Karnataka abounds in art. You will be awestruck by the magic that is created by nature in the state. True that Karnataka is known for IT park and other modern developments, but a lesser known fact is that it is also a mother of many historical sites and revolutionary activities. Karnataka, which was ranked the 3rd most popular state in the country, is home to 305 monuments. For the convenience of the tourism, the state is divided into North Karnataka, the Coastal areas, the hills and South Karnataka.
If you are a lover of art and history, then North Karnataka is the place for you to be at. You can start off with one of the world heritage centres at Bellari District, Hampi. Hampi is the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire which was founded in 1336. Hampi has this innate ability to take you inside the pages of history books. Stories of wealthy rajas and maharajas, a prosperous kingdom, majestic elephants, imposing architecture. But now all that remains is ruins of a once glorious kingdom. As you take a tour of Hampi, the structures magically comes alive to tell you tales long forgotten. Such is the beauty of these ruins that you can’t help but wonder what they would have looked like some centuries ago. They enchant. The antiquity of the place will leave you with such mesmerizing memories. Other historical places in the North of Karnataka that are a must visit are Pattadakal, Aihole, Badami, Basavana Begawadi, Annigeri and Haveri. In the Bidar district, Basavakalyan consists of an archaeological museum that is a must visit. There are various temples in the North of Karnataka that are a must visit like Someshwara Temple, Galaganatha Galageshwara temple and Mukteshwara temple.
Coffee lovers would pledge their unconditional love for the world’s favourite beverage – coffee in this spectacular state. Little coffee shops springing in every nook of every city gives you a taste for it, but you have not tasted coffee if you haven’t had one brewed from Chikmagalur. Once you are done sipping and soaking the rich culture of the region, make time for trekking and golfing too. Chikmagalur has played host to an event to which, countless Indians wake up to brighter mornings.Chikmagalur, whose hills nurtured the coffee culture at its bosom, is a green slice of heaven on a permanent coffee high. Rambling hills, pristine pools, fascinating nooks and crannies with a shrine, intriguing caves, lush mists and dreamy woods make the geography of Chikmagalur. Just like the 10 km trek to the gorgeous Habe Falls is – it’s almost impossible by vehicle and is inaccessible in the monsoons.
Atop the Vindhyagiri hill stands Asia’s tallest monolithic statue, and yet, you need to toil up 600-odd steps for a glimpse of it. Shravanabelagola as a Jain bastion is home to many basadis and is a vital stop to the pilgrim. The 52-foot statue of Bahubali from its high perch has a gaze that takes in the lay of a rather scenic land – a treat you can partake, provided you make the arduous climb up.
Karnataka’s Golden Triangle is a pilgrimage of every sort. Prayer might be the last thing on your mind as you marvel at the intricacy of the carvings at the Chennakesava Temple or while you absentmindedly accept the prasad at the Hoysalaeshwara Temple, and it would take a really devout pilgrim to focus on God while panting and wheezing up the 600-odd step climb to Shravanabelagola – but nevertheless, you are following the path a pilgrim set towards God. If not anything else, it awakens you to the God in you and opens your mind to the extent of human creation. While one side of this journey is about the fall of a kingdom, the other is about a prince renouncing his kingdom for a different kind.
Bear witness to nature’s headlong tumble as the Sharavati River makes a spectacular drop of 253m in four distinct cascades – known locally as Raja, Rani, Rover and Rocket – to create the highest falls in Asia. The falls are at their best during the monsoon, with arching rainbows colouring the mist.
Mysore is yet to, and perhaps will never, get over its past. A past that’s made of kings, queens, conquests, rich patrons, extravagant durbars and pearled hallways must be hard to get over. All roads in Mysore lead to the Mysore Palace, and rightfully so. An ode to magnificence, the Mysore Palace is a marvel of ornate ceilings, jewelled corridors, open mandaps, stained glass windows, vivid paintings and Wadiyar memorabilia – including the jewelled throne. As the main host of the famous Mysore Dasara, the Palace still has the airs of the headquarters of a sovereign. Mysore’s other palaces include the Jaganmohana Palace, Rajendra Vilas, Lalitha Mahal (which is now the Lalith Mahal Palace Hotel) and the Jayalakshmi Vilas.
They make it all big and grand at Mysore or so it appears. St. Philomena’s Church is awe-inspiring with its Neo-gothic style, built along the lines of the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The 12th century Chamundeshwari Temple built in the style of the Hoysalas is no less impressive.
A hedonist’s paradise by all means, Coorg is a dream you’ll never forget. Hills, old-world charm, coffee, amazing food, vivid cultures and warm hospitality – there’s something in the air of Coorg that makes all things beautiful. The people are tall and fair. Its hills, scenic and unforgettable. Its food, wholesome and tantalising. Its pools, pristine and clear. Its cultures, vibrant and exclusive. Madikeri is a cornucopia of the times passed. The green, hilly capital of the Kodagu region has remnants of its past like the Madikeri Fort, the Raja’s seat – where you can catch a sunset just like the rajas once did – acres of coffee estates and the Raja’s tomb where the Kodagu king Veerarajendra and his family sleep their eternal sleep. About 9km away from Madikeri’s giddy heights are the Abbey Falls, which falls daintily in steps, looking like a pretty curtain of the finest lace. The Talacauvery where the Cauvery originates is the hotbed of a phenomenon every year – on the 17th of October, at a predetermined moment, the water gushes up at the fountainhead from a spring.
And thus is Karnataka, beauty of its own. Often one of the most unraveled tourism spots, Karnataka has something to offer to everyone.