Feb 082015
 
Hampi is a village within the large ancient capital of Vijayanagar, one of the greatest Hindu kingdoms in India’s history. In around 1500 Vijaynagar had 500,000 inhabitants, probably making it one of the biggfest cities in the world. It has some extremely captivating ruins, strangely mixed in with large boulders dotted all over the landscape. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site .

  • Overlooking farmland from Anjaneyadri hill

    Overlooking farmland from Anjaneyadri hill

  • Lotus Mahal

    Lotus Mahal

  • Narasimha Monolith

    Narasimha Monolith

  • Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple

    Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple

  • Krishna temple amoungst the boulders

    Krishna temple amoungst the boulders

  • Bukkas Aquaduct

    Bukkas Aquaduct

  • Elephant stables

    Elephant stables

  • Mandapas of Vittala temple

    Mandapas of Vittala temple

  • Virupaksha temple

    Virupaksha temple

  • Krishna Pushkarani Hampi ruins

    Krishna Pushkarani Hampi ruins

  • Stepped tank at the Hazara temple

    Stepped tank at the Hazara temple

  • Virupaksha temple gopura

    Virupaksha temple gopura

  • Watchtower

    Watchtower

  • Chariot at Vitthala temple

    Chariot at Vitthala temple

The ruins, which date back to the 14th century, stretch for just over 10 miles and comprise more than 500 monuments. The most striking monument is the Vittala Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Its main hall has 56 pillars that make musical sounds when struck.

An incredible energy can be felt at Hampi. The sunrise and sunset over the village, viewed from atop the central Matanga Hill, are truly magical and are not to be missed. Be sure to have a comfortable pair of shoes with you as some of the ruins can only be accessed on foot and you’ll need to walk quite a distance in order to explore them. Try taking a ferry trip across the river to Anegondi and exploring the relics there. Alternatively, it’s a good idea to hire a bicycle to get around. Night tours are also possible. The best time to visit is from November to February. In March, it starts getting unbearably hot.

Things to see

There are four main temple complexes:

Vittala Temple Complex

Chariot at Vitthala templeThis is perhaps the most famous and well-known among the ruins of Hampi. The iconic Stone Chariot in the vicinity of this temple complex is a symbol of Karnataka Tourism.

Hazara Rama Temple Complex

Lotus MahalThis ruined temple complex is well known for elaborate frescoes from the Hindu religion and a sprawling courtyard well-laid with gardens. It is well known for more than many thousand carvings & inscriptions on & in the temple depicting the mighty story of Ramayana. Also in this area are:

The Stepped Tank, a small reservoir which was fed with a water chute that brought water into the palace; Lotus Mahal, a lovely building showing a blend of Hindu and Islamic architecture; The Elephant Stables, an imposing structure of 11 chambers which once housed the royal elephants

Krishna Temple Complex

Krishna Pushkarani Hampi ruinsThis temple complex has been recently excavated through the last decade, and restoration work is still in progress. The temple has the Sacred Tank or the Pushkarani located on its eastern side. Also here, carved out of a single boulder in 1528, is the Narasimha Monolith. This is massive image of Vishnu in his half man, half lion incarnation.

Virupaksha Temple

Virupaksha temple gopuraVirupaksha Temple, known as the Pampavathi temple, is an ancient temple situated in the Hampi Bazzar. It predates the founding of the Vijayanagara empire. The temple has a 50 m high gopura (tower) at its entrance. Apart from Shiva, the temple complex also contains shrines of the erotic statues Bhuvaneshwari and Pampa.

 

Feb 082015
 
Coorg is a beautiful and relatively undiscovered area. Picturesquely set amidst the forested mountains of the Western Ghats, it is renowned for its large number of sprawling coffee plantations. It is rich in culture too; the local people, known as Kodavas, are a distinct ethnic group with their own language, Coorgi. Many of India’s armed forces generals have come from this community.
  • Abbey falls

    Abbey falls

  • Cauvery river

    Cauvery river

  • Backwaters of the river Cauvery

    Backwaters of the river Cauvery

  • Blue winged parakeet

    Blue winged parakeet

  • Coorg scenery

    Coorg scenery

  • Coorg forest

    Coorg forest

  • Kodava culture

    Kodava culture

  • Thalakkaveri temple

    Thalakkaveri temple

  • Bylekuppe monastery

    Bylekuppe monastery

  • Coffee

    Coffee

  • Dubare reserve forest elephant camp

    Dubare reserve forest elephant camp

  • Golden temple bylekuppe

    Golden temple bylekuppe

  • Madikeri palace now used as district administration seat inside fort

    Madikeri palace now used as district administration seat inside fort

  • Coffee

    Coffee

Coorg (or Kodagu) was an independent state until 1956 when it was incorporated into the newly formed state of Karnataka.

