If you have lived in Bangalore but never explored the countryside, then have you really lived in Bangalore?
After returning from Varkala, we were eyeing for another opportunity, a new place we had never been before. It took us a day to set our heart on Madikeri, especially when so many of our oh-so-awesome followers suggested it on Instagram. While planning the whole trip, we were contemplating driving ourselves and getting a rental car with a driver. We had a lot to visit in very little time. Finally, Vikas’ love for driving made us book a car from our favourite self-driving rental service- Zoomcar.
The next step was to plan the 900 km long journey with 7 scenic stops, and cover all of it and more only in just 72 hours. Sure, it seemed difficult but it wasn’t impossible, especially after our crazy road trip in Meghalaya.
Route Map | 323 km
Bangalore -> Mysuru -> Gundlupete -> Bandipur National Park -> Gopalaswamy Hills ->Mysuru
To state the obvious, we had to leave Bangalore really early in the morning. There was a long day ahead of us, so the only option was to pick up our Zoomcar at the earliest. As we received our bright and shiny Zoomcar, we were ready to hit the road and never return (just kidding!). It had been 2 months since I moved to Bangalore but I had never seen the city so calm before (it was 4 in the morning!). As we passed through the city, to the highway, the roads got wider, the sky became bluer and trees seemed greener. We were so mesmerised that I almost forgot about being sleepy.
The thing about waking up early is, your body demands food early too. After being on the road for 2 hours, we decided to stop at a local idli shop, filled our stomach with fresh coconut water and promised ourselves to make it to Mysuru without taking any more breaks. When we reached Mysuru, we had 2 options, we could either explore Mysuru or we could head to Gundlupete. We chose the latter.
After a quick lunch at Mysuru (ah! the dosas are to die for), we left for Gundlupete which was only an hour from there. The time permitted, so we took a short break at the Dalvoy lake (right after crossing the ring road). After leaving the city, as we entered the countryside, the sunflower and marigold fields reminded us of the iconic scene from DDLJ. We found ourselves a spot to park the car, opened our picnic basket (wait, did we forget to tell you about the picnic basket?) and enjoyed our snacks with a view of golden fields.
It sure will be difficult to get back in the car and drive away from this view but we thought- the picturesque Gopalaswamy hills are waiting for us. Gopalaswamy hills are a part of the Bandipur National Park. You need to be careful about the timings as they close early like every other national park. However, it is a little hard to spot animals here, it isn’t like Jim Corbett where you can just drive into the wild. The drive to the Gopalaswamy Hills was probably the best stretch of our entire day. We wanted to go to the Temple up on the hill but we found out that the personal vehicles are to be parked at an assembly point. You will have to take a bus to the Temple from the assembly point (parking area).
Around 7 o’clock, we returned to a sparkling Mysore Palace and Devaraja Market. After having a wholesome dinner, we called it a day.
Route Map | 182 km
Mysuru -> Chelavara Waterfalls -> Abbey Falls -> Madikeri
It was a new day and a new route. We left Mysore at 5 in the morning and took a quick (optional) detour to the Kabini Water Reservoir (not included in the map). This reservoir was a discovery, honestly. We just wanted to take a road less travelled and we ended up at this beautiful Reservoir, kept away from the world. This is where the elephants from the Bandipur National Park come to drink water. But of course, we didn’t know that. It was an empty road, a beautiful view and we did exactly what we always do- decided to walk up to the reservoir and take a closer look. Little did we know about the elephants approaching the reservoir at the same time. God bless the man from a village nearby who screamed and asked as to run. After this wild experience, we headed towards the Chelavara waterfalls. It’s not very known, not much has been written about it and that’s probably why we didn’t see many people there, even on a holiday weekend. I have to admit it was not worth all the time and effort that went into getting there.
Up next was Abbey Falls, the most popular waterfall in the Madikeri region and rightly so.
We reached our BnB, Casa 19/37 by 7 in the evening and were welcomed with a plum cake and some fruit wine. Thimmaiah, the owner of Casa 19/37 made sure we were comfortable and were provided with everything that we needed. He suggested a few places that we could visit around Madikeri like, Dubare Elephant Camp and Mandalpatti. Before dinner, we went for a stroll in the town to hunt for some spices and homemade dark chocolate. During this stroll we ended up at The Big Cup Cafe, a must visit for coffee lovers.
Route Map | 285 km
Madikeri -> Dubare Elephant Camp -> Bangalore
This was our 3rd early morning and we were ready to catch the sunrise at the Mandalpatti viewpoint (not included in the map above). You can’t take your own car to the top of the hill, so you will have to park it down the hill just like the Gopalaswamy Temple. After spotting an astounding sunrise, we headed to the Dubare Elephant camp which opens in batches of a couple of hours, multiple times a day. We made it on time and literally lost our mind (for good) seeing so many elephants around. The camp could get very crowded on popular weekends so make sure to avoid that.
After having lunch on the highway, we were back in our Zoomcar, finally completing our 3-day long road trip!
Budget (for two)
Zoomcar: Rs. 13,800 (Including fuel)
Hotel Southern Star, Mysuru: Rs. 3200 per night
Casa 19/37, Madikeri: Rs. 3000 per night
Food: Rs. 1000/day
Hotel Southern Star, Mysuru: https://goo.gl/viH2YG
Casa 19/37, Madikeri: https://goo.gl/xepXbK or call Thimmaiah at +91-948252260
Coorg International: https://goo.gl/ZNhRxe
The Tamara Coorg: https://goo.gl/LPnm94
1. As we mentioned, start early every day so that you don’t miss anything.
2. Do not forget to buy some spices, coffee, fruit wine and homemade chocolates from the local shops.
3. Avoid visiting on any popular long weekends.
People who said that the journey is more important than the destination itself weren’t wrong. And our road trip with Zoomcar just validated this emotion.