Is the big city life getting to you? Can’t wait to get away from it all? Simply Bangalore has caught the travel bug too this month so give in to temptation before the good weather runs out and take the first road out. Get set and read on as we,Is the big city life getting to you? Can’t wait to get away from it all? Simply Bangalore has caught the travel bug too this month so give in to temptation before the good weather runs out and take the first road out.Get set and read on as we scrounge through popular travel hubs and adventure hotspots as well as carefully hidden secrets to bring you the best weekend getaway options.Nature’s lapChikmagalur: This coffee town is no longer just a far-flung quaint hamlet, but has become a popular weekend spot for Bangaloreans. Located in the foothills of the Mulayanagiri range of hills, Chikmagalur is a nature lover’s paradise and there’s not much to do here except appreciate nature. A visit to this town will help get rid of your worldly worries and rejuvenate you with its natural beauty and fresh air. One can drive further down to Ayyanakere, barely 18 kms away from Chikmangalur, from where the view is breathtaking. Sit by the fresh water lake which is surrounded by seven hills. Another 56 km away is the picturesque hill station of Kemmanagundi-head there if you’re interested in trekking. Of late, Chikmagalur has seen considerable development in star hotel groups setting up properties here. One such notable project is The Serai, sprawling luxury resort nestled among verdant coffee estates. After a long day of sightseeing or trekking along one of the hills, this is an ideal place to unwind at. One can also opt for budget accommodations or homestays.Chikmagalur is about 3,400 ft. above sea level, making it relatively cooler than other parts of the state even in the summer. The town is about 220 km from Bangalore, where regular buses ply from.advertisement Fact fileGetting there: Take the NH 206.Distance: 250 km.Stay: The Serai.Call: 40012200; theserai.inCost: Rs 15,000 onward per nighSoul colourShravanabelagola: Between the Vindyagiri and Chadragiri hills is a snapshot of history. The largest monolithic statue in the world-58 feet tall and weighing about 80 tons stands here at Shravanabelagola. The sacred site for Jains, it’s close to Hassan and approximately 150 km from Bangalore. This peaceful place is mostly meant for prayer. There’s a Sanskrit Pathshala where one can study the language and shastras. There are some temples and other monuments close by that you can visit on foot but the statue of Bahubali is the most noteworthy. It really depends on whether you want to learn about history, take in nature or immerse yourself in the Jain culture. This is a great place for photography, so don’t forget to carry your camera. When here, indulge in the variety of south Indian and traditional Jain cuisine. Shravanabelagola is best accessed by road although there are no direct buses from Bangalore. Accomodation is plenty, there are many places to stay at. Fact fileGetting there: Take the NH 48.Distance: 150 km.Stay: Hotel Raghu.Call: 08176-25723.Cost: Rs 300 onward per nightSomething fishyCauvery Fishing Camp: No longer is fishing considered an American family bonding activity. More and more Bangaloreans are taking time out over the weekend to head out for fishing trips at one of the three locations along the banks of the Cauvery River at the Cauvery Fishing Camp. One can fish for Mahseer, but to support conservation of fish, you will have to return it to the river right after you catch it. Then you can also visit the Bheemeshwari Fishing and Nature Camp just 100 km from Bangalore, off the Kanakpura-Kollegal highway. Another 6 km further is The Doddamakali Nature Camp and just a short distance from there is the Galibore Nature and Fishing Camp. All these fishing camps are close to the city, making the trip stress-free and tireless. Keep your eyes peeled for animals like sambar, spotted deer, jackals, elephants and even leopards-apart from the 200 species of birds that flock to this region.The best season to visit is during the monsoons from June to August, when the river is swollen, teeming with fish, and the forest is lush.Accommodation is available at each of the camps. Options include log huts, tented cottages, and bamboo huts. In addition to fishing, one can take a guided trek through the surrounding dense forest area and even warm their toes at the evening campfire. Fact fileGetting there: Take the Kanakpura-Kollegal Highway.Distance: 100 km.Stay: At the Fishing Camps. Call: 40554055.Cost: Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000 per night.Spice it upCoorg: The monsoons around August bring the place to life but also make it quite messy with slushy mud, making it difficult to walk and