“Get your motor runnin’ Head out on the highway
Looking for adventure In whatever comes our way!”
These first four lines of the 1969 classic Born to be Wild are a fitting anthem for road trips of all types and distances. The very essence of a road trips is that you should be looking for an adventure, something on the go. And what better place for road trips than Bangalore? Be it rivers, forests, mountains or beaches, Bangalore is never too far from some nature and adventure. The true beauty of India is perfectly encapsulated by a road trip from Bangalore as just a single ride can take you from plateaus to mountains to beaches in just a matter of minutes! The cultures and lifestyles of the people also keep becoming more and more different and distinct as you wander through the roads of South India. A road trips from Bangalore is a journey that never stops giving!
What makes Roadtrips Special?
Road trips are unique. They offer a sense of freedom and joy that other forms of travel don’t provide. You are the master of your own destiny in a road trips as you control your vehicle, and this is a big advantage as some of the best things you do on a holiday are those that you do on the fly; unplanned. A road trips, driving around in your vehicle, makes that so much easier. Especially in a country like India, where there are SO many offbeat things to do and see, which you may only find out about once you reach the place, it is even more convenient to embark on your car journey.
But convenience isn’t the only thing that makes road trips special, there is more to this crazy style of travelling. You get to spend quality time with your family and friends in the vehicle as you play all your favourite car games, sing some songs for antakshari, enjoy the beautiful backdrops of the vast Indian landscapes and make myriad memories on the way. The masti of road tripping with your close ones is just something else. Even if you are driving on a solo mission, there is a sense of peace as you get to relish the relaxing journey. A road trip is a must-do for those looking for a stressbuster vacation and the wanderers amongst us who love doing their own thing!
However keep in mind that for a road trip you must be prepared to face some unexpected challenges such as roadblocks or bad roads, but hey, it’s all part of the fun! A road trips often doesn’t take the most direct route between point A and B but instead takes detours and off-beaten tracks to visit all the awesome places on the way!
On road trips, you will spend a considerable amount of time in your car so it is best recommended for long, I-have-all-the-time-in-the-world holidays but there are some gems of a place near Bangalore that can be covered by shorter road trips. Remember that in road trips the sceneries of the journey are as important as the end location. With that in mind, we have made you a list of some of the best road trips to be taken from Bangalore. This list barely scratches the surface of rollicking road trips from Bangalore, so make these routes the base to your trip and make your own variations depending on your interests.
All this sound so exciting right? So let us jump right into the main part, the road trips!
Weekend Roadtrips (1-2 days)
1. Skandagiri and Dandiganahalli Dam
As you start driving to the North of Bangalore, the rural surroundings and their simple lifestyles will enchant you, the hilly terrain of the region, with the occasional forests will leave you in awe, and all of that just gets augmented as you reach Skandagiri.
Skandagiri is a hill town known for its blissful treks, temples and a fort. The area around Bangalore is filled to the brim with hillocks that are ideal for trekking, hiking and other outdoorsy activities. Skandagiri is an exception; not for it isn’t good for trekking but because it is the trail of a rare specimen of treks called ‘night treks’. This is a magical form of trekking where you get to experience the stunning nature of Karnataka under the starry night sky. And then you get to witness the sunrise from the peak, where it seems like even the clouds are below you. Just imagine that!
There are also some temples where you can say your prayers to Shiva, Parvati and other local deities. But arguably the most exciting part of your visit will be seeing an ancient fortress called Kalavara Durga; this fortress is mostly in ruins, but this just makes it more mysterious and tantalising.
Just an hour’s drive from Skandagiri is Dandiganahalli Dam, this is a flawless place to have a mid-day picnic as you can jump into the water joyfully and swim all your worries away and then enjoy lunch in relative calm. The surrounding region is dotted with forested hills, making the scenery ever the more mesmerising. This is a good hangout for Bangaloreans looking to enjoy a day out.
Since Skandagiri and Dandiganahalli are so close to each other, they can easily be covered in a day (unless you go for the night trek), making it one of the great road trips cum getaways from Bangalore.
