Road-tripping through the diverse state of Karnataka in the south of India is an experience I’ll never forget.
I was, and still am in awe, with the natural beauty Karnataka has to offer – from Bangalore to Mysore – from Mysore to Kabini – from Kabini to Coorg. Just driving from city to city was simply incredible – the ultimate road-trip – thanks to jaw-dropping scenes of nature, villages, plantations, colourful people and coffee-stops along the road.
Karnataka may be best known for her silks, sandalwood and spices, but she certainly has a key to many worlds up her sleeve:
- Wildlife & National Parks;
- Monuments & Heritage Sites;
- Beaches and Pilgrimage sites;
- Hectares and hectares of coffee, rice and spice plantations, as well as
- A variety of accommodation options to choose from – from Luxury 5 Star Hotels to Eco-friendly resorts.
My experiences in the following cities were so diverse it felt like I had a mini road-trip around the world:
As this was my first visit to Karnataka, I could not believe how green and lush the city of Bangalore actually is – trees everywhere.
Let’s hope they keep it this way and avoid any form of deforestation in the future.
I really enjoyed the local tuk-tuk rides, shopping at the Mantri Mall and the ITIHAAS Exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA).
Roaming through the streets on my own was incredible and I can honestly say that Bangalore is an absolute safe destination for female travelers to explore on their own.
Apart from the city’s IT aspects and aspirations, the trees, for me, really stood out as the heart and soul of Bangalore.
On route from Bangalore to Mysore we stopped at the Hotel Mayura Riverview for a traditional lunch and view over the river. The atmosphere was really relaxed and the food, super delicious.
Upon arrival in Mysore we checked into the most beautiful eco-friendly resort, The Windflower Resort and Spa. I was blown away by the natural beauty and zen atmosphere the property has to offer. I recommend this property to all travelers – solo, group and family. Well, anyone in search of quality accommodation combined with excellent service, spa facilities and amazing staff.
In Mysore City I noticed how incredibly warm and friendly the locals were towards visitors – especially at Mysore Palace. I loved walking about the old historic palace, surrounded by its green and well-maintained gardens.
Life comes across as very laid-back for the locals and I loved that. I had an incredible time just observing people in the gardens – locals enjoying their afternoon tea together as a family and honeymoon couples taking pictures. These were the moments at the palace that stood out for me – apart from its majestic decor and open spaces, interesting history, knowledge and architecture.
I really enjoyed our visit to the Sandalwood and Silk factories. I am still completely mesmerised by the process of silk-making and manufacturing. I have so much respect for those factory workers – they work extremely hard. The technology and machinery used in these factories are also mind-blowing.
Note to visitors at the factories: Have earplugs on standby due to the harsh sounds coming from some of the machines.
The ancient Hindi Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple with its incredible architecture, craftsmanship and dark alleys on the inside is a must-see for travelers with an interest in spirituality and places of worship.
Everyone in the temple seemed happy and the priests were very welcoming towards the group of travelers. No cameras, selfies or pictures are allowed inside the temple.
Exploring the Devaraja Market, just a stone’s throw away from the Dufferin Clock Tower at the heart of Mysore, was so much fun.
I loved walking through the crazy buzz of colourful alleys in the market. So many opportunities for buying souveniers, chatting with locals and taking pictures of what real life in Mysore is all about – tradition, hard work and kindness.
Should you get lost? No problem!
Just ask one of the friendly locals to guide you towards to the Dufferin Clock Tower located at the centre of the Square.
For a thrill of adventure, I highly recommend the open-air jeep safari ride from the city up to the hilltop for a coffee or tea at the market located near the renowned Sri Chamundeshwari Temple.
A quick stop on your way down at one of the many vantage points for a jaw-dropping view over Mysore City is absolutely worth the shot.
The route up to the temple is considered as one of Karnataka’s most sacred hilltop roads.
This area has now been declared a plastic-free zone, which is a great win for the environment!
Note to travelers when stopping at the vantage viewpoints: Always keep your personal belongings with you. Monkeys love running off with bags, snacks and passports.
