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KARNATAKA

Karnataka is a delightful treasure trove of history and serendipity. Civilizations have flourished here through the regions rather turbulent history, and time has wrought its magic on its geography – soaring mountains that descend with grace towards the ocean along its western coast, dense, primal forests with a fascinating variety of flora and fauna, ancient architecture, both temples and grandiose forts, hewn by successions of monarchical dynasties, entire cities in ruins, where battles were lost and won. Karnataka, besides the friendly people that live in the state, is a fascinating travel destination. The northern regions of the state are a part of the southern end of the Deccan Plateau, a mostly rocky landscape strewn with grandiose Indo-Sarcenic architecture, gradually yields to an increasingly salubrious environment as one moves south, past the Tungabhadra River. The landscape here is nourished by the Cauvery River and a traveller will find en route towns that are growing into urban townships, most with histories of antiquity, until one arrives in Bangalore, euphemistically referred to as the ‘Silicon Valley’ of India, a chaotic metropolis that is replete with evidences of its ancient history, a city that also contains a delightful cultural amalgam and a cosmopolitan population. Travel further south and one will discover the lush forests and plantations of Southern Karnataka and exquisite religious architecture. Swing west and explore the gorgeous beaches that stretch along most of the state’s western fringe. Travel further south, to Karnataka’s border with Kerala, immerse yourself in the ancient martial culture of Kodagu(Coorg), its fragrant coffee plantations, its historical monuments. Often in the pall of India’s more famous destinations, nevertheless Karnataka is, as a slogan goes, ‘the world’s best kept secret’.

Bangalore /Bengaluru Bangalore, renamed Bengaluru in 2014, is a fascinating city that is renowned for its salubrious climate throughout the year. Bearing the moniker ‘Silicon Valley of India,’ the city is one of India’s principal information technology hubs. Nevertheless, Bengaluru has also preserved its green cover and colonial heritage. A succession of South Indian dynasties historically ruled the area on which the city sits today until 1537 AD when Kempé Gowda, a feudatory under the Vijayanagara Empire, built a mud fort and established what is considered to be the foundation of modern day Bengaluru. Bengaluru’s urban landscape is dotted with scenic gardens & parks, natural lakes, historic architectural landmarks, and glitzy shopping malls. The city’s best restaurants offer fascinating varieties of culinary delights from throughout India and the rest of the world. Visitors will also enjoy the opportunity to experience concerts, dance and theatrical performances, exhibitions, and carnivals. More adventurous visitors are welcome to check out nightclubs and pub crawls, or simply shop until they’re ready to pass out! When you are ready to rest, Bangalore hotels offer the best services in the entire state. No matter how you decide to spend your trip to Bengaluru, it’s sure to be a memorable experience.
Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens A critical green space in the middle of a modern city, the LalBagh Botanical Gardens were commissioned by the former ruler of Mysore, Hyder Ali, and in 1760 they were subsequently completed by his son Tippu. This botanical refuge is a veritable Garden of Eden that contains numerous species of imported trees, over 1000 species of century old flora, and rare species of plants imported from Persia, Afghanistan, and France. It also houses India’s largest collection of tropical plants, an aquarium, a small lake, and a stone tower erected by Kempegowda, the founder of the city. Another stellar feature is an iconic glass house that has become synonymous with Bangalore itself, which hosts an annual flower show. The design and layout of the gardens bear a strong resemblance to the fabulous Mughal Gardens complete with lawns, flowerbeds, lotus pools, fountains, and an intricate watering system for irrigation. The Lal Bagh Rock that looms over the park is one of the oldest rock formations on earth, dating back to 3 billion years.
