Blackbuck Reserves And Submerged Churches: Offbeat Picnic Spots Around Bangalore

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On weekends, exploring the outskirts of Bangalore has become a favourite pastime with us. However, places like Shivanasamudra, Big Banyan Tree, and Bheemeshwari, while lovely, probably evoke a ‘been here, done that’ feeling. Since these places are high on the popularity charts, they also tend to be crowded, making a quiet picnic impossible. So, what do you do? Well, we have gone peeking around nooks and crannies and have put together a list of picnic spots that are yet to be flooded with visitors. If the weather permits, you can discover some really unique spots with this list, we promise you!

Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve

Bordering a tiny village called Maidanahalli, in Tumkur district, the Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve is one of only two reserves dedicated to the antelope in Karnataka. Spread across 789 acres, the sanctuary doesn’t have too many facilities on offer. However, since it is less frequented, you can occupy the lone watchtower in the area or hang around in the grasslands to catch sight of the elegant beast. This is also an excellent spot for bird watchers. Hire out the forest department’s lodge for the day and spread out your picnic blanket there (do carry your own food since there are no restaurants here). Or if you want to pack in more sights, head over to the nearby Madhugiri Fort. Just don’t tell Salman Khan (or his driver) where you are heading to though.

Distance from Bangalore: 125 kms (approx.)

Driving Time: 3 hours 15 minutes (approx.)

Panchapalli Dam

Making its way through green hills, Panchapalli Dam is a favourite with bikers. A short drive from Hosur, the dam makes for a quiet space where you can spend some time by the calm waters. While you can’t bring out your picnic basket here, there are plenty of open, green fields on the way. There are also some rather curious roadside temples on the way and there were statues of policemen guards and the idols. If you want to stick to more conventional architecture, drive through the hills around to reach Bettaraya Swamy Temple where you can encounter a temple that’s over 500 years old.

Distance from Bangalore: 85 kms (approx.)

Driving Time: 2 hours 40 minutes (approx.)

Kanva Reservoir

Around 10kms from the town of Ramanagaram, the Kanva Reservoir is set amidst greenery. While it still gets a sizeable number of visitors, it definitely is less crowded than other picnic spots. The best time to visit is during the monsoons when the water levels are high. If you are an avid birder, do carry your binoculars so that you can spot gorgeous, winged creatures here. The nearby Purushotthama Thirtha Gavi, a cave temple, is also a spot of interest.

Distance from Bangalore: 63 kms (approx.)

Driving Time: 1 hour 40 minutes (approx.)


Once a popular destination with the British, Thally (or Thalli) in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri is known for its cool climate. And that’s why it was called ‘Little England’ by the colonisers. While there aren’t many touristy spots here, you can drive through the small town and discover its beauty. The hillocks in the town make for excellent hiking. The half-destroyed Denkanikottai Fort that was built in 16th century is also worth exploring.

Distance from Bangalore: 54 kms (approx.)

Driving Time: 1 hour (approx.)


Krishnagiri Wodeyar IV and Diwan M Vishveshwariah teamed up to build India’s first dam with the siphon system. Unlike other dams, here the gates are always kept open but water only flows through when they reach the height of the siphons. If you swing by on a day where the water levels are low, you can even explore the inner workings of the dam. Once you are done here, visit other attractions in the area like the Pavagada Fort or the temple at Aralaguppe (said to be one of the oldest in the State).

Distance from Bangalore: 97 kms (approx.)

Driving Time: 2 hours 20 minutes (approx.)


By the bank of the River Pennar, Gandikota (in Andhra Pradesh) is steeped in history. It was founded way back in 1123 A.D. and has held a prominent place in the kingdoms of the Kakatiyas and Vijayanagar Empire. Here, you can stop by the Raganatha Swamy Temple and gaze at its intricate carvings. There is also an elegant Jamia Masjid and an ancient granary. The enormous Gandikota Fort is also a must-visit. Wind up your trip with a stopover at the Penna Gorge. Known as India’s very own Grand Canyon, the deep, brick-red gorges that tower over River Penna makes for an arresting sight. Do ensure that you leave early in the morning to make the most of your trip. 

Distance from Bangalore: 275 kms (approx.)

Driving Time: 5 hours 45 minutes (approx.)


Located in Chikkaballapur district, Gudibanda is close to the Avalabetta (a scenic, hilly spot). The highlight is a 400-year-old fort that was built by the chieftain, Byre Gowda. It’s a smaller version of the Madhugiri Fort and is made of seven levels. You can spend the day sneaking through the tiny openings in the fort to reach the top, where you will encounter a Shiva Temple. The view of the surrounding hills and the Byra Sagara Reservoir is worth the climb, we assure you.

Distance from Bangalore: 93 kms (approx.)

Driving Time: 2 hours 10 minutes (approx.)

Shettihalli Church

On the way to Hassan, just outside the town of Shettihalli, the abandoned Rosary Church is fast becoming a popular tourist spot with Bangaloreans. A stunning Gothic structure, the Church was built by the French in the 1860s. But when the Hemavathi Reservoir was built in the 60s, the waters came flooding in and the church was left abandoned. What remains is a haunting structure that’s perfect for a picnic. Many insist that Shettihalli needs to be visited at least twice. Once, during the monsoons, when the church is submerged and also when the waters have receded and you can explore the skeletal structure.

Distance from Bangalore: 200 kms (approx.)

Driving Time: 4 hours (approx.)

Chunchunkatte Falls

Close to Mysore, the gushing waters of Chunchunkatte make for an awe-inspiring sight. Legend has it that Rama and his wife Sita stayed here during their exile. And that Sita took a dip here which is why the waters sport a yellowish tinge (from the turmeric on her body). While you can’t enjoy a dip here (especially during monsoons), you can definitely soak in the sights and sounds of the place. This is a great spot for bird watching, by the way.

Distance from Bangalore: 193 kms (approx.)

Driving Time: 4 hours (approx.)


Also known as Manne, Manyapura was once the capital of the Gangas. It is today a small village with many forgotten treasures that are waiting to be rediscovered. You can amble along the muddy alleys of the hamlet on the lookout for crumbling temples with intricate carvings, stones with ancient inscriptions, and mantaps from a bygone era. Do carry your own food and water here since you are unlikely to find a restaurant.

Distance from Bangalore: 58 kms (approx.)

Driving Time: 1 hour (approx.)


Navya considers herself to be the Cassandra of the 21st century – no one ever listens to the wisdom that she so willingly imparts. This is the only Greek tragedy element in her otherwise happy life. She’s got her Husband Charming, has perfected the art of sarcasm, is always fed copious amounts of good food, and is well on her way to self-actualization.