It goes without saying that it would take you years to experience even a taster of all that beautiful, exciting India has to offer. Spanning 29 states, 7 union territories and 3.3 million square kilometres, India ranges from serene rolling green lands to dry deserts to golden beaches to buzzing city vibes. If you’re looking to check four Indian states off your bucket list, here’s the lowdown on seven uniquely wonderful destinations for the ultimate road trip from Bangalore. This immense drive will take you in a loop from Bangalore to the best places to visit in South India. We can even help you with hiring a car!
This trip is bound to make a home in your heart and your memories forever…
Why start your road trip from Bangalore? Well, Bangalore is the busy and bustling cosmopolitan hub, bang in the centre of South India. Capital city of Karnataka state, and dubbed the “Silicon Valley of India”, Bangalore has its tech industry (as well as its university) to thank for attracting a growing young population year on year, keeping it ever-trendy. A city proud of its drinking and going-out culture, Bangalore is crawling with rooftop bars where the weather is so divine you can chill out for hours. Also worth visiting are the awesome craft ale pubs and beer towers.
On the other side of town, you’ll find Commercial Street – the core of Bangalore’s traditional shopping district. Browse for hours, and then take it easy and settle in at the much-loved chain MTR for a masala dosa (or you could even hit the McDonalds next door for a McPaneer… because culture)!
Escape the hustle and bustle of central Bangalore for a day and visit the beautiful Nandi Hills for a picnic or a hike. Better leave your snacks in the car though, or you may find you sacrifice them to the monkeys.
The next stop, Hampi, lies about 170 miles north of Bangalore. This ancient town was once home to the Vijayanagara Empire before being conquered and left for ruin in the 16th century. Today a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hampi is worlds away from the noisy, fast-paced vibes of India’s cities. Alcohol is not allowed in close proximity to the temples and restaurants serve up (delicious) vegetarian food only. Get up before daylight and witness the ruins at their most beautiful – you’ll probably meet a bus of local tourists with the same idea and a market stall serving chai as you watch the sunrise over the incredible landscape.
Halfway up the west coast of India lies Goa – the country’s party state. Attracting worldwide and local party-goers alike, Goa is famed for beach parties, Portuguese-influenced cuisine and a hedonistic atmosphere. Beach huts line up for miles along the coastline, where you can order cocktails and snacks (think fried pakoras and noodle bowls) straight to your sun lounger. Then as the sun sets over the Arabian Sea, wander north along the beach to hit the liveliest Goan nightlife spots like Anjuna beach, home to Goa’s notorious trance parties, which have been enticing adventure-seeking backpackers since the 1960s.
Mysore, coined “The City of Palaces”, boasts a number of beautiful buildings, but none more so than the magnificient Mysore Palace. Once home to the Wadiyar royal family, it is South India’s answer to the Taj Mahal. A beautiful World Heritage structure, Mysore Palace is open to the public and offers guided tours for a historic take on the stunning architecture of the building, making it a must-feature on any traveller’s India bucket list. Visit on Sunday evenings if you can to see the Palace light up, illuminated against the night sky by over 100,000 lights.
They say variety is the spice of life, and one of the (many) beautiful things about India, thanks mainly to its sheer size, is the way the landscape transforms around you as you drive from one state to its neighbour. No road trip from Bangalore is complete without a stop in Kerala! From noisy cityscape in Bangalore and dusty, jagged boulder formations in Hampi, at the most southern point of the country, Karnataka gives way to peaceful, tropical Kerala with its rolling hills topped with emerald-green tea plantations. Take a boat tour and cruise gently through the backwaters of Kollam where farmers and fishermen have been working by the palm tree-bordered canals for centuries.
From one coastline to the other, the next leg of the drive takes you to Tamil Nadu and the formerly French-colonised territory known colloquially as “Pondy”. Quaint narrow tree-lined streets and colonial-era architecture and churches give a French feel to the town unlike anywhere else in India, where roads are still called rues and bakeries selling croissants are rammed on weekends with locals and tourists alike.
A trip to Pondicherry is not complete without a visit to Auroville, named after Indian philosopher and nationalist Sri Aurobindo. Auroville is a cashless town community, where those with spiritual leanings live and work together in pursuit of a divine consciousness under the guidance of its founder’s (“The Mother”) teachings. Tourists can visit Auroville for a day to hear about its philosophy, take a tour around the town and buy resident’s handmade trinkets from the gift shop.
Tamil Nadu’s capital is loud, colourful and cheerful, and boasts an envious dichotomy between the traditional and the modern-day, from its food to its fashion to its architecture. As many high-rises and religious buildings scatter the skyline, and some of South India’s best culinary delicacies can be found as often at street stalls as in some of the city’s luxury restaurants. For breakfast, sample an idli (a type of soft rice cake a thousand miles away from the Snack-a-Jack variety you’re thinking of) alongside a sweet, milky coffee popular in Chennai and beyond. For lunch, head to Chennai’s Junior Kappana for a thali (a selection of curries, chutneys and curd served with bread and rice) and have your lunch served up on a banana leaf amongst a buzzing crowd of fellow foodies.
So there you have it, an immense circle of a road trip from Bangalore that’s perfect for anyone wanting to explore the more off-the-beaten-track cities in South India. Need to hire a car for your trip? We can help you with that here. 🚗