drive. Leeches also pose a bit of a problem. So a good time to visit is in spring when the worst of winter has passed but summer hasn’t yet set in. Getting there by road is the best option.There are several ways to experience Coorg ranging from homestays to hotels and the higher end luxury resorts. And you can decide whether you want this to be an escape from crazy city life, an educational trip for the kids or an adventure-packed holiday.Tours of plantations are available if you just want to walk around extensive green grounds. Although the most common crop is coffee, spices like pepper, cardamom and vanilla are also grown and paddy fields cultivated. The Valanoor Fishing Camp is great during October through May where you can try hooking a mahseer, catfish or eel in the teeming backwaters of the Cauvery near Kushalnagar. Maybe even a crab or two. For the young at heart, there is river rafting, trekking and quad biking.If you’re lucky, you might be able to go home with some Civet Coffee. Not for the faint hearted, this delicacy is prepared from coffee beans that have passed through the Civet cat’s digestive tract. Infused with enzymes and amino acids, the beans sell at Rs 5,000 per kg.advertisementFact fileGetting there: Take the NH 17.Distance: 250 km.Stay: Orange County Resort.Call: 41911170; orangecounty.inCost: Rs 15,000 onward per night.On a heritage trailHampi: Once the seat of power of the Vijaynagar Empire, Hampi has since been christened a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its temple ruins. Pay a visit to the Vittala Temple, the jewel in Hampi’s extravagant architectural landscape and spend a few moments by the iconic stone chariot. Eating in Hampi can be enjoyable because of the sheer number of options available. For local fare, head to the area around Virupaksha Temple. Hampi Bazar is dotted with kiosks and restaurants serving idly, dosa and thali meals. But the most famous of all is Mango Tree restaurant, ironically nestled in a banana plantation. Once there, order their Nutella pancakes and banana dosas. Travel to Hampi between November and March, when you can avoid soaring temperatures, but don’t forget to carry sunscreen. Do watch out for stray monkeys that are known to grab purses or food. Fact fileGetting there: Take the train to Hospet or drive on NH 7.Distance: 350 km.Stay: Not many hotels in Hampi. Stay in Hospet, 13 km away.Cost: Rs 400 onward per night.Divine blissTirupati: A religious centre for many devout from across the world, Tirupati might be religious tourism at its best or worst, depending on how you look at it. Regardless, it is a must visit destination at least once, just to see the scale of it, if nothing else. The hill town of Tirumala near Tirupati is known globally for the Lord Venkateshwara Temple which is also the most visited place of worship in the world. A common practice here is to take a dip in the tank adjacent to the temple before the darshan as the waters are considered sacred. After your visit to the temple, check out the Chandragiri Fort, the last capital of the Vijaynagar Empire situated on the banks of the Swarnamukhi River, atop a huge rock. The sound and light show organised in the evenings here narrates the history of the fort and the glory of the Vijaynagar Empire with special attention to interesting details.-Mona Ramawatadvertisement Fact fileGetting there: Drive down NH 7 and turn at NH 18 to reach Tirupati.Distance: 525 km.Stay: Hotel Bliss.Call: 0877 2237773.Cost: Rs 3,000 onward per night.Down memory laneMysore: The city of Mysore, which is about 150 km away from Bangalore has many wonderful things to offer. Steeped in history dating back to the 16th century, it has played a pivotal role in the reigns of rulers like the Wodeyars and Tipu Sultan.Home to the glorious Mysore Palace of the Wodeyars, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions after the Taj Mahal. The building looks resplendent when illuminated with its 97,000 bulbs against an inky night sky. The galleries sporting life-size regal portraits, and other magnificent rooms like the Diwan e Khas and Public Darbar Hall are open to public on all days of the week at a nominal fee. Make time for a visit to the nearby Brindavan Gardens, where colourful fountains against the landscaped backdrop make for a lovely sight, particularly in the evening when the place is lit up. Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, located close by is worth the effort for a leisurely boat ride where you can spot some of the varied species of migratory birds that make their home here for some part of the year. Mysore offers the conveniences of a city while retaining the charm of a smaller town. So, the roads are smaller, traffic is less and prices are lower than the booming metropolises! Don’t forget to buy exquisite silk sarees and sample some mouthwatering Mysore Pak that Mysore is known for. The weather is pleasant throughout the year and is easily accessible by rail or road-the new Bangalore-Mysore highway is a pleasure to drive on. Fact fileGetting there: Take the Bangalore-Mysore Highway.Distance: 150 km.Stay: Hotel Viceroy.Call: 0821 2424001.Cost: Rs 2,000 per night.Healthy holidays! Soukya: A little more than 20 kms from the city, close to Whitefield, is a holistic healing centre that allows you to relax and rejuvenate. An Ashoka tree lined driveway leads you to Soukya International Holistic Health Centre.Spread across 30 acres, this healing centre provides treatment to those suffering from various illnesses- from serious ailments like cancer and multiple sclerosis to those with conditions like arthritis and diabetes. The Center is also open to guests who may be fit but just want to improve the quality of their life. Depending on an individual’s diet, sleep patterns, personal history and emotional wellness, special health programmes are designed to suit each guest.It might sound a little like a hospital, but it’s actually a resort that is a holistic retreat. There are three categories of rooms to choose from but none have a television. Cable television is accessible only in the common room at specified hours. Yoga sessions are held throughout the day at the yoga centre. The food served here is only vegetarian and specially designed according to the guest’s diet plan. Although the lush green property looks beautiful during the rains, it is best to visit Soukya during drier months so that you can make the most of the beautiful landscaped outdoors with swimming and long walks. Indoor treatments include the luxurious Turkish bath and hydrotherapy. So, discover the joys of Soukya amid the sound of wind chimes and chirping birds. Fact fileGetting there: Drive down to Whitefield. Distance: 25 km.Stay: Soukya International Holistic Health Centre.Call: 28017000; soukya.comCost: Rs 10,000 onward per night.Coastal retreatPondicherry: Home to popular meditation centre and township, Auroville, this former French colony in Tamil Nadu is unlike any place around for miles. Located on the languorous Coramandel coast about 300 km from Bangalore, it is best reached by road. It is hot through most of the year although temperatures dip slightly in December, making that the most pleasant time to visit. Hotels for varying budgets as well as upmarket beach resorts are plenty, but rooms are limited so it is best to make reservations. Children below three years are not allowed in the ashram and photography as well as access to certain parts of the settlement is only allowed with prior permission from authorities.The 1.5 km stretch of lazy beach is the pride of the place. It is dotted with sights like the heritage town hall, a statue of Mahatma Gandhi and an old light house. There are five major shopping districts where most common purchases include cloth, pottery and aromatic non-toxic incense sticks. The hot sellers here are jams, jellies and preserves. While Indian food is available, we recommend you sample some of the European food that the region is known for. Treat yourself to some sweet and milky South Indian filter coffee after your meal.Fact fileGetting there: Take the NH 7.Distance: 300 km.Stay: Ginger Hotel.Call: 020 66292929; gingerhotels.comCost: Rs 1,000 onward per night.Valley of flowers Kodaikanal: One of the most popular holiday spots, Kodiakanal which is 450 km from Bangalore, witnesses a number of Bangalore and Chennai natives as well as tourists from other parts of the country. Given its elevation, it is much cooler than its neighboring cities. In fact, it was set up in 1845 as a place to recover from the tropical diseases that were rampant on the plains. The rolling hills are covered with blooming flowers, meadows and grasslands. Fruit trees share space with rhodendrons, magnolias and dahlias and the valleys are dotted with towering eucalyptus trees. Cyprus and acacia are also in plenty. Cascading streams make their way past enormous rocks and waterfalls gush forth. The Kodaikanal Lake is a popular attraction for all age groups and one can hire boats and bicycles here. At the local bazaar, woollen clothes are sold at affordable prices. Also on sale are flowers, fresh groceries, meat, snacks, handicrafts and medicinal herbs and oils.There are several hotels and restaurants here spanning a range of budgets. If you’re planning to travel during peak season between April and June, make hotel reservations well in advance and prepare for crowds because the place gets quite packed. Fact fileGetting there: Take the NH 7.Distance: 450 km.Stay: Carlton Hotel.Call: 022 26051821; krahejahospitality.comCost: Rs 8,000 onward per person.