Explore the Best of Karnataka by Visiting These 20 Top Tourist Destinations

Explore the Best of Karnataka by Visiting These 20 Top Tourist Destinations
Published: 07 Aug, 2019

It is the richness of Karnataka which will surprise you. You will find ample amounts of it in its beaches, historical ruins, palaces, forests, religious sites and also in its cuisine. One day, the historian in you might lead you to the ruins of Hampi, while on the other, you might be tempted to explore its wildlife in the 27 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries scattered across the state. Sitting down to a meal of udupi sambar and Mysore masala dosa is as satisfying as standing before the Jog Falls or exploring the tea plantations of Coorg. You are transported to different time periods, see the many faces of nature and find sufficient opportunities for unwinding and relaxation when you plan your holiday in Karnataka. In this blog, we tell you the 20 best places to visit in Karnataka and what makes them so special.

1. Ruins of Hampi – Time comes to a standstill here!

Ruins of Hampi

For lack of a better word, we should refer to it as the ruins of Hampi. This was once a prosperous city, abundant in riches of all kinds. It is from the writings of various travellers over the ages, from Ibn Battuta to Fernao Nunes, that we are acquainted with its immense power and wealth. Today, Hampi stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, still managing to evoke surprise and admiration from visitors. While exploring the temples, elephants stables, chariots, bazaar streets and other parts of the ruins, various images of prosperity and opulence appear in your mind. You could visit Hampi as a solo traveller, or with your family. A backpacking trip here will give you a lot to talk about.

Top Things to See & Do

  • Queen’s Bath
  • Vijay Vittala, Virupaksha, Hanuman & Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple
  • Lakshmi Narasimha Statue
  • Hemakuta Hill Temple Complex
  • Matanga Hill
  • Hampi Street Bazaar
  • Royal Enclosure

2. Coorg – Happiness call it its home!

abbey falls, coorg

Call it Coorg of Kodagu, it is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Karnataka. You should visit this place for its coffee plantations and its distinct culture. Topographically, it enjoys a high altitude, and is spread out leisurely on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats. The richness in its culture is also reflected in its wildlife, as it boasts three wildlife sanctuaries and a famous national park in India called Nagarhole National Park, nowadays popularly known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park. Checking out the traditional costume, known as “kupaya”, is as exciting as trying out the native dishes, kadumbuttu and pandi curry. If the waterfalls don’t interest you, maybe the temples will. If both of them don’t, then you can always explore the coffee plantation and take in the beauty of the countryside.

Best Things to See & Do

  • Nagarahole National Park
  • Abbey Falls
  • Tibetan Buddhist Golden Temple
  • Dubare Elephant Camp
  • Brahmagiri Peak
  • Raja’s Seat
  • Mandalpatti View Point

3. Bandipur National Park – Haven for wildlife lovers!

Bandipur National Park


Bandipur National Park is famous for many things, from spotting of tigers and elephants to a wide variety of birds. Along with Mudumalai, Nagarhole and Wayanad parks, it forms a part of Nilgiri biosphere reserve. The vegetation of the park is marked by a rich variety of trees like rosewood, sandalwood, Indian Kino, Indian Laurel, giant clumping bamboo and teak. Besides elephants and tigers, other animals which you can spot in Bandipur National Park include Indian palm, giant flying squirrel, rusty spotted cat, cat leopard, dhole and four horned antelope.

Top Things to See & Do

  • Jeep Safari
  • Spotting wildlife
  • Birdwatching

4. Halebeedu – Unparalleled craftsmanship!


There was a time when Halebeedu was the second capital of the Hoysalas and was called Drawasamudra. Today, its temples tell of its grand past through their incredible architecture. They are the embodiment of excellent craftsmanship and represent the achievements of art and architecture under the Hoysala Empire. It got its present name after being conquered by the Delhi Sultanate in the 14th century. The carvings on the temples don’t just restrict themselves to religious themes. In fact, one of them shows the harmful effects of consuming alcohol. The attention paid to the tiniest detail in the sculptures is really worth praising over and over. An example of this is the depiction of 1200 elephants in different postures.

Best Things to See & Do

  • Kedareshwara Temple
  • Hoysaleshwara Temple

5. Mysore – Wrapped in royalty!

Mysore Palace

Mysore is synonymous with the Mysore Palace, an exercise in sheer opulence and extravagance. It is the royal past of this city that will continue to attract tourists, a past wrapped in riches and glory. First ruled by a succession of kings from the Wadiyar dynasty, then by Tipu Sultan, the “Tiger of Mysore”, and finally by the British, Mysore has seen more than its fair share of historical adventures. As a tourist, you will find a lot of opportunities for sightseeing, apart from the Mysore Palace. Religious structures and administrative ones, European classical structures standing alongside Indian ones, palaces, colleges and landmarks, there is much to keep you interested.

