Situated in the south west of India, Karnataka is a state featuring rich history, heritage sites, temples, beaches, wildlife parks, hill stations, adventure opportunities, Carnatic music and grand festivals. With so much to see and do, it is not easy to experience the state fully on a few days travel to Karnataka. If you still have a few days for a Karnataka tour, the Golden Triangle is a good option that includes sites of historical importance - Mysore, Bangalore, Hassan and Srirangapatna. Know more about the state in the Karnataka Travel Guide.
Best time to Visit Karnataka: November to April
How to Reach Karnataka
By Air: Karnataka has two international airports in Bangalore and Mangalore. You can find domestic airports at Mysore, Bellary, Hampi, Hubli and Belgaum.
By Rail: Karnataka is connected with the important tourist destinations in Western Coastal India by the Konkan Railway. Bangalore has three railway stations namely Bangalore City, Krishnarajapuram and Yeshwantapur, that makes it well connected with major destinations in India. Other railway stations in the state are located at Mysore, Bijapur, Hubli, Vijayanagara and Badami.
By Road: This is the best way to travel to Karnataka. The state has about 3,973 km of national highway roads and 9,829 km of roads are state highways. You can board inter-state and inter-city buses and even hire cars to reach anywhere in Karnataka by taking the following national highways - 4, 4A, 7, 9, 13, 17, 48, 63, 67, 206, 207, 209, 212, 218 and 234.
Tourist attractions in Karnataka: Places to Go
Karnataka provides everything that will satisfy the traveler's appetite for exploration. From coastal beaches by the Arabian Sea to hill stations on the Western Ghats. The state has man-made architectural marvels to dense forests with God's creations. Culture, adventure, archeology, history, scenic views and even a quiet time strolling along a virgin sandy stretch while your feet meets the gushing sea waves,Karnataka is awe inspiring even to a discerning tourist. Popular places to visit in Karnataka include Gokarna, Murudeshwara, St. Mary's Island, Mysore, Bangalore, Hampi, Agumbe and Coorg.
Heritage buildings in Karnataka
Well known for its stone monuments and their striking architecture boosting Karnataka tourism, the state offers travelers several destinations packed with forts, palaces, temples, minarets and domes. These places include Srirangapatna, Somnathpur, Hampi, Belur, Bijapur, Mysore, Bellary and Bidar. Each of these evoke periods of splendor through its monuments. Notable heritage buildings here include:
Museums in Karnataka
Karnataka has some impressive museums that display not only its history, but also its technological developments, biological sciences, arts, crafts, culture and tribal life. Apart from the following museums, you can also visit the Railway Museum and Regional Museum of Natural History in Mysore and the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bangalore.
HAL Aerospace Museum - This museum in Bangalore is noted for being the first to showcase aviation and aerospace in India. Maintained by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), it has exhibits of aircraft and helicopter models, Air Traffic Control tower and flight simulators.
Folk Lore Museum - Situated in Mysore, this museum displays several art and craft exhibits. When you travel to Karnataka, it is a good idea to visit this unique museum where you can see ornaments and accessories that belonged by native communities in the state, a crown of Hanuman, dolls of various types depicting folk dances and historical times, and musical instruments that were played by the folk musicians.
Wildlife and Bird Sanctuaries in Karnataka
Karnataka has a total of 5 national parks and 22 wildlife sanctuaries. These not only give you a glimpse of the state's natural resources but also protect some of the critically endangered living beings on earth. Along with the following protected areas in Karnataka, you can also visit Kudremukh National Park, Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, Anshi National Park and Bhadra Widlife Sanctuary.
Fairs and Festivals in Karnataka
Experience the cultural heritage of Karnataka in its fairs and festivals including:
Banashankari Fair - Held during the months of February and March, this fair is organized around the Banashankari Temple near Badami at Cholachagudd. Also known as Banashankari Jetre, the fair includes music and dances performances, circus acts and a chariot procession around the village.
Hampi Festival - Noted for its temples and palaces Hampi becomes pompous unlike its normal quietness during the 3 days in the month of November. The festival, also known locally as Vijaya Festival, attracts loads of tourists from far and wide to enjoy its cultural treats. You can enjoy classical music and dance performances, puppet shows, procession and folk themed entertainments during this festival. Adventure enthusiasts can indulge in rock climbing, trekking and water sports during this time.
Dussehra - This festival in Mysore held for 10 days during the month of September or October, receives Indian and international tourists for its traditions and grandeur. Dussehra also known as Navratri is a popular Hindu festival that is celebrated in various ways all around the country. In Mysore, you can see elephant processions known as Jumbo Savari, exhibitions on the opposite grounds of the Mysore Palace, music and dance performances in the city's auditoriums and a beautifully lit Mysore Palace in the evening and night.
History of Karnataka
Karnataka's history dates back to the pre-historic times when it is believed that gold was mined from here and sent to Harappa during the Indus Valley Civilization era. According to historical data, the earliest rulers of Karnataka belonged to the Nanda Empire. Other dynasties that ruled the state include Mauryans, Satvahanas, Kadambas, Western Ganga, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Cholas, Hoysalas, Wodeyars, Bijapur Sultanate and Bahamani Sultanate. Many of the rulers left their mark in their kingdoms' capitals by buildings palaces, forts and temples. Notable personalities in Karnataka's history are Tipu Sultan, Rajendra Chola I, Krishnaraja Wodeyar II and Haider Ali.