This cycling adventure through southwest India will take you from abundant forests to spice plantations, from sophisticated temples to beaches and backwater canals. The region's jungles and waterways, colorful towns and fishing villages, beaches and delicious cuisine will all be explored as you pedal the rural roads of Karnataka and Kerala.

Highlights

  • Cycle under the palm trees along South India's rural roads
  • Ride among tea estates to the famous hill station of Ooty
  • Visit fascinating Hindu temples
  • Cruise through Kerala's backwaters on a houseboat
  • Relax in the laid-back beach resort of Varkala

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Travel from Bangalore to Mysore Mysore
Day 2 See the Srirangapatna Ruins and Chamundi Hill Mysore
Day 3 Travel from Mysore to Bandipur National Park Bandipur National Park
Day 4 Head from Bandipur National Park to Mudumalai National Park Mudumalai National Park
Day 5 Go from Mudumalai National Park to Ooty Hill Station Ooty
Day 6 Head from Ooty to Guruvayur Guruvayur
Day 7 Explore Guruvayur Guruvayur
Day 8 Cycle from Guruvayur to Cochin Cochin
Day 9 Explore Cochin Cochin
Day 10 Pedal from Cochin to Alleppey Alleppey
Day 11 Visit Alleppey Alleppey
Day 12 Pedal from Alleppey to Varkala Varkala
Day 13 Relax in Varkala Varkala
Day 14 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Travel from Bangalore to Mysore

Mysore cathedral
Mysore Cathedral

Arrive at the airport in Bangalore and head straight to Mysore, about three and a half hours away. In the afternoon, visit the central bazaar and the 19th-century Ambavilas Palace (Maharaja's Palace). Relax in the city for the evening, and get ready for your two-week bicycling adventure! 

Day 2: See the Srirangapatna Ruins and Chamundi Hill

Mysore Palace
Mysore Palace

In the morning, ride north to Srirangapatna, towards the ruins of Great Emperor Tipu Sultan’s capital. It was largely destroyed by British forces in 1799, and the ruins stand on an island in the middle of the Cauvery River. Once over the bridge, you can cycle around the old ramparts to visit Colonel Bailey's Dungeon and Ranganatha Swamy Temple. Also on the island is the impressive Jama Masjid mosque, and Dariya Daulat Bagh, which was once Tipu Sultan’s summer palace.

Ride back to Mysore for lunch. Then, in the afternoon, cycle up Chamundi Hill to see the statue of Shiva’s bull, Nandi, carved from a single block of granite. Spend the night in Mysore. 

Cycling distance: 25 miles

Day 3: Cycle from Mysore to Bandipur National Park

Srikanteshwara Temple
Srikanteshwara Temple

After breakfast, ride south on country roads to Srikanteshwara Temple, which is dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva. Stop for lunch, then head to the forested foothills of the Western Ghats. Once the hunting preserve of Mysore’s maharajas, they're now a tiger reserve and part of Bandipur National Park. In the late afternoon, take an open-bus safari through the area.

Cycling distance: 56 miles

Day 4: Head from Bandipur National Park to Mudumalai National Park

Deer in India
Deer in India

It's up to you what you'd like to do this morning. Maybe you'd like to join a safari in an open bus to see gaur (Indian bison) and wild elephants? Or you could spend the few hours after breakfast relaxing before cycling south, spotting deer and monkeys along the way, as you head to Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu. In the afternoon, relax, and maybe explore the Nilgiri Hills and Mudumalai jungles that surround your accommodation.

Cycling distance: 20.5 miles

Day 5: Go from Mudumalai National Park to Ooty Hill Station

Ooty tea plantations
Ooty tea plantations

Today's ride to the hill station of Ootacamund (7,350 feet above sea level), commonly known as Ooty, is one to remember. Thirty-six hairpin turns, with amazing views at every bend, is what you'll experience as you cycle. Known as the "Queen of the Hill Stations," Ooty sits in the Nilgiri Hills and is stunningly beautiful. In the afternoon, explore the town and sample cardamom tea before heading to your accommodation for the night. 