Top Things to See & Do

  • Mysore Palace
  • Lalith Mahal Palace
  • Jagan Mohan Palace
  • Crawford Hall
  • Devaraja Market
  • Government House
  • Deputy Commissioner’s Office
  • Silver Jubilee Clock Tower
  • Parakal Mutt
  • Oriental Research Institute
  • Karanji Mansion
  • Wellington House
  • Vasantha Mahal

6. Gokarna – Just enjoy yourself!


The town of Gokarna would have been just another sleepy little town, just like so many others in Karnataka, had it not been for Gokarna Beach. Fondly called the OM Beach, as it resembles the religious Hindu symbol OM, it is a picture of undisturbed serenity. The shoreline of this famous beach in Karnataka, stretches all the way until it meets a rocky cliff, as is the case with several other beaches here. It is connected to other beaches via a boat ride, apart from walking. Boating is looked forward to enthusiastically, as are banana boat rides. Most of all though, it is dolphin spotting which promises to make your day.

Best Things to See & Do

  • Dolphin spotting
  • Banana boat rides
  • Watch the spectacular sunset
  • Fishing

7. Srirangapatna – Witnessing the legacy of Tipu Sultan!

Just like Mysore, Srirangapatna has a royal past, which presents itself before tourists in a stylish way. Throughout its history, it has served as the historical capital of various kings and dynasties, including Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan. It is located just 16 km from Mysore, another famous place to visit in Karnataka, and is blessed with an incredibly rich cultural heritage. The town is dotted with structures like the Dariya Daulat Palace, which attests to his daring might and courage, with which he defeated the British in several battles. Then there is the Tipu Sultan Fort, whose walls depict the valour and gallantry of Tipu. The sightseeing opportunities do not end with just the historical structures, as there are places of natural beauty too.

Top Things to See & Do

  • Dariya Daulat Palace
  • Nimishamba Temple
  • Balmuri Falls
  • Tipu Sultan Fort
  • Colonel Bailey’s Dungeon
  • Jumma Masjid
  • Ranganathaswamy Temple

8. Agumbe – Looks a lot like Malgudi!

onake, Agumbe

Those who have read Malgudi Days by R.K. Narayan always wish there was a place like it. Well, Agumbe is as close as you will ever come to finding Malgudi. It is a small sleepy village in the Malnad region in Shimoga district. Because of the heavy rainfall it receives, it is called the “Cherrapunji of the South”. Among the various hill stations in India, it stands out for being home to India’s exclusive Rainforest Research Station. You should visit this village during your Karnataka tour, to revel in the relaxed ambience and visit all the lovely places that it has to offer.

Best Things to See & Do

  • Gopalakrishna Temple
  • Jogi Gundi Falls
  • Barkana Falls
  • Onake Abbi Falls
  • Sunset Point

9. Jog Falls – Falling with a vehemence!

Jog Falls

Jog Falls is formed when River Sharavathy descends ferociously from an incredible height of almost 253 meters. It is the second highest plunge waterfall in Asia and should be visited during the monsoon to watch it in all its magnificence. The river swells up during the monsoons as a result of the Linganamakki Dam releasing excess water. The best part about visiting the Jog Falls in Karnataka is the opportunity to see it up close. A series of steps, numbering almost 1000, take you to the base of the falls. Watch it from a distance though, and the Jog Falls look like they were falling from the skies and forming a thick mist as they land, as if drawing attention of the onlookers to their intensity and uncontrolled rage.

Top Things to See & Do

  • Waterfall
  • Photography

10. Mulliyana Giri – Towards the Peak!

Mulliyana Giri

The Western Ghats start from Gujarat and stretch all the way to Tamil Nadu. Along the way, they cover several states, Karnataka being one of them. Mulliyana Giri is the highest peak of the Western Ghats in Karnataka, and for trekkers, presents an exciting challenge. A part of Baba Budangiri Hills of Chikmagalur district, it stands proudly at an impressive height of almost 1929 m. It is named after a sage known as Mulappa Swamy, who is believed to have meditated in the caves located in close proximity. Completing the entire trek should take you about 4 hours while covering a distance of almost 4 km. The difficulty level of the trek is designated as easy to moderate, which means that even amateurs can try it. September to April are the best months to try this trek.

