Plan A Trip To Scintillating Shivamogga In Karnataka

A relatively unknown destination in Karnataka, Shivamogga is now coming to its own as it gets a swanky new airport as well.

Published On Dec 07, 2023 | Updated On Feb 26, 2024

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Plush with natural beauty, Shivamogga is a gorgeous destination in central Karnataka. And yet, it is relatively unknown. “This is the only district in Karnataka that has two dams in its vicinity with the Tungabadhra and Bhadra rivers, which means there will be no shortage of drinking water here,” says Jairam Gundappa Gowda, founder, Kimmane Luxury Golf Resort. “Located in the centre of Karnataka, it is a culturally strong city and is a gateway to Malnad,” he adds. And that is just one of the interesting aspects of this city that has several aces up its sleeve. 

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One of the most important landmarks of the city is the Shivappa Nayaka Palace, which is an ode to the erstwhile rulers, called the Keladi Nayakas. The palace is mostly built from rosewood and it is the intricate carvings on the wood pillars as well as the wall motifs inside the palace that are a star attraction. This apart, the museum has sculptures and antiquities dating from the Keladi period and the Chalukya and Hoysala time periods. Once you have your fill of history, head to the Gajanur Dam built across the Tungabhadra River which is about 12 kilometres away (open only on weekends). A picnic spot, this is a great way to enjoy water sports as well as a local coracle (country made boat) ride. A pit stop at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Church in the city is a great idea too. 

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Did you know that Shivamogga is a leading producer of the Areca crop? Neither did I until I was here. Areca is the fruit from which betel or supari is made, and when you are here you cannot miss the beautiful areca palm plantations that are spread all over the region. What is more fascinating however is to see how these fruits are processed. As you drive into the small villages surrounding the city, it is not uncommon to see the processing happening outside the homes of the villagers. It was the sight of the vapour from the boiling fruits that had me stop at one of the homes and I was fascinated to see how a group of women worked with deft hands on the same. The fruit is processed in different steps starting from peeling the raw fruit, separating its kernel, boiling it, and then sun drying the kernel before it is finally sold as betelnut. 

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If you like elephants, a visit to the Sakrebylu Elephant Camp located 15 kilometres away on the banks of the river Tungabhadra is a must. The elephants are brought out to the river site by a group of mahouts every morning and guests can bathe, scrub, and feed the elephants for a fee. You can also just buy a ticket to see the elephants as well. Make time to enjoy a spot of bird watching, taking a boat ride, and walking through the ‘Ashwini Vana’—a sacred medicinal garden. If you are travelling with children, you can visit the Tyavarekoppa Lion Safari, a reserve that is spread across 200 hectares of land and works on the rehabilitation of lions and tigers. There is a zoo as well as a safari by the forest department that has four sections–tiger, lion, elephants, and for the first-time the Indian gaur. For the real deal, a visit to the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, a protected tiger reserve that spreads over 490 square kilometres is a good idea. In the summer, this reserve sees the congregation of thousands of river terns that use the shallow waters as a space for breeding and this is when the reserve becomes a sight to behold. 

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When in Shivamogga, a stop at the famed poet and novelist Kuvempu's house, which has now been converted into a museum is recommended. A nominal entrance fee will get you inside his ancestral home where you can see what a typical Malnad home looks like. There is also a section where you can see a display of all his works and books. Photography however is not allowed inside the museum. If you are a fan of R.K. Narayan, the Malgudi museum at Arasalu railway station is a must. This is a railway station where all the rail related scenes were shot in 1986 and the Southwestern Railways has converted it into a small museum that will take you on a trip down memory lane. A stop at Mathur, said to be the only Sanskrit village in the world, is a must as this is where every villager speaks Sanskrit! A stroll around here is bound to take you on a trip down memory lane. If you have a few more days, trips to Jog Falls, Kodachadri Peak, and Agumbe can be planned as well. There is also an entire spiritual circuit that is accessible from Shivamogga including Amruteshvara temple—a 12th century architectural marvel, Rameshwara temple, Keladi, Kaitabheshvara Temple, Kotipura and Padmavathi temple, Humcha, among others. And this is where the real charm of Shivamogga lies–it is all about rekindling memories of the past and blending those with what you create today. 

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Reach: Shivamogga is well connected by road, with the state and national highways giving good connectivity. You can drive down from Bengaluru in roughly five to six hours covering the 300 kilometres distance. With a new highway to be launched soon, the time taken will come down considerably. 

Stay: For a luxurious stay, check out Kimmane Luxury Golf Resort. It has 30 expansive suites set within a 9-hole golf course. 

Best season: October to March, when the weather is pleasant. 

  • As the weather here is dry most of the year, it is recommended that you always carry a hat, a bottle of water, and sunglasses. 
  • It is ideal to hire local transport when travelling to places in the vicinity to save time as they know the best routes.

Photo: Bindu Gopal Rao

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