For a while now, I’ve been wanting to go on a mini bike trip. A simple Google search for places to visit in Bangalore led me to a tourist attraction I never knew my city had. The Dodda Aalada Mara, a banyan tree located 28 km outside the city – perfect for a one-day bike trip.
We set off on a Saturday morning – three girls on two bikes. I’m not particularly amazing with routes and directions, but I was lucky enough to be born in the era of smart phones. Google Maps led us there through NICE road, and the journey took us a little more than an hour. Although I’m told that this route was unnecessarily long, I do not regret taking it the least bit. It was one of the most pleasant and scenic rides I’ve ever enjoyed within Bangalore. Especially since we started relatively early on a Saturday morning (Okay, it was about 10 AM – I said relatively early!) we did not see too much traffic either.
The Dodda Aalada Mara was actually quite easy to find and reach. Dodda Aalada Mara in Kannada means ‘Big Banyan Tree’. One of the four oldest Banyan trees in the world, it is a single tree covering about 3 acres of land. I guess my sense of measurement is a little wanting, because I was slightly disappointed with the actual area that the tree covered – three acres did not look as vast as I expected. It felt about as large as one of our ubiquitous Bengaluru neighborhood parks.
The tree is fenced in and there are neat little walkways and benches around it, that make it an ideal spot to hangout at. There were no charges for entering the vicinity, but it was well maintained nonetheless. Probably because there is a small temple in the middle of the tree.
We had a fun time exploring the various corners of the tree, and spent a fair amount of time just enjoying the shade and each other’s company. There was a restaurant and bar adjacent to the tree where we had our lunch. The food was very average with only the Chicken Kebabs passing muster. But the seating was in individual cottages which afforded us privacy and made for a really relaxed afternoon spent catching up on the latest gossip with my friends.
The Big Banyan tree actually made for a great place to spend the day. The atmosphere was very laidback and chilled out, and it was a fun and inexpensive option for a day out. We started our return trip in the late afternoon, around 4:30 PM. Bengaluru Traffic was not quite as kind to us on the way back and it took us well over 2 hours to get back home.
If you’re looking to getaway from the city on a tight budget and with only a day to spare, this is a fairly decent option.
How to get there
We chose to ride, and the roads are decent enough. NICE road is a tolled highway, and cost us ₹25 per bike from PES college exit to the Mysore Road exit one-way. Word of Caution while using NICE road though – despite how nice this road is, it is also notorious for some really fast/rash driving. So if you’re riding a bike, stick to the left, and stay alert and careful. Also, there appears to be a fair amount of Construction in progress along Mysore road which makes the area quite dusty. Nothing that bothered my nostrils too much (I suppose I might just be used to it, thanks to the city I live in) but there was a significant coat of dust on my bike by evening.
In case riding or driving is not the option for you, there are BMTC buses that will drop you right in front of the Dodda Aalada Mara. You can catch one from K R Market. Which bus? What route? Ask Google. Google maps also offers information on bus routes. 😊
If good food is a pre-requisite for a good time, then I would advice you to carry a picnic hamper. In case you don’t, and if you are feeling a little adventurous, then there are a couple of places to eat (and drink!) around the tree, that you could check out.
One important Warning: Beware of Monkeys. This is a warning that I saw on multiple sites, but when we went there, I didn’t see the place swarming with Monkeys. We grew lax, and guess what? A monkey almost made off with my friend’s bag. It was not scared of us, and refused to relinquish the bag to us despite our attempts to shoo it away. Instead it was starting to look quite aggressive and menacing. It took the help of a few gentlemen who happened to be in the vicinity to help us retrieve the bag. The monkey actually attempted to follow us. We fled, and I’m just grateful that it was one lone monkey and not an entire troop.
At the end of the day, the Dodda Aalada Mara is an interesting attraction, neither too far from the city, nor too close. If you’re bored of spending your weekends at the same old pubs and bars, and are looking for a small change in scenery to spend an afternoon with friends, it’s worth giving the Big Banyan Tree a shot.
Shout-out to my girls Likita and Deena for clicking these lovely pictures!
Have you visited this place already? If yes, what did you think of it? And if not, are you interested in checking it out? Do you have any suggestions about other places near Bangalore I could visit? Let me know in the comments.