Karnataka: Luxury Travel Experiences

Most of International outbound travellers in India are stuck at home, not able to continue to explore and discover the world due to COVID-19 global travel lockdowns, restrictions, border closures, quarantine measures and most importantly an possible threat of another lock-down with risk of getting stuck in a foreign country.

Back at home in India, we have hidden gems which not only offer similar Luxuries (like overseas destinations), in terms of Hotels, services and safety, but also immersive experiences, which in most part exceed expectations in terms of authenticity and deeper engagements with our people, culture, nature and places in India.

Below I present Karnataka with Evolve Back Resorts, which offers engaging, responsible and authentic local experiences and stay at it’s amazingly unique and luxurious resorts in Karnataka at Coorg, Kabini & also in the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hampi.

The Evolve Back Experience enshrines a simple philosophy: ‘Provide exquisite holiday experiences while preserving the purity of nature and culture of the land.’ The philosophy is showcased in each of their resorts in all aspects from its architecture, experiences, food, etc.

This philosophy is captured in their tagline: Spirit of the land i.e. they strive to showcase the true spirit of the destinations where we are located.

Evolve Back’s business model is built around the concept of ‘Responsible Tourism’. Their endeavor is to maintain a fine balance between a successful business, a great experiential holiday for it’s customers and a proud and prosperous local community, while
employing the best in environmental and ecological practices in technology, equipment and operational processes.

Before I proceed with what to expect from EVOLVE Resorts in terms of accommodation, service, and experiences. I would like to draft a suggestive itinerary, for your convenience and to understand the travel logistics.

ITINERARY & ROUTE:

My recommended routing would be as follows:

  • Fly from Hyderabad (or any other city in India) to Mysore Airport and then Drive 2.5 hrs to Evolve Back Chikkana Halli Estate, Coorg. Stay in Coorg for 3 Nights.
  • Drive 2.5 hrs from Evolve Coorg to Evolve Back Kuruba Safari Lodge, Kabini. Stay in Kabini for 3 Nights.
  • Drive 2 hrs from Evolve Kabini to Mysore Airport and then Fly to Hampi (Vidyanagar) Airport. Then it is a 45 minutes Drive to Evolve Back Kamalapura Palace, Hampi. Stay in Hampi for 4 Nights.

NOTE: Currently no flight operations from Mysore airport to Hampi (Vidyanagar) Airport due to COVID restrictions on flights, which is expected to change in the next few months once the ministry allows full 100% operations on all routes.

In current scenario, you will either drive back to Bangalore (long 5.5 hrs duration) from Evolve Kabini and then fly from Bangalore to Hampi (Vidyanagar) Airport. Alternatively you can take a helicopter transfer (1hr 10 mins) from Evolve Kabini to Bangalore airport.

Another option, which will be most direct nd comfortable will be to take a private charter jet from Mysore airport to Hampi (Vidyanagar) airport.

  • On your return you drive back 45 mins from Evolve Hampi to Hampi (Vidyanagar) Airport and then Fly to your home city in India.

Helicopter Transfers:

In case you prefer not to drive between airports and cities, I can also suggest helicopter transfers for entire route starting from Mysore Airport – Coorg – Kabini – back to Mysore Airport or Bangalore Airport, as the case may be.

At Coorg, the helicopter can land in a place called Gonikoppal (18 kms-30 minutes from our property) & in Kabini – the helicopter can land right next to our property.

The helicopter transfers are provided by a local operator Thumpy Aviation as the most reliable in that sector.

Airstrip/Helipad locations;

– At Coorg, the helicopter can takeoff/land in a place called Gonikoppal (18 kms-30 minutes from Evolve property).
– At Hampi, the helicopter can takeoff/land Hampi University grounds (2 kms – 10 minutes from Evolve property).
– At Hampi, the nearest airstrip for Private Jet is Vidyanagar (29 kms – 45 minutes from property)
– At Coorg, the nearest airstrip for Private Jet is Mysore (120 kms – 2.5 hours from property)

Coorg


Coorg, officially known as Kodagu, in Karnataka, is well-known for its breathtaking scenery and lush greenery. Forest covered hills, spice and coffee plantations only add to the landscape. Madikeri is the district headquaters of Coorg.

