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Summer is here and it’s time to escape the sweltering heat of the cities and litreally cool the body and mind down while giving yourselves that well-deserved summer break. And what better way than to hit the beaches, wander off to the hills or escape into the wild. But with everyone from your next-door neighbour to your Facebook stalker thronging these places, maybe it’s time to go off the beaten path and choose places that are yet to lose their virgin charms to the clutches of mindless tourism. 

For the many hopeless souls looking for an escape from the chaos that is Bengaluru, these offbeat summer getaways listed down below offer the perfect recipe to calm your nerves; a whiff of fresh air, a pint of natural bliss and oodles of unmatched beauty minus the rampant commercialisation, all the while giving their more popular competitors a run for their money.

BEACH HOPPING AT KUMTA

Unwind at its secluded beaches, experience the rich local culture, go back in time at the several temples and forts here or simply witness the majestic Aghanashani river winding her way into the Arabian Sea. This quaint coastal town located in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka is filled with such authentic experiences for those wishing to escape the tourist crowds and go back to simpler times. 

Kumta Beach Trek and Camping-5
Beach Trekking at Kumta

THINGS TO DO IN KUMTA

Beach Trek: Trek along the coastline through forest trails that connect the secluded beaches of Kumata including Heaven Beach, Small Heaven beach, Mangodlu and Vannali beaches to name a few and end your day with a view of the perfect sunset. 

Experience the Aghanashini River: An ancient river that meanders its way into the Arabian Sea at Kumta, the Aghanashini River offers not just picturesque views of surrounding hills, valleys, paddy fields, and mangrove forests but also a glimpse into the lives of the fishermen here who depend on the river for their livelihoods. 

Explore Kagal Fort: Built originally as a watchtower for the Mirjan Fort, the Kagal Fort perched atop Kagal Hill offers panoramic views of the Aghanashini Delta meeting with the Arabian Sea.

Plan your Kumta Beach Trek here.

HOW TO REACH KUMTA

By Road: Kumta is well connected by road to all nearby major cities including Bangalore, Mangalore, Mysore, Mumbai, Goa and Pune and buses can be availed to reach here from these cities as well as the nearby towns of Sirsi, Karwar, Udupi and Shimoga.

By Air: Dabolim Airport at Goa is the nearest airport located at a distance of 168 kms

By Rail: Kumta railway station (KT) located just 2 kms from the city centre

UNWIND AT THE BEACHES OF KARWAR

Located at the meeting point of the Kali river and the Arabian Sea lies the quaint beach town of Karwar. Being the administrative capital of Uttara Kannada District, Karwar is a well-kept secret and offers almost everything that its more feisty neighbour, Goa offers minus the obvious crowds and party scenes.

Kumta Beach Trek and Camping-5
Find the perfect sunrise at Karwar.

THINGS TO DO IN KARWAR

Water Sports: Snorkelling, dolphin spotting, kayaking and banana boat rides are some of the major activities that can be found here and one needs to take a 45-minute boat ride from the mainland to the island of Kurumgad to avail these services.

Beach Hopping: Named after the great poet himself, the Rabindranath Tagore Beach is one of the main beaches at Karwar located right off the highway. The Devbagh Beach with its dense forest vegetation along the coast provides a visual treat and is also a hub for diving and snorkelling. The Binanga, Tilmati, and Majali beaches are some of the other isolated beaches here worth visiting.

Visit the Warship Museum: Located on the Rabindranath Tagore Beach, the warship, INS Chapal has now been converted into a museum where one can explore the entire length and breadth of the vessel to get an idea about the contributions of the Indian Navy as well as a glimpse into the life of a voyager.

Explore the Islands: The most distinctive feature of Karwar are the several mangrove-covered islands that lie off the Kali River Estuary. The Anjadip and Devagadaguda Islands are worth visiting and the picturesque boat ride that one needs to take along the Kali river to get there is an added bonus. 

Experience the best of Karwar here.

HOW TO REACH KARWAR

By Road: Local bus services are available at regular intervals from Madgaon, Gokarna and other nearby cities.