Best Things to See & Do

  • Sightseeing
  • Trekking

11. Shravanabelagola – A famous Jain pilgrimage destination!

belur, shravanabelagola

Shravanabelagola is located at a close proximity to Hassan district in Karnataka, and houses the Gomateshwara Bahubali Statue, which is considered to be one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in Jainism. It has an immense historical value too, apart from spiritual. This is believed to be the place where Chandragupta Maurya breathed his last after becoming a Jain monk and renouncing worldly desires. Throughout history, this place has attracted pilgrims, kings, monks, students and others. It is home to two hills, Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri, and it was in the former that Chandragupta Maurya is believed to have meditated. The colossal statue of Gomateshwara, standing at 57 feet, is located on Vindhyagiri Hill. Shravanabelagola also hosts the Mahamastakabhisheka, or the Great Consecration, every twelve years. On this occasion, the statue is worshipped by placing 1008 pots filled with sacred water. It is an impressive spectacle, and attracts people in impressive numbers.

Top Things to See & Do

  • Bhagwan Bahubali Statue
  • Chandragiri Hill
  • Vindhyagiri Hill
  • Chamundayara Basadi
  • Aregal Basadi
  • Belagola Pond
  • Odegal Basadi

12. Bijapur, Karnataka – Glory of Bahmani Sultanates!

Bijapur, Karnataka

Bijapur is great for those who love exploring historical sites, for it is dotted with several of them. Although it is known as Bijapur today, there was a time when it was known as Vijajpura. The city was formed by the Kalyani Chalukyas during the 10-11th centuries, followed by Yadavas, and then by the Bahmani Sultanate. It was during the latter’s reign that most of the tourist attractions like Bijapur Fort, Jama Masjid and Gol Gumbaz, were built. Although there are several mausoleums, mosques and watchtowers, it is the Gol Gumbaz which stands like a giant among others, always managing to impress visitors with its aesthetic and proportions.

Best Things to See & Do

  • Gol Gumbaz
  • Jama Masjid
  • Bara Kaman
  • Bijapur Fort
  • Ibrahim Roza
  • Malik-e-Maidan
  • Asar Mahal

13. Badami – Fabulous rock cut temples!


Even though Badami may not be as large as it was during the reign of the Badami Chalukyas, it has retained its majesty and evokes immense respect. It is associated with numerous mythological tales and legends, and is referred to in the Puranas as Vatapi. The Badami Cave Temples are the greatest attraction in Karnataka, all of which are accessible via a steep rock climb. The rock cut temples are found across four caves, each adorned with exquisite carvings. The first three caves depict various gods and goddesses in Hinduism, including Lord Shiva and Vishnu, in different avatars. In Cave 4, you come across the various Tirthankaras (spiritual teachers and guides in Jainism). Highly respected figures in the Jain religion, from Bahubali to Mahavira, are depicted in this cave. Other than these, there are other caves that touch upon different themes, from Buddhism to scenes of everyday life. Head towards the top of the cave temples, and your eyes meet the brownish waters of thee Agastya Lake, draped in all its mystery. Adjacent to it lies the Bhootnath Temple.

Top Things to See & Do

  • Badami Cave Temples
  • Agyasta Lake
  • Northern Fort Temple
  • Badami Fort

14. St. Mary’s Island – Take a leap of faith!

St. Mary Island


St. Mary’s Island still retains the cross which was placed by Vasco Da Gama upon landing there in 1498. After landing on the island, he named it O Padrão de Santa Maria, as a dedication to Mother Mary. The island is noticed for its unique salt rock formations, and because of this, has been declared as a National Geological Monument. Once you reach the island, start walking towards the right until you reach the cliff. Take a plunge into the sea here. Remember though, that you will have to swim for almost 5 minutes once you start, as there are no stops between the cliff and the beach. A unique sight awaits you at the shell beach, where shells take the place of sand. There is also a designated swimming zone along with facilities for banana boat rides. You can reach the island by hiring a ferry from Malpe Beach.

Best Things to See & Do

  • Cliff Jumping
  • Visit the Stella Maris Church
  • Explore the Shell Beach

15. Kudremukh – The Horse Shaped Mountain!

Kudremukh Peak

It is places like Kudremukh that make Karnataka what it is. At first sight, you could dismiss it as another mountain range amongst the many mountain ranges in Karnataka. This is a mountain with a difference though. Not only is it the third highest peak in Karnataka, one side of it also resembles the face of a horse. It gets its name Kudremukh, which means horse-faced in the local language, from the fact that one side of it resembles a horse. A particular attraction is the Kudremukh National Park, which was established to protect endangered species of animals, from the lion-tailed macaque to the tiger. It was declared a national park in 1987.