Evolve Back Chikkana Halli Estate, Coorg
Coffee, Spice & Plantation Life


Bordered by the legendary river Cauvery, and surrounded by virginal forests, Evolve Back Chikkana Halli Estate Coorg, is situated amidst a 300-acre working plantation. Nestled in the coffee and spice-scented hills of Coorg, the resort gives you the most luxurious introduction to Plantation Life and a cultural glimpse into the charming Kodava people of this region.

VILLAS:

Stay in elegantly luxurious ‘Lily Pool’ series of Villas and Kodava styled Heritage Pool Villas spread out in delightful clusters around this working coffee and spice plantation.

While the ‘Lily Pool’ series of Villas offer you a glimpse into the privileged life of the gentleman planter, the Heritage Pool villas are inspired by ethnic Kodava architecture and offer the ultimate in luxurious seclusion.

My Favorite is Heritage Pool Villa (4400 Sq. Ft.): They are spaciously designed with a separate living room and bedroom, a courtyard and your very own personal swimming pool. Affording a pool view are two lovely sit-outs, complete with planters’ chairs to laze on with a book and drink in hand.

Facilities & Services:

  • 3 Restaurants (Granary – the Multi-cuisine restaurant, Plantain Leaf –
    the Vegetarian restaurant and Peppercorn – the Barbeque restaurant)
  • 2 Swimming Pools – the Infinity Pool for persons above 18 and the Family Pool
  • Reading Lounge (Library + Coffee Lounge serving our in-house brand of
    coffee)
  • Activity Centre
  • Bar | Spa | Souvenir Shop – (All Chargeable)
  • Fitness Centre

Experiences:

  • PLANTATION WALK
  • BIRD WATCHING
  • VILLAGE VISIT
  • WORKER’S TRAIL Experience Plantation Life, first hand! Here’s your chance to get into the shoes of a Plantation Worker, quite literally.
  • CORACLE RIDE Coracles are local fishing crafts that are circular and ideal for navigating these waters.
  • BYLEKUPPE TIBETAN SETTLEMENT Discover Bylakuppe, the second largest Tibetan settlement outside Tibet, complete with a Tibetan monastery with 7,000 monks.

Kabini


Kabini, situated at the cusp of the Nagarhole and Bandipur National Parks is one of the well-known wildlife destinations in India.


Famous for hosting the largest congregation of Asiatic elephants in the world, Kabini also boasts of a healthy Tiger population. It is one of the few places where Tigers, Leopards and Wild Dogs co-exist in high densities. Kabini is best reachable via Mysore.


Evolve Back Kuruba Safari Lodge, Kabini
Wildlife, the tribal way

Kabini has, for centuries, been home to a host of tribal people who lived in harmony with the wild and Evolve Back Kuruba Safari Lodge, Kabini is inspired in design by their Hadis or villages. This picturesque resort of sweeping panoramic vistas, is bordered on two sides by the Kabini River. It adds a vernacular dimension to luxury and provides you with a wildlife experience like no other.

HUTS:

The resort architecture has a tribal Kadu kuruba leitmotif, where each of the guest huts bespeaks a happy marriage of traditional craft and modern luxury.

From the outside, the dwellings subtly incorporate the colours and textures of the landscape in every detail; while within, the sumptuous interiors reflect a warm vernacular sensitivity. From the ethnic furniture to the tribal patterned furnishings, to the little touches like the ‘bottle gourd’ lamp shades, the sum of the parts is a harmonious whole.