Bengaluru Palace Designed in the Tudor style of architecture, the construction of the Bengaluru Palace began in 1862 and was completed in 1944. The erstwhile ruler of Mysore, Chamaraja Wodeyar, bought the palace in 1884, and today the family continues to own the palace and its sprawling four hundred acre grounds. In addition to the fortifications on the exterior that includes towers, battlements, and turrets, the interior of the palace is replete with neo-classical furniture, wood pillars, artifacts, floral motifs, cornices, and relief paintings on the ceiling. The ground floor consists of an open courtyard with granite seats that are covered with fluorescent blue ceramic tiles, as well as a small ballroom. Upstairs on the first floor, an elaborate and large Durbar Hall with enormous stained glass windows, reminiscent of the Gothic style, is accessed by climbing a decorated staircase that climbs past walls adorned with paintings.
Cubbon Park Established in 1870 and named after the longest serving commissioner of the colonial era, Sir Mark Cubbon, Cubbon Park serves as a landmark 'lung' area in Bangaluru’s Central Business District. Spread over 300 acres, more than 6000 indigenous and exotic plants and trees populate the park. The layout of the park is interspersed with majestic colonial era buildings and statues of famous historical figures, it also judiciously integrates natural rock outcrops with thickets of trees, massive bamboos, grassy expanses and pretty flowerbeds with roads fringed by majestic silver oak and gulmohar trees snaking through the grounds.
ISKCON Temple Built to promote Vedic culture and spiritual learning in Bengaluru, this is one of the biggest ISKCON temples in the world, and it also functions as a large cultural complex. The temple was inaugurated in 1997 after seven years and 600 skilled workers were involved in its construction. The temple is situated on the crown of a 7-acre monolithic rock, and it combines swathes of glass with a traditional gopuram form that represents a fusion between the traditional majesty with bold contemporary aesthetics. An architectural wonder, the ISKCON temple should find a place in most travel itineraries.
Bull Temple & Dodda Ganesha Temple This temple was built in 1537 by Kempegowda in the Vijayanagara architectural style and named after a monolithic idol of a large granite bull named Nandi that is placed on a plinth in the temple shrine, now turned black from years of being rubbed with charcoal and oil. The idol of the bull is over fifteen feet tall and is believed to be the largest of its kind in the world. The Bugle Garden is adjacent to the temple. It is densely covered with trees with numerous bats hanging from their branches. The garden gets its name from a daily bugle call made from the top of a very large rock formation on the grounds. The entrance of the Bull Temple is, in itself, an impressive shrine. The tower over the shrine was constructed in the early 20th century and is adorned with Saivite figures and motifs. A smaller temple nearby houses the Hindu elephant god Ganesh. An awe inspiring sight, the Bull Temple is definitely worth a visit for those interested in traditional Hindu temple architecture.
Coorg Also known as Kodagu, the landscape of Coorg is composed of mist draped rolling hills, sparkling waterfalls, and lush coffee and spice plantations. The landscape together with the region’s hospitable people with their unique culture, traditions, and tantalizing cuisine, make travelling in Coorg an unforgettable experience. Located on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats, Coorg (Kodagu as it was originally known), is bordered by the southern districts of Karnataka to the North and Kerala to the West. The Kodavas, the native people of Coorg, were the earliest agriculturists in Kodagu, having lived there for centuries. Being a warrior community as well, both men and women wore traditional Kodava costumes, bore arms during times of war, and had their own chieftains, and all along they were able to evolve a distinctive culture. It is also popular for its Coorg and Kabini tours! The region elicits strong and sensuous memories - the enchanting fragrance of coffee, the seduction of fresh cardamom and black pepper, the characteristic bouquet of Coorg honey, the majestic River Cauvery, mountain slopes laden with lush forests rising to the sky, a bracing chill in the air all give Coorg its unique and irreplaceable character. Perhaps these characteristics also inspired the British to occupy Coorg for over 100 years, often referring to the area as the ‘Scotland of India.’ Consider booking your Coorg hotels today!
Madikeri Also known as Mercara, Madikeri is a quaint town situated in the Western Ghats and is the headquarters of the district of Kodagu. The history of Madikeri is inextricably linked to the history of Kodagu. The Haleri kings who ruled Kodagu from 1600-1834 AD built their capital in Haleri near Madikeri. Muthuraja, the third Haleri king, built the Madikeri fort in 1681. There are numerous landmarks of interest for travellers in and around Madikeri.