3. Kabini River Lodge at Nagarhole National Park:
Kabini River Lodge, located in the heart of the Nagarhole National Park, offers travelers and families the ultimate breakaway from city-life.
The cottages are in good shape, clean, neat and tidy and come with amenities. The windows and balcony open to a spectacular view over the river, just 40m away from the cottage.
Once again, I was in awe with how much peace and serenity nature has to offer one’s soul, especially whilst lying in a hammock right next to the river.
Kabini River Lodge is also a great option for a pre- or post-conference breakaway in the wild.
Although WiFi is available at the main lodge, the connection speed is not that great.
Then again… who needs WiFi when one is guaranteed an uninterrupted good night’s sleep, fresh air and an overflow of natural beauty?
Our afternoon Safari Game Drive was a dream-come-true moment as we spotted the famous Bengal Tiger!
Our guide, Ravi, is one of the best guides I have ever come across. Ravi’s knowledge and passion for the park, its wildlife, bird and tree species is simply out of this world.
What a privilege it was to have had him on board as our guide during this incredible experience.
During our game drive we also spotted deers, buffalos, monkeys, elephants and an abundance of bird species. To me, the game drive was an exceptional experience. Just driving through the park… lush, green and more and more green… I was completely at peace. I felt whole. Thank you.
The next morning we docked the boat for a Safari River Cruise along the banks of the Nagarhole National Park – which was just as great as the game drive.
After breakfast we departed for Coorg.
As we proceeded with the road-trip, the destinations along with its activities just kept building up to bigger and better highlights.
In this case, the best was saved for last.
The Tamara Coorg…
This property has it all and is one of the best places I’ve ever stayed at.
From the moment we arrived our planned itinerary for Coorg went right through the window. We wanted to stay in and explore the property the next day. This is a fairytale wonderland within a world from another world located on a coffee plantation!
To me, checking in at Tamara Coorg was like checking into a little piece of heaven.
The beauty simply does not stop – whether you’re inside the cottage or out on the balcony surrounded by trees, or at the restaurant, right next to one of the many natural waterfalls on the property… The beauty. Does. Not. Stop.
Food and service at the restaurant is world-class. The cozy cottages are modern and come with awesome amenities and an option to plunge freshly organic grounded coffee – which is a huge step-up from the usual and boaring instant coffee in a sachet.
The WiFi connection is super-fast.
Water is distilled and available in glass bottles in order to reduce plastic waste. The whole setup is 100% kind towards nature.
During our guided coffee plantation tour the next day we discovered the whole process of making coffee – from seed – to bean – to cup.
Our friendly guide was brilliant and has a wealth of knowledge on the area’s natural habitat – its fauna, flora, insects and bird species. After the tour he gave us the opportunity to make our own coffee – from roasting and grinding to pouring and sipping.
The coffee plantations at Tamara Coorg is 100% organic with no toxic chemicals added. The property also boasts a successful clean-up programme with a 0% waste policy involving advanced recycling and composting skills.
Tamara Coorg is the perfect venue for high-end clients and can easily be included into an incentive package – which is at the (obvious) heart of what we do.
Apart from the diversity and variety of experiences these four cities have to offer, I really love the fact that Karnataka as a state is working hard at becoming one of the top destinations to visit with responsible travel at its core.
Hats off and congratulations to the Government of India, the Ministry of Tourism and business owners for putting plastic-free zones, eco-friendly resorts and e-waste management systems into place. A whole new world awaits.
ABOUT THE OBVIOUS CHOICE:
With our well-travelled CEO, Zaritha van Wyngaardt at the helm; we offer corporates, leisure and group travellers the support to enjoy authentic travel and events in a variety of vibrant local and international destinations.
From smaller intimate gatherings to elaborate productions; our clients benefit from the dedicated attention of an efficient, close-knit team of driven and agile experts with decades of experience in the logistics of travel and event management; and an extensive established network of notable suppliers to meet any client need.
Contact us today to discuss the right event or incentive packages for your team’s needs and take your company performance to another level.
Written by Deidré Schoeman