My Favorite is Pool Reserve (3100 sqft): A charming hut that has large living and dining spaces, a lavish bedroom, an indulgent bathroom, an ozonized and temperature controlled private pool and a unique Star Bed to enjoy the cosmic glow of a clear. Kabini night sky, topped off with magical views of the river Kabini

Facilities & Services:

  • 2 Restaurants – (Honeycomb – The Multi-cuisine restaurant, Kuruba Grill –
    Grills and Kebabs)
  • 2 Swimming Pools – the Infinity Pool for persons above 18 and the Family Pool.
  • Reading Lounge (Library + Coffee Lounge serving our in-house brand of
    coffee).
  • Activity Centre
  • Bar | Spa | Souvenir Shop – (All Chargeable)
  • Fitness Centre

Experiences:

  • BOAT SAFARI
  • VEHICLE SAFARI The Nagarhole ecosystem supports the highest density of herbivores anywhere in Asia with around 108 animals per sq
  • NATURE WALK
  • NIGHT TRAILS As night descends upon the Kabini landscape a whole world of nocturnal life emerges.
  • CORACLE RIDE Guests will be taken on a traditional round shaped boat called a coracle.
  • EVENING ACTIVITIES Every alternate evening, a troupe of Kuruba tribal dancers performs their traditional dance around a campfire.

Hampi


Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was the capital city of the famous 14th Century Vijayanagara Empire. Located on the Tungabhadra river in Karnataka, Hampi is historically famous as the seat of South India’s largest, wealthiest and most powerful
empire. Its magnificent ruins, remarkable landscape and religious and mythological associations make it an outstanding destination of international significance.

Evolve Back Kamalapura Palace, Hampi
Vijayanagara, Royal Style


Evolve Back Kamalapura Palace, Hampi finds its inspiration from the architecture of the famous 14th century Vijayanagara Empire. Located in typical Hampi landscape, with stunning scrub forests and rugged boulders forming its backdrop, Evolve Back Kamalapura Palace, Hampi blends seamlessly into the past, transporting you to the bygone era of the magnificent Vijayanagara Empire.

SUITES:

The four types of suites on offer differ from each other, they are united by a common and shared theme of luxury and understated elegance that permeates the resort’s Indo – Islamic style reflecting the secular architecture of Hampi.

My favourite is Jal Mahal – Private Pool Villa – (2600 sqft): These Private Pool Villas located adjacent to the main palace, are individual villas that feature a separate living and dining area, a spacious sleeping area, a bath with a bathtub and a shower cubicle, an opento-air shower, a private pool with a jacuzzi, a romantic gazebo and courtyards.

Facilities & Services:

  • 2 Restaurants – (Tuluva – Multi-cuisine restaurant |Bahmani – Nawabi restaurant)
  • 2 Swimming Pools – the Infinity Pool for persons above 18 and the Family Pool.
  • Reading Lounge (Library + Coffee Lounge serving our in-house brand of
    coffee).
  • Activity Centre
  • Bar | Spa | Souvenir Shop – (All chargeable)
  • Fitness Centre

Experiences:

  • THE RAYA TRAIL This trail takes you back five hundred years and gives you a privileged peek at the life and times of the Rayas (Maharajas).
  • TUNGABHADRA TREK Enjoy an offbeat evening trek that takes you through giant boulders, the ruins of the Achyutaraya Temple and the famed ‘Courtesan Bazaar’.
  • VIRUPAKSHA TRAIL This trail begins with a leisurely walk up the Hemakuta hill, which opens up a treasure trove of pre-Vijayanagara temples, statues and the wondrous stories surrounding them.
  • VITTHALAPURA WALK Hampi had many suburbs or puras. They were self-sufficient settlements centered around a temple and an attached market denoting two of its core activities – worship and commerce. Explore the Vitthalapura Bazaar that leads to the famous Vijaya Vitthala temple considered by many to represent the pinnacle of temple architecture in India. This temple is renowned for its musical stone pillars and a chariot carved in stone.

How to Book:

You can book with Evolve Back Resorts preferred partner in India – Experiential Travel Journeys Pvt. Ltd., a boutique travel design company based out of New Delhi.

– Amit Kalsi, Private Travel Designer

Published by experientialtraveljourneys

A Private Travel Designer specialising in private, luxury, experiential, transformational, off-beat, off-the-grid, bespoke, tailor-made, bespoke, authentic, sustainable journeys to destinations worldwide.

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