Raja's Seat Built in the form of the ‘mantapa’ in brick and mortar and comprised of four pillars bridged by arches, Raja Seat was very popular with the erstwhile rulers of the area, hence its name. Surrounded by picturesque gardens, Raja Seat is built on leveled ground raised from the crest of a hill with a gorgeous view of the cliffs and valleys of the Western Ghat Mountains below, as well as the horizon beyond. The stunning views of sunrises and sunsets are very special experiences for visitors.
Madikeri Fort This fort and the palace within were first built by Muddu Raja in the last quarter of the 17th century. It was subsequently rebuilt in granite by Tipu Sultan who renamed the site as Jaffarabad. The British added to the fort in 1834 and later the palace was renovated by Linga Rajendra Wodeyar II sometime between 1812 and 1814. Two life size masonry elephants stand watch in the northeast corner of the fort beside the entrance. An ancient church in the southeast end once drew colonial soldiers to worship. The rulers who built the fort also built a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Ganesha known here as "Kote ganapathi" at the main entrance of the fort.
Omkareshwara Temple Located at the heart of the town, Omkareshwara temple was built by King Linga Rajendra in 1820. The temple has both Islamic and Gothic styles of architecture and is built around a central pond.
Iruppu falls Located in the Brahmagiri Range, Iruppu is a fresh water cascade and is situated about 48 km from Virajpet on the highway to the Nagarhole Wildlife Park. A forest trail leads from these falls towards the Brahmagiri Peak in Southern Kodagu. Irupu Falls is a major tourist attraction in Karnataka and pilgrimage spot as well. A famous Shiva temple, the Rameshwara Temple, is situated on the banks of the Lakshmana Tirtha River en route to the falls, and this temple attracts a large number of pilgrims during the festival of Shivaratri.
Mysore Located at the foot of the Chamundi Hills southwest of the state capital Bengaluru, Mysore is famous for its royal palaces and one of the most well known festivals in India. The Mysore Dasara Festival is a ten-day festival that occurs in September or October every year, and is when the city receives the majority of its tourists. The town’s influence is demonstrated through the many cultural treasures that bear its name. These include the Mysore style of painting, the sweet dish Mysore Pak, the Mysore Peta (a traditional silk turban), and the garment known as the Mysore silk sari. Bustling Bazaars, wide roads fringed by historical buildings, serene residential suburbs, hospitable people, and a laid back lifestyle are the hallmarks of Mysore. Mysore is also sometimes referred to as ‘the City of Palaces’ because of the seven estates of the Wodeyar dynasty – an erstwhile ruler of Mysore. Among the most noteworthy examples are Amba Vilas, popularly known as ‘Mysore Palace’, the Jaganmohan Palace, which also contains a popular art gallery, Rajendra Vilas, also known as the ‘summer palace’, Lalitha Mahal, which has been converted into a hotel, and the Jayalakshmi Vilas. Today, Mysore is also an important information technology hub with many of the major companies in nearby Bangalore opting to shift their facilities here. The Brindavan Gardens situated near Mysore is also a popular destination on tourist itineraries. With so much going for it, you should start looking into Mysore hotels today!
Maharaja's Palace (Amba Vilas Palace) Amba Vilas Palaces is the official residence and seat of the Wodeyars — the erstwhile royal family who ruled the princely state of Mysore from 1399 to 1950. In 1897 the owners commissioned the British architect Lord Henry Irwin to rebuild the palace that had been destroyed in a fire. The palace contains a bewildering array of courtyards, gardens, and buildings, as well as two grand durbar halls (ceremonial halls of the royal court). The architecture of the palace’s domes is in the Indo-Saracenic style, and the rest of the structure incorporates a gamut of Hindu, Muslim, Rajput, and Gothic styles. Built with a combination of three stones, the edifice is topped with marble domes and a tall five-story tower. Above the central arch is a sculpture of Gajalakshmi, the goddess of wealth, prosperity, good luck, and abundance, she is also accompanied by her elephants. The palace complex is surrounded by a large garden and contains 18 temples. The Amba Vilas palace is the venue for the famous Mysore Dasara festival every autumn, at which time leading artists transform the ground into a whimsical delight. On the tenth day of the festival, floats carrying tableaux joined by caparisoned elephants bearing the idol of goddess Chamundi begin their march from the palace grounds.
