Karnataka has it all! This fifth most popular state in India and the software hub of India’s IT industry, welcomes you with a blend of rich cultural heritage, lush hill stations, scenic and breath-taking natural beauty, 300kms of beautiful coastline and beaches and wildlife parks. You feast your eyes and indulge your aesthetic senses on the architectural wonders of the historical and religious monuments. Karnataka is home to 507 out of the 3,600 centrally protected historical monuments in India.
But that’s not all - treat your taste buds to the unique and delicious coastal cuisine of Udupi and Mangalore, revel and participate in the night-life in the cosmopolitan capital of Karnataka – Bengaluru (earlier known as Bangalore) and take off on an adventure as you enjoy white-water rafting in Coorg.
The main language in Karnataka is Kannada and though most of the population consists of Hindus followed by Muslims, there are also Christians, Jains and Buddists.
A good time to visit Karnataka is between September to March and temperatures can hit a high of 40 degrees in summer and a low of 10 degrees in winter, so based on when and where you are travelling in Karnataka, pack your summer cottons or your winter woolens.
You will be spoilt for shopping as the rich cultural heritage offers you a variety of handicraft items, silk sarees and beautiful paintings from Mysore, sandalwood sculptures and sandalwood oil, incense sticks and items crafted from metal, stone and wood.
Bangalore now known as Bengaluru is called the “The Garden City of India” can also boast of being called “The Silicon Valley of India” as its a software hub for the Information Technology Industry and provides services to technological giants all over the world.
This city which is the capital of Karnataka is very cosmopolitan and you may be pleasantly surprised to see the best eating joints, trendiest shopping malls, hip’n’happening pubs, art galleries and theatres. You will also experience the most beautiful architectural delights, namely, the palaces, temples and other historical monuments.
Some of the must-see tourist attractions in Bangalore are – The Bangalore Palace built in a Tudor Style with fortified towers, Gothic windows, battlements and turrets. Within this magnificent palace, you can find elegantly carved woodwork, floral motifs and relief paintings on the ceilings. The grounds of this palace have been home to some of the well-known Rock and Pop artists like Aerosmith, Metallica, Elton John, Backstreet Boys and Black Eyed Peas. Also visit the Tipu Sultan’s Palace, a fine example of Indo-Islamic architecture which is built entirely out of teakwood and adorned with arches, pillars and balconies. Vidhana Soudha – the state legislature office is a magnificent building that warrants a tour of tis premises.
The other places that attract a lot of tourists are the Nandi or Bull Temple, ISKCON Temple, Attara Kacheri (High Court), St. Mary’s Basilica and Ulsoor Lake.
Don’t leave Bangalore without a visit to Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens – originally a private garden of Hyder Ali (father of Tipu Sultan) and ruler of old Mysore. It is today well-known throughout the world as the center for scientific study of plants, conservation of plants and botanical artworks. You will be captivated by the lush lawns, beautiful flower beds filled with myriads of colour, lotus pools and fountains.
Indulge in a bit of shopping and go home with the latest trendy western and Indian fashion, footwear, handbags, costume jewellery and handicrafts.
Mysore a popular tourist destination and one of the most beautiful cities in Karnataka offers you magnificent palaces, stunning gardens, vibrant festivals and exceptional and highly skilled craftsmanship and tantalizing array of mouth-watering dishes, both savoury and sweet.
One of unforgettable attractions in Mysore is the Mysore Maharaja Palace built using wood in 1897 but then later reconstructed in 1912 after it was damaged by a fire. It is a joyous blend of Gothic, Hindu, Islam and Rajput architectural styles. The palace is illuminated at night by over 98,000 bulbs, a feast for your eyes.
Take a quick drive out to Chamundi Hills located 13 kms from Mysore and experience the resplendent beauty of the Chamundeshwari Temple dedicated to the goddess Durga – Slayer of Demons. For those who would like to experience wildlife, head to the Mysore Zoo, one of the oldest zoos India constructed in 1892, home to a stunning range of species, or take a leisurely drive to Karanji Lake home to migratory birds and has over 90 species of birds.
Relax and get absorbed into the calm atmosphere of Brindavan Gardens and don’t miss the musical fountain and after sunset, the colourful fountains that come to life. The other attractions that will be rewarding are visits to the magnificent Shivanasamudra Waterfalls and the 200 year old St. Philomena’s Church.
