20 Historical Monuments in Karnataka that teach History Better than Books

Karnataka in South India is unrivalled tourist destination in India. 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 when it comes to historical monuments in Karnataka.

When it comes to learning history, monuments built by centuries-old rulers tops the chart. Karnataka in the South of India has the most to teach.

Here are the top 18 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. With an array of structures and ruins, rugged landscape and river Tungabhadra running in the background offering great photo ops, Hampi definitely tops the list of historical monuments in Karnataka one must visit in a lifetime.

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.

How to reach
  • Nearest Airport: Vidhyanagar (Thoranagallu)
  • Nearest Railway Station: Hospet
  • Nearest Bus Station: Hospet
Weather
  • Summers: Avg Temperature: 35-40°C
  • Winters : Avg Temperature: 25-30°C
  • Average Rainfall : 515mm
Best time to visit
  • October To January
Opening Hours
  • 06:00 AM – 06:00 PM
Entry Fee
  • Indian Visitors: Rs.40/-(Cash), Rs.35/-(Online) per head
  • Citizen of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries: Rs.40/-(Cash), Rs.35/-(Online) per head
  • Other Foreign Visitors: Total Rs.600/-(Cash), Rs.550/-(Online)
  • Ticket with Facilities (Wheelchair access): Rs. 850/-

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.

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.

Source

The complex then contained more than thirty monuments, mosques, gardens, and mahals. Look out for Rangeen Mahal, Solah Khamba Mosque, Tarkash Mahal, Gagan Mahal, Diwan-e-am, and Diwan-e-Khas to get an insight into the lives of royalty.

How to Reach
  • Nearest Airport: Hyderabad International Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station: Bidar Railway Station
  • Nearest Bus Station: Central Bus Station , Bidar
Weather
  • Summers: Max Temperature- 43°C
  • Winters : Min Temperature- 16 °C
  • Monsoon : Avg Rainfall- 842 mm
  • Best Season to visit : September to December
Opening Hours
  • 6.00 AM – 6.00 PM
Entry Fee
  • Not Tickted

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3. Chennakeshavasvami Temple (Kesava Temple), Hasan

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.

How to reach
  • Nearest Airport: Bangalore International Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station: Hassan Railway Station
  • Nearest Bus Station: Hassan Bus Station
Weather
  • Summers: Max Temperature- 39°C
  • Winters : Min Temperature- 10°C
  • Monsoon : Avg Rainfall- 806 mm
  • Best Season to visit : October to March
Opening Hours
  • Living Monument  (6.00 am to 7.30 pm)
  • Special occasion opened up to 9.00 pm
Entry Fee
  • Not Ticketed

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.

Useful Information

  • Palace Entrance Timings: Every day From 10.00 Am To 5.30 PM
  • Entrance to Palace for Tourists from three Gates: Varaha and Amba Vilas Gate at South and Jayarama Balarama Gate at North.
  • Tickets issued for Palace Entrance between 10.00AM – 5.30 PM.
  • Tickets for (Indian / Foreign) Adults Rs 70 / head, Children above 10 years and below 18 years Rs 30 / head.
  • Illumination Timings – Sundays & Public Holidays: 7.00 Pm – 8.00 PM

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.

Timings:

Shravanabelagola temple timings are 6.30 AM to 11.30 AM and 3.30 PM to 6.30 PM. At least half a day is recommended to explore the hills of Shravanabelagola.

How to reach Shravanabelagola

Shravanabelagola is 145 km from Bengaluru and 85 km from Mysuru

  • By Air: Mysuru is the nearest airport 85 km away
  • By Train: Shravanabelagola has a train station with up to five different trains providing connectivity from Bengaluru each day
  • By Road: Buses are also available from Hasan to Shravanabelagola. Places of interest here can be explored on foot

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.

How to reach
  • Nearest Airport: Bengaluru International Airport
  • Nearest Bus Station: Hassan Bus Station
  • Nearest Railway Station: Hassan Railway Station
Weather
  • Summers: Avg Temperature- 23°C
  • Winters : Min Temperature- 14°C
  • Monsoon : Avg Rainfall- 806mm
  • Best Season to visit: October To March
Opening Hours

Entry Fee

  • Sunrise To Sunset

None

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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 simple, 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.

Approach
  • Nearest Airport: Hubli Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station: Badami Railway Station
  • Nearest Bus Station: Badami Bus Station
Weather
  • Summers: Max Temperature- 40°C
  • Winters : Min Temperature- 19 °C
  • Monsoon : Avg Rainfall- 601 mm
  • Best Season to visit : October – February
Opening Hours
  • 6.00 AM – 6.00 PM
Ticket Value
  • Indian Visitors: Total Rs.25/-(Cash), Rs.20/-(Online) per head
  • Citizen of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries:Total Rs.25/-(Cash), Rs.20/-(Online) per head
  • Other Foreign Visitors: Total Rs.300/-(Cash), Rs.250/-(Online) per head
  • Ticket with Facilities (Wheelchair access): Rs.400/-

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.

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.

