Karanataka Tourism Guide– I belong to Karnataka and am very proud of this fact. Naturally, I feel Karnataka is the best. But that is not the only reason I am advocating Karnataka be prioritized in your travel itinerary. If you go through this article you will certainly agree with me.
In Hurry? Here is what Karnataka Tourism offers!
Karnataka offers a special package for tourists as it caters to the taste of every individual. There are temples, beaches, greenery, water parks, jungle resorts, wildlife safaris, historical places, architectural marvels.
You can pamper your taste buds with Mysore Pak, Masale Dose, Mangalore Bajji, or Bisibele Bath. Feast your sense of smell with Mysore Jasmine, Sandalwood, and Davanagere butter dosa!
Treat your eyes to pleasant greenery, bubbling waterfalls, unique fauna, and flora. Cool your soul at religious places and temples. With all these in-store, Karnataka is beckoning you to head towards it right now!!
The places which should not be missed in Karnataka are Bangalore -the state Capital, Mysore – The Heritage city and city of Palaces, Hampi – the old Glory.
Coorg, Sakaleshpura, Chikkamagalur – nature’s gift, Karwar, Mangalore, Murudeshwar for their beaches. Jog, Hebbe, Sathodi, Iruppu are the mesmerizing waterfalls, Ranganathittu and Kokkare Bellur – for bird lovers, are a few of the ‘must includes’ in your itinerary.
Karnataka – A vast, diverse, unique state
Karnataka is a South Indian state consisting of 31 districts, blessed with rivers like Kaveri, Kapila, Thunga, Bhadra, Godavari, and Krishna, etc.
The Western Ghats covering an area of 62,000 square miles enriches the fauna and flora of the state; with a coastal line of about 320 Kms., Mother Nature has blessed this state with water, greenery, wildlife, ghats, and attractive avian species.
The heritage of Karnataka has been escalated to another level by the rulers who ruled the places here. They have created marvels like temples, palaces, dams which are of great value.
The state offers multi-dimensional attractions to satisfy every soul. You just have to figure out what attracts you most.
Here I will give some examples category-wise to justify my claim.
Karnataka’s Historical Places
For people who have an interest in historical places, Karnataka offers Hampi, Srirangapatna, Banavasi, Mysore, Chitradurga, etc. Hampi and Chitradurga are my favorite historical places. Each stone here has a story that needs to be understood and identified by us.
Hampi reminds us about the glory of the Vijayanagara kingdom. The prominent ruler of the Tuluva Dynasty, Sri. Krishnadevaraya elevated the Kingdom to the peak of its glory with Hampi as his capital.
The entire place has many monuments, temples, palaces, and footprints of the rulers which leave one with a sad state of mind thinking how a glorious era vanished.
The rock fort of Chitradurga tells us the story of Madakarinayaka, and Onake Obavva. Apart from history, the formation of stones gives amazing views. A slightly offbeat and lesser-known place called Aihole.
You stand at a distance and the stones give form to your imagination like an elephant, frog, bird, fish, etc.
Karanataka’s Natural Glories
Jog falls tops this list according to me. Murudeshwara, which is a small place with an ocean on three sides, a gopuram of 249 ft tall, Lord Shiva in Yogamudra, is the best place to spend a day.
Coorg offers rich scenic beauty with water and greenery everywhere. A drive anywhere in and around Coorg is rejuvenating and nature is at its best here, especially during the rainy season.
How can we forget Agumbe which has 14 steep hairpin curves, sunset points, and is tremendously blessed by nature? Heavy rainfalls in this area make it green and a must-visit place. A walk-in Agumbe forest is a must-do venture.
Beaches of Karnataka
Karnataka is blessed with a long coastline that hosts beaches like Malpe, Gokarna, Mangalore, Murudeshwara, and many more.
The Om beach near Gokarna is a must-visit beach that is known for its scenic beauty and cleanliness. The beach is not overcrowded which makes it a good option for families to enjoy in seawater.
Half-moon beach near Gokarna, Tannirbavi beach in Mangalore, Kodi beach near Udupi, Mattu beach, Udupi are some of the less crowded beaches.
The vastness of the ocean is complemented with greenery around the beaches making it a feast for the eyes.
Temples of Karnataka
The rulers who ruled Karnataka were all patriots of culture and architecture due to which many fabulous temples have been created.