Things to see


Coffee Plantations

CoffeeCoorg produces some of the world’s finest varieties of mild coffee. The many plantations are both interesting to visit and pleasant for walks.

Bylekuppe 

Bylekuppe monasteryBylekuppe is the second largest Tibetan settlement outside Tibet. There is a Tibetan monastery with 7,000 monks, a Tibetan village and a flea market.

Madikeri

Madikeri palace now used as district administration seat inside fortMadikeri is the district headquarters of Coorg and is a charming hill town surrounded by rolling coffee and orange plantations. The Fort in the centre of town contains a simple palace of the Lingayat rulers, a temple, an old church, and a museum. The famous Omkareshvara Shiva Temple lies just to the East of the Fort.

Abbey Falls

Abbey fallsThe walk up to Abbey Falls, 5 miles from Madikeri, is popular and takes trekkers through forests and coffee plantations.

Feb 082015
 
The Kabini river has been dammed forming a huge reservoir close to the town of Sargur. The backwaters of the Kabini reservoir are very rich in wildlife, especially in summer when the water level recedes and animals venture onto the open grassy meadows in search of water. The Kabini Forest Reserve is one of the most popular wildlife destinations in Karnataka, probably because of its accessibility, lush green landscape surrounding the large lake, and common sightings of herds of elephants and tigers. It is 50 miles away from Mysore and 127 miles from Bengaluru (Bangalore).

  • Leopard resting in a tree, Nagarhole National Park

    Leopard resting in a tree, Nagarhole National Park

  • Fishing on the Kabini River

    Fishing on the Kabini River

  • Safari jeep, Nagarhole National Park

    Safari jeep, Nagarhole National Park

  • Kabini River

    Kabini River

  • Eagle in Nagarhole National Park

    Eagle in Nagarhole National Park

  • Peacock, Nagarhole National Park

    Peacock, Nagarhole National Park

  • Monkey, Nagarhole National Park

    Monkey, Nagarhole National Park

  • Nagarhole National Park

    Nagarhole National Park

  • Monkey, Nagarhole National Park

    Monkey, Nagarhole National Park

  • Gaur (a type of bison), Nagarhole National Park

    Gaur (a type of bison), Nagarhole National Park

  • Dear, Nagarhole National Park

    Dear, Nagarhole National Park

  • Kabini River

    Kabini River

  • Kabini River

    Kabini River

  • Kabini River

    Kabini River

  • Farmer ploughing  near Kabini River

    Farmer ploughing near Kabini River

  • Crops near Kabini River

    Crops near Kabini River

  • Crop near Kabini River

    Crop near Kabini River

  • Ladies picking Cotton near Kabini River

    Ladies picking Cotton near Kabini River

  • Dear in Nagarhole National Park

    Dear in Nagarhole National Park

  • Mongoose in Nagarhole National Park

    Mongoose in Nagarhole National Park

  • Elephant in Nagarhole National Park

    Elephant in Nagarhole National Park

Things to see


Kabini River. The Kabini dam submerged a large tract of forest creating a huge lake. During the dry season, the lake dries out, leaving only the main river visible. The resulting open plain quickly grows plentiful amounts of grass, more reminiscent of African savanna than tropical India. This unique habitat has proved to be a boon for the park, attracting a large concentration of Elephants other herbivores and their prey.

Nagarhole National Park covers 248 sq miles and is located to the north-west of the adjacent Bandipur National Park, both part of the wider Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. a vast area, 2,132 sq miles, in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. The Kabini river separates the two parks.
Nagarhole is perhaps the best remaining habitat of the Asian elephant in the world. It is not unusual to see herds of elephants on the river bank. Gaur, the largest of the bison family, are another attraction of the park. Carnivores include  the Sloth bear, Tiger, leopard, the Asiatic wild dog also called dhole, the striped hyena, jackal, jungle cat and rusty spotted cat. The Sambar, chital or axis deer, Muntjac, mouse deer and the four-horned antelope are all found in this area.  The park is a mixture of semi-evergreen and deciduous forest, interspersed with grassy swamps and scrub forest.
Nagarhole is also inhabited by tribal people  called the Jenu Kurubas, although their traditional practices and rituals are slowly disappearing due to restrictions being placed upon them by the Indian government.
When to Visit: The best time to view the animals is during the heat of March and April, when the waterholes are dry and the animals come out and visit the lake. However, the weather is more pleasant from November to February.

