In the large and diverse tourist landscape of India, we arrive in Karnataka located in the southwest, overlooking the Arabian Sea, and bordered to the northwest with Maharashtra, on the east by the Andhra Pradesh, southeast by Tamil Nadu in the southwest by Kerala and on the west by the state of Goa.
Its mountainous territory includes the chain of the Western Ghats with peaks at 1900 m and the Deccan Plateau which covers most of the territory. Going down to the coast the terrain becomes flat and faces the Arabian Sea. The state is fed from the river Krishna and its tributaries while the Bhima and Tungabhadra form a large lake. These rivers flow down from the Ghats and the Bay of Bengal. In the southeast is the main river Kaveri, which also goes to the Bay of Bengal, forming spectacular waterfalls.
Karnataka has a history much older. In fact, in ancient times it was known as Karunadu as per an edict of Ashoka which was then under the Maurya dynasty. The great emperor Chandragupta Maurya abdicated to embrace the Jain religion at Shravanabelagola. There were many dynasties that ruled the state. The Chalukya, between the tenth and twelfth centuries, built the oldest Hindu temples and had their capital at Badami. In the same period, the temples and caves of Aihole and Pattadakal were built.
The Hoysala, who ruled between the eleventh and fourteenth century, built more than 150 temples, each of which is a true work of art, which we find testimonies at Somnathpur, Halebid, and Belur. it was followed by the reign of Vijayanagara, from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, which is an example of the spectacular ruins of Hampi. Later it was the turn of 5 powerful Deccan sultanates, Bijapur, Bidar, Golconda, Ahmednagar, and Berar, who were later conquered by the empire in the sixteenth century by the Mughals.
The capital Bangalore, made up of different linguistic and religious ethnicities that have contributed to the formation of an interesting cultural heritage boasts of an excellent climate throughout the year and numerous parks and tree-lined avenues, so that is also known as the garden city, but in the nineties it established itself worldwide as well as an important commercial and industrial center, particularly in the software industry.
Not to be missed are the Vidhana Soudha, a magnificent granite structure that houses the Legislative Chambers of the local government. The palace of Tipu Sultan is one of the finest Islamic buildings in the city. The palace is now a museum and is a mine of information about the period of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. The Bull Temple is famous for the monolithic statue of Nandi, the divine bull of Shiva, carved in Dravidian style, which measures 4.57 m in height and 6.10 m in length.
To visit, in addition to Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, which for over 200 years are home to exotic trees and plants, are the Cubbon Park, with several buildings in the colonial-era British style, such as the public library, and Bull Temple, particularly built in Dravidian style, where you can see a bull carved from a single block of gray granite. Not to mention the palace and fort of Tipu Sultan, the residence of the Sultan and in the heart of the city, a Tudor-style building reminiscent of Windsor Castle.
And again, in the new part of town, in the Bannerghatta National Park, you can move on elephant back safaris to see lions, tigers, and crocodiles. Do not miss Mysore, the city of silk and sandalwood that was once the cultural capital of Karnataka and is renowned for the elegance of its buildings, to the art galleries and for the hospitality of the population. Mysore was the imperial city of the Wodeyar dynasty, an Indian royal family who reigned from 1399 to 1947.
To visit are the Lalitha Mahal Palace, at the foot of the Chamundi hills, once a residence for the royal guests, now converted into a luxury hotel, with a dome reminiscent of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. The Mysore Palace, built in an Indo-Saracenic style with turrets, arches, and columns, attracts millions of tourists. The Ranganathaswamy Temple, which houses a statue of Signore Vishnu in the dormant position on the great serpent Anantha, is one of the largest temples in the state. It is a magnificent example of a mixture of architectural styles Hoysala and Vijayanagara.
Srirangapatnam got its name as the city of Sri Ranganatha, the chief deity of the city. In the center of town is the temple dedicated to Sri Ranganatha, built in the ninth century. The city is located on an island in the Kaveri river in the past became the capital of Tipu Sultan. The city is full of forts, palaces, and ruins that testify to the courage of Tipu Sultan, who reigned in the eighteenth century.
Somnathpur is a city located 30 km from Mysore, famous for the Chennakesava temple built in 1268 under the Hoysala king Narasimha III. The temple is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture and is preserved very well. Shravana Belagola, since ancient times is the site of the most famous and sacred pilgrimage for Jains and is located between two rocky hills, 150 km from Bangalore, 52 from Hassan and 80 from Mysore. With its monolithic statue 17 meters Gomateshwara Lanka, still, it remains the oldest and most revered pilgrimage site Jain throughout India.
