Karnataka Odyssey

India

Culture | Christmas

Coffee farms, wildlife and stone temples

Dates & Prices

Intro

Starting in the lush coffee plantations of Coorg, head to the rugged wilderness of Kabini, where herds of elephants roam free. Nearby visit the lesser-known town of Bylakuppe, India's second largest Buddhist settlement, then head on to the royal city of Mysore. From there, venture north into Karnataka's cradle of stone architecture, visiting ancient temples in Hassan and Belur, as well as the iconic boulder-strewn temple town of Hampi. Continue on to the 6th century cave temples of Badami before finally boarding your train to the tiny palm-fringed state of Goa.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Coffee culture in Coorg
  • Buddhist culture in Bylakuppe
  • Wildlife and jungle lodge in Kabini
  • Stone temples of Karnataka
  • Gravity-defying boulders in Hampi

Places Visited

Mangalore - Coorg - Bylakuppe - Kabini - Mysore - Hassan - Belur - Halebidu - Hampi - Vijayanagara - Badami - Aihole - Pattadakal - Hubli - Goa

What's Included

Airport transfers
Ground transport with driver
English-speaking guides
Accommodation
Breakfasts and some meals (refer to itinerary plan)
Entrance fee to sites and parks (one-time entry)
Activities as per itinerary
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Arrival

Arrive in Mangalore, where you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to you hotel. The rest if the day is free to enjoy at your leisure. Overnight in Mangalore.

Meal plan: n/a

Mangalore is the main port of the Indian state of Karnataka. With its pristine beaches, broad roads and calm localities this coastal city was declared the eighth cleanest city in India. It developed as a port on the Arabian Sea, handling 75 per cent of India's coffee exports and the bulk of the nation's cashew exports. Mangalore was ruled by several major powers, including the Kadambas, Vijayanagar dynasty, and the Portuguese. The city was unified with the state of Mysore (now called Karnataka) in 1956. Its landscape is characterised by rolling hills, coconut palms, freshwater streams, and hard red-clay tiled-roof buildings.

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Day 2 : Coorg

After a relaxed breakfast, check out and transfer to Coorg. The rest of the day is free. Overnight in Coorg. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Coorg, also known as Kodagu, is a well known hill station offering mesmerising green mountains ranges, tranquil waters and quaint villages. Much of the region's wealth comes from coffee, in particular the robusta and arabica varieties, tea and cardomom. It is called the 'Scotland of India', and the area's scenic beauty attracted the British here around 100 years ago.

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Day 3 : Coorg - Bylakuppe - Coorg

After breakfast enjoy a guided tour of Coorg. Later, visit the Tibetan Refugee settlement at Bylakuppe. Return to Coorg for overnight stay.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Established in 1971, Bylakuppe - often referred to as 'Indian Tibet' - is home to thousands of Tibetans living in exile and is a centre for Tibetan Buddhism in South India. It consists of a number of agricultural settlements and its colonies are close to each other; you can find a number of monasteries, nunneries and temples in all the major Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Most notable among them are the large educational monastic institution Sera, the smaller Tashilunpo monastery (both in the Gelukpa tradition) and Namdroling monastery (in the Nyingma tradition). Bylakuppe also has many Buddhist universities for advanced Buddhist practices.

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Day 4 : Coorg - Kabini

Today you will depart Coorg and transfer to Kabini Forest Reserve. The rest of the day is yours to relax or explore your surroundings. Overnight in Kabini.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Kabini Forest Reserve is one of the most popular wildlife destinations in Karnataka thanks to its lush green landscape, large tranquil lake, and regular sightings of herds of elephants. It comprises the south-eastern part of Nagarahole National Park. Situated on the banks of the Kabini River, the reserve is spread over forestland, valleys, and water. It was once a private hunting lodge of the Maharajah of Mysore, and a popular hotspot for British Viceroys and Indian royalty. Today it is thought to be one of the best wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka, famous for its spectacular wildlife and bird life.

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Day 5 : Kabini

You will be taken on an early morning game drive around Kabini before returning for breakfast. The rest of the morning is free, and in the afternoon you may take part in optional activities such as rafting, trekking or more game driving if you wish. Overnight in Kabini.

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 6 : Kabini - Mysore

After breakfast you will check out and drive to Mysore. The rest of the day is free to enjoy at your leisure. Overnight in Mysore.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Often referred to as the 'City of Palaces', Mysore is famed for its enchanting palaces, royal heritage and dazzling monuments. Situated in the southern part of the Deccan Plateau, Mysore District is an undulating tableland, covered in parts by granite outcrops and fringed by verdant forests. As the cultural capital of Karnataka, Mysore is home to the annual and world renowned Hindu festival 'Dasahara', an academy of visual arts and its very own painting style.

