12 Historical Monuments in Karnataka that take you back to the days of the past
Karnataka in South India is unrivalled tourist destination in India. While the scenic landscape that has hills, beaches, ancient cities, wildlife sanctuaries, along with bustling cities. In Karnataka lies, a treasure of history and heritage. Turn the pages of history and find centuries-old legacy. It is home to magnificent architecture, massive palaces still owned by royalty, holy revered temples and UNESCO World heritage sites. There is a lot to be discovered. Carefully picked from an extensive list, here are the top 12 must visit historical monuments in Karnataka:
1. Group of Monuments at Hampi
The epitome of glorious architecture of the Vijayanagara Empire, The Group of Monuments at Hampi are listed among UNESCO World Heritage sites in India. Nestled along the Tungabhadra River, Hampi comprise of ruins that reveal incredible architecture, sculptures and stories of the bygone days, it is one of the famous historical monuments in Karnataka that you must visit.
Hidden amid the craggy hills and open plains there are more than 1600 remains of history that takes you back to the olden days. Explore the ruins of Dravidian architecture in form of forts, royal complexes, temples, shrines, pillared halls, mandapas, water reservoirs, stables, gateways, riverside features, etc. The highlights are- Virupaksha Temple, Vitthala Temple, Hemakuta Hill Temples, Hazara Rama Temple, Archaeological Museum, Queen’s Bath, Elephant Stables, Lotus Mahal, Lakshmi Narasimha, Stepped Tank, Riverside Ruins, bazaars, residential areas and tanks.
2. Bidar Fort, Bidar
Built in the 15th century by Adil Shah, Bidar Fort is located on the edge of Bidar Plateau. The fine specimen of red laterite stone is an important historical monument in Karnataka. Folklore reveals that Bidar has served many ruling families of South India before the Sultanates, Mughals, and Nizams. It is witness to the passage of time, rulers and eras.
The Rangin Mahal, Tarkash Mahal, Takht Mahal, Gagan Mahal, Diwan-i-Khas, Diwan-i-Am, Royal Pavilion, Tombs of Bahmani Rulers, Tombs of the Barid Shahis, Solah Khamba Masjid, Madrassa of Mahmud, etc. are some attractions to check out in Bidar. Do not miss to check out the historic water supply system, called karez. Take a step back into history while exploring the fort.
3. Chennakeshavasvami Temple
The 12th century Chennakeshavasvami Temple in Hassan is very much worthy of being of our list best historical sites in Karnataka. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the Hindu temple was built during the Hoysala Empire rule. The temple has mentions in medieval Hindu texts, and remains an important pilgrimage site in Vaishnavism.
Remarkable for its architecture, sculptures, reliefs, friezes as well its iconography, inscriptions and history, marvel at artwork that recreate scenes of secular life in the 12th century, dancers and musicians, as well as a pictorial narration of Hindu texts such as the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas. Though a Vaishnava temple, it includes themes from Shaivism, Shaktism, Jainism and Buddhism. The Chennakeshava temple is a testimony to the artistic, cultural and theological perspectives.
4. Mysore Palace, Mysore
When talking about the historical monuments of Karnataka, it is impossible to not mention the spectacular Mysore Palace. The royal official residence and seat of the Wodeyars (1399 to 1950), the palace is one of the most famous places to see in Mysore, Karnataka.
The magnificent palace has an Indo-Saracenic layout with blend of Hindu, Islamic and Gothic architectural styles. Standing three-storey tall amid sprawling gardens, the palatial building overlooks the scenic Chamundi Hills. A visit to Mysore Place, introduces you to the historic tales, the lavish way of living, and the royal memorabilia making it an unmissable delight of South India. Plan a visit to Mysore Palace during Dusshera. The 10-day festival is an extravagant celebration, where the palace is decked in its optimum beauty.
5. Statue of Gomateshwara, Shravanabelagola
Awe-inspiring history of Karnataka brings us our next popular attraction, the 57-feet statue of Gomateshwara, also known as Bahubali. Known among the must see historical monuments in Karnataka, the massive statue is one of the largest free-standing statues in the world. Even more inspiring is, the one in 12 years’ ritual where the lord is bathed in milk, saffron, turmeric and other holy things.
Dating to the year 981, built during the rule of Ganga dynasty, the massive statue is a vision and till date inspires awe. Visit Shravanabelagola for it is an important Jain pilgrimage site in India, one of the unmissable highlights of Karnataka heritage tours.
