Karnataka, the land of colours, cultures, landscapes and tantalizing cuisines, holds a prestigious position in the tourist map of India. Blessed with the best of nature and ruled by many famous dynasties like Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas or Hoysala, the state has a series of sightseeing attractions that are worth-visiting at the cost of your valued holidays. The temples of this culturally booming state are backed by solid mythological backgrounds while the beaches are found relatively clear. However, the presence of India’s second largest waterfall is a matter of pride of the tourism of Karnataka what satiates the thirst of every sightseeing geek perfectly. To let you know of the best of these attractions, we have prepared this well-researched list which speaks about the major temples and sightseeing options in Karnataka. To know about them in details keep reading:
Photo Courtesy: Arun Sundar
The very name Belur denotes two significant destinations in India, first, the headquarter of the Ramakrishna Math, and the second, the capital of the Hoysala Dynasty. Well! You don’t need to be confused, because here we are talking about the second one which is located in Hassan District of Karnataka. The main attraction of this town is the temple of Chennakesava which is a treat to the eyes of architect lovers. Claimed to be the finest ever specimen of Hoysala style of architecture, the temple presents an artistic exterior engraved with figurine details. Chennakesava is also counted among the few popular temples in Karnataka which bear original traces of historical India.
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The historical city of Halebidu or Halebid is only 16km from Belur and located in the same district i.e. Hassan. In the ancient days Halebid was called Dwarasamudra or the gateway to the sea and was the capital of the Hoysala kings during 12th – 13th century. The temple architecture of this South-Indian travel destination is eye-catching and history buffs can get enough food for their study and thought in this temple town. The temple complex found at Halebid comprises of two Hindu Temples along with two Jain Basadi. The exterior of the main temple is beautifully adorned with statues depicting several mythological stories. A unique part of the main temple of Halebid is the statue of a Nandi Bull which could not completed after 86 years of labour.
Popular for being the hallowed seat of Goddess Mookambika, Kolluru or Kollur is a tranquil temple town at the foothills of Western Ghats in the Udupi district of Karnataka. One of the most popular Pilgrimages in Karnataka, this city is believed to have been created by the great Parshurama. It is said that the temple of Mookambika is among the seven pilgrimage centres built by Parshurama. The temple houses a Jyotirlingam depicting the union of both Shiva and Shakti. It is said that the Goddess Mookambika is the manifestation of trigunas. The Shri Chakra of the temple contains the image of Goddess Parvati which is made of Panchaloha (five metals) and is believed to be consecrated by Adi Shankaracharya. The key attractions of this temple are the gilded crest and copper roofs which enhance the overall looks of this temple.
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Located on the bank of River Bhadra on a lush green region of Chikkamagaluru dist of Karnataka, Horanadu is a revered seat of Adishakthyathmaka Sri Annapoorneshwari. Horanadu is popularly known as Sri Kshetra and counted among the best religious places to visit in Karnataka. The presiding deity of the temple is Devi Annapoorneshwari who is considered as the Goddess of food in Hindu Mythology. It is believed that devotees bestowed with the blessings of Mother Goddess never suffer from food scarcity in their life.
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The birthplace of Dvaita (duel) Vaishnavism, Udupi is a popular Hindu pilgrimage site in South India and highly esteemed by the followers of Vaishnava philosophy. The major religious attractions of Udupi are Krishna Mutt (the temple of Krishna) and Ashta Mutt (a group of eight mathas). Udupi cuisine forms a significant part of the cuisine of Karnataka. If you are fond of watching Yakshagana, the popular dance form of South India, I would suggest you to witness it here. Yakshagana Kendra in Udupi is the best place to quench your thirst. If you love visiting temples during certain festival, you should be in Udupi during the biennial Paryaya which takes place in January.
Only 29km from Mangaluru, Kateel or Kattil is a popular seat of Hinduism located in Dakshina Kannada District. The main attraction of this sacred place is the temple of Durga Parameshwari which is located on an islet in the middle of the godly river Nandini. The formation of this temple is associated with interesting mythological stories that describe Nandini river as the incarnation of Kamdhenu’s daughter Nandini, who descended to earth after being cursed by sage Jabali. To get rid of this severe curse, Nandini did a penance to get the blessings of Goddess Durga. It is because of the prayer of Nandini, today we see the temple of Durga Parameshwari at the heart of the river.
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Called the land of miracuolous paradoxes, Dharmasthala should be your pick if you love exploring religious wonders. Located on the bank of Nethravathi River in Dakshina Kannada District, this Panchayat Village has been the centre of attraction for being the revered seat of Lord Manjunatha, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The temple appears as an ideal instance of religious tolerances for being nurtured by both Hindu and Jain believers. While the priests of this temple are Vaishnavite Brahmins, the guardians of the temple are Heggade, who are Jains by belief. Maha Nadavali is the most vibrant festival in Dharmasthala which continues for 11 days. People from different socio-economic backgrounds take active part in this festival which deserves much appreciation.
Photo Courtesy: Dhiraj Rao
Located in Dakshina Kannada District of Karataka, Kukke Subramanya Temple is the seat of a lesser known incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He is worshipped here as the lord of all serpents which is rarely seen in any other Vishnu temple. It is said that Vasuki and other prominent serpents once found refuge under Lord Vishnu when all of them were threatened by Garuda, the carrier of Vishnu. The temple of Kukke Subramanya has a scenic setting with Kumara Parvatha standing at the background. People who are suffering from Kalasarpa Dosha must perform puja here on the day Ashlesha Bali pooja.
Located in Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka, Shringeri is a small hill town where Adi Shankara established his first Matha. It is a spiritually ignited land where nature conceals the best charming element in its every fold. The town is popular among the Hindus for the famous Vidyashankara Temple and Sharadamba temple. It is believed that after being impressed by the tranquillity of Shringeri village, Adi Shankara spent 12 years of his life in this village. It is Adi Shankara who took the initiative of building four distinct temples in the four sides of the village called Kala Bhairava Temple, Kere Anjaneya, Kalikamba Temple, Durgamba Temple. Shringeri Sharada Peetha and Sri Malahanikareshwara Temple are some of the most famous temples in Karnatka.
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People call it the land of Shiva’s origin, but I would like to describe it as the land of immaculate natural beauty. More than a religious shelter, Gokarna is blessed with certain natural grandeurs which every nature lover would love to get associated with. The town is dotted with palm tree groves and lined with calm and composed beaches where anyone would love to spend the leisure times. The temples of Mahabaleshwar, Maha Ganapathi, Uma Maheshwara, Bhadrakali, Tamra Gauri and Venkataramana are counted among the major religious attractions of Gokarna. The most significant element of tourism in Gokarna is its blue sea water lined with relatively clear beaches which makes it an ideal getaway for taking a short break from mundane life.
Murudeshwar is known among the travellers for its scenic beaches, the temple of Lord Shiva and his gigantic statue. The town lies on the coast of the Arabian Sea and looks stunning for the beautiful mountains and blue waters lined with palm and coconut groves. There is a huge fort close to the temple of Lord Shiva which is believed to be restored by Tipu Sultan. Murudeshwar is a famous picnic spot which, among others, is visited by the people from nearby cities like Bhatkal, Udupi or Idagunj.
One of the most significant elements of sightseeing tour in Karnataka, Jog Falls should not escape your sight during your trip to Karnataka. Claimed to be the second highest plunge waterfalls in India, these series of waterfalls are located in Sagara Taluk. Untouched green landscape found around these waterfalls adds to the scenic opulence of this fall. Jog Falls is the source of the water of the nearby Linganmakki Dam across river Sharavathi.