When you say Karnataka, most people think of IT companies and the craft breweries in Bengaluru, the coffee plantations of Coorg and the UNESCO heritage site of Hampi. But the State is replete with heritage, culture and history. And the sheer number of historical places in Karnataka that makes of amazing tourist spots is proof. Be it exploring the temple or caves or the architectural remains of dynasties past,here are 7 historical spots in Karnataka you must visit at least once.
The city of ruins, also on UNESCO’s list of heritage sites, is a place of wonder and one of the most important places of historical interests in Karnataka. Capital of the Vijayanagar dynasty in the 14th century, and a thriving seat of art, culture, science and politics, Hampi is home to the Virupaksha and Vithala temples, along with the Krishna temple, the Vitthala temple – each a piece of evidence of the way the people there lived back then. What’s also interesting are the marketplaces where people from different parts of the world came to trade their merchandise. Then there are the other monuments such as the Hemakutta hill monuments, the elephant stables, the Lotus Mahal, and so much more. It’s frankly quite impossible to see Hampi in a day. We’d recommend you do it for at least five days, in order to explore all the nooks and crannies of this ancient city.
How to reach Hampi: The easiest way to reach Hampi is to either fly to Hubballi airport and then take a taxi which should reach Hampi in less than six hours. If you take a bus from Bengaluru, it will take you the same amount of time, or you could take the train to Hospet and rent a taxi to Hampi, which is about 13km away from the train station.
Attractions: The Virupaksha Temple, The Lotus Mahal, The Vithala Temple structure, The marketplaces, banks of the river Tungabhadra, Anjaneya Hills
Things to do in Hampi: Explore the ruins and temples, go rock climbing on the Hemakuta Hill boulders, ride the coracles in the Tungabhadra river, climb Matanga hills
Best time to visit Hampi: October to February
The Dasara festival in Mysore/Mysuru, home to the royal family, is perhaps one of the most important reasons why the city is so famous. Not to mention the silks and Mysore paak. However, Mysore, being home to the Wodeyars for at least 700 years, has a lot of history to offer. You can explore Lalitha Mahal, Brindavan Gardens, and the Mysore Zoo among others, to understand the rich heritage of Karnataka. That apart, indulge in the traditional food of the state, spend some money on the rich silks and not to forget the sandalwood products. But importantly, a trip to the Mysore Palace is a must. Also known as Amba Vilas Palace, it was first built in 14th century and set on fire several times and rebuilt all over again. The current Mysore Palace was constructed between 1897 and 1912. Incidentally, Mysore Palace is one of the most famous tourist spots in India.
How to reach Mysuru: The city is only about 2.5-3 hours by road from Bengaluru and can be reached by cars and buses. It also has a train station and an airport.
Attractions: Mysore Palace, Lalitha Mahal, Jagmohan Palace, Karanji Lake, Melody World Wax Museum, Railway Museum
Things to do in Mysore: Go for a nature tour, do a historical walk around the city, check out the garden
Best time to visit Mysore: July to February
Halebidu was once the capital of the Hoysala dynasty. Located in Hassan district of Karnataka, the name ‘Halebidu’ translates to “ruined city” or “old city” and was historically referred to Dorasamudra or Dwarasamudra. Destroyed twice by the Delhi rulers in the 14th century, what’s really interesting about Halebidu is that you can find some of the most attractive Hindu and Jain temples over there with Hoysala architecture, and that these two religions often blend into one another. The must-see monuments here are the Hoysalesvara temple, Kedareshwara temple, Jaina Basadi temples, the Hulikere step well.
How to reach Halebidu: From Bengaluru, the closest railway stations are Hassan, Mangaluru and Mysore, which is also the nearest airport.
Attractions: The HoysalaMahotsava, The Hoyalesvara temple,
Things to do: Check out the dam, and the museum, go shopping and take a trip to Belur or even Shravanabelagola,
Best time to visit: October to February
Famous for the ancient temple dedicated to Sri Ranganathswamy, another form of Lord Vishnu, Srirangapatnam is a definite historical place to visit in Karnataka. It's also pretty close to Mysore and the two can be clubbed together for a trip.
