Karnataka’s landscape is a vibrant blend of quiet, rolling plains that merge seamlessly into majestic mountains, interspersed by gushing waterfalls that flow into bubbling rivers flowing placidly through towns and villages where it appears that the clocks haven’t been wound. Skirting the rivers and passing by the fringes of villages are highways that lead to insistently throbbing city life, no different from the hustle and bustle of any other city. But for the intrepid trekkers and adventure tourists, Karnataka abounds with opportunities for rock-climbing, rappelling, cave exploration, and river rafting.
Anthargange in the Day– Adventure and Spiritualism
Your inner consciousness of spirituality, for that is the meaning of Anthargange, will come alive in its hilly terrain. The sacred waters of the Anthargange stream are worshipped by offering obeisance to Lord Vishnu. The natural caves, created by volcanic activity, offer immense opportunity for thrilling exploration; caves so narrow that enthusiasts will be left wondering whether they will succeed in extricating themselves from the narrow openings filtering daylight through at the distant end. The dense forests surrounding the cave and the presence of wildlife add to the spine-tingling experience. The added attractions are a chance to marvel at the architecture of ancient temples, mingle with the residents of villages atop the peak, and enjoy the natural spring waters and, for the brave- heated, there is rock climbing and rappelling using carabineer and descender. All these activities are packed into the 12 hours from early morning to early evening.
Anthargange at Night – In the Misty Moonlight
Anthargange, under the light of the moon, is truly other-world experience. The night trek is a never-to-be-forgotten experience. The trek path offers a panoramic night view of dark green valleys, rock pinnacles soaring into the night sky and thick foliage all around the trail. Feeling your way through the caves with only torchlight to show the way is an unparalleled experience. At the pinnacle, you can share stories sitting around a bonfire. As day breaks and you settle down for breakfast, you will still be looking around, spellbound by the beauty. The trekking group will leave from Bangalore in the late evening and return there late morning on the next day.
Avani Betta – The Heart of the Ramayana
The temple of Sita, known here as Avanisuta, is situated at the summit of the hill of Avani Betta, about one hour drive from Bengaluru. The temple bears the imprint of the Nolamba dynasty that ruled the region during the 12th century AD. The trek is a challenge but quite do-able. The first revelation en route is a charming cave nestled between two huge boulders. This is where the twins Luv-Kush battled against Lord Rama while their Mother Sita watched. Passing through the cave, you will discover a small room which is where Mother Sita gave birth to Luv and Kush. Further ahead, lies Valmiki Ashram, where the sage, Valmiki, performed yagnas. Wish silently as you pray here and legend says that your wishes shall be fulfilled. The trek also takes you to the natural pond where Mother Sita used to wash the family clothes, and the Shiva Linga that was installed by the Pandavas. This is a trek that will be a delight for any archaeologist and all Ramayan lovers. En route the trek, there will also be time carved out for target shooting. The visit to Avani Betta starts in the early morning and the return to Bengaluru is in the early evening.
Bandipur – Wild Eyes are Watching You
With the exception of the Sunderbans of West Bengal, tiger population has flourished the most in the Bandipur-Nagarhole-Madumalai-Wayanad forests. Bandipur is also home to elephants, wild boar and deer. Wildlife aficionados will be amazed at the sheer range of activities – elephant safari, wildlife safari, jeep safari, elephant ride, nature walks and even a night trek for the enterprising tourist. At the pinnacle of Gopalaswamy Betta (the highest peak in the region) stands the temple of Lord Krishna. A miraculous phenomenon is the snow that falls on the statue every day. Bandipur also has a small fort, a legacy of Tippu Sultan, who used it to conceal weapons and ammunition at the height of the Anglo Mysore War. Spend quality time around a camp fire before zipping yourself into a sleeping bag and going into dreamland in the arms of Mother Nature. The adventure to Bandipur is a two days trip with home-stay arrangement.