Some of the must-visit temples include Belur-Halebidu temples, Virupaksha Temple in Hampi, Aihole-Pattadkal temples, Keshava Temple of Somanathpur, Sharadamba Temple, Sringeri.
While major temples are thronged by people, there are few lesser-known architectural marvels like Lakshmi Narasimha Temple of Nuggehalli near Hassan, Sidilu Mallikarjuna Temple near Mysore, Nambi Narayana Temple near Pandavapura, Sri Ramalingeshwara Temple, Avani, Kolar, Ranganatha Swamy Temple, Srirangapatna, the list can go on and on. Any place which was habited by our ancestors has a temple.
These old temples are stone structures with magnificent carvings, built according to Vastu Shastra. They are full of positive energy and a few minutes of meditation in these temples will calm your mind and rejuvenate the body.
I personally recommend Sringeri for those who want to have some blissful days. The ambiance, the temple, Thunga River everything is so soothing. Sitting in the temple premises during the evening listening to the songs played by the temple is my most awaited moment.
Temples of Architectural importance
Almost all temples are architectural marvels with their unique structure and features. Some of the temples have extraordinary, unique architecture like Belur Chennakeshava Temple, Hoysaleshwara Temple of Halebidu, Ranganathaswamy Temple of Srirangapatna, Madhukeshwara Temple of Banavasi, Rameshwara Temple, Keladi, and so on.
Chennakeshava Temple of Somanathapura is of Hoysala architecture with marvelous stone carvings with intricate designs.
Hoysaleshwara Temple complex of Halebidu has the unique Hoysala style with two temples and two Jain Basadi’s in the complex. The outer wall of the temple has carvings that include Shilabalika, animals, birds, and mythology. It takes an entire day to observe and understand these carvings.
Ishvara Temple at Arasikere is a lesser-known marvel, but it is acclaimed to be the most complex architecture. The Hoysala-style temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva has excellent carvings on the ceilings. This temple is worth mentioning as a temple with great architecture.
These are only a few gems I have picked. Almost every town/ village has a temple that will have something unique if we have the patience and time to visit and observe them.
Forts of Karnataka
Forts remind us of our rulers and their intelligence. It also shows us how the rulers were protecting themselves and their properties during wars. Every dynasty that ruled has built a fort, some are still in good form but some are only remnants.
There are about 60 forts in Karnataka which are worth mentioning. Some of the famous ones are Chitradurga Fort, Manjarabad Fort, Kittur Fort, Basavakalyana Fort, Mirjan Fort in Uttara Kannada District, Bidar Fort, etc.
I have visited Chitradurga Fort and am amazed at the technology they have used to protect themselves. It also left me spell-bound to see how they have built such a strong fort without any types of machinery and how much vision they had for even minute requirements.
For example, the place in front of the huge entrance doors is limited. Our guide told us this was done with a particular intention, i.e. the enemies can not bring elephants to break open the doors. The placement of watchtowers, the method of alarming the soldier’s everything is fabulous.
Temples with special features in Karnataka
No doubt temples are places where miracles can be expected. Also, there are temples that have some special features.
- Virupaksha Temple, Hampi – here you can see the inverted image of the Gopura of the temple. It can be seen in a small place inside the temple, on a wall, which is almost 300 ft away. It is surprising to know that how knowledgeable our ancestors and their visualization during those days. This is a World Heritage site and is worth a leisurely visit.
- Shivagange Temple – Shivagange which is located at a distance of 50 kms. from state capital is associated with Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana and his queen Rani Shantala Devi. The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is said to have magical powers. During Abhisheka when ghee is applied on the Shiva Linga, it turns into butter. Devotees believe that this butter can cure many ailments and is accepted as sacred.
- Hasanamba Temple – This 12th Century temple is located in Hassan is said to have some miraculous powers. The temple opens only for seven days in a year and it is believed that the oil lamp lit before closing the temple will be seen burning when the doors are opened. The flowers decorated to the Goddess will be fresh thought the temple remains closed for 350+ days.
- Vidyashankara Temple, Sringeri – This ancient temple has something awesome. There are twelve pillars inside the temple called Rashi Sthambas. Each pillar represents one zodiac sign and the sun light falls on that particular pillar during that Rashi period. Is it not fantabulous considering the time it was built? This is apart from the amazing carvings on the stone walls of the temple.