Devaraja Market A trip to the Devaraja Market is an ideal time for a visitor to get a feel of the local culture of Mysore. With more than 100 years of history, this market is entwined with the heritage of Mysore - colourful, noisy, vibrant and chaotic. During the peak hours trading spills over from inside the market complex out onto the neighboring streets with many hawkers putting out their wares outside of the market’s entrance, which faces the Dufferin Clock Tower.
Chamundi Hill Named after the goddess Chamunda, the Chamundeshwari Temple sits atop the eponymous hill with an ancient stone stairway of 1,008 steps leading to its summit. Approximately halfway up the stairs is an enormous statue of a bull named Nandi, carved out of a single piece of black granite. From here, one is rewarded with a panoramic view of the city that includes the Mysore Palace, the Karanji Lake, and several smaller temples. The temple has a quadrangular structure and its main feature is a statue bearing a sword in his right hand and a cobra in the left that represents a character from Hindu mythology. Worshipers at the temple hold the belief that the yogic posture of the presiding deity, if mastered, will provide a seeker an extra-dimensional view of the universe.
Jaganmohan Palace The Jaganmohan Palace is perhaps the most beautiful contribution to Mysore from the Wodeyar kings during their regime. Constructed in 1861, the palace served as an alternative retreat for the royal family when the Amba Vilas Palace was being reconstructed. The design of the palace bears all the characteristics of the traditional Hindu style of architecture. The facade features three entrances. Columns, eaves, friezes, cornices with religious motifs, and representations of miniature temples adorn the interior. The walls inside are painted with murals in the classical Mysore style, which uses vegetable dyes. The murals represent the earliest known depictions of the Mysore Dasara festival. An additional external facade with a hall behind it was added to the main structure in 1900. An art gallery in the palace contains one of the largest collections of artifacts in South India, and they are accompanied by an extensive collection of paintings by the legendary Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma.
Lalitha Mahal Palace Visitors are greeted by a splendid view of the Chamundi Hill to one side and the city of Mysore straight ahead when they reach the upstairs balcony. The palace was built by the then Viceroy of India in 1921, but today it is a 5-star heritage hotel. Designed in the English Baroque architectural style, reminiscent of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, the two storied structure is painted a pristine white. Stained glass that decorates the skylights, doors, windows and ceilings adds a muted but colourful elegance to the interiors. The palace also contains an exquisitely designed viceroy room, a banquet hall, a dancing floor and an Italian marble staircase, all embellished with exquisite ornamentation's influenced by British culture. The visitor will then see full length portraits of the Wodeyar Kings, Italian marble floors, Belgian crystal chandeliers, stained glass windows and doors, skylights, delicate cut glass lamps, heavy ornate furniture, mosaic tiles and a couple of exquisite Persian carpets - all reflective of the lifestyles and history of the erstwhile rulers of Mysore.
Tipu Sultan Palace Srirangapatna, a hamlet just outside Mysore, is set beside the river Cauvery. Situated on an island mid -stream in the river is a fort and within its walls Dariya Daulat Palace popularly referred to as Tipu Sultan Palace. Today Srirangapatna is a suburb of Mysore set beside the River Cauvery, but for a brief period in its history it functioned as the capital of the Mysore state, this was during the rule of Tipu Sultan. Situated on an island mid-stream in the river is the Srirangapatnam Fort and contained within its ramparts is the Dariya Daulat Palace (Summer Palace). Built in 1784 and surrounded by serene and beautiful gardens called Daria Daulat Bagh, the palace is designed in the Indo Saracenic style and is mostly made of teak. The most stellar feature of the palace is that almost all of the space inside including the walls, pillars, canopies and arches are painted with vivid colourful frescoes, delicate graphic patterns of foliage and floral patterns. The wooden ceilings inside are pasted with canvas that is also painted with floral patterns. The top floor of the Daria Daulat Palace is devoted to the Tipu Sultan Museum that displays a collection of Tipu era memorabilia – mainly European paintings and Persian manuscripts.