Bilikal Ranganatha Swami Betta – Monsoon Flora and Fauna
Deep into the South-West monsoon is by far the best time to visit Bilikal Ranganatha Swami Betta, named after the temple of Sri Ranganatha Swamy, situated at the crest of the hill. The trek is a shade arduous but the rewards are fabulous. The brilliant plant-life that surrounds the route, the emerald green canopy for much of the trail, the sudden sights of bear and elephants strolling through the undergrowth and the quietude in the forest will be life-long memories The icing on the cake is the stunning view from the hilltop – the green hued mountains bordering Kanakpur and the verdant forests of Savandurga away in the distance. This is a 12-hours trip with included for team games and rappelling.
Brahmagiri – Natural Beauty Everywhere
Gently rising mountains topped by lush greenery, deafening waterfalls rolling eagerly over the hillsides, gently streams and rivulets – beauty of nature everywhere you look. Coorg, locally known as Kodagu, is home to the Brahmagir Wildlife Sanctuary. Adjoining the Brahmagiri Sanctuary is the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary. These sanctuaries are rich in diverse species of wildlife including Asian elephants, tigers, leopards, snakes, etc. You can sit by the side of placid streams and watch crocodiles moving stealthily. Avian fans can bird watch predatory kingfishers, wild parrots and gorgeous peacocks.
Active tourists have a choice of boating in the streams or white-water river-rafting amidst the river rapids. A visit to the Irrpu Waterfalls is also on the program. You can also have you fill of adventure activities – high rope traverse on zip lines, archery, and target shooting. This will be a two nights trip; one in a home-stay and the second in tents under the night sky.
Brahmagiri Day Trek – Have a Wonderful Time
Brahmagiri is located in the Coorg, about 300 kilometres from Bengaluru. The 2 ½ hours trek starts the next morning after an overnight road journey from Bengaluru. Coorg is the Coffee House of India and the aromas from the plantations lying near the trekking trail are guaranteed to perk up your spirits, dissolve your tiredness and bring a song to your lips. The trail winds slowly upward and is an exquisite equilibrium of fascinating views and friendliness even to the novice trekkers. There are breathtaking views of the surrounding terrain from the peak. This is a two days program with the Nagarhole Safari scheduled on the second day morning. The availability of home-stays makes it possible to trek at any part of the year but if the weather is conducive you can enjoy yourself around a campfire.
Gokarna Beach – Listen to the Ocean
Gokarna is at the confluence of the Arabian Sea and the mountains of the Sahyadris. The trek is a unique experience with the rock hills of Sahyadris on one flank and the azure blue sea on the other. The 8 kms. long trek will be over while you are still mesmerized by the natural beauty of the hills and the enchantment of the sea. Pitch tent at Kudle beach and watch spellbound, the shimmering orange shades on the crest of the ocean waves, listen to the hypnotic sound of the waves rushing to shore but return to reality in time to wend your way back to the home-stay. Gokarna is situated around 520 kilometres from Bengaluru so the holiday is spread over two days.
Kabbal Durga – Holiday under the Night Sky
The name of the place is a fusion of two words – Kabbalamma, the presiding deity of the temple, and Durga, the Hindi word for fort. After reaching base camp, the trek to the fort and the temple starts at midnight. The trek is an ascent to the summit of a 250 metres high hillock where the temple and the fort are located. Walk around the fort in the rays of the early morning sunrise and visit the temple to pay homage before beginning the downhill hike. This is alte night to early morning next day trip.
Kanakapura Camp – Calling All Tourists
Kanakapura Camp is located on the banks of the Hosadoddi Lake which itself is on the fringe of the Banathimari State Forest. There is something here for everyone. For trekkers, there is a 6 kilometres trek to Devara Gudda and that includes cave exploration. But the star attraction at the camp is undoubtedly the water based activities – canoeing, kayaking, dinghy paddling and water rafting on placid waters. If that is not enough, there is also zip line traverse with a water splash landing and rappelling. The camp is located only 50 kilometres from Bengaluru but the canvas of activities is so large that you can easily spend two wonderful days.