Distance from Bangalore: Skandagiri is 65km from Bangalore so it takes about an hour and a half to get there. From there Dandiganahalli Dam is 25km away.
2. Shivasamudram Waterfalls
The waterfall is nature’s laughter.
If this is the case, at Shivasamudram you will think that nature has heard the best joke of all time. This perennially flowing waterfall is created as the Kaveri meanders through the rocks and ravines of the Deccan Plateau. Even more impressively, it has an average width of 300m and a height of 100m making it one of the largest in India. As you approach, the roar of the falls keeps getting loader and once the waterfall comes into your view, you will be left Spellbound (with a capital S).
Actually, Shivasamudram Falls are made of two separate falls, Gangachukki and Bharachukki. This is because there is an island in-between splitting Kaveri in two, although it re-joins just a few kilometres ahead. The view from the vantage points of the waterfalls will make you wonder if you are in dreamland. You should try trekking through the jungles of the surrounding areas too for some more photogenic scenes. There is also a Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple on the island, giving it a subtle touch of divinity. But the most unmissable experience at Shivasamudram is taking a tokri boat ride to the vicinity of the waterfalls, as it sprays you with the misty river water, completely rejuvenating you. The best time to go to Shivasamudram is the monsoon season, from July to October, when the waterfalls are at their full force.
Shivasamudram Waterfalls is a destination that has to be in everyone’s family outing plan. It has nature, it has some activities to do and you get to capture some trendy photos for your social media feed. But most importantly, it is close enough to Bangalore to make it a day trip yet far enough for it to be a fun road trip from Bangalore.
Distance from Bangalore: Shivasamudram is situated south of Bangalore and the road from Bangalore to Shivasamudram is 135km and it takes about 3hrs.
3. Muthyala Maduvu (Pearl Valley) and Devarabetta Hills
Sometimes the best experiences are the most unexpected ones. That is what you will feel like in this region just south of Bangalore, next to Bannergatta forest. It is full of unexpected surprises and great locations that are often left unexplored. Over here getting lost isn’t the worst thing, in fact, it is possibly one of the best things to happen as who knows what marvellous nature you will find. Two such places for you to find that can be covered in a single day road trips are Muthyala Maduvu and Devarabetta Hills.
Muthyala Maduvu or Pearl Valley is a small waterfall that is located seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The waterfall is called Pearl Valley because the water splashing off the rocks gives an illusion of pearls falling. The best time to visit it is right after some heavy rains as at all other times there wouldn’t be much water for you to enjoy. But the main attraction of Muthyala Maduvu isn’t the waterfalls itself but the trek through lush green forest to get to it. It will feel like the whole place is for you. The view from the top where you start the trek down is another reason for you to get going to Muthyala Maduvu as you overlook the dense forests of the region.
Nearby Muthyala Maduvu is Devarabetta Hill on top of which is the Devarabetta Temple atop it. At the foot of the hill lies a quaint little village of 30 odd houses. Driving through this village will make you feel like you have gone back in time as all the houses are built in the style of the olden days and even the colour scheme is brilliant. Upon reaching the hill you will realise that it is much more than just a base for a temple. Trekking and mountain climbing at Devarabetta is quite superb. It is easy but at the same time a lot of fun, especially from the top, with beautiful vistas to see as long as the eye can see. If you have a 4×4 car, you could also have a go at off-roading on these hills.
For a fun-filled escape from city life, go to Muthyala Maduvu and Devarabetta Hills.
Distance: 45km from Bangalore is Muthyala Maduvu and it takes 1 and a half-hour drive while Muthyala Maduvu to Devarabetta Hills is 20km and 30min drive.
4. Mekedatu Gorge
Rivers look the best when they are fast-flowing and cutting through narrow gorges and rocks, don’t they? In a way, they symbolise how we should just push through all the hurdles and zoom past in life. And what better place where this is captured than the Mekedatu Gorge and Sangama?
