesh

Yarada Beach

Located around 15km from the busy city of Visakhapatnam, this hidden treasure is located on the west coast of the Bay of Bengal. It offers panoramic views of the skyline and crystal clear waters. A favourite with lovers wanting some quality time, the beach provides peace and quiet. Want a stress-free weekend? Head to Yarada!

How to get there: Availability of cabs is many from Hyderabad to Yarada beach with some operators offering a full day cab in Visakhapatnam as well. Both the nearest railway station and airport are located in Visakhapatnam.

 Did we miss out on your favourite beach in south India? Tell us in the comments below!

#60DaysOfSummer – Yoga in Kodaikanal

Stressed from work and city life? Cut all cords (mostly electronic ones) and head to Kodaikanal for a quiet yoga retreat. Visit the Kodaikanal Yoga Centre, tucked away in the hills to experience solitude and some soul searching.

Kodaikanal Yoga Centre and Karuna Farm are about 12km from Kodaikanal town, and offer a holistic and wholesome living experience. The centre has daily yoga classes as well as art, living and design workshops for guests. While you’re de-stressing with yoga and a natural lifestyle, you can stay at Karuna Farm in a cottage of your choice.

Karuna Farm has a number of cottages with a number of amenities spread out across its property – so choose wisely before you make your booking. The farm doesn’t allow the consumption of alcohol on its premises – they expect all guests to respect this rule.

HOW TO GET THERE

Book a cab from Bangalore to Kodaikanal or a cab from Chennai to Kodaikanal.