Kaurava Kunda – A Night Trek Par Excellence
Made up of twin hills that derive their name from the Pandavas and the Kauravas, the climb of 250 metres up sand filled steps is a wonderful night trek. The shimmering greenery at the side of the trail and the sand shining in the moonlight are an exotic sight. Along the way, you will discover Lord Shiva residing in a shrine. The trek is moderately challenging. Once at the top, you can sit around a bonfire and engage in star gazing under a clear night sky. The morning sunrise will bring with it a stunning view of Chikaballapur village and its surrounding hillocks bathed in sunlit greenery that is guaranteed to leave you speechless.
Kemmangundi – Treks and Home-stays
Kemmangundi is for trekkers and is an overnight road journey from Bengaluru. From the base camp at the foot of the peak, it is a 7 kilometres trek to the top that takes 1½ hour. The descent is followed by the second trek of 7 kilometres to the Hebble Waterfalls. The return journey includes a visit to the Belur Temple. On the adventure, you will stay in a home-stay though the option of tents is also available.
Kodachadri – The Mountain in a Forest
Kodachadri is an overnight road journey from Bengaluru. The Kodachadri mountain rises majestically from the midst of the Moonambika National National Forest (now designated as a wildlife sanctuary). The forest shelters endangered plant and animal species and hosts an exciting hiking trail. The trail route includes a roaring waterfall. At the end of day, you can unwind around a camp-fire. The return journey on the second day will include a stop-over at the Nagara Fort.
Kumara Parvatha – Never Seen before Scenic Beauty
Rated as one of the best trails in South India, this 13.5 kilometres long uphill (rising to a height of 1700 metres) trek is an outstanding blend of physical endurance and scenic beauty. The trail head is the Kukka Subramanya Temple and the trek takes you through the dense Pushpagiri forest. There are three distinct stages – the Shesha Parvatta, the Siddha Parvatta and finally the Kumara Parvatta.
Once you conquer the peak you will be blessed with an extraordinary view of the glowing orange rising sun emerging from the horizon over the turquoise blue Arabian Sea with lush evergreen forests encircling it on all sides.
The adventure will begin late evening with an overnight road journey from Bengaluru with the return scheduled for the second day evening. You will enjoy one night sleeping in a dormitory zipped into a sleeping bag.
Kunti Betta Day – A Bee-Hive of Activities
Kunti Betta has close links to the Ramayana, being located in the Pandavpura Taluka (named after the Pandavas), and christened after the mother of the Pandavas. Kunti Betta is a minor range of three mountains that rise to a height of 1000 ft. from mean sea level. The day trek commences in the early morning and tourists will be spoilt for choice of activities. Besides the trek, there will be water boarding, swimming, kayaking, rappelling, rock climbing, tree climbing, and a ride in a motorized dinghy. You will also visit the KRS dam, an engineering marvel created by that extraordinary architect. Sir M. Visvesvaraiah, built across the Kaveri river. This is a one day trip and you will return to Bengaluru in the late evening.
Kunti Betta Night – A Bonfire on the Mountain-top
The night trek will begin with a late evening pick up at Bengaluru and a 2 ½ hours road journey to the base camp at the foot of the mountains of Kunti Betta, named in honour of the mother of the Pandavas. The briefing session will take around 30 minutes and the trek will kick off at just after midnight. Trekking uphill in the moonlight is an amazing experience that culminates in a stunning view of the Pandavpura Lake and the surrounding countryside presenting a picture postcard beauty. Sitting around a bonfire at mountain top will heighten the sensation of enjoyment. The next morning you begin the return to Bengaluru reaching in time for lunch.
