My family (parents and sister) visited Bangalore last week. I had two weekends and the weekdays in between to tour them around. Their prime objective of coming here was to relax and not to make a fast trip to all places around here. Since I had to do all this digging myself, I thought I should share this information with everyone.
Since the objective was to relax, it doesn't make any sense to make long overnight bus trips to Kodai/Munnar/(elsewhere in Kerala). In North, Ooty is a famous place. Karnataka Tourism has a value-for-money package tours for most places around Bangalore like Mysore-Ooty. The advantage of package tours is that they are hassle-free. Getting seats in them is not difficult even a day before. However, please avoid going to Ooty in Monsoon season.
Even during Monsoon, Mysore is a place worth spending a day at. The KSTDC package tour for Mysore costs Rs.560/person which includes Volvo travel and sight-seeing. The bus leaves Corporation circle at 7:00 am and returns at 11:00 in the night.
The disadvantage of taking a conducted tour is that they make you run around in order to cover all points. A taxi (non-AC Indicab) would cost almost the same as a ticket for 4 (Approx Rs.2500) and provides the flexibility to spend more time at a place you like. It also allows you to start as per your convenience. However, a Taxi cannot guarantee visit to all points and you would have to pay extra for a guide.
KSRTC has a very good full/half day conducted tour of Bangalore sight-seeing. Full-day Volvo tour is Priced Rs.220. (http://kstdc.nic.in/frames9.htm) This tour covers about 8 different tourist spots in Bangalore.
We, however, took a Taxi for Bangalore sight-seeing. To be frank, there are not too many places of tourist interest (to me, personally - and to most bachelors like me, I suppose) in Bangalore. Typical package of a taxi costs Rs.800/- (non-AC Indicab) for a 8 hour/80 KM trip around Bangalore. Within this you can cover four-five points within Bangalore. Places like ISKCON Temple, Lalbagh, Vidhan Soudha and Viswesaraiya Technology Museum are worth visiting.
I was surprised to know that the markets at Commercial Street and Chikpet are larger and crowdier than MG/Brigade road! These places are heaven for all the ladies. Mysore Saree Udyog on Commercial Street (Sunday closed) is a good place to get your mom buy sarees :)
Another place of interest when someone comes down south it Tirupati Balaji. KSTDC/APTDC/ITDC/Southern Travels (and more private operators) have conducted tours for the pilgrimage. The charges vary from Rs.1175 to 1275 per person. This covers Volvo travel, accommodation, local transport and special ticket (AAD Darshan). The tour starts first day evening and returns next day evening. However, this is available only on a weekday (Departure - Sunday to Thursday). You get to have darshan within 2 hours of standing in queue. Thereafter they take you to the Padmavati temple and return.
Another package of Rs.800 per person is offered by many Private operators would cover non-AC travel with a normal (Rs.50) entry. This might take upto two days before you have the darshan. I was told that most private operators would not guarantee a darshan within an expected time limit. So, it would be advisable to go for ITDC/KSTDC/APTDC tours. However, getting a ticket in these can be tough. Ensure that you get your bookings done 10 days in advance as they only have limited seats.
These were the places we visited. If you can put together a gang of more than two, do make a trip to Wonder La. It is a memorable experience for everyone. Bannerghatta National Park and Meenakshi temple near it are good too. Besides these, KSTDC's Hogenkal/Nandi Hills/Jog Falls tours can be tried.
Here are some relevant contacts:
- KSTDC: 22275883, 22352901-3, 22212098, 22222400 (Website not updated)
- ITDC: 22383361-2 (Hotel Grand Ashok)
- Brindaban Travels (Agent for KSTDC/ITDC) 25584529, 41123184 (Brindaban Towers, MG Road)
- KSRTC: http://www.ksrtc.org/ContactUs.asp
- Southern Travels: 22262633, 22267040
- Taxi: Contact your neighborhood travel agent for this. The rate (Rs.800) is standard throughout and there is NO extra driver-batta.
[All the views expressed in this post are personal and I am getting NO benefits from any of the above mentioned operators :)]