Hampi and Beyond

India

Culture

Discover Karnataka's stone temples, wildlife and coffee farms

14 days £3,020 pp This is the price per person for a private tour (based on 2 people travelling) excluding international flights. Contact us for pricing for other group sizes including individuals.
Intro, 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

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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

Kolkata & Sunderbans (6 days)

Discover colonial Kolkata and the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve

Hill Stations & Mountains

Escape the city and unwind among some of the most breathtaking mountain and hill scapes the world has to offer.

City Extensions (1-4 days)

Visit the must-see sights and the hidden depths of India's most vibrant cities.

Beaches (1-7 days)

After exploring the busy cities, there's no better place to relax than one of India's paradisiacal beaches

Treks & Walks (1-12 days)

Himalayan treks, village walks and more

The Golden Triangle (5 days)

Marvel at India's most incredible forts and palaces

Himalayan Extension: Ladakh to Kashmir (5 days)

Travel across the spectacular Himalayan Highway

Kolkata & Darjeeling Snapshot (7 days)

Ideal extension to Bhutan

Wildlife of Madagascar, India & Borneo (29 days)

Spot lemurs, tigers & orangutans

Indian Odyssey (29 days)

Experience the best of North and South India

Highlights of the Subcontinent (22 days)

Discover iconic sights of India, Nepal & Bhutan

Wildlife of India & Borneo (21 days)

Get under the skin of Asia's two best wildlife spots.

Monks, Tribes & Rhinos (20 days)

Himalayan mountains, unseen tribes & amazing wildlife

Hill stations to the Himalayas (20 days)

Travel through the Himalayan foothills via Shimla & Amritsar to Ladakh

Classic Bhutan & Assam Cruise (18 days)

Experience Bhutan's rich culture, colonial Kolkata and rural life in Assam

Essential India & China (17 days)

Visit the two most populous countries on Earth.

Glimpse of India & Nepal (16 days)

Golden Triangle and the Himalayas

Essential India & Sri Lanka (16 days)

India's Golden Triangle & the best of Sri Lanka.

Textiles & Artisans of Gujarat & Rajasthan (16 days)

Nomadic tribes, traditional textiles, crafts & Mewar Festival

Nagaland: Festival of the Headhunters (15 days)

Aoling Festival, wildlife in Assam & natural beauty of Manipur

Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival (15 days)

Wildlife, tribes & rural life in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur

Taste of South India (15 days)

Experience the flavours and exotic spices of South India

Kerala Calling (15 days)

Tropical mountains, tea & spice plantations, and backwaters

Rajasthan Explorer & Pushkar Camel Fair (15 days)

Fort cities, rural villages & camel fair

Big Six of India (15 days)

Spot tigers, lions, leopards, buffalo, rhino & elephants

Tribal Orissa & Chhattisgarh (14 days)

Distinct tribal cultures, unique temples & traditional textiles

Spirit of South India (14 days)

Temple towns of Tamil Nadu to backwaters of Kerala

Kerala & Karnataka Explorer (14 days)

Idyllic backwaters, tropical forests & ancient temple towns

Taj, Tigers & Temples (14 days)

Perfect mix of classic sights and off-beat places for first-timers to India

Hampi and Beyond (14 days)

Discover Karnataka's stone temples, wildlife and coffee farms

Tribes of North East India (14 days)

Remote tribal cultures in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam & Nagaland

Sacred India (14 days)

Uncover the religious diversity of India

Delicacies of North India (14 days)

Discover the huge diversity of North India's cuisine

Big Cats of India (14 days)

Experience the thrill of the Indian jungle ...

Best of Bengal & Sikkim (14 days)

Colonial Kolkata, Darjeeling toy train & Buddhism

Wildlife of North East India (14 days)

Diverse wildlife in Assam and the Sunderbans

Heart of India (14 days)

Lucknow, Varanasi & the wonders of Madhya Pradesh

Kashmir, Ladakh & The Hemis Festival (14 days)

Experience dramatic Himalayan scenery, Islamic & Buddhist cultures

Kerala - Trekking the Western Ghats (13 days)

Explore this UNESCO biodiversity hotspot on foot

Glimpse of India (12 days)

Golden Triangle, tigers & exotic Kerala

Markha Valley Trek (12 days)

Set foot in Ladakh's hidden Himalayan valleys

Treasures of Gujarat (12 days)

Villages, temples, salt flats & the world's last Asiatic lions

Classic Kerala (10 days)

Tea, spices, backwaters & beaches

Essential Rajasthan (10 days)

Discover the forts, palaces, villages and desert of Rajasthan

Living Bridges of Meghalaya (7 days)

Waterfalls, hills and living bridges in North East India

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

A really well planned trip. We experienced life in Northeast India in just the way we wanted to. We loved the game reserves and saw a rock python which thrilled our guides as it is even rarer than the tiger! We visited villages and were able to interact with local people and loved the busy markets in Delhi and Calcutta. A special highlight was the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland; shown to us by our very own Naga guide Kezo. Kezo accompanied us for 15 days of our trip and ensured that we had many very special experiences - even taking us to the home of one of his Aunts where we spent a couple of hours sitting by the bonfire chatting.

Ann Holgate , Tailormade India

Thank you for organising our holiday in Kerala. I certainly wouldn`t have had the time or the knowledge to put together such a trip. Munnar was my favourite and the accommodation throughout was excellent.

Vik , Kerala Calling, 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

The tour was an amazing experience for our first visit to India. The country, its people and its cuisine were friendly,delightful, colourful and exceeded all our expectations. Travel the Unknown have put together a superb unique package that we have no hesitation in recommending to anyone with an interest in food and culture.

Elaine & Neil Smith , Delicacies of North India, India

I`m sure I could not have found a better operator for the type of complicated Indian tour I wanted to undertake on a limited budget. India is an intimidating country to visit, and I suspect that some operators look down on the first time visitor, or disparage their requirements. Travel the Unknown, by contrast, helped me all the way, and their local guides were superb.

Andrew Martin , Tailormade North East India

This was a very varied and interesting trip to a forgotten part of India. If you like off the beaten track travel it is definitely worth the effort but go with an open mind and keep a smile on your face.

Richard Williams , Monks, Tribes & Rhinos, India

This was my first experience of using Travel the Unknown having enjoyed small group adventure holidays for many years. I was attracted to the company because it seeks out the more unusual and lesser known areas of a country and I was not disappointed by my visit to Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. There is a clear contrast between the people and the scenery of these two regions and we saw very few western tourists particularly in Arunachal Pradesh. The tour was well organised with plenty to see and do.

Keith Lewis , Monks, Tribes & Rhinos, India

This trip was very well put together and ticked all the boxes that we had requested. The accommodation throughout the tour was of a high standard and our experiences in the national parks was wonderful spotting many different animals including tigers, leopards, sloth bears, lions, jungle cat plus countless number of birds. Thank you Rahul for tailoring this trip to our requirements.

Nigel & Margaret Turner , Tailormade India Wildlife & Birding tour

Another great trip from Travel the Unknown. I would recommend this company to anyone who wants to move outside the boundaries of the usual tourist itinerary.

Catherine Crawford , Kashmir & Ladakh Explorer, India

We went on the Spirit of South India Tour and had a great time on our honeymoon. There was a good variety of places visited and the hotels, drivers and guides were all very good. We would definitely recommend this tour.

Rachel , Spirit of South India, India
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