The Sangama is a confluence of the rivers Kaveri and Arkavathi. Living up to its name, it really is an imposing place; it humbles you as you look at the mighty nature at its best. From Sangama, you can take a coracle ride a few kilometres downstream, where you reach another gorgeous part of Kaveri, Mekedatu. It is a narrow section of the river where it is just 5-10m wide at some points. It feels like the river is an artist and has sculpted a masterpiece by making unique pattern on the rocks of the gorge and then hid itself in-between these rocks and the luscious forests surrounding it.
The name Mekedatu has an interesting origin behind is as the legend includes a story where a goat jumped across the river to escape a tiger. It was later revealed that the goat was Lord Shiva himself. Looking at the narrowness of the gorge, you wouldn’t be blamed to think that a goat could actually jump across. The places near Mekedatu are a paradise for nature and water lovers. Chunchi Falls, Muthathi and Galibore Fishing and Nature Camp are all fairly close to Mekedatu. All in all, Mekedatu makes for an impeccable road trip within 100km of Bangalore.
Longer Roadtrips (3 or more days)
1. Bangalore – Gandikota – Nallamala
Welcome to the Grand Canyon! Oh wait, sorry, this isn’t Grand Canyon that you are seeing, it is India’s own Grand Canyon – Gandikota!
In the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, Gandikota is a premium travel destination that will captivate you with its nature, architecture and history. The most popular sight of Gandikota is the gorge that is formed on Penna River by the Erramala Hills, with its rocks and stones of different shades of red, making it an attractive place to see the sun rise. The narrow and deep ravines and drops create a spectacular background to the Fort and village that border it. Yes, this tiny village of Gandikota is even home to an 800 year old fort! Within the Gandikota Fort are two ancient temples and a mosque, along with the other ruins too. For the adventurers, there are even activities like paragliding available here.
Gandikota is also in proximity to other breath-taking tourist destinations such as Mylavaram Dam, Owk Reservoir, Orvakal Rock Gardens, etc. But it is Belum Caves that takes the cake for best things to do near Gandikota. It is the largest and one of the deepest caves in India and will truly mystify you as you explore its myriad labyrinth. In Belum, you get to see some exceptional geological formations such as stalagmite and stalactites. You can also dwell deeper into the history of the caves as it was the meditation site for many sages and Buddhist monks. Overall, no trip to Gandikota is complete without a visit to Belum Caves.
From Gandikota, your next location on this awesome road trips is the Nallamala Forest. It is the largest tiger reserve in India by area and is spread out over 2 states. The main accommodation option to enjoy your stay to the fullest is Nallamala Jungle Camp, run by the government. They organise forest safaris where you will get an opportunity to spot fauna such as tigers, leopards, crocodiles, hyenas, sloth bears, snakes and deer among others. Or you could take the nature walk to bask in the plush greenery and pureness of the forest. For a different kind of experience, you can learn archery from the indigenous tribes of the land, the Chenchus. Nallamala Forest would really be a fitting way to finish your road trips.
Distance: Bangalore to Gandikota – 285km and 6hrs. Gandikota to Belum Caves is an hour and a half drive. Gandikota to Nallamala Forest Camp -120km and 2hrs 30mins.
2. Bangalore – Hampi – Aihole – Badami
Oh yes, the architecture adventure is here!
Hampi is the first destination in this road trips filled with alluring medieval era temples. Hampi has a rich and diverse history and was the second-largest city in the world in 1500 but now it is mostly abandoned and is the site of some of the best archaeological wonders in India, perhaps even the world.
There are many incredible temples in Hampi such as the temples on Hemakuta Hill, Krishna Temple, Hajara Rama Temple, Achyutaraya Temple Complex and more but the most impressive are Virupaksha Temple, with its 5 storey gopuram stealing the limelight in the Hampi skyline, and Vitthala Temple. The Vitthala Temple was is over 500 years old and characterises Vijayanagara art spotlessly. It is this temple that is often shown in photos of Hampi with its stone chariot and beautifully carved sculptures.
Have no worries, Hampi has got that covered too. Hampi is covered in boulder clad hillsides for miles at a stretch. This makes it ideal for rock climbing and bouldering. Another activity not for the faint-hearted is cliff jumping into the Tungabhadra River and Sanapur Lake. Couple these thrills with the calm and peaceful ambience of Hampi, and you have got yourself the hippie capital of India. No wonder Hampi is popular among foreign backpackers.
