The past three years have been a rollercoaster, to say the least, and it’s time to take a break from all that. With everything going on, it can be therapeutic to get away on your own and have an adventure. If solo travelling has not crossed your mind yet, get ready to have it change. As a solo traveller, you will discover so much about yourself that it will surprise you. To start, visualise the type of trip that will excite you. A great place to go on a solo venture is Karnataka. Besides having stunning geography, there are many waterfalls in the country, and the second highest plunge waterfall in India and many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Come to the magical Land of Gold and take back a treasure trove of magical memories that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Some of the most magnificent beaches in India are here in Gokarna. Come here to unwind and destress your mind. Snorkel, swim or simply sunbathe on the soft sands. You have countless options of beaches to choose from here. The more famous ones include Gokarna Beach, Full Moon Beach, Half Moon Beach, Om Beach, Nirvana Beach, Baada Beach. Take in the spectacular sunrise and sunsets here as you sip a cool drink and let your worries melt away.
If you prefer a more fast-paced day at the beach, you can take a bumper boat, jet ski, jump on a banana boat or set off to find dolphins off the coast. Most of the beaches have accommodations like bamboo huts that are ideal for solo travellers. Try out any of the beach shacks for the freshest seafood and local cuisine. Visit from October to March to enjoy the best weather and less crowded spots. Kudle Beach is especially secluded for those seeking peace and downtime. It is also known as a photographer’s paradise and is a must when you are here.
Pro tip: Create a routine if you are feeling lost. By going to the same place each day, you can make friends with the locals and get great suggestions that will make your trip truly special.
This next place comes highly recommended for a number of reasons. Malpe is a picturesque beachside where you will go back in time and witness a bit of history unlike anything else. From Malpe Beach, you must take a trip to St Mary’s Islands. These are a unit of four islands that have the most unique rock formations in India. These hexagonal cross-sections of cliffs are truly marvellous. Similar only to the sharp vertical formations found at the Giant Causeway in Northern Ireland and Iceland. What makes this spot magical is the contrast to the clear blue water and tall palms. In case you did not know, the Geological Survey of India has stated this area to be one of the 26 Geological Monuments of India. The basalt found on the island is a part of the rock formation that came about due to sub-volcanic activity almost 88 million years ago when this part of the land was connected to Madagascar!
When you return the Malpe Beach, there is a new sea walk that has been built that is lovely to stroll on. Take in the sea, sand and uninterrupted views of life here in Malpe. If you like, do meet the local fishermen and understand the story of this area from them. As a solo traveller, it is important to put yourself out there. You never know what you will find! Before you leave for the next adventure, do catch the traditional Yakshagana dance performance at the beach. There is a pretty open-air amphitheatre on the beach where shows take place throughout the week. The dance is based on famous Hindu mythologies of the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
While you are here, do not miss out on the well-known South Indian filter coffee. This strong mix of milk and ground coffee paste is unlike anything you would have tried before. Call it “Filer kaapi” and you will get that extra dose to get you going through the day.
Known as the Honnemardu Reservoir, this area was actually formed when the River Sharavathi was dammed. The lake has clean water and is a sight to see. For a fun activity, you can try kayaking along the coast. The water is gentle and the views are breath-taking. This area has some waterfalls that are not to be missed when travelling here. The Dabbe Falls within the Sharavathi Wildlife Sanctuary is a solo adventure waiting to happen. The legends say that Lord Rama broke his famous bow right here at Dabbe Falls. Another waterfall to check out is Burude Falls. Surrounded by forests and greenery, this isolated place is perfect for a wander and dip.
Pro Tip: Be flexible on your trip. If you feel like staying in a particular place for longer, do it! The best part about travelling alone is that you decide what you want to do and see more of based on how the day is going.
Known as the Cherrapunjee of South, Agumbe is an idyllic, one-of-a-kind village straight out of a storybook. The famous ‘Malgudi Days’ by RK Narayan was inspired by this very place! Be prepared for rain, mist and all things magical when you enter. The crisp fresh air will leave you with the need to come back again for sure.
If you have not heard of this beach, we won’t be surprised. This is one of the better-kept secrets of Karnataka. What makes this unlike anything you have seen before is the fact that there is a glittering beach on one side and a gorgeous flowing river on the other. The Souparnika River is separated only by a national highway. Take some time to pause here and soak in the natural beauty of this place before you move on.
Shettihalli Rosary Church
Also known as The Floating Church or The Submerged Church, this haunting Gothic structure is something worth coming to. Against the backdrop of a huge barren field, this church stands tall. Built in the 1800s, this catholic church had multiple architects but the one documented was a French missionary called Fr. Abbe Dubois. What makes this unique is the use of eggs and jaggery in the mortar.
Another main reason why people visit the South is for the delicious food. Any restaurant or local joint will have the following suggestions. When traveling it is a must to try the local cuisine to get a true understanding of the land and its people.
You can start your meal with the famous appetizer, Rasam. It is a tamarind spice drink. Next, you need to have the Korri Gassi. It is a curry made with chicken and it is a typical coastal preparation. It is usually enjoyed with a Neer Dosa which soaks up all the flavours to deliver an experience you definitely need. However, Mangalorean Cuisine veins with fish and that is something you cannot miss out on if you are non-vegetarian. A crispy fried fish that is super juicy on the inside and simply sublime.
If you are a vegetarian, the most popular dish called Bisi Bele Bhath should be on your list. Rice, vegetables, and daal or lentils are cooked with coconut and tamarind paste. It is a version of the ‘Indian Khichdi’.