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Day 7 : Mysore

Enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of Mysore, which will include visits to sites such as Mysore Palace, the Chamundi Hills, Nandi Bull and Devaraja Fruit and Vegetable market. This may be followed by a possible visit to Somnathpur temples. Overnight in Mysore.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Palace of Mysore is the official residence of the Wodeyars, a former Hindu dynasty. Completed in 1912 and expanded in 1940, it is one of India's most visited sights. This is particularly due to its architectural style, which is commonly known as Indo-Saracenic, as it employs Gothic, Hindu and Muslim styles.

Named after the goddess Chamundeshwari, The Chamundi Hills are one of Southern India's eight sacred hills, with the Chamundeshwari Temple that sits atop the hill under the patronage of the rulers of Mysore. The hills also offer lovely panoramic views of Mysore. 

Somnathpur is widely known for the Chennakesava Temple, a prime example of Hoysala architecture built in 1268 by a military commander. It is extremely well preserved and a protected heritage site.

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Day 8 : Mysore - Sharavanabelagola - Hassan

Check out and drive to Hassan. Stop to visit Sharavanabelagola en route. Overnight in Hassan.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Named after the Goddess Hassanamba, Hassan city serves as the headquarters of Hassan district. Established during the Hoysala Empire, it became an important pilgrimage site in Janism. Home to the statue of Bahubali – who was believed to have meditated motionless for over a year in a standing position – it was built in 981 A.D. and has been associated with the Hassan area for more than 2,000 years.
 


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Day 9 : Hassan

Today you will be taken on a guided tour of important sites in Hassan district, such as the towns of Belur and Halebidu - which offer some of the best examples of Hoysala architecture and sculpture in the country. Overnight in Hassan.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Belur was the first capital of the Hoysala Empire. Established in the 11th century, it was often referred as ‘earthly Vaikuntha’ – in recognition of the ground’s sanctity. With this in mind, it is unsurprising that the town is home to a number of renowned temples like Chennakeshava. An active Hindu temple since its inception, Chennakesava is described in medieval Hindu scripture, as well as in pictorial form in the ancient Indian poem Ramayana and to this day remains an important pilgrimage site in Vaishnavism.
 


Halebidu served as next capital of the Hoysala Empire, after Belur. Although known for its traditional Hoysala architecture, it was destroyed twice by Islamic forces of the Delhi Sultanate, thus earning its name Halebidu which literally translates to ‘old capital’. The town is home to a number of Hindu and Jain temple complexes including Hoysaleswara Temple, a 12th century Hindu sanctuary dedicated to Shiva.
 


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Day 10 : Hassan - Hampi - Vijayangara - Hampi

Depart Hassan for Hampi. Explore the ruins of the once great city of Vijayanagara. Overnight in Hampi. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Vijayanagara, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site which now surrounds modern day Hampi, was the capital city of the Vijayanagara Empire. The city is thought to have been the second largest city in the world at one point, only eclipsed in population by Peking.

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Day 11 : Hampi - Badami

After a relaxed breakfast, enjoy a tour of Hampi. Later, transfer to Badami. Overnight in Badami.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Sat on a hilly terrain of granite boulders, Hampi is a fantasy world of palace and temple ruins, vast banana plantations and forest-green paddy fields. Despite being destroyed by Muslim sultanates in 1565, Hampi preserved the remains of more than 1,600 impressive forts, royal and sacred complexes, madapas and water structures. At the epicentre of these remains is Vittala Temple. Featuring a detailed chariot and multiple elephants, all fashioned out of stone, the temple illuminates the high quality of Hampi’s craftmanship. However, its centre piece is its richly carved pillars that emit musical tones when tapped.
 


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Day 12 : Badami - Aihole - Pattadakal - Badami

Today you will enjoy guided tours of Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal. Return to Badami for overnight stay. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Badami was formerly known as Vatapi, after the twins Vatapi and Ilyala from the legend Ramayana. It served as the regal capital of the Chalukyas dynasty from AD 540 to 757. The town sits in a ravine surrounding Agastya Lake and is most recognised for its beautiful red sandstone Hindu temples, two of which are dedicated to Vishnu, and the others to Shiva and Jain Tirthankaras. Like the Ajanta and Ellora caves, the Badami caves illustrate inscriptions and intricate carvings as well as early Kannada poetry. Badami also boasts the impressive Badami Fort and a Buddhist cave, which can only be reached through a small entrance on your hands and knees.
 


Aihole, a prominent city during the Chalukya Dynasty, lies close to Badami and is one of Karnataka's most popular visitor attractions. Rich with an illustrious architectural history, Aihole has great cultural significance as the cradle of Hindu temple architecture. There are about 125 temples in and around Aihole – several of which date back to Chalukyan times – as well as early Buddhist caves and Jain monuments. One of its most elaborately designed temples is Durga Temple. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple’s exquisite and intricate carvings offer valuable records of the origins and development of Northern Indian temple architecture; as well as proving a popular site among art enthusiasts.
 


