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Tourist Places To Visit In Karnataka
A confluence of myriad cultures and histories intertwined with unadulterated and timeless beauty makes Karnataka one of the most coveted destinations for tourists. From mist-covered hills to virgin beaches, from cities that have stopped in time to cities where time is rushing to keep pace with modernisation, Karnataka has it all. A place where the past and present co-exist peacefully, Karnataka is waiting to be explored and savoured. From Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore to Hampi, Coorg and Gokarna, listed below are the tourist places that you must visit in Karnataka.
Occupying the pride of place as the capital of Karnataka, Bangalore (Bengaluru) is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing cities in India. It is a melting pot of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, represented by people from all parts of the country. The home to some of the best educational institutions and colleges, Bangalore has acquired the tag of student city and has also emerged as the software hub of the country. It is a young, vibrant city offering all modern amenities like malls, pubs, theatres, cafes, galleries etc. The fast-paced modernisation however, has not wiped out the history of the city, traces of which can be found scattered across Bangalore.
Also known as the Palace City of India, Mysore is the second largest city in the state of Karnataka. Situated at the base of the Chamundi Hills, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations of the country with Mysore Palace being one of the most visited monuments. From botanical and zoological gardens to temples, churches and palaces, Mysore has lots to offer. Located around 143 kilometres from Bangalore, it is easily accessible by road.
Located en route from Kerala to Goa, Mangalore is a popular maritime city of Karnataka. Against the winds of rapid change Mangalore has been able to retain its old world charm. The meandering streets lined with coconut trees, terracotta-tiled roofed houses, the breathtaking beaches, some remarkable churches and temples and spicy food allows its guests a moment of much needed tranquillity. This however does in no way overshadow Mangalore’s commercial importance or its role as Karnataka’s major port for the export of spices, cashew and coffee.
Hampi, Aihole, Pattadakal, Bijapur
Located within few kilometres of each other, these world famous heritage sites can leave you spellbound by their utter magnificence.
The once capital of the Vijaynagar Empire that ruled the Deccan between 14th and 16th century A.D. Hampi even in its ruins today, is majestic, charismatic and alluring. Towering over the extraordinary landscape that greets the eye, the group of monuments at Hampi, is a repository of artistic and architectural wealth unparalleled in its spread and magnificence.
The remnants of the Chalukyan dynasty at Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal boasts of some of the finest specimens of temple architecture that dominate the architectural style in South India. The groups of temples are exquisite displays of craftsmanship and living testimonies of the perseverance of the artists.
Bijapur boasts of some fascinating monuments of Islamic style which blossomed during the reign of the Bahmani Sultanates which lasted between 15th and 17th centuries. The most famous is the Gol Gumbaz which has the largest dome in the world after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Belur, Halebeedu, Shravanabelagola
This forms Karnataka’s Golden Triangle. Halebeedu and Belur are the home to some of the best examples of Hoysala architecture. The immeasurable beauty and sheer excellence of workmanship that marks the architecture of this period has survived centuries. The intricate carvings of the Chennakesava temple at Belur are breathtakingly beautiful and a testimony to the degree of the artistic brilliance attained during the reign of the Hoysala rulers.
Shravanabelagola is a Jain pilgrimage destination of much repute. The 57 feet tall monolithic statue of Gommateshvara located here is the world’s tallest monolithic stone statue.
Coorg is stuff dreams are made of. This picturesque hill station located 256 kilometres from Bangalore is a hedonist’s paradise with mouth-watering food, hot coffee, vibrant culture and mesmerising landscape. Its closeness to the Abbey Falls, Dubare Elephant Camp and Rajiv Gandhi National Park makes it impossible to give Coorg a miss.
For all those who want to enjoy solitude far from the madding crowd, Gokarna is their dream destination. With its alluring white open beaches and clear blue sea, Gokarna is hard to resist. Sitting on a cliff watching the sun setting on the sea leaves a lingering impression. It has five beaches separated by cliffs, each offering a spectacular view of the Arabian Sea. For the more adventurous there are various water sports to indulge in coupled with some heavenly seafood.
Karnataka is a traveler’s delight. From historical sites to nature, beaches and wild life sanctuaries to adventure sports and spirituality, exploring and unravelling the various moods of Karnataka can become a life-changing experience.
Otherwise Wayanad is an idyllic town in Kerela, but its close proximity to Karnataka makes it an ideal getaway when visiting the state of elephants too. Wayanad is only 37 km away from the Kerala-Karnataka border if you take NH766. It is a rural place for all intents and purposes, home to a plethora of natural wildlife, vegetation and waterfalls. It has lush forests coupled with animas like tigers, leopards, egrets and Asiatic giant elephants. You can visit ancient neolithic caves of Edakkal or enjoy a trek and picnic at Ambukuthi Hills, there is no dearth of jungle life here. Another famous place to visit around is the Soochipura (needle-like) waterfalls.
Madikeri, a small hill station town in the lap of the Western Ghats, is a famous getaway for locals of Karnataka as well as tourists flocking to the state. Known for some magnificent views from Raja's Seat, rice and paddy fields, lush forests and valleys, Madikeri is a weekend trip you must plan. The main attraction here is the Madikeri Fort, followed by the Omkareshwar Temple (Shaivite temple as suggested by the name), Abbey Falls and the famous Kamakshi Temple.
