UNESCO recognizes Hampi as a World Heritage Site owing to the historical significance of the once glorious city. This quaint little dilapidated place in the Bellary district of northern Karnataka has ruins reminiscent of the splendor of Vijayanagara Empire that held sway over south India in the late middle ages. A stroll among these ruins of a great dynasty is an evocative affair which will leave you mesmerized.
Any epicurean can swear by the grace of coffee, and Indians have Chikmagalur in Karnataka to thank for it. The earliest record of coffee beans in India is attributed to a Sufi saint by the name Baba Budan, who planted the beans on the slopes of Chikmagalur upon his arrival from the Middle East. Since then, coffee has emerged as a prominent cash crop in India’s agrarian system, further adding to the aesthetic appeal of Chikmagalur.
On the summit of Shravanabelagola Hill in Karnataka stands the world’s largest monolithic statue in all its glory. The Gomateshwara statue is a towering 60 feet— naked and minimalistic— conforming to the dogmas of Jainism. While it’s one thing to witness a monolithic statue, it’s an entirely different thing to see the Gomateshwara statue which is craftsmanship at its pinnacle.
A couple of Karnataka’s indigenous dance forms can come as slightly eerie and eccentric, but fascinate nonetheless. Yakshagana, for instance, is an amalgamation of dance, music and dialogue in a single rendition. The same can be said about another dance form, Bhuta Kola (meaning, spirit play), albeit it’s more down the cult lines. These dance forms predominantly hail from the coastal districts of Karnataka, otherwise known as Tulunadu.
The traditional gastronomy of Karnataka boasts of savories such as Udupi’s masala dosas, Mysore pak, fish curry from Mangalore and pedas from Dharwad among other things. Each and every one of them is bound to leave you craving for more.
Tranquility finds its true admirer in this idyllic Tibetan settlement at Bylakuppe, a town in Mysore district. The monasteries at Bylakuppe inspire devotion with their sanctity and a hypnotic aroma that pervades the enormous halls. The virtues of Buddhism are reflected in every corner and pillar of this must-visit settlement in Karnataka.
Karnataka’s coastline—more colloquially, Karavali—encompasses some of the spectacular beaches within the dominion of three districts, namely Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada. If you seek quietude, St Mary’s Island is merely a ferry ride away from Udupi port. Om beach in Gokarna should be in your itinerary if you want to add trekking to your seaside experience.
Western Ghats qualifies as UNESCO’s Biodiversity Hot-spot. The benevolent mountains harbor myriad species of flora and fauna, some of which beckons zoologists from across globe. Karnataka has an ample stretch of these Western Ghats within its borders responsible for some of the best sightseeing the state has to offer.
Very few places in India could match the grandeur of Mysore in the ancient times. During the auspicious period of Navaratri, especially on the day of Dussehra, Mysore returns to its former glory. Foreigners and locals flock to Mysore to witness the Jamboo Savari (elephant march) and revel in history coming to life.
Karnataka has had its fair share of dynasties in the past, testament to which, exists in the intricate architecture of Badami, Aihole and Patadakal. UNESCO went on to regard the latter as the World Heritage Site, such is its grandeur. Rock-cut architectures in India had is genesis at Aihole and Badami is an architectural extravaganza of sandstone temples and caves; all in scarlet.
The vibrant state of Karnataka is home to some of the eye-catching waterfalls that never cease to amaze. Also, Jog Falls in Shimoga District is the undisputed second-highest plunge waterfall in India. This is besides the allure of Abbey, Shivanasamudra and Irupu falls that are modest in magnitude, yet grand by their own virtues.
Hoysala Empire was at its zenith in the 12th century paving way for some of the best architectural landmarks attributed to Karnataka. The remains of Hoysalas‘ impeccable craftsmanship can be seen in Belur and Halebidu in Hassan district. Both Belur and Halebidu, the then capital cities of the Hoysala empire, are a must visit for those with a penchant for heritage and architecture.
The moniker ‘Scotland of India’ is befitting to Coorg/Kodagu district of Karnataka with regard to the climatic similarities. Known for its spices and coffee, Kodagu is culturally distinctive in comparison to the rest of the Karnataka. The predominant inhabitants of the land—Kodavas—follow traditions that are anomalous with Hinduism, if not vastly contradictory.
Accommodation options are aplenty in Karnataka and rather affordable. Regardless of the district you are in, accommodation and other expenses won’t burn a hole in your pockets to say the least.
Karnataka is arguably one of the most secular states in India, devoid of racism and xenophobia. The law of the land ensures safety and protection to tourists to make their stay truly satisfactory, something that has echoed in the recent statistics alluding to major growth in Karnataka’s tourism sector.