Brindavan Gardens Reminiscent of the fabled Mughal Gardens in North India, the Brindavan Gardens are situated beside the Krishnaraja Sagar reservoir across the Cauvery River, 18km north-west of Mysore. These grand gardens almost reach as high as the nearby dam that stretches across the river. Often described as one of the finest examples of illuminated terrace gardens in the country, the garden was the brainchild of Sir Vishveshwaraiah and Sir Mirza Ismail, both former Devans of Mysore. Highlights include crisscrossing illuminated pathways and shimmering fountains, which when viewed from the pavilion on the south bank are a breathtaking sight. A visit to the gardens is an essential part of any travel itinerary to Mysore.
Karanji Lake Once a part of the Mysore Zoo, the Karanji Lake (also called Karanji Kere in the local vernacular) is now surrounded by a verdant nature park that contains a butterfly park, an aviary and the Regional Museum of Natural History. The Lake is situated on the migratory path of numerous bird species, so visitors to the park may have the opportunity to spot herons, ibis, cormorants, and egrets, in addition to ducklings, pelicans, painted storks, spoonbills, and darters during the winter season. At last count, more than five dozen species, both indigenous and migratory, were identified. The delightful butterfly park on a small island in the lake is also home to about 45 different species. The large aviary in the park, quite possibly the largest in the country, contains a large number of peacocks, wildfowl and geese. A separate enclosure houses numerous Sarus Cranes, the largest birds found in India. Visitors may rent boats at a Jetty, with or without a boatman, and ride to the islands. A bird watchtower with spectacular views of the park and its plumed denizens is located on one side of the park. Opposite the aviary is a tree lined grassland that is perfect for picnics with a nearby coffee shop and a park for children.
Hassan Hassan was founded sometime in the 11th century during the Hoysala Dynasty who reigned from the 11th to the 14th century. Today, their nearby capital of Dwarasamudra is in ruins that can be seen scattered around the hamlet of Halebidu. Many experts consider the ruins in the area to be the finest examples of temple architecture in Karnataka.Historians believe that the early Hoysala kings were Jains, but their descendants built the finest temples in the area, and they were dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Their early capital was Belur near Hassan, and along with Halebidu, it should be considered an essential part of every history buff’s travel itinerary in Karnataka. The main attraction in Belur is the magnificent stone carved Chennakesava Temple complex that contains the Chennakesava Temple. Named the Vijayanarayana Temple on its commission by King Vishnuvardhana in 1117 AD, historians differ on the possible reasons for its construction, but the military successes of the temple’s patron is considered a probable reason. The Hoysalas employed many noted architects and artisans in the design of this fabulous temple complex, and they went on to develop the Karnata Dravida tradition of temple architecture. Shravanabelagola near Hassan is one of the most important pilgrimage centres for Jains. The monuments here reached a peak in architectural and sculptural evolution under the patronage of the Ganga rulers of Talakad. The 57 foot monolithic statue of the Jain spiritual teacher Bhagavan Gomateshwara Bahubali is located on the Vindhyagiri hillock and is considered to be the world's largest monolithic stone statue. The base of the statue bears an inscription in Prakrit, which dates from 981 AD. Every twelve years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is covered with milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins from a specially constructed tower whose purpose is to allow the offerings to flow down the monolith’s face.
Shravanabelagola This small town near Hasan is one of the most important Jain pilgrim centres. A gigantic monolithic statue of the Jain spiritual teacher Bhagavan Gomateshwara Bahubali is located on a hillock outside the town and it is considered to be the largest monolithic stone statue in the world. Once every twelve years, devotees throng here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony covering the statue is covered with milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins.