Bandipur National Park  was established in 1974 as a tiger reserve under Project Tiger. It was once a private hunting reserve for the Maharaja of the Kingdom of Mysore. The mammals commonly seen  along the public access roads in the park include chital, gray langurs, Indian giant squirrels and elephants. Bandipur also has some exciting trekking opportunities, with trails that range from moderate to highly challenging. Visit the Himavad Gopalaswamy Temple, perched at a height of 1,455 m. The nearby Cauvery Fishing Camp is famous for its angling, where you can make a bid for the mahseer, a monster of a fresh water game fish. The habitat of Bandipur National Park is more diverse than that of Nagarhole due to its location in the area where the Deccan Plateau meets the Western Ghats. It is en route from Nagarhole to Ooty so a good option is to spend time at each park if your itinerary is heading to Ooty.

Jan 242015
 
Mysore has an impressive royal heritage as it served as the capital of the princely State of Mysore for nearly six centuries with distinguished rulers like Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali. It is famous for its various temples, palaces, forts and old churches with the highlight being the imposing Mysore Palace. This is especially beautiful when it is illuminated every Sunday evening. The city is also known as the cultural capital of Karnataka and is the origin for various styles of Indian arts and crafts. The festival of Dasara is an important event in Mysore and takes place around late September.

  • Mysore Palace

    Mysore Palace

  • Nandi Bull

    Nandi Bull

  • Woman Construction Labourer

    Woman Construction Labourer

  • Mysore Market Seller

    Mysore Market Seller

  • Mysore Flower Market

    Mysore Flower Market

  • Mysore Flower Market

    Mysore Flower Market

  • Mysore Market

    Mysore Market

  • Storage for Bananas at Mysore Market

    Storage for Bananas at Mysore Market

  • Fruit Seller at Mysore Market

    Fruit Seller at Mysore Market

  • Daria Daulat mural paintings depicting a Tipu  story

    Daria Daulat mural paintings depicting a Tipu story

  • Daria Daulat - Tipu Sultan Palace

    Daria Daulat - Tipu Sultan Palace

  • Mysore Flower Market Garlands

    Mysore Flower Market Garlands

  • Banana Selling Area at Mysore Market

    Banana Selling Area at Mysore Market

  • Vegetable Market

    Vegetable Market

  • Mysore Palace Illuminated

    Mysore Palace Illuminated

  • Festival at Mysore Palace

    Festival at Mysore Palace

  • Colours for Sale

    Colours for Sale

  • Powdered Colours Vendor

    Powdered Colours Vendor

  • Indian Bangles

    Indian Bangles

  • Chamundi Hills Monument

    Chamundi Hills Monument

  • Priest atChamundi Hills Monument

    Priest atChamundi Hills Monument

Things to see

Mysore Palace

P1040157Mysore Palace is one of the most visited monuments in India and also one of the largest palaces in the country. It was the residence of the Wodeyar Maharaja’s of the Mysore state and to this day, members of the Royal family still occupy one portion of the Palace. The rest of the palace has now been converted into a museum that treasures souvenirs, paintings, jewelery, royal costumes and other items, which were once possessed by the Wodeyars. The beautifully carved mahogany ceilings, solid silver doors, white marble floors and superb columned Durbar Hall are certainly very impressive. A silhouette of the Mysore Palace illuminated with 98,260 bulbs, shimmering against an inky black night is one of the most enduring images of the city and can be enjoyed every Sunday evening.

Chamundi Hill and Temple

P1040171Mysore, derived from “Mahishasurana Ooru,” was named from the demon Mahishasura who was killed by goddess Chamundershwari at the top of Chamundi Hill just outside Mysore.
The goddess Chamundershwari is still worshipped to this day with thousands of people visiting the Chamundi Hill to honour her. The Chamundeshwari Temple, a Hindu place of worship, is also located at the top of Chamundi Hill.

