Arrive In Bangalore
Having cleared customs and immigration you are met by a local representative who transfers you to your city hotel, Radisson Bengaluru, a journey of around 75 minutes. The rest of the day has been left clear, to let you relax after the flight and take things easy at the hotel, maybe treating yourself to a spell in the spa, a swim in the rooftop pool or unwinding over a drink in the bar.
Bangalore To Mysore
Having breakfasted you set off on your journey through Karnataka. Your first stop is at Srirangapatna. This was the main stronghold of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan in Mysore, and also the scene of the final battle between Tipu Sultan and the The East India Company in 1799, which resulted in Tipu Sultan's defeat and death. Today you can see the fortress and its dungeons, as well as a mosque and the Sri Ranganathsway Temple. Your drive resumes and you arrive at the homestay just outside Mysore where you spend the night. The total driving time is about 3,5 hours. This afternoon there's time for a guided tour of Mysore, taking in the Maharaja's Palace, Chamundeshwwari Temple in the hills above the city, and the 5 metre Nandi bull carving dating back to the mid 17th century. Back at the home-stay there is a cookery demonstration showcasing Kodava ethnic cuisine, culminating in a sit down dinner.
Mysore To Kabini
Awake early to accompany your guide on a dawn walk in Mysore. Highlights include the town hall, clock tower, Devaraja market and church circle, and your guide explains the history of each. The walk takes around 90 minutes and ends with breakfast at a local restaurant. You return to the home-stay to collect you bags and bid your hosts farewell, and are then driven to Kabini, and your hotel, which should take approximately 2.5 hours. Later in the afternoon you head out for a jeep safari in Nagarhole National Park in search of elephant, gaur (Indian bison), tiger, leopard and wild dog. Afterwards you are taken back to the hotel to shower and change for dinner.
An early start enables you to enjoy a morning boat trip on the Kabini River. This is a nice way to ease yourself into the day, sitting back and watching elephants on the riverbanks and looking out for otters, crocodiles and water birds, with the benefit of your guide's expertise. The ride lasts around 3 hours and you get back to the hotel in time for breakfast. Your time is your own till mid-afternoon, leaving you free to relax by the pool, try some Ayurveda therapies at the spa or accompany a naturalist guide on a walk around the grounds. At about 3pm you can join another jeep safari in the national park for some more wildlife viewing, returning to the hotel at around 7 pm.
Kabini To Coorg
You're on the move once more, with today's destination Coorg, about a 4 hour drive in total. First you break the journey at Bylakuppe, the second largest Tibetan settlement outside Tibet, made up of some twenty villages. One of the main sites is Namdroling Monastery, also known as the Golden Temple, a vast establishment that is home to over 5,000 monks and nuns. From here you continue to your next overnight stop in Coorg, and have time to enjoy the facilities which include a lovely infinity pool, an open-sided lounge and a spa.
You can have a leisurely breakfast before being collected for a 45-minute coracle ride. These small, circular vessels are traditionally used by fishermen in this region, and your trip this morning allows you to experience life on the river and lets you glimpse wildlife in the forest by the water's edge. The middle part of the day is free for you to spend at the hotel, and at around 4 pm you have a guided tour of the working coffee and spice plantation. It's fascinating to learn how the estate has evolved over the years and see current cultivation and production techniques. You arrive back at the hotel in the early evening in time to freshen up for dinner.
Coorg To Chikmagalur
Today you leave Coorg and head to Chikmagalur, a town in the foothills of the Mullayanagiri Mountains. After about 4 hours at you arrive at the next hotel, The Serai, and have the remainder of the day to settle in. The Serai is an attractive property located on a working coffee plantation, surroundings that will now feel familiar to you. You can spend a lazy afternoon at your villa, complete with private pool, mingle with other guests in the lounge or explore the grounds on foot or by bike, as you wish.
Belur And Halebidu
This morning's excursion takes you to the temples at Belur and Halebidu. These are both examples of Hoysala architecture, an empire that flourished between the 11th and 14th centuries. The temple complex at Belur has at its heart the Chennakesava Temple, flanked by smaller temples and pillars, and is considered the first great Hoysala temple. The complex at Halebidu is on a similar scale and is equally impressive. It contains around two hundred and forty sculptures on the outer walls and doorways. At the end of the visit you are driven back to The Serai and have the rest of day to spend as you wish.
Chikmagalur To Hampi
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before setting off for Hampi, where you spend the next three nights. The drive takes about 6.5 hours, and includes various stops to stretch your legs. You stay at Evolve Back, a sister property to the hotels in both Kabini and Coorg. Treat yourself to an easy rest of the day, taking full advantage of all the facilities on offer. These include the Vaidyasala Spa where therapists can deliver a personalised programme of treatments, a near Olympic-size infinity pool and the beautifully designed reading lounge.
You have the whole day to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hampi, a short drive from your hotel. It covers a vast area and consists of standing buildings and ruins, all once part of the city of Vijayanagara, the capital of the eponymous empire, which reached its heyday in the 14th to 16th centuries. There are trails taking in different areas of the vast site, and with a guide on hand you can appreciate its historical, religious and cultural importance. You can learn about the privileged lives of the Raya rulers, explore outlying areas and walk among temple ruins. Hampi is sure to work its magic on you. In the late afternoon you have the chance to go for another coracle ride, before returning to the hotel for dinner.
This day has been left free. If you wish you can make a return to Hampi. There are sure to be aspects you did not see yesterday, and this is a place where there's always more to discover. Alternatively you may prefer to remain at the hotel, enjoying its palatial architecture, exploring the nooks and crannies and unwinding in your villa with its balcony and Jacuzzi.
Hampi To Goa
Today you set out on the final leg of your journey. Your destination is the world-famous coastal resort of Goa, about a 7.5 drive away. Here you stay in a lovely family-run hotel located on a quiet part of Dolphin Bay, well away from the crowds. Ahilya by the Sea consists of three villas and two swimming pools set in pretty gardens full of tropical plants. The furnishings and décor are an eclectic mix of styles collected by the owners, which bestow a homely atmosphere. Stroll along to the main lounge where you can meet other guests, and look forward to the next few days in this lovely setting.
Enjoy breakfast, often served al fresco, before joining your guide for a tour of Old Goa. This takes in some of the area's historic churches, including some that date back to the 16th century, and a number of heritage buildings which display a fusion of Indian, Islamic and Portuguese architectural styles. The rest of the day has been left free.
A full day a leisure. You may want to do little more than spend a peaceful day at the hotel, soaking up the ambience, enjoying the gentle pace of life and socialising with other guests. If you can bear to tear yourself away you can walk along the seafront to the Reis Magos Fort, constructed in 1551 from where you have commanding views along the coast. You may prefer a lazy beach day and your hosts at the hotel can recommend some favourites where you can top up your tan. There are many options, and you're sure to find one that suits.
Enjoy breakfast within sight of the sea before packing your bags and preparing for the final phase of your journey. At the appropriate time you are collected from the hotel and driven to the airport to check in for your flight home.
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