For those of us afflicted by eternal wanderlust and limited pockets, travel can pose a dilemma. There are so many magical places waiting to be discovered, but the bank balance just won’t relent. But that can now be a thing of the past. Until your wallet sufficiently fattens up to support your jet-setting across the world dreams, there are many budget road trips you can take in the southern part of India.

Chikmagalur

The last few years has seen Chikmagalur emerge as a must-visit holiday destination in the region, and rightfully so. The excellent weather, the mountains awash with greenery, and the endless coffee estates present you with a wonderful opportunity to relax and unwind. For a budget stay, you can pick from the many homestays that dot the picturesque town. Many of them even include meals in their packages, so that’s an added bonus.

Distance From Bangalore: 243 kms {approx.}

Driving Time: 4 hours 35 minutes {approx.}

Mysore

for budget road trip travel try musore

Image courtesy: Ramnath Bhat

A tour of a royal city on a shoestring budget? Yes, it is possible. A short drive from Bangalore, Mysore is perfect if your love history. You can spend the day gawking at the ornate Mysore Palace, the Gothic architecture of the Philomena Church, or touring the expansive Mysore Zoo. At night, you can settle into your humble quarters {many hotels offer tariffs as low as INR 1,000 per night, and can be found at the centre of the city}. For food, you can dig into crispy, golden-hued masala dosas at iconic places like Vinayaka Mylari.

Distance From Bangalore: 146 kms {approx.}

Driving Time: 3 hours 15 minutes {approx.}

Wayanad

Bordering Karnataka, Wayanad’s verdant setting makes for an ideal weekend getaway. For your budget trip, we recommend that you skip the many new fancy resorts, and check-in at a comfortable homestay. While many of them have home-cooked meals, don’t worry if the place only offers you accommodation. After all, this is Kerala. A kallu shop {where you can get fresh toddy and beef fry among other things} is always close-by.

When it comes to sightseeing, Wayanad is blessed with forests, mountains, and waterfalls where entry fees don’t apply. The only place where you will have to shell out a fee is at the Wayanad National Park {INR 160 per head for a safari}.

Distance From Bangalore: 280 kms {approx.}

Driving Time: 6 hours 15 minutes {approx.}

Badami

for budget road trip travel try badami

Image courtesy: Wikipedia

A long time ago, this historical place was the capital of the Badami Chalukyas, which has, over the years, transformed into a dusty, modern town that has managed to cling on to its rich history. You can amble along old-world streets to take in the beauty of the rustic houses {some of them have beautifully carved doorways and pillars that are worth an Instagram post or two}.

And of course, there are the Badami caves and the brick-coloured, 5th century Bhutanath Temples that line the Agasythya Tank. Badami is yet to be overcrowded by tourists, so you can expect well-priced hotels and restaurants during your holiday here.

Distance From Bangalore: 456 kms {approx.}

Driving Time: 8 hours 10 minutes {approx.}

Kudremukh

Part of the Chikmagalur district, Kudremukh is a mining town and also a hilly retreat. The Western Ghats in Kudremukh are the main attraction, and travellers come by to explore the wilderness and the wildlife by embarking on lengthy, picturesque treks. You can park yourself at modest hotels here, but if you are looking for something even more basic, book a room at one of the cottages run by the State’s tourism department. Kudremukh has small restaurants and stalls where you can fuel up for as little as a few hundred rupees.

Distance From Bangalore: 331 kms {approx.}

Driving Time: 6 hours 30  minutes {approx.}

Karwar

for budget road trip travel try karwar

Image courtesy: Sankara Subramanian

Less touristy than Gokarna {and therefore less expensive}, Karwar boasts of unspoiled beaches, a few historic sites and {if your travel to the interiors} wildlife sanctuaries and mountains. You’ll find a good mix of cottages and hotels that offer rooms from INR 1000 per night here. For food, you can stick to South Indian vegetarian staples, or if you have a bit of wiggle room left after that, you can also dig into some of their famous seafood.

Distance From Bangalore: 522 kms {approx.}

Driving Time: 8 hours {approx.}

Horsley Hills

Not as crowded as the rest of the hill stations around, Horsley Hills makes for a perfect holiday. The place enjoys pleasant climate throughout the year, so you can drop by any time and discover the beauty of its forest-covered, seemingly endless hills.

You can also stop by the Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to wild dogs, bears, sambars, and panthers. As for the stay, Andhra Pradesh Tourism runs a few accommodations worth checking out here.

Distance From Bangalore: 144 kms {approx.}

Driving Time: 3 hours 30 minutes {approx.}

Ooty

for budget road trip travel try ooty

Image courtesy: Adam Jones

Since the Britishers first came here, Ooty has always been a tourist town. For a budget trip, we suggest you skip visiting during peak tourist season {i.e. summers} and come by during the monsoons when it is still beautiful. Winters are an option, too, but you may have to skip all the scenic spots, since many of them will be shrouded in mist.

Plan your holiday in advance and pick a budget hotel {if you look carefully, you can get something for INR 1,800 per night}. And, of course, hike everywhere. It is the best way to explore the hill station’s lakes, blossoming gardens, age-old churches, and surrounding hills.

Distance From Bangalore: 270 kms {approx.}

Driving Time: 6 hours 15 minutes {approx.}

Kozhikode

Also known as Calicut, Kozhikode is a great base to travel across the Malabar Coast. Once a thriving port that saw travellers from faraway lands to trade in spices, Kozhikode has been endowed with a rich history that is worth exploring. Apart from the beaches, you can also visit the Pazhassiraja Museum, the Mananchira Square {that surrounds the palace tank built by the King Vikrama, the last Zamorian ruler}, and also the place where Vasco Da Gama first set foot in India. Kozhikode is now a bustling city, so you will find a range of hotels and restaurants that suit your shoe-string budget perfectly.

Distance From Bangalore: 357 kms {approx.}

Driving Time: 8 hours {approx.}

Featured image courtesy: Kevin Thomas