Kunti Betta and Ramanagara – Thrills and Excitement
No trekker’s resume is complete without the inclusion of the 2882 metres climb to the top of the Kunti Betta twin hills. It’s a challenge and fun for nature lovers and backpackers too and includes diverse activities – kayaking, swimming, surfing, and rappelling. Ramanagara, situated about 50 kilometres from Bengaluru, has a mountainous terrain that formed the background for the film “Sholay” that catapulted it to even greater fame. You can spend a day of thrills and excitement engaging in archery, target shooting, chimney climbing, tree climbing, and rappelling and display your latent talents in badminton, volleyball and cricket – all guaranteed to give a never-before experience. This two days adventure will help you re-establish communion with nature. You will delight in sitting around a campfire and sleeping out with the sky for your ceiling.
Kurinjal – The Splendour of Natural Beauty
Kurinjal is located around 284 kilometres from Bengaluru. The hill rises triumphantly from the Kudremukh National Park which shelters a diverse collection of flora and fauna. The 20 kilometres trek is full of excitement including a walk through a tropical rain forest, fording water streams, reveling under mini waterfalls, and relaxing on your back on soft green grassy slopes under mild sunshine. You will be wide-eyed taking in the splendor of the natural beauty all around. At the top of the peak you will be breathless viewing the majestic scenery and feeling the whip of the h2 breeze that is a feature of the peak. This is a two days trip that includes home-stay and a visit to the Somawathi Waterfalls during the return journey. It is all in all, an outing that will leave you shaking your head in wonder at its pure beauty.
Madhugiri – Let Your Heart Leap for Joy
Did you know that Madhugiri (Honey Hill) is the second largest monolithic rock in Asia? Located 100 kilometres from Bengaluru, the Madghigiri peak is at a height of 3600 metres above mean sea level. The trek is an exhilarating experience. On the way up, you will also visit the fort of Hyder Ali. From here onward, the trek becomes challenging. The view from the rock-top is awe inspiring. The dense Timmalpura Forest, frequented by peahens and Indian bears, lies below in all its natural splendor. Also nearby is the Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve which is a reserved forest (visiting is with prior permission from the forest authorities) where sightings of blackbuck and leopards will make your heart leap for joy,
Makalidurga – Torchlight Trek
Makalidurga is located around 60 kilometres from Bengaluru, close to Ghati Subramanya, a famous destination for pilgrims. The Makalidurga Fort, which is the center of attraction, stands atop a massive block of granite soaring 1,117 metres into the sky. The trek to the top, starting at dead midnight, will take around 2 ½ to 3 hours. It will be a marvellous experience, navigating the uneven terrain with torchlight flashing amidst the rocks in the still, cold night. Spend the remainder of the night in cozy sleeping bags around a campfire, and at dawn, fill your heart and your mind with a view of the extraordinarily beautiful sunrise in the clear morning sky. Before you begin the descent, visit the temple of Lord Shiva with Nandi.
This is a 12 hours pleasure trip packed with team games, swimming, kayaking and rappelling besides trekking. The Manchinbele dam has been built across the Arkavathi river but the water flow is supplemented by the streams rushing eagerly down from the Savandurga mountains.
The satellite control facility of the Indian Space Research Orhanisation (ISRO) is nearby and you will also see the famous Big Banyan Tree that has roots extending across a mind-boggling 1 sq. kilometer area.
Customised team packages include kayaking, raft building, tube rafting and archery. The more adventurous could choose a night outing which will include a night out zipped into sleeping bags in tents under a starlit sky. This is a 12 hours trip commencing early morning and ending in the early evening.
Mullayanagiri Chikakmagalur Bababuden Giri – There’s Much More than Coffee
Translated, the name means “the land of the younger daughter”. Chikkamagalur is world famous for export of coffee and spices. Mullayyanagiri and Babbudebgiri are the highest peaks on the Deccan Plateau. The Manikyadhara waterfalls that lie nearby are famous for the near freezing chill of the water flow. This area is cradled by the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary which houses bison, leopards, sambhar deer and the endangered Malabar squirrel. You could also join in a jeep safari to reach the famous Hebbe Waterfall. Team outings can be customized to include a wide range of activities such as trekking, team games, tree climbing, zip line traversing, camping, bonfire and many more.