From one temple town to another, we reach Aihole. This former capital of the Chalukya Kingdom is the cradle of Hindu Temple architecture and is home to numerous jewels of ancient South Indian architecture like Lad Khan Temple, Gaudara Gudi, and Meguti Temple. But the most popular sight is the Durga Temple, named so because it is situated near the fort. While there is no deity remaining in this temple, the intricate designs and talent of the Chalukyan architects and sculptures still shines through to give you a sense of spirituality. Another temple where you feel Chalukyan divinity is Ravanaphadi Cave Temple, carved into a sandstone rock.
However, this isn’t the only cave temple in the region, as the Badami Cave Temples are much larger and grander. These group of four cave temples were carved into the red sandstone caves in the 6th century. Even the statues are hewn from the rock itself. The ceilings too have their own sculptures, showing the master craftsmanship of the Chalukyans. Other than these temples, visit Agastya Lake, Badami Fort which looks over Badami from top of a cliff and Bhoothanatha Temple, which is surrounded by Agastya Lake on three sides.
It must be said, for all those who love history, art and architecture, this trip is a something you have to do.
Distance: Bangalore to Hampi – 340km and 6hrs. Hampi to Aihole – 140km and 3hrs. Aihole to Badami is 35km and 45 minutes away.
3. Bangalore – Mysore – Madikeri – Kannur
The exquisite rural life of Deccan plateau, royalty, hills and mountains, Buddhist monks, tropical jungles and beaches; this is the road trips that encompasses all the diversity of India in one go.
The former capital of Karnataka state, Mysore, is where you will take your first stop. Mysore has a lot of everything but the highlight of Mysore is the Mysore Palace. It stands out in the centre of the city and draws in tourists from all corners of the country. The interiors and design of the palace will draw you in with their grandeur and opulence. But the real beauty of Mysore Palace shines in the night, quite literally! Every evening, for a certain period of time, the Palace is illuminated with lights, keeping you captivated and making you wonder whether you should start a coup just to make this palace your home. Other famous tourist sites near Mysore include Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Somnathpur Temple, Brindavan Gardens and Sri Chamundeshwari Temple.
As you go along the way from Mysore to Coorg, the best and simplest way to describe this stretch of the trip is: Elephants and Monks. Yes, as odd as it seems to hear the two words in the same sentence, on this day of the trip you will not only hear but experience them. First on the way is the 2nd largest Tibetan settlement outside Tibet, Bylakuppe. Bylakuppe is the place to go to experience authentic Tibetan culture. Feel tranquillity and serenity as the monks chant the gentle hymns, enjoy the lovely Namdroling Monastery and its unique patterns and style and eat some yummy Tibetan food like momos, muktuk soup, aloo sip sip and more.
After a delightful exploration of Bylakuppe, move on to Dubare Elephant Camp, on the banks of Kaveri River. Over here you get to feed, bathe, ride and take care of an elephant, making you realise how challenging, yet how rewarding it is to maintain an elephant. This is your chance to basically get to live as a mahout for a day! You can take a swim in the Kaveri to re-energise yourself following a tiring day. From here, Madikeri, capital of Coorg, is not far away. Once you are in the Scotland of India you can view Coorgi panoramas from Raja’s Seat, take a visit to Madikeri Fort or Raja’s Tomb for the history geeks, nature lovers should head to Abbey Waterfalls and Kote Betta but what everyone must do is wander around the extensive coffee estates of Coorg or some relaxing time.
Kannur, in Kerala, has everything you expect of God’s own Country, and more! Book a seaside resort in Kannur and watch the magic unfold. The beaches of Kannur are pristine and clean, but most importantly, they aren’t crowded at all. You will hardly find any tourists in the beaches, unless you go to the main ones like Palliyamoola or Payyambalam Beach. To take your car onto the beach, drive out to Muzhappilangad Beach and to learn the colonial history of the area, head out to St Angelo’s Fort. The people are very accommodating and hospitable too (as you’d expect of all Indians), making it the picture-perfect place to end a picture-perfect road trips from Bangalore.