Nandi Bull

P1040195Half way up Chamundi hill, you will find an idol of a bull, called Nandi. The specialty of the 5-meter tall statue is that it was sculptured out of a single rock in 1659.

St. Philomena’s Church

st-philomena-church-and-rickshaw-with-childThe 200-year old St. Philomena’s Church, also known as St. Joseph’s Church, is built in Gothic Style. Originally, a small church stood in this place but later, Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, laid the foundation for the present St. Philomena’s Church. It is one of the largest Cathedrals in the whole of South Asia. St. Philomena’s relic belonging to the 3rd century is found in the Church.

Daria Daulat Bagh

Daria Daulat Bagh - Mural PaintingsTippu Sultan popularly known as the “Tiger of Mysore”, built this palace in 1784 and ruled Mysore from here for a short time after his father Hyder Ali took back power from the British in the middle of the 18th century. The most stunning feature of the palace is that all the walls have colorful frescoes in the style of Mysore paintings

Brindavan Gardens

Brindavan GardensBrindavan Gardens is situated below Krishnaraja Sagar dam. The work to construct the garden commenced in 1927 and was completed in 1932. It is spread across 150 acres of land and is one of the best gardens in the country. It houses a botanical park and many fountains in various shapes and sizes. The musical fountain is one of its main attractions. To enjoy the colourful fountains at their best, try to visit after sunset.

Mysore Zoo 

Mysore ZooDeveloped in 1892, the Mysore Zoo is one of the oldest and most renowned zoos in the world.
The zoo spans 245-acres and is home to rare and exotic birds and animals. Some popular exhibits feature tigers, Indian and African elephants, bears, gorillas, monkeys, lions, hippos, rhinos, and much more.

Srirangapatnam Fort 

water-gate1Built in the year 1537 by a feudal lord, this magnificent fort is considered to be the second toughest fort of India. The Srirangapatna Fort has four main entrances known by the names of Delhi, Bangalore, Mysore and Water and Elephant gates. The fort has a double wall defence system, which is what makes it impenetrable. The legendary Tipu Sultan’s residence was inside this fort. Hence, it is also known as Tipu Sultan Fort.

Dasara Festival 

KPN photoIn contrast to other parts of India where Dussehra is only celebrated for one day, Mysore Dasara takes place over the whole 10 days of the Navaratri festival (Sept/Oct). Numerous music and dance performances take place at the Palace and other venues. There’s also wrestling tournament, art exhibition, food festival, kite festival, film festival, flower show, and sightseeing to local tourist places. Another attraction is the Dussehra exhibition, which starts during the festival and continues for around three months. There are stalls selling all kinds of handicrafts, clothing and other ornaments, as well as games and amusement rides. However, the main attraction takes place on the last day of the festival. A traditional procession (known as Jumboo Savari) winds its way through the streets of Mysore, starting at noon from Mysore Palace and ending in Bannimantap. It features an idol of the Goddess Chamundeshwari, carried atop a lavishly decorated elephant. In the evening, there’s a torch-light parade at the Bannimantap grounds on the outskirts of the city.

Places to Stay

Royal Orchid Metropole

Hotel ExteriorA luxury heritage hotel, Royal Orchid Metropole is steeped in the history and culture of Mysore. It was built by the former Maharajah of Mysore in 1920 as a grand guesthouse for his distinguished British guests. Its imperial arches, imposing pillars and ornate corridors capture the old world charm of this majestic era. The heritage rooms are enormous, full of period style and have wonderful outdoor terraces. The courtyard dining is an absolute delight.

Windflower

Swimming PoolRelax by the natural rock formation outdoor swimming pool or visit the world-class spa that offers over 30 different ways to renew. An impressive multi-cuisine open-air restaurant and wine bar are also available. Windflower Resort & Spa offer silence, space and serenity in the heart of the royal city.


Green Hotel

Green HotelOriginally built for Mysore’s princesses and known as Chittaranjan Palace , this fabulous building has been lovingly restored as a charming, if slightly quirky, hotel. The extensive gardens, with formal lawns, flower borders and shaded pergolas are a beautiful place to relax after sightseeing in Mysore. Most admirably, the Green Hotel has been set up as a model of sustainable tourism, by the Charities Advisory Trust, a UK charity. All profits are distributed to charitable and environmental projects in India.