Hills are calling...

No summer holiday would be complete without a visit to the hills. Chethana Dinesh takes you to a few hill stations in our State to experience the magic of fresh air and intoxicating nature

A view from Nandi Hills

Summer holidays are almost here. And it’s awesome. It spells fun, fun, and more fun. No school, no homework, lazy days, fun outings, family vacations... The list can be endless. It is also the time we scout for places that promise a cool climate, greenery unlimited, fresh air, and serene walking trails. Come to think of it, our state of Karnataka has many such
interesting destinations that not only offer us a respite from the hustle-bustle of city life but also give us enough reasons to celebrate the spirit of the season.

Nandi Hills

At just 60 km from Bengaluru, Nandi Hills is a perfect getaway if a day-trip is on your mind. Home to a fort built by Tipu Sultan, this tiny hill station offers spectacular views that make us wonder why on earth we hadn’t discovered this hidden gem of a spot earlier. So near to the city, yet so far from the maddening rush that has come to mean Bengaluru. The many gardens, Tipu’s summer residence, the famous Tipu Drop from where Tipu Sultan is believed to have hurled prisoners to death, the historical Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva... Nandi Hills has all these and more. A much sought-after destination for cycling enthusiasts, birders, hikers and nature lovers, the place sees a lot of visitors over the weekends. The best time to visit the hills is early in the mornings, to witness the splendour of sunrise. On the flip side, Nandi Hills is also home to a lot of monkeys whose rowdy behaviour can, at times, be off-putting. Pack a picnic hamper, don your sunhat and sunglasses, and head out for a day of fun and frolic.

Biligirirangana Betta (B R Hills)

The name is a giveaway, right? Yes, this quaint little hill gets its name — bili (white), giri (hill) – from the snowy mist and powdery clouds that adorn it for most part of the year. That does most explaining for why it’s a favoured destination for a short summer getaway. Located at just 90 km from Mysuru, and 160 km from Bengaluru, in the easternmost edge of the Western Ghats, in the Yelandur taluk of Chamarajanagar district, B R Hills is also known for the exotic flora and fauna it is famously home to. Also known as Biligiriranganatha Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary or BRT Wildlife Sanctuary, this area was declared a protected tiger reserve in 2011 under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. If in the mood for a safari, head to Kyathadevara Gudi close by. Another attraction here is the Dodda Sampige Mara (Big Champak Tree), a tree that’s believed to be hundreds of years old. The main draw for most people, however, is the famed Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu that attracts pilgrims from both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta

Another jewel in the crown of Chamarajanagar district. Plopped in Gundlupet taluk, this charming hill station gets its name from the fog (hima in Kannada) that covers it through the year. At a height of 1,450 m above sea level, it offers stunning views of the hills and valleys around. Being at the heart of Bandipur National Park, this place is frequented by all kinds of animals including the tiger, leopard, elephant and sambar. The temple of Gopalaswamy, dedicated to Lord Krishna, atop the hill, is frequented by a number of devotees. This temple, believed to have been built by Chola king Ballala in AD 1315, was highly revered by the Wodeyars of Mysore, too. Till 2015, private vehicles were allowed to access the hill. Not anymore. Probably because of the steep ascent, and its location in the core area of the Bandipur National Park. Private vehicles have to be parked at the foot of the hill and KSRTC buses have to be taken to reach the top. Trust me, it’s worth the journey, at just 220 km from Bengaluru, and 75 km from Mysuru on the Mysore-Ooty Road.

Kemmannugundi
Kemmannugundi

Kemmannugundi

This cool summer retreat of Sri Krishna Rajendra Wodeyar IV is any nature lover’s dream. Calm and picturesque, surrounded by majestic mountain peaks, crystal-clear streams, spice gardens, rolling hills and, of course, never-ending stretches of coffee plantations, this ‘cool’ destination is an ideal spot for those seeking tranquillity. Located in the scenic district of Chikkamagaluru, fringed by the picturesque Baba Budan Giri Range, this hilly retreat is sitting snugly at almost 1,434 m above sea level. This tiny little gem, which was earlier known as Tigada village, came to be known as K R Hill Station after the Wodeyar king made it his summer retreat. It got its present name only in the later years when the rich iron ore deposits here were discovered and mined.

Once they got exhausted, all that was left was a huge pile of residual red soil, known as kemmannu in Kannada. The well-tended garden, Sunset Point, and Z Point, also known as Horse Path, offering splendid views of the lush green cover of the surroundings, and the magnificent view of the sky work as a balm to city-worn nerves. This scenic spot is 57 km from Chikkamagaluru, which is 243 km from Bengaluru.

Agumbe

This UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Thirthahalli Taluk of Shivamogga district, located at 357 km from Bengaluru, is also known as the ‘Cherrapunji of South’ owing to its record as the region receiving the highest rainfall in Karnataka. At 643 m above sea level, this tiny hamlet is a pleasure to visit for its magical beauty that can prove to be overwhelming. The many waterfalls in the area including Barkana Falls, Onake Abbi Falls, Jogigundi Falls and Koodlu Theertha Falls are a visual treat, while the impressive views of the undulating hills around are gladsome. The main draw of Agumbe is the sunset, and tourists flock the place in hordes to view the same from the Sunset Point. Its scenic beauty and quaint charm have attracted a number of filmmakers and shutterbugs. Do you remember the TV series Malgudi Days, based on R K Narayan’s collection of short stories of the same name? And the famous Rajkumar song ‘Agumbeya prema sanjeya…’? Yes, both were picturised here.

The view from Kundadri Hill near Agumbe
The view from Kundadri Hill near Agumbe

Kodagu

Kodagu or Coorg, call it what you want, this enchanting place is also known as the ‘Scotland of India’. Lush greenery, awesome scenery, and the heady aroma of coffee and spices from the plantations around add to the magical beauty of the place. At just 230 km from Bengaluru, this popular coffee-producing district is much sought after for the peace and quiet it offers along with its picturesque locales. The mesmerising beauty of Kodagu is accentuated by the many waterfalls it is home to, chief among them being Abbey Falls and Iruppu Falls. The ideal way to enjoy Kodagu is to check in to a good homestay, take long walks in the wild, and savour the local delicacies including fruit wines, honey and pandi curry. Including in your itinerary visits to Talakaveri, Nisargadhama, and Tadiandamol, the third highest peak in Karnataka after Mullayyanagiri and Kudremukh in Chikkamagaluru district, would be worthwhile.

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