- Gavi Gangadhara Temple, Bengaluru – This 16th Century temple built by Kempegowda is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The unique and astonishing happening of this temple is that on the day of Makara Sankranti, the sun rays touches the feet of the Shivalinga located inside the Garbhagudi of the temple. The sun rays passing through the horns of Nandi illuminate the Shivalinga for a long time despite being a cave temple.
These are just a few of the miracle temples of Karnataka.
Wildlife sanctuaries and Safaris
About 20% of the total area of Karnataka is occupied by thick forests blessing the state with many wildlife sanctuaries like Bandipur, Dubare, Nagarahole, Kudremukha National Park, Bannerghatta National Park in Bangalore are a few prominent ones.
Bandipur wildlife sanctuary offers safari. Elephants and some rare birds can be sighted for sure, while tigers are sighted by the lucky ones.
The Sanctuary offers decent boarding and lodging facilities close to the jungle. Hundreds of deers throng around these accommodations during evenings.
Enjoy nature in Karnataka
If you are a nature lover, Coorg, Chickmagalur, and Sakaleshpura are the places you should head for. All these places offer resorts and homestays, which are pocket-friendly.
The best time to visit these places is during the coffee flowering season which feasts your eyes and sense of smell.
Karnataka for Foodies!
Bengaluru is the right place for foodies! You get to taste all varieties of food from South Indian, North Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Seafood, and so on. Other places of Karnataka mainly offer their regional foods.
Head to Davanagere for Butter Masala Dosa and Mirchi Bajji. Head to Mangalore for seafood, do taste coffee in Chickmagalur and Coorg, and also buy spices here.
Pandi Curry and homemade wine are the specialties of Coorg. Enjoy Ragi Mudde and Uppu saru in any of the eateries.
Try Maddur Vada for an evening snack; do not forget soft and spongy Thatte Idli which is available at Bidadi on the Bangalore-Mysore highway.
Try Churmuri if you are in the Shimoga side, Mangalore Bajji when in the Mangalore stretch. Obbattu is available all over Karnataka; recent inventions like Khova Obbattu, Badami Obbattu are worth tasting.
For the Artist in you
Venkatappa Art Gallery in Bengaluru, Janapada Loka near Ramanagara, and Jaganmohana Palace Art Gallery in Mysore are a few places to please the artist in you.
Check Vishweshwaraiah Industrial and Technological Museum near Cubbon Park, Bangalore which will be of interest to kids.
Every major temple in the state hosts ‘Jatre’ an annual festival. Check out if you can fit into that time. You can get to know the local traditions, enjoy colorful festivities, and also buy local handicrafts during these Jastre’s.
Do visit handicraft stores which are there in all major cities. Do not forget to visit toy stores on Bangalore Mysore highway to purchase Channapatna Wooden Toys.
Personal request from the author
- Kannadigas treat tourists as guests and honor the word ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’ – meaning guests are Gods. So every Kannadiga you meet will be most helpful and sincere. Just make sure you are also polite and nice to them.
- Tourism should be nature friendly, so do not leave plastic foot prints in the places you visit.
- Some temples insist on dress-code, please obey them. From my side, even if the temple does not insist, it is good to wear decent dressed while visiting temples and tourist places.
- If you are venturing remote places, please go in groups. Some places are not safe for couples to venture.
- All the information is available on your finger tips. Make sure you have basic information and what to expect before visiting any place.
- Travelling should be enjoyed every second. So better to avoid alcohol during travels, which can wait till you reach home.
- Filling your eyes and heart with the nature is more important than filling your mobile gallery.
- Make your travels and visits memorable by taking utmost care while visiting beaches, falls, trekking, safari etc.
To conclude, Karnataka offers something for everyone and everything for some people. There are still places that remain unexplored. Anybody with a passion to explore can bring out new things about the state to light.
Else, you can enjoy your holidays, adventures, nature walks, religious trips, wildlife adventures, and water sports in Karnataka. Everything comes at an affordable price.
Do not forget to taste Karnataka’s special foods like Mysore Pak, Mirchi Bajji, Masale Dose, and Bisibele Bath.
Do visit KSIC (Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation) stores for Mysore Silk Sarees. You can find a lot of them in Bengaluru and Mysore. Have a look and feel of these soft, gorgeous beauties.
Do visit Sandalwood stores and take home gift items for your loved ones along with great memories for yourself.
Karnataka Welcomes You!!
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