The Tourist Trap
Yes, the title is what we intended it to be! Haven’t you read a gazillion articles titled “10-weekend getaways from Bangalore”, “5 vacation spots near Bangalore” and the list goes on and on. Every single blogger, or so they are called talk about homestays around Bangalore that maybe a billion people know about. I often wonder why would they even write about it. Is it just a content creation exercise or they actually believe that Indians don’t know about Ooty? As if we haven’t got a fair share of viewing Mithun dancing around locations in Ooty.
Anyways our article is a little different and we will tell you where you shouldn’t travel to and why. We will also give you some alternatives, not all since it’s left to you to find vacation spots near Bangalore.
Suggested Read - 10 Bangalore Destinations you can cover without a car!
Probably the first destination people go to when they come to Bangalore. Not their fault though since this is the most publicized destination. We’ve seen Ooty in numerous movies, with tea estates, green hills, romantic walks and what not. But reality hits you hard even before you reach Ooty. The route is full of traffic. From bikers to locals to buses and trucks. You reach the ghats and its a mad frenzy, something out of an F1 race. You reach Ooty expecting to touch the clouds and glide through the heavenly beauty but instead are welcomed by crowded streets, incessant honking, people jam-packed everywhere and garbage was strewn all over.
We recently had to cross Ooty during the rains and were shocked to see a river flowing through the city (literally). Ooty is in bad shape due to overcommercialization and poor infrastructure. The green cover is reducing significantly and the increasing population has taken a toll on water supply. If you stay in the city you won’t find the peace and quiet you’re looking for. Parking is a nightmare and walking around in the heavily crowded roads is just not an option. Food is often expensive and highly mediocre.
What we recommend is that you head over to Kotagiri, Lovedale, Conoor, Kavaratty, Ketti, Wellington or Kurumbadi. They are quaint little towns and don’t see heavy footfalls like Ooty. Most of them are on hillocks and offer panoramic views of the Nilgiri Mountains. You can read some hotel reviews here and here.
Coorg is massive and has several places to visit. However, the tourists generally close in on the central part of Madikeri which is packed with accommodation. If you are looking at shopping at the markets or good connectivity then that’s a great place to be.
If you are looking for some exclusivity and peace, we would recommend you try places like Kaginahare, Brahmagiri, Kadanur, Virajpet, and Kutta. We were recently in Kutta and stayed at Turtle Pond. It’s an Estonian styled homestay and very close to Nagarhole National Park. You can check out their review here.
The birthplace of CCD is a well-known destination in the South. Located just 250kms from Bangalore, it houses several popular spots such as Baba Budangiri and Mullayanagiri. Scores of hotels, homestays, and resorts dot the span of the entire city leaving out the natural beauty this city once had. Most accommodation is generally very crowded and you don’t know what you’re kind of neighbors you are gonna get. We once had an encounter with a noisy bunch of young professionals who got drunk and keep shouting throughout the night. We ended up moving to another location to avoid the constant screaming and drunken brawls.
In Chikmagalur district, we would recommend Aldur. It’s far away from the crowd of the city, has some pretty homestays, a waterfall and great places for off-roading. You can also try Arasinoguppe or Hirekolale.
I think more people are in Nandi Hills on a weekend than all the metro cities in India. Just kidding but that’s how crowded it can get especially on a Saturday! I still remember visiting Nandi hills in 2010. There wasn’t any fencing around the hills, no decks for the viewpoints and hardly anybody around. We would stay there for hours and every person there would manage to find their own quiet space on the hill. Fast forward to 2017, and you see idiots carrying out stunts on the hill road, some drinking and driving and then a long line at the ticketing counter.
The whole point of visiting Nandi hills back in my day was to escape Bangalore and experience the natural beauty along with some peace and quiet. But now its a hellish experience going there. Traffic is crazy and then when u reach there, you engage in a treasure hunt to find parking spots. Then the hill is crawling with people and there’s no space for you to sit and spend time.
Alternatively, if you need a short break from Bangalore, head to Avalabetta, Kandavara Lake or Thimmasandara Lake on the same route.
One of the cleanest places in India, Pondicherry is a great beach destination. Famous for its French architecture, Auroville and ocean views it makes for the perfect weekend getaway from Bangalore. However, if you visit the beaches you will soon realize things are not so rosy. Auroville beach is littered with garbage and cows walk all over the walkways. Parking is also a nightmare with signs posted warning drivers of carjacking. The rock beach is also super crowded during weekends due to its close proximity to Chennai.
If you want to visit Pondicherry, we recommend you book a nice B&B in Auroville or try some of the resorts on ECR such as The Ashoka. The advantage of these resorts is that you get a limited crowd there and a private clean beach. Else if you don’t mind traveling a bit, you can head over to Mahabalipuram and try your hand at surfing at Cove Long beach. If you are looking at quieter beaches, head over to Kannur or Trasi (Udupi).
Suggested Read - The best hill stations in South India!