6. Hoysaleswara Temple, Halibedu
Wouldn’t you love a journey back into history? The 12th century capital of the Hoysala Empire, Halebidu does just that. Home to a number of heritage monuments in Karnataka, the city is truly fascinating in every way. Fining its mention on our list is, one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture, Hoysaleswara Temple. In fact the temple is acclaimed as ‘the supreme climax of Indian architceture’.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the incredible Dravidian temple is known for carvings and sculptures that bring to life the mythological deities of Indian culture. The metal like polishing must be seen to believe how even stones can be greatest of treasures. Pay a visit to take blessings of the Lord but definitely to pay homage to the craftsmanship of the temple artisans.
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7. Badami Cave Temples, Badami
Paying tribute to the vast and glorious rule of Chalukyas, next on our list is one of the popular historical monuments in Karnataka. Badami Cave temples in Badami are the epitome of the skill of arts, crafts and architecture.
The four cave temples of Badami were built between the 6th and 7th centuries. The first temple worships Lord Nataraja, while the second and third cave temples to Lord Vishnu and the fourth temple to Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainism. Though the exteriors are imsple, they have fascinating ornate interiors. There are more than 81 sculptures of Lord Nataraja, ‘the cosmic dancer’, amorous couples, deities of Indian mythology and more. As Badami was the capital of Chalukyas for over 2 centuries, these are enthralling masterpieces.
8. Bangalore Palace, Bangalore
In the heart of India’s and not just Karnataka’s most modern cities’, lies a legacy of the recent days of history, the Bangalore Palace. The Wodeyar rulers built the beautiful palace in 1944. Inspired from castles of Normandy and England, the Bangalore Palace is known for magnificent woodcarvings and Tudor-style architecture.
One of the most visited tourist attractions in Karnataka, the royal palace has lost much of its original work, it is till date an impressive structure. The defining highlights are – the fortified towers, parapets, Roman arches, ornate cornices, patterned walls, extravagant chandeliers, hunting trophies, art-deco designs, and more. Don’t miss to check out the renowned paintings of Raja Ravi Verma, and the impressive collection of photographs of the royal family as well as evolution of Bangalore city.
9. Bijapur Citadel, Bijapur
The rule of Adil Shah Dynasty is one of the important chapters of history of Karnataka, which takes us to our next historical monuments in Karnataka that you visit, Bijapur Citadel. Mostly in ruins, the citadel is still inspiring. The fortified walls, the crumbling moat and the sprawling gardens take you back to the days where the fort was bustling with life.
Pay a visit to the 15th century’s magnificent structure. Furthermore check out the remains of the Gagan Mahal, 7 –storeyed Sat Manzil, Jala Manzil famous as the Water Pavilion and the 12-arched Bara Kaman, which is the Twelve Arches. The other amazing sights, equally lost to the passage of time is add to the delight of exploring Bijapur.
10. Raja’s Tomb
Settled amid one of the most beautiful hill stations in Karnataka- Madikeri, Coorg , there lies an historical attraction, Raja’s tomb also known as Gaddige. The beautiful Indo-Saracenic monument contains the mortal remains of the royal Kodavas. Pay homage to another era of royalty of Karnataka.
Built in 1820, the three structures in the complex hint to the style of Muslim architecture, with domes and turrets. But it also unique as the temple of Lord Shiva with a lingam and Nandi. The main tombs are, King Veera Rajendra and his wife and his brother Linga Rajendra. In addition, visit the tombs of Raja’s priest and General Biddanda Bopu here.
11. Group of Monuments in Pattadakal
Listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India, the Group of Monuments at Pattadakal are treasures of the bygone days of Karnataka. Built by Chalukyas in the 7th and 8th centuries, the monuments showcase the magnificent prowess of art and architecture.
The historic remains, narrate the tales of Chalukyas, who were not just rulers but also great patrons of art. Present in the complex are impressive series of nine Hindu temples, as well as a Jain sanctuary. The masterpiece of the complex is the Temple of Virupaksha. It dates back to the year 740. It was testimony to Queen Lokamahadevi husband’s victory over the kings from the South.
Marvel at the fine sculptures of navagrahas, dikpalas, the dancing Nataraja, wall niches as well narrative reliefs. Also, learn about episodes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and Panchatantra at Pattadakal, one of the best historical monuments in Karnataka.
12. Belgaum Fort
Last on our list but definitely not the least, we have Belgaum Fort. Built by Jaya Raya, the 13th-century fort is pride of Belgaum city. It enjoys the beauty of the foothills of Shaydris coupled with the Markandeya River.
Beauty mixed with history, Belgaum Fort is one of the best historical monuments in Karnataka that you must not miss. Surrounding the fort are moat and fine ramparts. While highlights include the two shrines of Lord Ganapati and Goddess Durga, two Jain Basadis, two mosques, etc. The minars, domes and arches reveal a typical fusion of Indo-Sarcenic and Deccan styles of architecture. In addition, marvel at Kannada inscriptions in the Nagari script as well as exquisite Persian script of calligraphic decorations.
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