Make sure you go on a shopping spree and add the most delicious sweet “Mysore Pak”, Mysore Silk Sarees and Sandalwood Handicrafts to your shopping list and while you explore this beautiful city tempt your taste buds with local specialties like Mysore Bonda and Bajji, Masala Dosa with Sambhar, Chakkuli (snacks) and Uppittu (made from semolina).
Welcome to beautiful and scenic Coorg (Kodagu in Kannada), a hill station in Karnataka. Also fondly known of “The Scotland of India” due to the similarities in highlands and vast meadowlands of the two landscapes, both had clan based societies and the early coffee planters in Coorg were Scots during the Colonial Era.
Covered with acres of coffee and spice plantations this paradise offers tourists a chance to relax, rejuvenate amidst its calm refreshing surroundings and become one with nature. For those avid trekkers, there are popular trekking destinations and camping areas at Madikeri, Brahmagiri Hill and Pushpagiri and white water rafting for the thrill-seekers happens at Barapole River.
Some of the popular touristic spots are Raja’s Seat – a great place to watch sunsets, Omkareshwara Temple built in 1820 in a blend of Islamic and Gothic styles and dedicated to Lord Shiva, Namdroling Monastery in Bylakuppe which is a Tibetan settlement home to the magnificent Golden Temple and Madikeri Fort and Abbi Falls.
For those animal and bird lovers out there, be sure to visit Dubare Reserve Forest and Elephant Camp, there are about 150 elephants at this camp and a naturalist at this camp can share information with you about the ways and lifestyle of these elephants. This reserve is also home to deer and sambhar and is also a bird-lovers paradise with mix of exotic and common birds, you may see a peacock or two strutting along.
A guided tour of a Coffee Plantation should be on the agenda of those coffee-lovers who would like to be well informed on the entire process, right from about the coffee picking to refinement.
You may also be able to witness the glorious and colourful celebration of Coorg festivals such as Keil Poldu (worship of weapons), Cauvery Shankaramana (return of the river goddess) and the Huttari (Harvest) Festival.
Finally, indulge in a taste of the special Coorg cuisine (Kodava) which includes delicious and mostly rice based dishes like – Nuputtu, Kulaeputtu and Paputtu and sumptuous pork preparations - jungle mangoes, jackfruit and jaggery are also commonly used.
Mangalore in Karnataka located on the Arabian seacoast is known for its beautiful beaches, seaports, diverse culture, rich history, temples, and churches, it’s also an important business center.
Mangalore has been influenced by the Kadabas, Chlukyas, Portuguese and British and this can be seen in blend of cultures. It is one of the leading ports in India and handles a large share of the coffee and cashew exports.
Be wowed by the architectural splendor of the Mangaladevi Temple, the Gorkarnantheshwara Temple which is 60 feet high, St. Aloysius Church built in 1880 by a Jesuit missionary with its interior walls covered by paintings by Italian artist Antonio Moscheni.
Relax on the beautiful sands of the Panambur and Surathkal Beaches and take in the views or visit Pilikula Nisargadhma a wildlife park that is home to species of tigers, leopards, bears, crocodiles and snakes, It also houses a botanical garden and is an ideal picnic spot.
Tantalise your taste buds with special Udupi cuisine and Tuluva cuisine. Try the Mangalorean Fish Curry, Kori Roti, Kori Gassi (Chicken curry) and Kane (a curry made with Lady Fish) coconut milk, palm jaggery and fruits like jackfruit, bread fruit and raw banana are commonly used in preparations.
Badami in Bagalkot District in Karnataka is known for its magnificent rock cut temples. Get ready for a surreal architectural experience as you visit temples built in various styles, some dating back to the 5th century. Make sure you visit the Badami Cave Temples, Bhoothanatha Temples located near the Agasthya Lake and Aihole known as the cradle of Dravidian architecture – home to 125 temples built by the Chalukya dynasty.
Your visit to Badami will not be complete if you do not take in the beauty of historical heritage of the Badami Fort and learn more at the Archaeological Museum.
The beautiful rocks also offer the opportunity for rock-climbing for such enthusiasts.