By Air: Dabolim Airport at Goa located at a distance of 90 kms is the nearest airport to Karwar.

By Rail: All Major trains running on the Konkan Railway Route, halt at  the Karwar Railway Station (KAWR) 

ESCAPE TO THE HILLS OF KOTAGIRI

Summer is the time for hill stations and Kotagiri offers the magical aura of the Nilgiris minus the thronging crowds and rampant commercialisation. With sprawling tea estates, gushing waterfalls and breathtaking trails, the small town of Kotagiri, located in the Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu offers fierce competition to its more popular neighbours, Ooty and Coonoor.

Kotagiri
Find bliss at the endless tea plantations at Kotagiri

THINGS TO DO IN KOTAGIRI

Trek to Catherine Falls: The second highest falls in the Nilgiris, the road leading up to it winds through pristine tea plantations before a final trek to the actual viewpoint through dense forests and awe-inspiring landscapes. The view of this double cascading waterfall that comes alive right after the monsoons is a spectacle to behold.

Catch the Sunrise at Kodanad: One of the best places in Kotagiri to catch the sunrise or the sunset, this viewpoint offers panoramic views of the surrounding Kodanad region flanked by tea plantations on one side and rolling hills on the other. 

Hike through Longwood Shola: This isolated stretch of untouched forest cover is every nature lovers dream come true and the almost 1.5 kms of trek through the region is more about the experience of being one with nature than anything else.

Treat Yourself at Johnston Circle: Kotagiri offers some authentic local Chettinad cuisines and the best of them can be found at Johnston Circle located litreally in the heart of the town. Apart from the variety of local dishes, one can also savour a range of cakes, pastries and other delectable baked varieties at the many cake shops and bakeries here.

Trek to Rangaswamy Peak: This stone monolith, a magnificent piece of natural wonder which can be viewed from the Kodanad viewpoint can also be scaled by those looking for a bit of adventure. The trek up the peak requires a certain level of endurance but the 360-degree view from up top is worth all the efforts. One can also find a shrine dedicated to Lord Rangaswamy at the peak.

Find the perfect itinerary for camping at Kotagiri here.

Summer destinations from Bangalore
Rolling Hills of Kotagiri

HOW TO REACH KOTAGIRI

By Air: The nearest airport is the Coimbatore International Airport located almost 70 kms away from Kotagiri

By Train: The nearest Railway Station is at Coonoor (ONR)

By Road: Government, as well as private buses, ply to Kotagiri from nearby cities including Coimbatore, Ooty and Coonoor. Booking a cab is also a great way to enjoy the scenery en route.

EXPLORE THE FORESTS OF DANDELI

Escape from the coastline into the dense forests of Dandeli; a haven for wildlife and nature enthusiasts offering ample opportunities for those seeking a rush of adrenaline or simply to unwind amidst its lush greenery. A plethora of magical sights and experiences await you at this humble destination located deep within North Karnataka on the banks of the Kali river. 

Dandeli Rafting
White river rafting at Dandeli

THINGS TO DO IN DANDELI

White River Rafting on the Kali River: The varied forms of the river Kali flowing through the region offers ample opportunities for all kinds of water-based activities, the most popular of which is white river rafting; one of the best in Karnataka. It’s a perfect way to get your hearts racing while enjoying the varied sights and hues the river has to offer. Kayaking, Zorbing, river safaris and fishing are some of the other activities one can engage in while at Dandeli.

Take a Safari at the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary: Being the second largest wildlife reserve in Karnataka, a jeep safari through the untouched forests of Dandeli is your best bet at catching a glimpse of wildlife. One can also engage in several adventure activities inside the sanctuary including trekking, coracle boat rides, mountain biking, eco-tourism and cycling.

Hike to Kavala Caves: This series of naturally formed prehistoric limestone caves located deep within the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary quite litreally takes you back in time with its eerie silence and almost alien-like stalagmite formations. One needs to hike down a series of 375 steps to reach the cave entrance and a further 40 feet down through narrow passageways where a naturally formed Shiva Linga can be found. 