Hasanamba Temple Archaeological experts consider the Hasanamba Temple in Hassan to be the epitome of temple architecture in Karnataka. Constructed sometime around the 12th century, an anthill inside the temple represents its presiding deity. The temple is open for only one week every year and devotees throng the premises as a viewing of the deity during the festival is considered a special honour. The deity is left with an oil fed lamp that continues to burn for the entire duration when the temple doors are shut – during the entire year. Flowers, water, and a couple of bags are also left behind as offerings until the doors are open the following year. It is believed that the lamp’s oil and flame does not diminish for the entire year, and the propitiation offered to the deity when the temple’s doors close is still warm and unspoiled when the doors are opened again.
Bijapur The Adil Shahi Sultans who ruled here for nearly 200 years have emphatically left their mark on the architecture and art around the Bijapur Fort. Subsequent sultans tried to outdo their predecessors in quantity, scale, and splendour in the structures they commissioned or renovated. Historical Bijapur consists of the citadel, the fort, and the remains of the city. Inside both the fort and the city the Bijapur kings made stellar contributions to Islamic culture in the Deccan. Outside, the ramparts of the fort lay the ruins of what was once a large, thriving city, but it is now mostly filled with ruins and remains of tombs, mosques, caravanserais and other edifices that have resisted the march of time. These structures are evidence of the ancient Bijapur’s splendour. However, the region also offers fascinating examples of the architectural style of the Chalukya dynasty of kings in the temples at Badami, Aihole, and Pattadakal near Bijapur.
Gol Gumbaz Gol Gumbaz is the mausoleum of Mohammed Adil Shah, and it was completed in 1656 by his court architect Yaqut of Dabul. Although deceptively simple in design, the ediface marks the structural triumph of Deccan architecture. The mausoleum contains one of the biggest single chamber spaces in the world. Built over a cuboid base to support the enormous dome, eight intersecting arches created by two rotated squares create inter-locking spandrels in the form of spherical triangles, forming a transition between the circular dome and the polygonal construct of the supporting masonry. Inside the mausoleum, a square podium with steps on each side lies beneath the overarching dome. A cenotaph slab In the middle of the podium marks the actual grave below. Along the inside of the circular dome is the "Whispering Gallery" where even the faintest sound can be heard on the other side of the mausoleum due to the acoustic properties of the interior.
Ibrahim Rauza The Ibrahim-Rauza, built by Ibrahim 'Adil Shah II (1580-1627), consists of his tomb and a mosque. The mosque and tomb rise in apposition, facing each other from foundations in a raised terrace, with a tank and fountain between them. The mosque has a rectangular prayer-chamber with a facade of five arches, and is shaded by a ‘chhajja’ and a slender minaret in every corner. The bulbous dome is decorated with a row of elongated petals along its base as it rises from a square fenestration. The square tomb displays double aisles, with the interior aisle adorned with pillars. Each corner of the facade is outfitted with two narrow arches, which are designed to take relief from the building’s weight. Inside, each wall features three arches, all of which are paneled and embellished with floral, arabesque, and inscriptional traceries. The chamber containing the tomb itself has a low curved ceiling made of joggled masonry.
Bijapur Citadel The once impregnable citadel of Bijapur has repulsed many a siege, and was constructed over the ruins of the Ark Killa in 1565. It contains numerous buildings, fortifications, and armaments that are evocative of the citadel’s and its battles’ histories. Within the fort, a colossal cannon popularly referred to as ‘the monarch of the plains,’ or the ‘Malik-i-Maidan’ is the largest medieval cannon in the world at 4 m in length, 1,5 m in diameter, and weighing 55 tons. This gun was brought back from a campaign in Ahmadnagar in the 17th century and now menacingly thrusts its barrel out from a rampart in the fort. Below the cannon is the ‘Lion Bastion’ or ‘Sher Burj,’ an allusion to the lions carved on its entrance. Situated higher along the slope is the Hyder Burj or Upri Burj constructed in 1583 from where the entire citadel can be seen. The Adalat Mahal (Hall of Justice) constructed in the 17th century lies near an outer edge of the fort. Built in 1589, the Anand Mahal was the pleasure palace of Ibrahim II. The Gagan Mahal (Durbar Hall) commissioned by Ali Adil Shah I in 1561 is situated across a street from the Anand Mahal. Other noteworthy structures inside the fort include a granary - the Saat Manzil and the splendid Jal Mandir situated in the middle of a pond.