Cycling distance: 15.5 miles

Day 6: Head from Ooty to Guruvayur

Indian fruit market
An Indian fruit market

Your ride today takes you through the tea plantations of the Nilgiri Hills. The views will be stunning as you cycle from the Western Ghats to Gudalur, which sits at the junction of the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala. Stock up on fresh fruit before continuing your descent to a roadside restaurant in Kerala. Transfer to Guruvayur, about three and a half hours away, to spend the night.

Cycling distance: 53 miles

Day 7: Explore Guruvayur

Traditional Indian spice market
Traditional Indian spice market

In the morning, ride out to the Indian coast at Chavakkad Beach, where colorful fishing boats haul their catch directly onto the sand. Pedal quiet roads to the peaceful Thrissur region and its beautiful villages.  In the evening, see the ceremonial elephants of Sri Krishna Temple in Guruvayur. At the nightly prayer service, the place comes alive with the scent of burning incense.

Cycling distance: 34 miles

Day 8: Cycle from Guruvayur to Cochin

Cochin fishing nets
Cochin fishing nets

Following breakfast, cycle a coastal road southwards through groves of mango, coconut, and palm trees. Have a quick dip in the sea before a Keralan lunch of fresh seafood. Then cycle to the local port to catch a ferry to the historic city of Cochin to spend the night. 

Cycling distance: 53 miles

Day 9: Explore Cochin

Kathakali theater performance
Kathakali theater performance

Start the day at Fort Cochin, which was colonized by the Portuguese in 1503, and discover the local delicacies on offer at the nearby food stalls. After lunch, tour Mattancherry Palace, which was built as a gift to the Raja of Kochi by the Portuguese. Check out the city's 16th-century synagogue and the famous St. Francis Church. In the evening, go to a Kathakali performance — it's a form of traditional dancing that's unique to this state. 

Day 10: Pedal from Cochin to Alleppey

Cyclist near Alleppey
A cyclist near Alleppey

Pedal along the skinny strip of land between the Laccadive Sea and Kerala's gorgeous backwaters, stopping in at little fishing villages along the way. Have lunch in Cherthala, which is known for its large Christian church, then continue the journey along the old coastal road to Alleppey. Here, explore a traditional Keralan house that looks out to Vembanad Lake before turning in for the night back in Alleppey town.  

Cycling distance: 37 miles

Day 11: Explore Alleppey

Backwater houseboat
A houseboat in South India

Following breakfast, explore Alleppey and Kerala's famous backwaters by bike or on foot. Around midday, board a fabulous backwater houseboat for a peaceful trip among the palm trees to Kollam

Day 12: Pedal from Alleppey to Varkala

Varkala beach
Varkala Beach

Have breakfast on the houseboat as it travels toward your disembarkation point and the final leg of your cycling journey. From there, you'll follow the coastal road south to Valaazhikal, where you'll cross the river on a local fishing boat. There'll be time to pop into Amma's Ashram before taking the main road to Quillon. Stop for lunch in the city of Kollam before following quiet roads to the chilled-out beach town of Varkala, where yoga schools and great coffee shops abound. Spend the night in Varkala. 

Cycling distance: 54.5 miles

Day 13: Explore Varkala

Varkala beach
Varkala Beach

Spend an entire day relaxing in this laid-back beach town, where the sea is backed by red cliffs and the market stalls are home to every souvenir you could ever want. Fill up on all the seafood and local dishes you can at the restaurants that line the waterfront before bedding down for the night. 

Day 14: Departure

Old and new in India
India

Goodbye, India! Finish any last-minute explorations of Varkala before heading to Trivandrum's airport, at the very south of Kerala, for the next leg of your trip. 

Map

Map of Cycling Karnataka and Kerala — 14 Days
Map of Cycling Karnataka and Kerala — 14 Days