For dessert, there are so many options that you can indulge yourself in style. Chiroti is made of maida and has cardamom sugar sprinkled on top. It is a special dish served for weddings and is a must-try.
Another important fact to note when travelling to this region of the world is to try and plan your holiday around a local festival. This will give you a great look into an experience that you will not get anywhere else. And isn’t that what travelling is all about?
The Hampi festival is widely celebrated here with traditional dance, music and culture. Try coming in October or November to be a part of this. Fold dancing, elephant processions and more. Although, the oldest festival here is called Karga. All the men dress up covered in flowers and the Karaga is carried on the head of the selected person. He cannot drop it as he walks to the temple in a procession of believers. It is entirely dedicated to Draupadi, the Shakti Devi.
No matter what type of holiday you prefer, Karnataka will surprise and delight you in the best ways. Remember an important point, travelling alone can be liberating and life changing. However, we strongly advise taking travel insurance. That will guarantee you have a great time and are protected throughout your trip. It’s time you took a chance on solo travelling and discovered a new part of yourself.
Another famous dance festival of Karnataka is the ‘Hoysala Mahotsava’ in Belur-Halebid. Kambala festival is a traditional buffalo race organised annually in Dakshin Kannada and Udipi districts of Karnataka by the farming communities. It is held between November and March. A pair of buffaloes is tied to a plough and is made to run through a field of slush, anchored by a farmer. The origin of this festival can be traced back to over 1000 years when the festival was celebrated to appease gods for a good harvest. Sights include: Ulavi Caves, Netragudo Island and Pigeon Island, Sahyadri Hills of North Karnataka, and Yana Badami-Aihole-Pattadakal.
What to do when travelling alone
Be patient. It can be difficult arriving in a new city alone. Take your time. Take a day to relax, watch the city function, and settle in. Read Tips for Solo Travel Confidence.
Explore the city at different levels. In London, it's natural to take the tube. However,
riding on the top of a double-decker bus gives you another perspective on the city.
But you still wouldn't want to miss the Tube as it's an experience unto itself. My point is, explore the city in as many ways as possible: on foot, by bicycle, via public transit. Take a taxi and talk to the driver. Rent a car and learn what it's like to park or drive on the opposite side of the road. Every mode of movement offers new perspectives.
Take in local events. Whether it's a street festival or sporting event, these are opportunities to rub shoulders with locals, offering insight into the culture and, potentially, fun conversations.
Be proactive if you’re unsure of yourself. Ask for help. Standing around looking dazed will not get you where you want to go and it may get you noticed by the wrong people. Go ahead, smile, and ask for help. It's one of the fundamentals of staying safe as you travel solo.
Eat locally! There is nothing like exploring the local cuisine. It gives you a new way into your destination's culture, history, and geography. There is always a reason, historical or geographic, for a specific cuisine that can be explored through your taste buds and your mind.
Shop where the locals shop. Are you into home renovations? Then a hardware store in another country could be quite interesting. Are you a foodie? Go to the grocery store or the street where all the specialty vendors are located. Are you into fashion or interior decorating? Again, explore (you don't have to buy) where the locals shop.
Know which way is up. Study a map of your destination. Get to know it. Get a sense of direction using major landmarks like Central Park in New York City or the CN Tower in Toronto. This will help you explore cities happily, with greater confidence. Read How to Navigate a New City Solo.
Find people who share your passion. Whether it's chess or poetry or badminton or books, there will be hubs or groups that share your passion at your destination. Google search or find them on meetup.com. What a great way to combine your love of travel with your love of other things.
Take day tours and classes. When you punctuate your independent trip with city tours, cooking classes and the like, you create ways to better experience your destination and spend some social time.
Plan for great evenings out. Just because you're traveling solo doesn't mean you have to stay in at night with a book.
Learn a few words in the local language. Making an effort to communicate in the local language is always appreciated and often returned with an effort to communicate in your language. Given that English is often the second language that people learn, you will find many locals wanting to chat with you.
Go to a local, independent coffee shop. Look for coffee shops with large communal tables or coffee bars along the window and sit near someone. I've often had great conversations with locals by positioning myself in this way.
Stay at places that encourage talking. I think that hostels and B&Bs are the ideal accommodation for those who travel alone. With fewer guests and the proprietor often onsite, common rooms and communal dining rooms, they make for more opportunities to connect with others.
Take your restaurant meal at noon. Restaurants run by celebrity chefs are great attractions for some solo travellers. If you want to dine at a fine restaurant, consider doing so at noon. It's the same chef and quality of food but it's usually easier to get a reservation, the prices are typically lower, the lights are higher, and the crowd less romantic.
Eat at the bar or a communal table. Sitting at a table alone leaves no opportunity for a solo traveller to be social. It can also feel like you have a spotlight on you. I ate at one restaurant that had a line of two-person tables down the middle. They were all empty except the one I was seated at. I really felt like I stuck out with all the couples and foursomes at tables around the perimeter. I have learned to speak up in such situations. More importantly, I've learned to scout restaurants that have a great bar or communal tables so that I can chat with others.
Be obvious. Place your camera, travel guide, or map on the table, making it obvious that you're a tourist. Some people are concerned about looking like a tourist and therefore looking like a mark. In a restaurant, there is a certain amount of safety. Yes, you should still be discerning in who you talk with, but in most cases, the person will be not only safe but also interesting.
Take a book. This is a classic. A book will not only occupy you but also signal to other solos that you are there alone. You just might get a companion for the meal.
Travel can go wrong, and it’s important to have a plan for what happens when it does. Personally, I always travel with travel insurance, whether that’s on group trips or enjoying your my own company traveling alone.