At one time, Srirangapatna use to be the capital for Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan and it's monuments have been nominated as a world heritage site for UNESCO. Apart from all the historical spots, this town is also an attraction when it comes to waterfalls and its scenic beauty. This is also where the fourth Anglo-Mysore war took place, which strengthened the British empire's hold in India as well. This is also where Tipu Sultan was killed in war.
How to reach Srirangapatnam: The closest airport is Mysore, which is 32km away. Srirangapatnam is best clubbed with a trip to Mysore and covered by road.
Attractions: Ranaganthittu Bird Sanctuary, Sri Ranganathaswamy temple, Kalyani Siddhi Vinayaka Temple, Balmuri Falls, Gumbaz, Dariya Daulat Bagh, Srirangapatna Fort
What to do in Srirangapatnam: Explore the temples and monuments, visit Balmuri Falls, check out Sangam, the confluence of Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers, visit Captain Bailey's Dungeon, a fortress built for the imprisonment of Tipu's prisoners, visit the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Best time to visit: October-March
Ramanagara is well known for its sericulture and is nicknamed Silk Town and Silk City. The silk produced in this region forms the input for the famous Mysore Silk. Ramanagara is the largest market for silk cocoons in Asia. 50 tonnes of cocoon arrive at the town every day. But Ramnagara is also steeped in history and has plenty of monuments and temples. It's home to the Magadi Ranganatha Temple that dates back to the Chola period, the KengalAnjaneswamy Temple, which was built around 60 odd years ago. And then there's the Kabbalamma Temple. Now these massive stones all around were made famous in the film Sholay, but Ramanagar is also famous for plenty of other activities for tourists.
How to reach Ramanagar: The nearest airports are Bengaluru (50 km) and Mysuru (98 km).
Attractions: WonderLa, Ramadevarabetta Vulture Sanctury, Innovative Film City, JanapadaLoka, SangamaMekedatu, Manchanabele Reservoir, Arkavati Dam
Things to do: Go bird watching, explore the temple town, enjoy nature and learn about the history, buy a lot of silk, go rock climbing on RamadevaraBetta, trek up Savanadurga Hill,
Best time to visit: March-June
Somnathpur is located on the banks of the Cauvery River and is home to the Somanathapura temple, one of the 1500 temples built by the kings of the Hoysala empire. Somanathpura temple preserves the beautiful architecture from the Hoysala dynasty and is also called Prasanna Chennakeseva Temple or Kesava temple. This was built during the year 1258 AD and it is a Vaishnava hindu temple where Lord Krishna is worshipped. This temple has won the recognition of a heritage site and is taken care by Archeological Survey of India.
How to reach Somnathpur:
Attractions: Talakad Panchalinga Temple, Chennakesava Temple, MudukuthoreMallikarjuna Temple
Things To Do: Sightseeing, Temple Tour
Best Time To visit: October-March
Located on the banks of the Malaprabha River, Pattadakal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is proof of the layered and rich architecture of the Chalukya dynasty during 7th and 8th centuries. One of the most important historical places in Karnataka, the temples here are intricately carved and are a sight to behold. There are 10 important temples in Pattadakal, and all of them are for Lord Shiva and what's really interesting is that these temples are a blend of Dravidian and Nagara styles of architecture. Pattadakal is also where many rules of the Chalukya dynasty were crowned. A classical dance festival is held at Pattadakal, usually at the end of January every year. The Virupaksha Temple Car Festival is held in Pattadakal in March every year. The Mallikarjuna Temple Festival is also held in Pattadakal in March-April.
How to go: The nearest airport is Bengaluru (514km, approx). The nearest railway station is Badami (20km). It's best to visit Pattadakal by road from Bengaluru or even Mysore.
Attractions: The temples of Pattadakal
What to do: Sightseeing, guided temple tours
Best time to go: October-March
Other places of historical interest in Karnataka include: Badami, Sringeri, Sravanabelagola, Belur, Aihole, Bidar, Bylakuppe.