Many excursions include the hill station of Coorg between rice fields, coffee plantations, orange groves and pepper plants; Krishna Raja Sagar dam and the beautiful terraced gardens of Brindavan with musical fountains; the bird sanctuary of Ranganathittu, with rare species of exotic and migratory birds such as storks, white ibis, and cormorants. And again, the Bandipur National Park joined the project for the protection of tigers. Do not forget shopping on Sayaji Rao Road, in the city center, for silks and sandalwood objects.
On the coast of the Arabian Sea is Mangalore, important strategic and cultural center of Port where churches, temples, and mosques, while further south is the unexplored beaches of Karavalli. To visit nearby are the Jain temples of Venur, Moodabidri and Karkala, that on the occasion of the festival Laksha Deepotsava is illuminated with thousands of lights; and Jog Falls, formed by Sharavathi river with a 292-meter jump.
Belur, the city of temples, is located at 34 km from Hassan. It is also known as Dakshina Varanasi or the Benares of the South. The fame of Belur is attributed to Chennakesava temple built in 1117 AD by King Vishnuvardhana of the Hoysala dynasty, to commemorate his conversion from Jainism to Vaishnavism. The main structure of the temple is constructed in a star shape, on an elevated platform. Inside, even in the dark, you can be seen shining columns, each unique in its beauty.
Halebid, 17 kilometers from Belur, was known as Dwarasamudra, the rich capital of the Hoysala flourished between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Halebid reached its zenith during the reign of Veera Ballala II, grandson of Vishnuvardhana. The city is home to many Jain temples.
Hampi was one of the nuclei of the Vijayanagara empire's capital, from 1336 to 1565. He was chosen because of its strategic location, limited to one side of the Tungabhadra river and the other three surrounded by defensible hills. The site is of great importance in terms of architecture, because the area abounds in huge large stones used to erect imposing statues of deities. Unfortunately, the city was destroyed by Muslim emperors, and of all those statues considered blasphemous by Muslims, only ruins remain. However, even those ruins manage to convey an idea of the grandeur of this site, and a visit to the stunning town leaves an impression.
Pattadakal, situated on the left bank of the river Malaprabha, is a World Heritage Center. The city has 10 major temples of typical architecture in the era of the Chalukyas. It reached its peak between the seventh and ninth centuries, as a memorial site of kings. The biggest temple, dedicated to Virupaksha, brings numerous inscriptions and a massive front door.
Aihole, situated 43 km from Kudala Sangama, was the ancient capital of the Chalukyas. Known as the cradle of Indian architecture, around the village has more than 100 temples. Most of these temples, divided into 22 groups, were built between the sixth and eighth centuries.
Badami, the capital of the Chalukya dynasty, is a picturesque town located at the entrance of a ravine between two rocky hills. Badami is famous for its all-cave temples carved into sandstone wall on the hill. The largest and most important is the third cave dedicated to Vishnu. But in addition to these archaeological sites, Karnataka also has a coastline on the Arabian Sea is worth a visit.
Gokarna is a delightful town with beautiful beaches, narrow streets, and temples. Gokarna has become a very famous place of pilgrimage, especially during the Shivratri festival, when two wagons pulled by at least a hundred people pass through the streets, while above the priests do puja and send blessings to the crowd. With a stop in Malpe, another town on the sea, you can make interesting excursions to lively places of worship. Two sites of the Jain Digambara sect are certainly worth a visit:
Moodabidri has a large number of Jain temples. The most popular are the Savira Kamba Basadi with a thousand columns all different from each other, and the walls carved with different designs. Once a year people celebrate a Jain festival with the participation of thousands of pilgrims. Karkala located at 17 Km from Moodabidri, is an effervescent city of young sculptors. Also famous for the huge monolithic statue of 12 meters Lord Gomateshwara. The area is also full of Hindu pilgrimage places.
Udupi has a famous temple dedicated to Krishna. The main attraction of the temple is the Kanakana kindi, a small window through which, they say, Krishna gave darshan to his devotee, a saint-minstrel named Kanakadasa. In front of the window, there is a small gopuram.
Sringeri is a major Orthodox branch of Hinduism in South India. In this place in the ninth century. Shankaracharya founded the first of his four Math's (monastic life), the other three are located in Joshimath Himalayas. The small temple of Sarada, a popular Saraswati emanation of divinity is the main destination for pilgrims. Immediately nearby there is the temple of the XVI century. Vidyashankara is where Shankaracharya is worshiped in the form of a lingam.