Karnataka, is a state located in the southern part of India. It lies on the (south) western part of the country, bordering the Arabian sea’s coast.
The capital of Karnataka is Bengaluru (previously Bangalore), which is located close to the south-eastern border of the state.
Before the independence of India in 1947 (from the British empire’s rule), the state was known as Mysore. Mysore state was prosperous but landlocked, on the Karnataka Plateau. It was identified as one of the princely states in India at the time (states which were under the rule of a regional ruler who was affiliated to the British Raj).
Later in independent India, the Kannada-speaking people from the nearby regions united and began living in this state, and its “land-lock” status was ended, by giving the state an outlet to the (Arabian) sea, and extending its boundaries to a larger area to accommodate these people, and thus forming the state of Karnataka.
There are about 27 cities and many smaller towns and villages in Karnataka. These are grouped into about 31 districts.
The most populous cities and towns are Bengaluru Urban, Dharwad, Mysore, Gulbarga, Mangalore and Belgaum – in that order.
Karnataka has a population of about 7 Crore (70 million) people. Hindus, Muslims, and Christians are the three largest religious groups in the total population of the state. Around 84% of the people in the state are Hindus, followed by up to 13% of Muslims and about 2% Christians. Other religions followed by people in the state include Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism which collectively come to less than 2% of the population.
Most people of all religions speak Kannada, Telugu, Tamil or Hindi language in the state – the city has a blend of people from different parts of the country living and working here, as it is one of the major IT hubs of the country.
Karnataka has many traditional arts, and classical music forms – Carnatic music being the most popular. The state has more Hindus compared to people of other religions, but it also consists of a good number of Muslins, Christians and Jains.
Women here mostly wear sarees (especially middle-aged women), but western attire (jeans, pants and shirts, skirts, cardigans, etc.) is common among kids, teenagers and young working professionals.
Although the primary language spoken across Karnataka is Kannada, this state is also home to many people speaking Tulu, Konkani and Marathi (the languages of surrounding regions).
Nestled at the center of Deccan Plateau, Western Ghats, Kannad Coast, Karnataka is home to several forests, beaches, waterfalls, historic places, coffee plantations, and lakes, which attracts an influx of visitors from across the country. With a diverse culture and history, Karnataka has a lot to display through its historic architectures, temples, and modern infrastructure, and below is a list of some of the best tourist places in Karnataka to visit.
- Bangalore – The most technologically advanced and cosmopolitan city in India, Bangalore is a melting pot of diverse culture, traditions, and ethnicities merging harmoniously. Also called the Garden City, Bangalore has numerous attractions from historical monuments to temples, national parks, gardens, amusement parks, and a hoard of cafes, restaurants, and nightclubs, and when clubbed together with the pleasant weather, makes Bangalore a must visit place. Some of the best tourist places here are Lalbagh Garden, Bannerghatta Park, Tipu Sultan Palace, Aerospace Museum, VidhanaSoudha, Wonder La Theme Park, Bangalore Palace, etc.
- Coorg – One of the quaint hill stations in Karnataka, Coorg is an ideal place to enjoy the solitude with the lush greenery contributing to its beauty and crisp air making it a pleasant summer place. Endowed with the vast expanse of coffee plantation, waterfalls, and the green mountains, visitors can explore the Tibetan Monastery, trek along the coffee estate or along the stream or rive side, Coorg will never seize to amaze.
- Hampi – An architectural marvel and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hampi is located at the banks of Tungabhadra and is home to historical ruins and remains of the Vijayanagar kingdom. A haven for the history and archaeological enthusiast, the ruins in Hampi showcase the architectural brilliance of the craftsman of that era and must be witnessed at least once.
- Mysore – One of the oldest cities and second biggest in Karnataka, Mysore was the city of the royals in the bygone era which is apparent by the many historical and grand palaces. Still oozing the old worldly charm, Mysore has many old temples, palaces, museum showcasing relics, imposing heritage structures, including the Mysore Palace and the Brindavan Garden that are worth every visit.
- Shivanasamudra Falls– If you are there in Karnataka during the monsoon months, the spectacular Shivanasamudra Falls is the place you must visit. A segmented fall with streams running parallel to each other, the mighty falls create a natural swimming pool where visitors can enjoy, and the breathtaking green surroundings makes an ideal backdrop for some Instagram worthy pics.
- Gokarna– A quiet suburb in the north Kannad district of Karnataka, Gokarna welcomes tourists because of its peaceful ambiance, beautiful temples, and enthralling beaches that are not as crowded. The Mahabaleshwar temple is the major attraction here, along with Kudle beach, Om beach, and Gokarna beach where you can even enjoy some water sports.
- Belur and Halebidu – The two towns relay a rich history and tales of the bygone era. Belur was the former capital of Hoysalaempire and consists of various temples with stunning architecture and outstanding sculptures. The most revered temple here is the Chennakesava temple with life-size pillars.