Pro Tip: In Kannur you should try out the pickled pineapples, dipped in vinegar and chilli. So tasty!
Distance: Bangalore to Mysore – 187km and 3hrs 45mins. Mysore to Madikeri – 120km and 2hrs 30mins. Madikeri to Kannur – 110km and 3hrs.
4. Bangalore – Agumbe – Dandeli – Karwar – Goa
Goa is cool. Whether you are young or old, everyone loves a visit to Goa for the golden beaches, raging parties and thriving nightlife. No wonder it is the top holiday destination in India. But a road trips from Bangalore to Goa will show you that life is not just about the destination; it is about the journey.
One of the places on this journey where you will be staying is Malgudi. ”But Malgudi is a fictional town,” do you say? Well then, welcome to the town that inspired RK Narayan to create his wonderful universe – Agumbe. Located in the foothills of Western Ghats, Agumbe is known as the Cherrapunji of the South for its perennial rains and scrumptious rainforests. There are innumerable waterfalls in Agumbe like Koodlu Falls, Jogigundi Falls, Onake Abbi Falls and Barkana Falls Unadulterated and untouched jungles are also part of the Agumbe package, such as Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary or the trail in Narashima Parvata Trek. To give your eyes a treat, go over to Sunset Point to enjoy bewitching views of the sun setting over the Western Ghats.
Once you leave Agumbe for your drive to Dandeli, Jog Falls is only a small deviation away. Jog Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in India and is a must-visit. But just a few hours of driving later you will reach one more haven for wildlife that is Dandeli. This cool little town is right next to the massive (in both size and biodiversity) Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary. You get to observe animals such as deer, wild dogs, tigers, leopards and hogs go about their simple yet fulfilling life by taking the wildlife safari here. White-water rafting on the river Kali is also supremely exciting, especially for you adventure seekers. Other natural and geological wonders in Dandeli include Magod Falls, Syntheri Rocks and Kavala Caves.
From Western Ghats to the Arabian Sea, this day you will hit the beaches! Karwar is a coastal town in northern Karnataka that has good beaches but to really find the best beach, you have to go bit into the sea, to Kurumgad Island, about 2km off the coast. This island has a resort where you can stay the night, they serve delicious seafood of all varieties, but best of all, the beach here is as quiet and isolated as you can get to a private beach. Within the island, you can also take a short and refreshing morning walk to an empty Hanuman Temple in the island. You should treat yourself to a chill day on Kurumgad. Within the Karwar main town, visit INS Chapal Warship Museum to learn all about ships, sea transport and the proud history of the Indian Navy. Sadashivgad Fort, Oyster Rock Lighthouse and Kot Shiveshwar are worthwhile adages to your itinerary in Karwar.
And finally, you arrive, Goa will fully hit you with its glory. On the way from Karwar to Goa, there will be stretches of road along the coast which just looks absolutely splendid. And is there anything much to say about Goa that hasn’t already been said? The beaches are with Baga, Candolim and Palolem in particular being up there with the best in the world. Goa also has a vibrant nightlife and party scene, but it is much more than that too. Nature wise also it is overwhelming, with wildlife sanctuaries such as Bhagawan Mahaveer, Cotigao and Bondla. You can also marvel the handsome Portuguese architecture and grand churches built by them.
What I’m trying to say in the end is that, if you want to go from Bangalore to Goa, go by road! You wouldn’t want to miss out on the beauty of Karnataka and Goa.
Distance: Bangalore to Agumbe – 350km and 7hrs. Agumbe to Dandeli – 280km and 6hrs 15mins. Dandeli to Karwar – 100km and 2hrs 30mins. Karwar to Panaji – 100km and 2hrs 30mins.
While all these are awesome road trips, there are many many more routes for you to take from Bangalore. This is just the tip of the iceberg and just a simple guide of the different routes that can be taken. But you should go with the flow and maximise your enjoyment. And for sure it is a road trip that can give you this full satisfaction. So get ready for the high(way) life and hit the road! Go on the expedition of a lifetime and come back a changed man!
Have a blast!
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