Skip Lonavala & Matheran : 5 Budget-Friendly Destinations That Are Not In Maharashtra

Shaili posted on 14 February

What Is It?

Most of us have been bitten by the travel bug – the aim to wander is strong within us, without putting a dent in our wallets. With the right kind of planning, you can see a lot of iconic places within the country, with cherished experiences and lifelong memories being built along the way. Check out these five budget-friendly spots for a fun time.

Hampi – For Rocks, Ruins and Intellectual Conversations

If you’re a fan of ruins and love to visit temples, palaces of an era gone by and other imposing structures, you’ve made the right choice. This majestic city in Karnataka has a lot to offer, from different terrains {barren landscape} to banana plantations, coracles, a famous World Heritage site and delicious food. There are numerous affordable hotels, cottages, eateries and even cycling tours on offer.  The best time to visit would be from December to February. Know more about it here.

If you want to explore more of Hampi than just the ruins, check this out.

Things To See: Vittala Temple, Sule Bazaar, Zenana Enclosure, Nandi Statue, Virupaksha Temple, Elephant Stables

How To Get There: Buses and trains run from Bangalore and Mysore to Hospet daily. From the Hospet bus stop/train station, one can take an auto rickshaw or a public bus to Hampi gate. The total time for a bus journey can be 7-8 hours from Bangalore.

What Will This Cost Me: If you want to fly, you’ll take a flight to Goa and then a bus to Hampi, that should cost you around INR 2,500. So, that’s INR 5,000 both ways. You could just take the bus and an auto that will come to less than INR 4,000. Your stay {at least 2 nights for 2 people} would come to around INR 12,000, INR 6,000 per person {includes stay, food and some travel}. Always carry extra cash for ATMs are not easily found there.

Gokarna – For Mesmerising Sunsets and Pristine Beaches

A beach town in Karnataka, Gokarna is surrounded by temples, beaches, stunning sunsets and azure waters. You can stay in multiple guest houses or even homestays. Apart from visiting the beaches, you can even trek across the region or indulge in some snorkelling {around INR 1,500 per person}.  Here’s a list of five things you should not miss while you’re there and also check out these places to stay.

Things To See: Om Beach, Gokarna beach, Kudle Beach, Mahabaleshwara Temple, Mahaganapati Temple, Paradise Beach, Half Moon Bay

How To Get There: There are buses that start from Mumbai. Many express trains stop at Gokarna Road station, 9km from town. There are other options from Ankola, 26km away.

What Will This Cost Me: If you take the flight to Goa and then take the Matsyagandha Express train from Goa to Gokarna, it’ll cost you around INR 1,800 per person. Mumbai to Gokarna by train is around 9 1/2 hours and costs INR 450.  Keep in mind that this is one way. Your accommodation cost would be approximately INR 6,000 per head {stay, food and local transport} for two days, so you’d spend around INR 8,250 per head. Again, don’t forget to carry extra cash.

Daman – For The Perfect Beach Life

On the northern edge of Maharashtra is this little town on the Arabian Sea, full of Portuguese history and natural beauty. There are churches to be seen, lakes to be sat at, forts to be conquered and of course, with the sea by your side, it’s the perfect spot to unwind. The best part, it’s pretty close to Mumbai, so you can travel easily, and there are a number of budget hotels for you to explore.

Daman is still unexplored and that makes it an unspoiled, peaceful place to visit. Alcohol and food are really cheap, so you can totally pamper your taste buds.

Things To See: Nani Daman Fort, Jain Temple, Moti Daman Temple, Jampore Beach, Church of Bom Jesus, Devka Beach

How To Get There: Daman is well connected to other major cities of the country via regular buses. If you’re planning to take the flight, the nearest airport is Surat.

What Will This Cost Me: You need to take a bus from Mumbai to Vapi that starts at INR 950 one way i.e. INR 1900 for a round trip. From Vapi, there are bus and taxi services  available from Vapi to Daman. A day trip including sightseeing will cost INR 2,554 per day. If you do plan on staying the night, then a good hotel with clean toilets and a breakfast buffet will cost INR 2,660. So your total would  cost you INR 7,114 for an overnight trip

Bandhavgarh National Park – For Your Very Own Wildlife Adventure

Spread over 1530 sq. km, the Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger. It is divided into three zones – Tala, Magadhi and Khatauli, and the chances of spotting the big cat are highest in this park. Tala, with its abundant water bodies and bountiful flora and fauna is the most picturesque zone out of the three. Magadhi is better known for the birds that it houses. There are also more than 40 rarely seen leopards and more commonly sighted animals such as deer, wild boar and langurs. Check this out for more deets.

Things To See: Safari through the National Park {morning safaris begin at 7AM and afternoon ones begin at 3PM}.

How To Get There: If you take a flight, the nearest airports are Khajuraho and Jabalpur. You can also take a train from Mumbai {Mahanagri Express / Lokmanya Tilak Patna Express}.

What Will This Cost Me: A return ticket from Mumbai to Nagpur will cost you approximately INR 5,500.  While Jabalpur is the closest airport to Bandavgarh, cost of a return ticket comes to INR 13,000. If you’re willing to shell out that much, then the wildlife sanctuary is two hours away from the airport, while it is a nine-hour long drive from Nagpur.  A taxi from Nagpur will cost you INR 8,000 (approx), while it would cost you INR 3,100 one way from Jabalpur to the airport. Staying at a good and economical resort will cost you INR 4,500 (approx). So the entire cost would be anything around INR 24,000  for three days if you take the Nagpur or the Jabalpur route, so it entirely depends on whether you want to spend more time in a vehicle and absorb your surroundings.

Karwar Beach – For A Blinding Blue Sea And Solitude

Karwar beach in Karnataka is lesser known than its more popular cousin, Gokarna. So, you’ll find clear sands and water, since it’s unspoiled. If you travel to the interiors, you’ll also be able to tour wildlife sanctuaries nearby. Bedding is pretty reasonable – you’ll find a good mix of cottages and hotels that offer rooms from INR 1,000 per night and for food you can stick to South Indian vegetarian staples or try their eclectic seafood.

Things To See: Binaga Beach, Devbagh Beach, Kali Bridge, Karwar Beach, Kurumgad Island, Oyster Rock Lighthouse, Tilmatti Beach

How To Get There: If you’re driving down, it’ll be a 9-hour journey. Take a train from Mumbai’s CST station directly or take a Mumbai-Goa bus and then take a Goa-Karwar bus {17 hours in total}.

What Will This Cost Me: There are several trains originating from Mumbai or passing through the city, and it’s a no-brainer on which one you should choose, really. It all depends on the availaibility of tickets and your luck browsing However, the cost of a ticket is INR 1,600 for a two-tier AC compartment. The journey takes 10 hours, so ideally you should take the Mangalore Express that starts at Mumbai CST at 22.02 and reaches Karwar at 8.10. You’d probably spend around INR 4,000 – INR 5,000 for a decent place to live in, with around INR 2,000 for local transport for 2-3 days. A taxi service in Karwar costs INR 14 per kilometre, so it’s entirely up to you on how much you want to see.

Tourist Attractions

Karwar Beach, Karnataka

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