The adventure begins with an 8 hours overnight road journey from Bengaluru. After fortifying yourself with breakfast at a home-stay, you will start the 2 ½ trek to the Bababuden peak. In the afternoon, test yourself on the 2 ½ trek to the top of Mullayyana Giri. Spend a relaxed evening around a bonfire and sleep out in a tent. You will return to Bengaluru the next evening.
Nandi Hills – The Dizzying Tippu’s Drop
Nandi Hills, just one hour drive from Bengaluru, is embraced by the Tumkur- Chikballapur- Kolar mountain ranges; The River Arkavathy starts its journey from the base of the hill and is a major pilgrimage location. Your mind will be blown away by the mist, fog and cool temperatures at the peak where you will feel that you are standing and walking in the clouds. You can enjoy the thrills of rappelling and traversing from one side to the other on a zip line. Stand at Tippu’s Drop, within the fort of Tippu Sultan. The Drop is at a height of 2000 feet and prisoners of Tippu Sultan were dropped from here to their certain death. The trek will take you through a forest, a secret escape passage used by rulers in emergencies and the horse faced door that leads out onto the peak. The peak also has a children’s garden, Tippu’s Palace where he used to reside during the summer months and a 15th century temple in honour of Lord Yoganarasimha.
Narayangiri – Trek and a Host of Activities
Narayangiri is a fascinating place for its huge boulders, innumerable caves, temple of Lakshmi Narasimha, and a number of forts constructed by the Maharaja of Mysore, the Wodeyar dynasty. The peak stands regally tall at a height of 3,800 feet. The trek will take you through the dense Jalamangla Forests where lizards and peacock sightings will zeal you. The peak is relatively unexplored and after the halfway stage it becomes steep for a short distance. The outing is a 12 hours adventure that will include tree climbing. rappelling, mountain biking, archery and target shooting etc. The adventure begins in the early morning and will end in the early evening.
Nishani Motte – Jungle Trail Trek
Nishani Motte is a virgin mountain range of Coorg that retains its pristine beauty. Beginning at the Bangamandala in the south of Coorg, it skirts Talacauvery before ending on the north of Coorg. During the trek you will walk through white waterfalls, plantations and along a jungle trail. The tour will include a visit to the Abbey Falls, Golden Temple, rafting, campfire dinner, and the homeliness of a home-stay. This is a two days trip that will commence with an overnight bus journey from Bengaluru.
Ramanagara Day Trek – Full of Mystery and Excitement
Trekking is considered a great way to commune with nature while de-stressing and reinvigorating your mind and body. Ramanagar, located at just 50 kilometres from Bengaluru, beckons you to trek through its rugged landscape, mysterious caves and valleys. And, there’s a host of adventure activities including rock climbing, tree climbing, chimney climbing, rappelling, zip-line traverse, mountain biking, archery, target shooting and go-karting to keep your adrenalin pumping. For the water babies, there is a choice of swimming and kayaking. You will leave at sunrise from Bengaluru and return just after sunset.
Ramanagara Night Trek – The Mecca for Rock-Climbers
Ramanagara, also known as Silk City is also a rock climbing Mecca. Having been the location for the shooting of the mega cinema hit “Sholay’, it earned the sobriquets, ‘Ramdevara Betta’ and ‘Sholay Hills’. The night trek is a compelliong experience beginning at sharp midnight and passing through the reserve forest that stretches up to Magadi. The quiet of the starlit night creates a serene atmosphere that calms you immensely. But, witnessing the sudden appearance of nocturnal creatures of the forest is chilling and thrilling. At mountain top, a bonfire and sleeping bags will keep the chill away until day breaks in all its glory, lighting up the green forest and bringing the birds and animal awake. Leave from Bengaluru in the late evening and return the next day at mid-morning.
