If you have a long festival weekend and wish to combine your festivities with an interesting trip, then head to the historical city of Bagalkot. Situated at a distance of 476 km from Bangalore, Bagalkot gained historical prominence mainly due to its Chalukyan roots.
As the town was ruled by a host of rulers like the Peshwas, Hyder Ali of Mysore, the Marathas, and the Vijayanagar Kings from time to time, it boasts of rich multicultural society.
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Bagalkot is also famous for Holi Habba, which has been celebrated on a large scale since the ancient times by its rulers to promote religious harmony and equality among their subjects. It used to be a 6-day celebration earlier, but has been now brought down to 4 days for safety reasons.
The grand scale of Holi celebrations here is comparable to the Durga Pooja of Bengal or Onam of Kerala which is celebrated with equal fervor by people of all beliefs.
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Starting point: Bangalore
Destination: Bagalkot District
No of days: 3 Days
Best time to visit: October to February, March for Holi.
Things you will need: Carry a good camera, mobile and camera chargers, power banks andtorch lights if you happen to land up at evening time to explore the destinations, and some cash with loose change to help you pay at small eateries and toll gates. Also carry clothes which you wouldn't mind leaving behind after indulging in some Holi festivities.
By Air: There are no regular flights to Bagalkot. Nearest airport is Hubballi Airport, which is approximately 109 km away.
By Rail: There are five long distance trains from Yeshwanthpur, Bangalore, to Bagalkot. Check the railways website for current timings.
By Road: There are many government and private buses that ply from Bangalore to Bagalkot. Alternately, you can also take a bus to Hubballi and take another bus to Bagalkot.
However, a personal vehicle is always a better option for a road trip as halting at intermediary destinations becomes feasible. There are three routes available for a road trip, as follows:
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Route 1: Bangalore - Tumakuru - Sira - Hiriyur - Hospet - Ilkal - Bagalkot, which takes approx 7.50 hours and 476 km via NH48 & NH50.
Route 2: Bangalore - Tumakuru - Hiriyur - Davangere - Ranebennuru - Haveri - Hubballi - Bagalkot, takes approx 8.7 hours and 529 km and via NH48.
Route 3: Bangalore - Penukonda - Dharmavaram - Anantapur - Ballari - Hospet - Ilkal - Bagalkot, takes approx 9 hours and 529 km via BLR-HYD highway/Srinagar-Kanyakumari highway.
Opt for Route 1 as it is shorter than other two routes by 53 km. Since it is a weekend trip with time to spare, you can stop on the way to check out other destinations of historical importance.
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Start your trip early in the morning with some light snacks so you can reach Tumakuru within an hour for breakfast, thereby avoiding the weekend traffic woes. After a hearty breakfast, resume your journey and continue for another 4.5 to 5 hours to reach Hospet just in time for lunch. Stretch and resume your journey so you reach Bagalkot 2.5 hours flat!
Upon reaching Bagalkot and checking in, it'll be late evening, so head to the nearest town on Bilgi which is just a 45 min drive from Bagalkot town. Visit the Aretthina Bhavi - the beautiful stone well, Siddeshwara temple and Hazrath Hassan Dargah, before returning to your place of stay in time for dinner and sleep.
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Start your day early so you can join the local people in Holi celebrations. After washing off the colours and scrumptious breakfast, head to Aihole, about an hour's drive from Bagalkot town. Situated on the banks of the Malaprabha river, Aihole is home to nearly 125 temples of the Chalukyan Dynasty.
From here, head to Pattadakal, the UNESCO World Heritage site. Renowned for the group of the 8th century CE monuments, Pattadakal is also home to Virupaksha temple built by Queen Lokamahadevi, one of the most beautiful temples in the South Indian style and almost a replica of the Kailasanatha temple of Kanchi.
Post lunch at Pattadakal, drive down for half an hour to reach the famous Badami, famous for rock cut cave temples. The four cave temples stand for the secular nature of the rulers then, with Cave 1 is devoted to Shiva, and Caves 2 and 3 dedicated to Vishnu, and Cave 4 dedicated to Jain Tirthankaras. After exploring the caves, drive back to Bagalkot for dinner and call it a day.
Start your final day of trip with Holi celebrations, sweets and breakfast. Soak in to the festivities of the town of Bagalkot before checking out and leaving the city, and head directly to Kudala Sangama. Watch the famous rivers Krishna and Ghataprabha merge here and flow towards Srishaila of Andhra Pradesh.
Visit the Aikya Mantapa of Basavanna, the philosopher and a social reformer along with Linga, which is believed to be self-born. Thereafter, drive to Ilkal, famous for variety of red granite. But more popularly, Ilkal is famous for its hand-woven sarees known as Ilkal sarees. Shop for these sarees to your heart's content before you head back to Bangalore.
This historical and festive trip along with the treasure of Ilkal sarees is sure to make your Holi celebrations a memorable one!