Situated along the Malprabha river, Pattadakal is a small town in north Karnataka. Settled in pre-historic times, the modern town boasts nine Hindu and one Jain temple built by the Chalukya dynasty (who ruled large parts of southern and central India between the 6th and 12th centuries). The world heritage town is considered an architectural jewel by UNESCO for its natural integration of northern and southern Indian building styles.
 


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Day 13 : Badami - Hubli

After breakfast transfer to the city of Hubli. Rest of the day is free. Overnight in Hubli.

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 14 : Departure

After breakfast, transfer to Hubli railway station to board your train to Goa. Upon arrival, transfer to the airport for onward flight.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Extensions

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Reviews

I have been on 3 tailor made trips with Travel The Unknown and have found them to be knowledgeable and reliable. We`ve stayed in some wonderful places and have had some unusual and satisfying experiences that go beyond the standard tours.

Joan Edmunds (USA) , Tailormade India

I would highly recommend Travel the Unknown to anyone visiting India. The service we received both prior to, during and following our travels was always timely and excellent. We were able to customize our trip to our liking and to enjoy a wide variety of activities. The guides in every location were outstanding! Honestly. Having travelled through much of the world I can truly say that we have never been more impressed with the quality of the guides arranged for us in each location, as well as the service we received. Similarly, the hotels were excellent and allowed us to live very comfortably while, at the same time, enjoy an authentic Indian experience. If you haven`t already booked your trip with Travel the Unknown, then either do so now....or at least give them a chance to show you what they can offer.

Tracey & Gary , Tailormade India

What an excellent service! Rahul adapted, extended and improved our trip so many times without a qualm and we ended up with the trip of a lifetime. The destinations are unusual and interesting but everything has been checked out by the team and works brilliantly. I can`t wait to do another trip.

Penelope Smith , Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival, India

Travel the Unknown put together an Itinerary in North East India - Living Root Bridges for me and a travelling companion. The accommodations, transportation, promptness of drivers, and knowledge of our guide was excellent. Easy booking from office and good pre trip information. Thanks TTU!

Christina Taft , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

I thoroughly enjoyed my tailor made tour of northwestern and central India. Guides and accommodations were excellent and we saw as much of the area as could be packed into two weeks. I look forward to another tour with Travel the Unknown.

Mary Trubek (USA) , Tailormade India

This is our second fabulous trip with Travel The Unknown and we were not disappointed. Rajasthan's vibrant colours of turbans and saris, the noise, the spicy aromas, the silence in the hot air balloon over rural Jaipur, the majestic forts and palaces of ancient times, sighting leopards in the wild, all far exceeded our expectations and the heritage homes and hotels we stayed in, whilst being of high standard in every way, still had a friendly family touch. Thanks so much to Rahul and the team for such a memorable trip. Six weeks on and we still can't stop talking about it. I can't wait for the next one!

John & Christine Gregory , Tailormade India

Wow, India is incredible and Travel The Unknown put together a trip that really showed the diverse nature of the country and cultures, from the busy capital Delhi to the splendour of the Taj Mahal and then off the main tourist trek with an overnight sleeper train to Varanasi on the Ganges, the Hindu religious capital with bathing , washing and cremations alongside the river - an astonishing experience. We then moved to the forgotten North East corner where there is a tribal culture in an area seemingly cut off from the rest of India. Our destination was the Living Root Bridges which are unique and remote. Just want to go back to India for more...

Ken Sankey , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

Another fantastic trip with this company. WE really managed to get off the beaten track and have seen some amazing sights. Well put together. We will travel again with Travel the Unknown

Hazel & James Frost , Tailormade India

The Living Root Bridges trip was our first time with Travel the Unknown and we would have no hesitation from booking with them again.

Andria & John Palmer , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

I had been studying the Apatani Tribe for quite some time… I’m talking roughly 7 years! Travel The Unknown made my dreams come entirely true. They organized every aspect of my experience in the most minute detail. I have never felt such confidence in an agency nor worked with one more knowledgeable about their destination. Because of them and their kind efforts, I will continue to travel with Travel The Unknown for all future expeditions to this or similar regions. Thanks, Travel The Unknown, for everything!

Christian Noni , Tailormade North East India

Gotta say thanks to Travel The Unknown for organising my fascinating trip to a little-known area of the world. The scenery was fantastic, food was amazing, the guide was great and the living bridges were inspiring. An India not many get to see. Thanks again.

Stephen , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

As always Travel The Unknown were exceptional in organising my trip to India. The guides for Meghalaya and the Golden Triangle were friendly, extremely helpful and very informative. The tour was busy but never felt rushed; the combination of Meghalaya and Golden Triangle giving quite a varied perspective of India.

Terry Cooper , Living Bridges of Meghalaya
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