Trek to Shiroli Peak: Whether it’s to attempt the exhilarating hike up to the top or to catch a glimpse of that mesmerizing sunset or simply to witness the majestic Western Ghats in all its glory, a trek to Shiroli Peak, considered to be the highest point in the entire Uttara Kannada Region, is bound to leave you spellbound in more ways than one.

Experience river rafting and camping at Dandeli with Plan The Unplanned.

HOW TO REACH DANDELI

By Air: The nearest airport is at Hubli, which is 60 km from Dandeli.

By Train: As there are no regular train services to the Dandeli Railway station, it would be best to catch a train to the nearest railway station of Alnavar Junction, located 23 kms away.

By Road: Dandeli is well connected to nearby major cities including Hubli, Dharwad, Goa, Belgaum, Bangalore, Pune and Karwar.

DIVE INTO THE NETRANI ISLANDS

Located off the coast of Murudeshwar, this heart-shaped island on the Arabian Sea is home to Karnataka’s best-kept secret; an abundance of marine biodiversity combined with crystal clear waters offers one of the best scuba diving and snorkelling experiences on the Konkan Coast.

Scuba Diving at Netrani Islands

THINGS TO DO AT NETRANI

Scuba Diving & Snorkelling: Located approximately 10 nautical miles off the coast, a short ferry ride takes you to the reaches of this coral wonderland from where you commence your underwater adventure. The Butterflyfish, Whale Sharks, Turtles, Napoleon Wrasse, Great Barracuda, Stingrays, White and Black Tip Sharks and Stonefish are some of the many varieties of marine life one can find here.

Check Scuba Diving at Netrani off your bucket list with Plan The Unplanned.

HOW TO REACH NETRANI

By Air: The closest Airport to Murudeshwar is the Mangalore International Airport located 150 kms away.

By Train: Murudeshwar Railway Station has good connectivity to all major cities.

By Road: Murudeshwar has good bus connectivity to all major nearby cities including Mangalore, Mumbai, Bangalore and Cochin

KAYAK ALONG THE SHAMBHAVI RIVER

Having its origins deep within the Western Ghats at Kudremukh, the majestic Shambhavi River makes its way to the Arabian Sea almost untouched by man and offers one of the most serene and adventurous Kayaking spots in all of Karnataka. 

Kayaking on Shambhavi River
Kayaking on Shambhavi River

THINGS TO DO IN SHAMBHAVI 

Kayaking: Retrace the path of the river as you start your kayaking journey from the tip of the Arabian Sea back to the Western Ghats taking in all the varied hues of the Shambhavi river for a distance of roughly 30 kms over two days. With regular breaks, some efficient kayaking and breathtaking vistas all around, this experience can be almost meditative as you find yourself one with the calmness of its backwaters and is well suited for individuals of all experience levels.

Ready to Kayak? Check out this camping and kayaking itinerary on the Shambhavi.

HOW TO REACH MULKI

By Air: The nearest Airport to Mulki is the Mangalore International Airport located around 30 kms away

By Train: Mulki Railway  Station (MULK) is well connected to all nearby cities. 

By Road: Located between Mangalore and Udupi on the Kochi-Panvel highway, Mulki is several buses ply from all major cities to Mulki.

With offbeat travel being all the rage and the need to explore and ‘Instagram’ never before seen destinations and experiences, comes the responsibility of every traveller visiting these places to leave them just the way they found it. As the saying goes, “Take only memories, leave only footprints.” 

At Plan The Unplanned, we take special care to ensure all our travellers are educated and informed about the same and we take pride in the fact that the same ideology is practised on all our trips. Remember, change always starts with you.

About the author

A passionate traveller, creative thinker and a firm believer in the concept of travelling responsibly, he is constantly on the lookout for the next big adventure while sharing the thrills and spills from his journeys in an attempt to inspire others to do the same. You can follow his adventures on www.thecluelessmuni.com