With the scorching summers here, it means pretty much everyone is making plans to escape into the hills and mountains to seek refuge from the merciless heat. Now, this means an explosion of tourists at popular vacation spots.
Want to escape the “people traffic” and look for alternative locations which are equally amazing? We can help.
Karnataka has a bevvy of lesser-known and unexplored hill stations which can easily give competition to its popular counterparts any day.
So, when you have these options, why flock to the tourist hotspots where you know you are going to face a wave of people? Instead, give the obscure destinations on our list a try.
From waterfalls to forests, lakes to rolling hills, misty mountains to unending grasslands, here are four less-explored hill stations in Karnataka that are the perfect spots for weekend getaways — or longer stays — this summer:
Travellers looking for hidden gems, assemble!
An amazing little town cradling nature’s many wonders, Somwarpet is home to some spectacular streams, waterfalls and valleys, beside the endless spice and coffee plantations, which assure visitors of a calm and serene sojourn close to nature.
You might not find any “activities” to do here per se, however, the amazing places to explore easily make up for that.
Some of the best spots to check out here include Mallalli Falls, Malemalleshwara Betta, Makkalagudi Betta and Ridge Point. There is also the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary close by, ideal for wildlife lovers as you can spot a bevvy of plants, animals, and birds across different species. Also offers amazing wildlife photography opportunities.
“Mallalli Falls is an absolute must-visit. I make it a point to visit the falls every monsoon season to see them in their full, gushing glory. I am guessing the plunge is more than 1,000 m [over two tiers] which just makes it even more stunning,” 29-year-old homemaker Vinisha D’Costa from Coorg tells South First.
Another must-visit spot is Ridge Point, which, according to D’Costa, can make you feel like you are walking in the clouds.
“During monsoon, the entire place is mostly covered in clouds, which is the best time to visit. I literally stroll about this place for hours alone without doing anything and it’s the best thing ever,” D’Costa added.
Best time to visit: Somwarpet enjoys pleasant weather throughout the year — so you can pretty much visit any time. However, the ideal time to enjoy the local sights is from August to March.
How to reach by rail: The nearest railhead is Mysore Junction, and then get a taxi or a bus to Somwarpet, which should take about two hours.
How to reach by road: You can drive down if you reside in the nearby states, as Somwarpet has good road connectivity.
How to reach by flight: The nearest airport to Somwarpet is in Mysore.
If you are a Malgudi Days lover then you are in for a treat. The fictional town from RK Narayan’s legendary novel is actually based on Agumbe village!
A small village in Shivamogga district in the Malnad region of Karnataka, Agumbe is the perfect utopian getaway for anyone who wants to escape the concrete jungle of city life and enjoy the charms of rural life for a while.
Also known as the “Cherrapunji of the South”, this picturesque village lies in the Western Ghats belt at about 643m above sea level and receives one of the heaviest rainfall in the southern region, which makes it a perfect home to some of the scenic waterfalls, dense forests, and rivers.
Popular must-visit spots here include the famous Sunset Point, a 10-minute walk from the main town, and the beautiful Barkana Falls, which is among India’s highest waterfalls and, of course, for Malgudi Days fans, Dodda Mane, a homestay that is much like the house where the character of Swami lived. Get ready to relive your childhood dreams in this rustic cottage which will transport you to a lost era.
Best time to visit: You can visit from November to February to enjoy the best weather. The hill station enjoys pleasant weather during the rest of the months. However, avoid the monsoon, if possible, which starts in June and lasts till September. Unless, of course, you just enjoy the rains.
How to reach by rail: The Udupi railway station is about 50 km away from Agumbe.
How to reach by road: You can either drive down if you reside in nearby states or take a bus from Bangalore to Agumbe, or a bus going to Thirthahalli and then another bus from there to Agumbe.
How to reach by flight: The Mangaluru International Airport is about 95 km away from Agumbe.
Often compared to Ooty, this quaint hill station, besides being rich in wildlife, is also ideal for those looking to get in a bit of trekking on the weekend. Jogimatti is the perfect package for travellers who want both nature and adventure in their getaway.
“I work a 9-5 desk job and I usually want to run screaming from the city on the weekends and do something which does not involve technology. Jogimatti is perfect in that way as my small group of friends and I take the NH48 and just drive off to this hill station and have two full days of trekking and adventure,” 26-year-old chartered accountant Sumit Vyas from Bengaluru tells South First.
“This place has so much to do that we end up returning to our hotels only by dinner time. Trekking in the forest, taking long nature walks, exploring a natural cave which even has a Shivalinga in it, and historical sites, polishing our photography skills by spotting birds and animals in the forest reserve, chilling by the Chandravalli Lake, checking out the multiple waterfalls, it’s just perfect for an awesome weekend with friends. This is my usual haunt now and I am hoping it doesn’t become crowded!” Vyas adds.
Best time to visit: Tourists can visit all year round. However, the ideal months to arrive here are from October to March.
How to reach by rail: The nearest railhead is at Chikjajur, which is approximately 53 km away.
How to reach by road: Jogimatti is approximately 210 km from Bengaluru and is an almost four-hour drive.
How to reach by flight: The closest airport is the Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru which is approximately 230 km away.
The perfect option for a weekend summer retreat, Kemmangundi is the place to be if all you are looking to do on your getaway is unwind, chill, and soak in all of nature’s glories.
This picturesque hill station is approximately 60 km from Chikmagalur and offers travellers a scenic view of valleys and endless greenery. Of course, keeping with the theme of almost all hill stations in Karnataka, Kemmangundi also has its fair share of gorgeous waterfalls, Insta-worthy viewpoints and rolling grasslands, which basically have ‘healing’ written all over them!
The one advantage it has compared to its popular counterparts is that this hill station is still largely unexplored, ergo travellers here can enjoy absolute tranquillity.
If you want to stay outdoors trekking and exploring or just want to stay holed up in a cosy homestay or hotel, Kemmangundi offers you the option to do both. Some of the must-visit spots here include the Rock Garden, Z Point, Kallathi and Hebbe Falls, and the famous Shiva Temple.
Best time to visit: The weather is pleasant throughout the year, however, the months from September to March are the best time to visit Kemmangundi, as the temperature drops even further.
How to reach by rail: The nearest railway stations are at Tarikere (approximately 20-30 km away) and Birur (approximately 35 km away). You can hire cabs or get on local buses from the station to reach Kemmangundi.
How to reach by road: Kemmangundi is well connected by bus services. You can also drive down if you live in nearby states.
How to reach by flight: Mangalore International Airport is the nearest airport at 212 km to Kemmangundi.