Culture – Palaces – Temples – Hinduism – Mythology – Jainism – Islam – Wildlife – Picturesque natural landscapes
Karnataka is ideal for adventure and study tours, combined with sightseeing in Tamil Nadu and Kerala or with a subsequent onward journey to Goa. This expansive, historically important state offers an interesting mix of nature and culture and lets you experience many aspects of India.
In the southern parts of the state, you can experience the unimaginable splendor of the Maharaja Palace of Mysore and the unique atmosphere of the artistically designed Hindu and Jain pilgrimage sites. Travelers set out in the morning to enjoy the sublime beauty of colossal stone sculptures and dive in the evening into the modern flair of a bustling metropolis with its bazaars and shopping centers, which are particularly famous for their sandalwood carvings, silk fabrics and inlay work. Real gems are the magnificent Hoysala temples of Halebid, Belur and Somanathapura. With their lace-like idols and delicate ornaments, they are true gems of Dravidian temple architecture.
Located in a picturesque rocky desert, along the Tungrabhadra river, are the extensive ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Hindu kingdom of the same name, known around the world today as Hampi. The ruins of the majestic temples and palaces provide a unique insight into the sublime power and perfection of a golden era. The once unimaginably splendid “City of Victory” was completely destroyed in the 16th century by Muslim sultanates. Stone carriages of the gods, procession routes, royal living quarters, high ring walls and elephant stables bear witness to the former greatness of the lost city.
North of Hampi, in Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami, are a series of cave temples and temple groups with fascinating sculpturing work from the early Chalukya dynasty. The sanctuaries of Pattadakal, the former coronation town of the Chalukya rulers, bring together North and South Indian architectural styles and are, along with Hampi, among the UNESCO world heritage sites in Karnataka. Further north, in Bijapur, Gulbarga and Bidar, Islamic architecture becomes dominant, with its arched windows, domes and minarets. Sites of interest here include mosques and mausoleums, which are Muslim pilgrimage destinations and represent the impressive heritage of the Bahmani sultans.
In addition to historical sites and places of pilgrimage, Karnataka offers undeniable natural beauty as well. There are well-known nature reserves in the triangle between Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. With their tropical forests, bush and grasslands, the vast Bandipur National Park and the adjacent Nagarhole National Park to the north are among the finest wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka. Together with Tamil Nadu’s Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary bordering to the south and the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary on the Kerala side, they form the largest protected area in southern India. A jeep safari in Bandipur National Park, which is a habitat for more than 4000 elephants, about 70 tigers, Indian leopards and a variety of other wild animals, is one of the most fascinating experiences.
In the dreamy landscapes of Coorg, dominated by pepper and coffee cultivation, Karnataka shows a particularly charming side of itself. The area around Chikmagalur also enthralls with snow-white coffee blossoms, picturesque valleys, secluded mountain trails, nature reserves and romantic waterways. Since both districts are at a higher altitude, the climate is pleasantly refreshing, even in summer. Karnataka has plenty of beach life too. South of tourist-oriented Goa, near the Hindu pilgrimage town of Gokarna, many quieter coves with beautiful beaches await you for bathing and relaxation.