Halebidu, located in Hassan district of Karnataka, is a town of historical and religious significance as well. The main temple here was constructed to welcome king Vishnuvardhana and queenShantala Devi and from the temple, a view of the two hills facing each other that appear like bulls and a Ganesh figure on the southern side draw the attention of the visitors.
- Dandeli– Not many people know about this astounding location, but it is worth a visit due to its spellbinding location, surroundings, rocky terrain perfect for trekking, and the interesting wildlife. River Kali flowing here offers great Kayaking experience, while visitors can even camp out here amidst the lush green surroundings, which is a perfect getaway for an adventure seeker.
- Nandi Hills– Experience the feel of a paradise on Nandi Hills that offer the visitors a breathtaking view of the clouds, pristine lakes, timeless monuments, temples, and fresh crisp air. During the monsoons, the place looks like a painting with some of the most vibrant colors splashed on to it.
- Chitradurga Fort – Located in Chitradurga town, the fort is an archaeological marvel with great historical significance as it has been in existence since the era of the Chalukyas. The fort is surrounded by towering hill with the peak giving the view of a valley and different sizes of rocks that makes it look very appealing.
Karnataka being a land ruled by various empires and dynasties in the past, has a deep history and a rich heritage, which are manifested through the beautiful monuments and other elements that the state has. Some popular historic places to explore in Karnataka are -
- Hampi - an ancient village with numerous ruined temple complexes and religious (mostly Hindu) heritage sites from 7th century, the Vijayanagara Empire era and other historic eras. The rich heritage manifested through the buildings and monuments makes this place picturesque as well as culturally charming.
- Tipu Sultan’s summer Palace, near Mysuru
- Mysore palace, Mysuru
- Udupi – Another city with rich heritage – historical monuments and temples.
- Bangalore palace, Bengaluru
- Badami – A region with beautiful ancient rock cut temples.
Some popular adventure activities and places to indulge in them in Karnataka include -
- White water rafting (at Dandeli, on the banks of river Kali)
- Zorbing (in Bengaluru)
- Trekking and Hiking (Nandi Hills, Kumaraparvata)
- Parasailing (at Murudeshwara)
- Rock Climbing (at Ramanagara)
- Kayaking (at Bheemeshwari)
- Wildlife Safari (at Nagarhole national park)
- Coracle ride (Shivanasamudra falls)
Rice, Jowar (Sorghum) and Ragi (also known as Finger millet) are the grains used in most dishes in Karnataka’s cuisine and these are the staples here. While Rice and Ragi are mostly consumed in South Karnataka, Sorghum is the primary grain in the food of North Karnataka.
Some popular dishes in Karnataka’s cuisine include Bisibele Bath (a porridge made of rice, dal (pulses), vegetables, spices and coconut), Ragi Mudde (steamed ragi balls), Jolada Rotti (unleavened Sorghum flatbread), and Akki rotti (unleavened rice flour flatbread).
Trains, Planes and Buses are major modes of inter-city transportation within Bihar. For travel within cities, there are many other modes such as the local metro (train), taxi/cabs, buses, and private vehicles like 2-wheelers and cars, or even walking and cycling.
Airports – Karnataka has 6 domestic airports connecting to other states and cities in the country, and 2 International airports connecting to cities within the state as well as other parts of the country.
- Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru
- Mangalore International Airport, Mangaluru
- Mysuru Airport, Mysuru
- Hubbali Airport, Hubbali-Dharwad
- Bidar Airport, Bidar
- Jindal Vijaynagar Airport, Ballari
- Belagavi Airport, Belagavi
- Kalaburagi Airport, Kalaburagi
Railway Stations – Karnataka has a total of 404 train terminals/railway stations (at least one for each city/town, and more than 1 in some cities) that connect to other cities and towns within the state as well as those in other states in the country. Some of the major train terminals and junctions in the state are:
- KSR Bengaluru city Junction, Bengaluru
- Yeshvantpur Junction, Yeshvantpur (near Bengaluru)
- Mysuru city junction, Mysuru
- Raichur Junction, Raichur
- Katihar Junction, Katihar
- Bengaluru Cantonment, Bengaluru
- Davangere Railway Station, Davangere
- Mandya railway station, Mandya
- Belagavi railway station, Belgaum
Bus Terminals – Karnataka has its own line of state-run KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) buses which provide the connection between all the cities and towns within the state and also neighbouring states. These buses can be boarded at KSRTC stops/terminals that are available in every division and town in the state. The prominent town/city bus terminals in the state are located in almost every city and town in Karnataka - they can be easily found and are conveniently accessible.
A land endowed with a rich history, brilliantly crafted temples, dense forests, pristine beaches, and all the bounties of nature, Karnataka is a place where diverse culture and heritage along with the contemporary romance of ethnicities blend to form a world worth exploring.