The South Indian state of Karnataka has quite a few things to offer the traveler. There are magnificent temples, majestic palaces and captivating historic ruins. The next time you are planning a trip to South India, be sure to include Karnataka in your itinerary. This state on the west coast of India won’t disappoint you.
Whether you are a history buff, a spiritual seeker or a nature lover, Karnataka has something to offer you. Here are the top ten tourist attractions in Karnataka.
Bangalore is India’s Silicon Valley. It is also the capital of Karnataka. This is a fast growing, prosperous city that houses much of India’s IT industry. Bangalore has a cosmopolitan nature. Thanks to its booming software industry, young professionals from all over the country and the world have made Bangalore their home. Bangalore is not exactly a cheap tourist destination. Food and accommodation can be quite costly. Still, thousands of people visit this city for its greenery, beautiful temples and buildings.
Hampi is a must-visit destination in India. Its historic ruins are world famous and tell us the story of South India’s prosperous past. Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagar dynasty. The ruins are simply captivating and the large boulders perched on the hills add to the mystery surrounding the place. There are over 500 monuments here and they are spread over an area of about 25 kilometers. The ruins date back to the 14th century. The incredible energy that one feels at this ancient place cannot be described in words.
Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal
The heritage sites of Badami (formerly Vatapi), Aihole and Pattadakal attract thousands of history buffs. These places are near Hampi so make a side trip to them while exploring Hampi. Badami and Aihole have numerous temples, ruins and monuments from the Chalukya era (4th – 8th century AD). There are about 125 stone temples in Aihole. This village has the reputation of being the cradle of the celebrated Chalukya style of architecture. Badami is famous for its rock cut cave temples. There are four sets of them. Pattadakal has only one temple complex but it is simply majestic. In spite of their historic importance, Badami and Aihole and yet to become major tourist places. There are not many decent hotels or lodges here. You will be able to tour all three of these places in one day. Visit from Hampi.
Gokarna has some of the loveliest beaches of India. This is a small holy town. Both pilgrims and holiday makers visit this place with equal gusto. Gokarna is developing rapidly, thanks to realtors who have discovered its potential.
Mysore’s biggest attraction is its majestic palace. There are several other attractions too. The Vrindavan Gardens is one of them. The zoo is another attraction. Mysore zoo is one of the best and the largest in India. The Chamundi Hills which houses the famous Chamundi Devi temple is in Mysore. Mysore is also a great place to shop for antiques and sandalwood.
Coorg or the Kodagu region is famous for its picturesque mountains. This place boasts of abundant natural beauty. It is not far from Mysore and Bangalore. The area is famous for its lovely coffee plantations. The highlight of a trip to Coorg is the opportunity to stay in the midst of a coffee estate. The beautiful Golden Temple, one of the biggest Buddhist monasteries in India, is another popular attraction.
Nagarhole National Park
Want to see wild elephants up close in their natural habitat? Take a jeep safari through the Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka. Herds of elephants are commonly seen on the river bank. The park is famous for its bubbling streams and untainted wilderness. There is a lovely lake inside the park. The Nagarhole national park is also a good place to go trekking.
The sprawling ruins of the Chitradurga Fort lies at the heart of the Deccan Plateau. The ruins are well-maintained and can be accessed on the way to Hampi. The fort is believed to have been built by the Palegar Nayakas between the 15th and 18th centuries. Nayakas were defeated by Hyder Ali (father of Tippu Sultan) in the 18th century. After capturing the Fort, Hyder Ali is said to have expanded it further. The fort stands on a granite hill. The rocky landscape is full of huge boulders and valleys. The upper fort houses 18 temples. There is yet another huge temple in the lower fort. The Chitradurga Fort has 2000 watch towers, 19 gateways, several circular walls, four invisible passages and 35 secret entrances.
This is a popular destination with domestic tourists. Mullayanagari peak, one of the highest in Karnataka, is here. Trekkers visit this place to scale the peak. Chikmagalur has a variety of attractions including wildlife sanctuaries, waterfalls, and temples. It is easy to find homestays in this region.
Belur is about 25 kilometers to the southeast of Chikmagalur. The area is famous for its glorious temples built by the Hoysala Emperors. The highlight of these temples is their intricate carvings. It took over a hundred years to build the main temple.