Sakleshpur Trek – Home-stay and Campfires
It is a hugely popular destination for trekkers and campers. Agni Gudda or ‘Fiery Mountain’ has a panoramic view of the abundant rice terraces lying below. The trip begins with an overnight bus journey from Bengaluru. Trek time is around 2 hours and along the route you will pass through a beautiful waterfall. In the afternoon, you can visit Magajihalli Waterfalls, regarded by legions of people as the most beautiful in Karnataka. The next day you will be taken on a tour of the Manjarabad Fort, which was constructed by Tippu Sultan. You will enjoy home-stay comforts and campfire dinners.
Savandurga Night Trek – Midnight Trek and Sleeping Bags
Savandurga is famous for being the highest monolithic rock on the continent of Asia. The Savandurga hills consist of two massive boulders; the Billigudda (white granite rock) and Karaganda (black granite rock). The rocks rise to a height of 1,226 metres above mean sea level. Located only 50 kilometres from Bengaluru, the trek will begin at midnight. It will take 2 ½ to 3 hours to arrive at the hill top. Zip yourself into a sleeping bag and sleep around a campfire under the starlit sky. The next morning you will trek down and begin the return journey to Bengaluru.
Sharavathi Backwaters Honnemaradu – Camping and a Visit to the Jog Falls
The Sharavathi backwaters are the outcome of construction of the Linganamakki dam on the Sharavathi river. The backwaters extend over an area measuring 65 kms. by 15 kms. The major attraction is that the backwaters are for the most part shallow though the depth at the central part is unknown. You will camp on the banks of the Sharavathi River. The program of activities is mostly water based and will include kayaking, boating and swimming although there are also other activities such as tree climbing and zip-line traverses. You will also visit the famous Jog Falls. the second highest in India and watch the waters plunge from a height of nearly 1 km.
Siddara Betta – Trek to Your Heart’s Content
The major attraction for the itinerant tourist is the temple of Lord Shiva (known as Siddalingeswara) which is frequented by pilgrims. It also has a great trekking landscape of boulders, rocks, cave houses and unknown number of caves. The trek path is not very demanding as there are steps carved into the boulders though you need to proceed with caution. The path is surrounded by dense forests which are home to diverse flora and fauna. The location is especially good for bird-watching – Yellow Throated Bul-buls, Kingfishers, etc. Bears and leopards also frequent the forest. You have a choice of a day or night trek. Day trek will also include rappelling and tree climbing. The trip starts in the early morning from Bengaluru and return is scheduled for early evening.
Tadiandamol – Spectacular Peak-top Views
The adventure will begin with an 8 hours overnight bus journey from Bengaluru to the home-stay at Tadiandamol which lies in the Coorg. Tadiandamol is the sixth highest peak in Karnataka and the highest in the Coorg. The trail path is not too strenuous except for the final climb of around 300 metres. Along the way, you will pass through the Shola jungle. The view from the top is panoramic and you can feast your eyes on the surrounding forested area and the spectacular view of the famous coffee plantations of Coorg. The other highlights of the trip are rappelling, a visit to the Chelavara Falls, Golden Temple and a 40ft. tall golden statue of Buddha.
Turahalli – Rock Climbers Hub
A large number of huge boulders and rock formation have made Turahalli a must-visit for every rock climber and the location has become known among the rock climbing community as Rock Climbers Hub. The massive granite boulders are spread out over more than 200 acres. The terrain also presents excellent opportunity for rappelling and traversing between boulders on a zip line. This trip will start in the early morning and conclude in the early evening.
Karnataka is a fascinating microcosm of India with a galaxy of wildlife, flora and fauna, temples, historical sites, and diverse geographies that make wonderful opportunities for outdoor activities. Visit Karnataka and combine nature tourism with adventure tourism.