How to reach
  • Nearest Airport: Belgavi Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station: Badami Railway Station
  • Nearest Bus Station: Pattadakal Bus Station
Weather
  • Summers: Max Temperature- 41°C
  • Winters : Min Temperature- 28 °C
  • Monsoon : Avg Rainfall- 513 mm
  • Best Season to visit : October – February
Opening Hours
  • Sunrise to sunset
Entry Fee
  • Indian Visitors: Total Rs.40/-(Cash), Rs.35/-(Online) per head
  • Citizen of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries:Total Rs.40/-(Cash), Rs.35/-(Online) per head
  • Other Foreign Visitors: Total Rs.600/-(Cash), Rs.550/-(Online) per head
  • Ticket with Facilities: Rs. 850/-

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.

13. Gol Gumbaj, Bijapur, Karnataka

Gol Gumbaj, also known as Gol Gumbaz or Gol Gumbad is a mausoleum of Muhammad Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur. The construction began in 1627 when the Sultan ascended the throne. It took 30 years to build the dome. The structure of Gol Gumbaz is quite similar to the Taj Mahal in Agra that gives it the name ‘the Black Taj Mahal’ due to the dark color of the stone.

What makes Gol Gumbad, one of the top historical monuments in Karnataka, special is the architecture. The dome of Gol Gumbaj has a diameter of 44 meters. It stands without the support of pillars. The gallery below the tomb is built in a way that a sound echoes 7 times.

Gol Gumbaj is the world’s second-largest dome, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is the first. The chamber inside the mausoleum is also the biggest single chamber in the world with an area of 1700 square meters. The architecture is a splendid work of Yakut of Dabul (Dabul was a small seaport in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra).

How to Reach

  • Nearest Airport: Belagavi Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station: Bijapur Railway Station
  • Nearest Bus Station: Bijapur Bus Station

Weather

  • Summers: Max Temperature- 33° C
  • Winters: Min Temperature- 16° C
  • Monsoon: Average Rainfall- 806 mm
  • Best Season to visit: October to March

Opening Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Entry Fee

  • Indian Visitors: INR 25 (Cash), INR 20 (Online) per head
  • Citizen of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries: INR 25 (Cash), INR 20 (Online) per head
  • Other Foreign Visitors: INR 300 (Cash), INR 250 (Online) per head
  • Ticket with Facilities: INR 400 (Wheelchairs, Battery Operated vehicles, Signages, Canteen, etc.)

14. Kedareshwara Temple

Kedareshwar temple is in Halebeedu, Hassan district of Karnataka. Hoysala King Veera Ballala II built the temple during his rule (1173-1220 A.D.). The Archaeological Survey of India has marked the temple as a monument of national importance.

Although the Kedareshwar temple is a dedication to Lord Shiva, it is also a Trikuta temple. Trikuta refers to the shrine of three major deities in India – Lord Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma. The temple walls are full of sculptures of holy figures that depict religious stories of Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Bhagavad Gita.

Every nook and corner of the temple holds a character from the Hindu scriptures. The pillars towards the entrance are star-shaped and make one wonder about the technology used in that era. Kedareshwara temple is a window to our religious and cultural past.

How to Reach

  • Nearest Airport: Bangalore International Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station: Hassan Railway Station
  • Nearest Bus Station: Hassan Bus Station

Weather

  • Summers: Max Temperature- 39° C
  • Winters: Minimum Temperature- 10° C
  • Monsoon: Average Rainfall- 806 mm

Best Season to visit: October to March

Opening Hours 8.00 AM – 5.00 PM

Entry Fee: Not ticketed

Ancient Palace Sites & Remains: Historical Monuments in Karnataka

15. Srirangapatna

Srirangapatna is one of the top ancient sites in Karnataka. UNESCO even nominated the town as a world heritage site. It is an island town located by the river Kaveri giving it scenic beauty. The town of Srirangapatna boasts the architectural style of the Vijayanagar and Hoysala dynasties. Srirangapatna receives its name from the famous Ranganathaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

The Ranganathaswamy Temple is a magnificent temple that beholds the gaze of the tourists. Kunti Betta hill, Balmuri, and Edmuri waterfalls are must-see spots. The town is host to numerous historical monuments and sites like Daria Daulat Bagh, Srirangapatna Fort, Gumbaz of Tipu Sultan, Jama Masjid, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, and much more

How to Reach

  • Nearest Airport: Mysore Airport and Bengaluru International Airport
  • Nearest Train Station: Mysore Train Station
  • Nearest Bus Station: Central Bus Stand in Mysore, and Kempegowda Bus Stand in Bengaluru

Weather

  • Summers: Max Temperature- 37° C
  • Winters: Min Temperature- 15° C
  • Best Season to visit: October to March

Entry Fee: Varies from monument to monument

15. Bahamani Tombs

Bahamani tombs is a group of 12 tombs located at Ashtur, Bidar. The tombs belong to the twelve Bahamani Sultans. All the mausoleums are beautifully carved and engraved. The tomb of Ahmad Shah Wali, the 9th Bahaman ruler, even has inscriptions of the Quran. One of the striking features of the tomb is that it has a Swastika symbol on the wall. It is one of the most famous tombs among the Bahamani tombs.