Top Things to See & Do

  • Hanuman Gundi
  • Hebbe
  • Kalhatty Waterfalls
  • Naga Teertha

16. Somnathpur – Masterpieces of Hoysala architecture

Keshava temple at Somanathapura

Somnathpur is located almost 35 km from Mysore and is dotted with fabulous structures built during the reign of the Hoysalas. Magnificent temples dot the town at regular intervals, with each of them as enchanting as the other. The most famous of these is Kesava Temple, with its triple towers. Its outer walls are adorned with images where the particular attention to detail in each of them is amazing. On the ceiling, your eyes meet the images of gods, goddesses and scenes from the epics. One is forced to think about what must have inspired the creation of such masterpieces.

Best Things to See & Do

  • Chennakesava Temple
  • Somnathpur Temple
  • Gunja Narasimha
  • Gargeshwari Temple

17. Bengaluru – As cosmopolitan as it gets!


Finally, we have Bengaluru– the capital of Karnataka and a hub for high tech industries. It has everything that you ask for, in order to let you have a wonderful time. You can go shopping, visit a wildlife sanctuary, spend a quiet evening in a park or hangout at one of the glitzy malls. It is a cosmopolitan city and chances are that you will fall in love with the city sooner or later. There are heritage sites and religious ones, museums, lakes, art galleries and plenty of other opportunities for having a great time.

Top Things to See & Do

  • Cubbon Park
  • Lalbagh Gardens
  • Karnataka Chitrakala Parishad
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium
  • National Gallery of Modern Art
  • Ulsoor Lake
  • Bull Temple
  • Dodda Ganesh Temple
  • Jamia Masjid
  • Attara Kacheri
  • Visvesvaraya Industrial & Technological Museum
  • Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple
  • Bull Temple

18. Gudavi Bird Sanctuary – In the company of birds!

Gudavi Bird Sanctuary

Gudavi Bird Sanctuary is the place to spot a variety of birds, in all colours, shapes and sizes. To visit this bird sanctuary, you will have to visit the district of Shimoga, about 16km from Sorab. The sanctuary is surrounded by the Gudavi Lake, which is filled to the brim during the monsoons. The sanctuary is home to almost 217 species of flora and fauna. Some of the most famous among these include night heron, grey heron, Indian shag, white headed crane, junglefowl, brahminy kite and black headed crane.

Best Things to See & Do

  • Spot a variety of birds

Other attractions to check out in Karnataka

Apart from the famous tourist destinations, here are two other attractions which you can check out during your trip to Karnataka.

19. Infant Jesus Church – Infant Jesus Blesses You!

Infant Jesus Church

We bet you’ve never seen Jesus Christ worshipped as an infant before, have you? That is what makes this church so special. In the Infant Jesus Church in Bengaluru, Jesus Christ is worshipped as an infant, and what a beautiful sight that is. The foundation for this church was laid on 8th April, 1969 by Reverend Dr. S. Lourdusamy, the then Archbishop of Bengaluru. In its initial years, the church stood in the form of an old tent, which was famously known then as the Tent Church. It lasted for over eight years. The new church which you see today, was inaugurated on 9th June, 2005. It can accommodate about 2500 people and has an opening which runs all around the church. The interiors have been so designed so as to allow the people to face the altar, irrespective of where they are seated.

Top Things to See & Do

  • Jesus Christ infant statue

20. Gangadeshwara Temple – Astrophysical brilliance!

Gangadeshwara Temple

Try visiting the Gangadeshwara Temple on the occasion of Makar Sakranti, and you will be treated to a visual spectacle that is backed by amazingly accurate scientific knowledge, architectural brilliance and astrophysics. On this occasion, a ray of light flashes through the horns of the stone bull outside the temple and falls directly on the deity inside the cave, thereby illuminating it. This phenomenon can be observed on the 14th and 15th of January every year. Built during the reign of Kempe Gowda I, it consists of a moon, sun disc monoliths, stone umbrella, Shivalinga and three cave passages. Other features of the temple which evoke admiration are the pillars built in Vijayanagara style, statues of doorkeepers to the cave and the Shivling, which is the presiding deity.

Best Things to See & Do

  • Massive discs
  • Objects associated with Lord Shiva
  • Pillars
  • Doorkeepers to the cave
  • Shivling – the presiding deity

These are the 20 best places to visit in Karnataka that you can visit with your friends and family, and are great for exploration and sightseeing. Let us know how many of these have you visited or intend to visit in the comment box below.

In case, you want us to plan your holiday in Karnataka, give us a call on +91-8744012050 or drop an email at We at Tour My India design some of the best holiday packages in India and abroad.

Vishwajit Sharma


Writing, for me, is an artistic expression of the countless thoughts flooding my mind. For now, travel content writing is what keeps me going! In my spare time, I like nothing better than immersing myself in a book, along with a cuppa! A classic movie helps too! I define traveling as a process of self-discovery. Hailing from Darjeeling, my ultimate desire is to escape to the hills, with the mountain air and solitude as my constant companions!

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