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Bengaluru is a city that combines the promise of what India might become with all the challenges of the country’s present-day creaking infrastructure and its hurried expansion. Needless to say, it’s a great city to live and work in with plenty of cultural events and nightlife to keep residents entertained, but sometimes one needs a weekend break from Bengaluru.
As the metropolis is landlocked in India’s southern region, expats may feel their well-deserved escape will necessitate a flight; however, travel to the airport and delays will often inevitably be just as long as a comfortable drive to Chikmagalur or Wayanad, two prime places to unwind. Alternatively, for those expats keen for a bit of sun, sand and sea, Pondicherry offers a great seaside diversion for overworked city dwellers (and reduced taxes on alcohol).
Regardless of where one ends up though, it's important that when planning a weekend drive away from Bengaluru, expats make sure to hire a driver who knows the roads or commission a regular driver they are familiar with. We'd also recommend hiring a comfortable car, packing plenty of bottled water and negotiating the cost of the driver’s needs (accommodation and meals) beforehand.
Recommended weekend breaks from Bengaluru
The closest city for a weekend trip out of Bengaluru is Mysore, which is about 100 miles (160km) away and holds a reputation for being one of the cleanest cities in India.
Expats will definitely want to consider a weekend break in September and October during the Dasara festival when the magnificent palace is completely enshrouded in almost 100,000 fairy lights. Also, the local flower market is beautiful and smells divine, and it is possible to visit factories producing Mysore silks.
Known for its coffee, Chikmagalur is a hill station less than 160 miles (255km) from Bengaluru. The lovely scenery and low temperatures that come with a visit to this part of the Mullayanagiri Range provide instant relaxation. Popular as a summer destination, expats may nevertheless find it an ideal escape at any time of the year.
Embark on jungle hikes to see incredible waterfalls or take a visit to some of the local temples. If truly wishing to unwind and give the mind a break, stay at one of the nearby spas and take in the serenity and luxury that can only be found in India.
Wayanad, just 180 miles (290km) to the southwest of Bengaluru, will really take expats out of the hustle and bustle of Bengaluru. Rural life, centred on agriculture and framed by mountains and rivers, provides a real retreat.
The Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is home to tigers, panthers, snakes, lizards and monkeys. Expats can spend time spotting elephants in the distance. Get close-up views of these animals by hiring a guide. Expats will also see amazing birds and plants. However one chooses to explore the area, they are sure to catch a glimpse of the India that Rudyard Kipling saw before writing The Jungle Book.
Those yearning for a visit to the sea should give Pondicherry a go. The city is a former French enclave, and there are still many French passport holders living there today. Beaches, shopping and nightlife are the key opportunities for entertainment, and Pondicherry is popular with expats as it summons the kind of nostalgia reminiscent of summer weekends by the sea.