Nagarhole National Park
Nagarhole National Park, or also referred to as Rajiv Gandhi National Park, is a delight for nature and wildlife enthusiasts visiting Karnataka. It is a wildlife reserve and embraces the conservational culture to protect tigers, birds and elephants among other animals. The park is a part of the greater Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and you will be enthralled by the scents of fresh nilgiri leaves wafting your way from the cluster of jungles. Among these there are also sturdy teak trees and sandalwood trees to bring you some cool, fragrant winds even in sultry summers. Visit the national park in winters, preferably to get the best sightings of animals.
Badami, also locally caled Vatapi, is a part of Bagalkot district in Karnataka and was once the capital of Chalukyas (AD 540-757). That piece of trivia makes Badami a hub for old, rock-cut temples and ancient structures dating back from that empire. The town boasts of the Badami set of temples, the Badami Cave Temple and Agasthya Lake to tour when you visit. The Cave temple is one very significant tourist haunt and a must-visit on your itinerary, considering its carvings and historic rocks each telling a story.
Settled on the banks of River Tungabhadra, Hospet is a part of the Ballari district and renowned for its proximity to Hampi. You must visit the Tungabhadra Dam as well as the beautiful ruins of the Vijayanagar Empire nearby. Other places to visit in Hospet are Virupaksha Temple, Vithala Complex, Matanga Hill and the Monkey Temple. People usually also like to club a trip of Hospet with Hampi nearby.
Udupi is a city in the lap of the Western Ghats, quite close to Mangalore. It falls on the Arabian Sea side and hence is fringed by both — the mountains and the sea. That’s what’s unique and beautiful about this place. It contributes to Udupi’s scenic beauty, all those virgin forests of the mountains and the beaches kissing the sea. Udupi is also known for its delicious food, so much so that generic South Indian restaurants around the country are named after it. You can also visit temples, ancient islands, beaches and waterfalls. St Mary's island nearby is also a great fun place to explore.
This cute name means ‘town of the young daughter’ as it was the dowry of the Chief of Sakrepatna’s younger daughter. With this trivia and coffee estates spreading wild eternal fragrance in all its corners, Chikmagalur is mesmerising to say the least. With lush forest covers of Mullayangiri mountains and temples like Amruteshwar, Vidyashankara, Sharadamba etc, Chikmagalur is pious as well as adventurous. The hill station is also home to sightseeing spots like Shankar Falls and Jhari Waterfalls, Kudremukh National Park, Bhadra Dam, Mullayanagiri etc.
Shimoga is perched on the bank of River Tungabhadra, right in the heart of Karanataka. It is known for its palm trees and thick green forests that lead you into mysterious waterfalls. The culture, religion and history of Shimoga is also among some of the most interesting around. You can visit Suvarna Samskruthi Bhavana or Karnataka Sangha to explore the culture, art and traditions of this town. Yakshagana is one of the most famous dances and drama forms here that is also famous worldwide. You can enjoy the natural beauty as well as the manmade art forms here, all at once!
Rocks and forests, that’s what Dandeli is! It is such a thrilling place that they call it the adventure capital of the South. Perched at 1551 feet, Dandeli is home to many a trekking trails, hiking routes, thick diverse flora and fauna as well as caves and temples. You can enjoy some water sports in River Kali, visit the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, visit Kavla caves and Ulavi Mandir, and go whitewater rafting on an especially rainy day. There is also a Natural Jacuzzi that unknots all stress points in your body.
Summer and monsoon vacation enthusiasts, Kabini is such a perfect place for you. The beauty, the fauna, the wildlife, the sheer ambience of nature here is rejuvenating. Camping, bonfires, adventure, wildlife watching and more is coveted here. Explore the Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary, check out the Kabini Dam and hog on staples like akki roti, sambhar-vada, bisibel bhaat etc with their special fried papadams and filter coffees.
Tea estates, coffee plantations, spices and orchards — Sakleshpur is all of these and more. The economy of this little hill town is built on its fresh produce of these essentials. That also makes it an attractive tourist hub. People come to stroll around the estates and see the picking, harvesting, production processes that go into bringing us our favourite beverages and spices. You can visit this town for the ancient Manjarabad Fort that is made in the shape of a star, the Sakleshwara temple that is more than 600 years old, Bisle View Point, Dodda Betta and Pushpagiri. Treks are very highly coveted in this area, especially the Railway Bridge Trekking.
The temple capital city of Karnataka, this is one of the highest coveted pilgrimage destinations around. It is often chosen by history and architecture lovers. Hassan is 187 km away from Bangalore and hosts the Hoysala Era structures of temples, palaces, ruins and much more. Sculptures like the Bahubali Statue is very famous here, as are the dams and forest reserves and theme parks. Visit the Hoysala Temples, Koravangala Temple, Ishvara Temple and Kedareshwara Temple. Many of these are as old as the 12th Century. Kayaking, river rafting and swimming in Tungabhadra make for other exciting activities, while you can enjoy bonfires on Kabbaligere Hill after a long trek.
The village where Sholay was shot, Ramanagara shot to fame in this way. Today it is a hub of tourism that is a mix of nature enthusiasts as well as Bollywood buffs. The natural beauty of Ramanagara is blessed in the way Krishnagiri, Shiva Ramagiri and Somagiri mountain peaks surround it. Silk rearing is practised here, making it one of the richest silk cities in the world probably. The rolls of green meadows and hills hide the locations of the magnum opus Sholay, including the fictional village of Ramgarh and Gabba Singh’s hideout. You can visit the Ramadevara Betta Vulture Sanctuary, Janapada Loka Folk World and Mekedatu when here.