How to Reach

  • Nearest Airport: Bidar Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station: Bidar Railway Station
  • Nearest Bus Station: Bidar Bus Stand

Weather

  • Summers: Max Temperature – 43° C
  • Winters: Min Temperature – 16° C
  • Monsoon: Average Rainfall – 842 mm

Best Season to visit: September to December

Entry Fee: Varies

17. Halebidu

Halebidu is an ancient site in the district of Hassan in Karnataka. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Halebidu was the capital of the Hoysala Empire. It is a city full of historic buildings. Most of the monuments are ruins in the present day.

Halebidu is famous for the temples built in the Hoysala architecture. The temples and the shrines are carved and engraved with precision. There are intricate details in every sculpture that attracts the attention of the tourists. Hoysaleswara temple, Shantaleswara temple, and Kedareshwara temple are top on the list. Visit Basadi Halli for the Jain temples, Belur, Yagachi Dam, and the Archaeological Museum to complete the trip.

How to Reach

  • Nearest Airport: Mangalore Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station: Hassan Railway Station
  • Nearest Bus Station: Halebid Bus Station

Weather

  • Summers: Max Temperature- 39° C
  • Winters: Min Temperature- 10°C
  • Monsoon: Average Rainfall- 806 mm

Best Season to visit: October to February

Entry Fee: Varies from monument to monument

18. Hassan

Hassan is another site for historical monuments in Karnataka. Like Halebidu, Hassan is home to many Hoysala temples. Hassan received its name from the Goddess Hasanamba. The temple of the goddess is a major attraction in Hassan. There are some Jain temples and a church for touring. The Shettihalli Rosary Church, Bhagawan Bahubali Statue, Sri Lakshmi Venkataramana Swamy Temple, Ishvara Temple, Amaragiri Malekal Tirupati Temple, and Gorur Dam are a few more places to visit in Hassan. Hassan is close to Halebidu and Belur, two other sites one must visit.

How to Reach

  • Nearest Airport: Bangalore International Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station: Hassan Railway Station
  • Nearest Bus Station: Hasson Bus Station

Weather

  • Summers: Max Temperature- 39° C
  • Winters: Minimum Temperature- 10° C
  • Monsoon: Average Rainfall- 806 mm

Best Season to visit: October to March

Entry Fee: Varies from monument to monument

19. Hospet

Hospet, officially known as Hosapete, is a city in the Bellary district of central Karnataka. It is close to Hampi. The word ‘Hospete’ means a new city. It has historical significance because it was built by Krishna Deva Raya, the king of the Vijayanagara dynasty. Hospet was a dedication by the king to his mother. It was earlier called Nagalapura. The river Tungabhadra flows by the city.

Hospet is known as the Fort Town of Karnataka. It is famous for the Chitradurga Fort, also known as the Palace of Stone or “Kallina Kote”. The fort alone contains 19 temples. The city of Hospet is even more popularly known for the Tungabhadra Dam. Other famous attractions in Hospet are Lotus Mahal, Virupaksha Temple, King’s Balance, and Vittala Temple.

How to Reach

  • Nearest Airport: Bellary Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station: Hospet Railway Station
  • Nearest Bus Station: Hospet Bus Stand

Weather

  • Summers: Max Temperature- 43° C
  • Winters: Min Temperature- 15° C
  • Monsoon: Average Rainfall- 654 mm

Ticket Price: Varies from monument to monument

20. Bijapur Citadel

Source

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.

Also Read:

FAQs of Historical Monuments in Karnataka

Q. Which are the most popular historical monuments in Karnataka? +-

Ans: Some of the most popular historical monuments in Karnataka are:

  • Hampi Group of Monuments, Hampi
  • Bidar Fort, Bidar
  • Mysore Palace, Mysore
  • Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebid
  • Badami Cave Temples, Badami
  • Bangalore Palace, Bangalore
  • Group of Monuments in Pattadakal
  • Gol Gumbaj, Bijapur

Q. How many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Karnataka? +-

Ans: Hampi Group of monuments at Hampi, Group of Monuments at Pattadakal and Western Ghats of Karnataka are among the UNESCO world heritage sites.

Q. Which are some of the most popular historical places in Karnataka? +-

Ans: Some of the most popular historical places in Karnataka are Hampi, Mysore, Bijapur, Badami, Pttadakal, Hospet, Bangalore and more.

Q. How many palaces located in Karnataka? +-

Ans: The historical palaces located in Karnataka are:

  • Mysore Palace, Mysore
  • Bangalore Palace, Bangalore
  • Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore
  • Jayalakshmi Vilas Palace, Mysore
  • Jaganmohan Palace & Art Gallery, Mysore
  • Daria Daulat Palace
  • Nalknad Palace
  • Tipu Sultan Summer Palace, Bangalore

Mamta Vashisht

A romantic at heart, Mamta is passionate about traveling. Her work reflects her passion and her love for nature. She creates content pieces that fascinate readers and keep them hooked for more. She also loves to binge-watch TV shows when she is not writing.