Jama Masjid Jama Masjid is a mosque built by Ali Adil Shah I in the year 1578 after a victory over the neighbouring Vijayanagar kingdom in 1565, and it is one of the largest mosques in South India. The Central Mihrab on the western wall is inscribed with lines from the Holy Quran – commissioned by Sultan Muhammad Adil Shah, the inscription was completed in 1676 by Malik Yakut.
Asar Mahal The Asar Mahal was built by Mohammed Adil Shah around 1646, and it served as a `hall of justice.’ The building is believed to have once housed a strand of hair from the beard of the prophet Mohammed. The rooms on the upper story are decorated with frescoes and the ground in front displays a square tank. Women are not allowed inside. Every year there is urs (festival) held at this place. Behind Asar Mahal one can see the ruins of the looming citadel of Bijapur.
Karwar Situated at the mouth of the Kali river, Karwar`s geographical features have created a natural harbour. Besides being a port town, Karwar is also a centre for agriculture, a few manufacturing industries, and tourism. It is believed that in the 14th century, the famous Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta visited Karwar in the course of his travels. The port was also used profitably by Arab and European merchants. Several small mangrove covered islands lay off the Kali river estuary including the Anjadip and Devagadaguda Islands. The sub-tidal regions of the islands have a high biodiversity. Karwar is also known for its cuisine, which is predominantly made up of a seafood and fish curry with cashews, coconut, and rice.
Hampi A nondescript village (except during the busy tourist season) set beside the southern bank of the Tungabhadra River in northern Karnataka, Hampi contains the ruins of the ancient city of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. Hampi is also a centre of religious importance due to the presence of the Virupaksha Temple and several other religious monuments in the old city. The Hampi ruins are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monuments of Vijayanagara or Hampi can be broadly divided into religious, civil, and military buildings. While most of the monuments at Hampi are from the Vijayanagara period, a small portion may perhaps have begun in a period that is pre-Vijayanagara Kingdom era. Emperor Ashoka's minor rock edicts in Nittur and Udi Golan suggest that this region was within the Ashokan kingdom during the 3rd century BC. A Brahmi inscription and a terracotta seal dating to the 2nd century CE were also discovered in excavations. The city of Vijayanagara was originally encompassed by seven lines of fortifications. These fortifications once contained a large number of bastions and gateways. Today, the seventh and innermost fortification that once enclosed the main city is the best preserved.
Virupaksha Temple Also known as the Pampapati Temple, the Virupaksha Temple is an ancient temple situated within the bustling Hampi Bazaar. Historians believe that the present structure predates the founding of the Vijayanagara Empire. A tall tower at its entrance greets visitors and within the temple complex are shrines displaying erotic statues depicting the Hindu goddesses Bhuvaneshwari and Pampa.
Vittala Temple This is perhaps the most well-known and popular ruin in Hampi. The iconic stone chariot near this temple complex serves as an official symbol of Karnataka Tourism. Floodlights have been installed around the complex, so it becomes illuminated at dusk. This illumination entirely transforming the architecture and is definitely worth experiencing. The famous musical pillars of Hampi are also contained within this temple complex.
Sule Bazaar & Achyutaraya Temple Located at the foot of Matanga Hill, the once bustling Courtesan Street (also known as Soolai Bazaar or Sule Bazaar) is today deserted, but it still leads to the entrance of the beautiful Tiruvengalanatha Temple, also known as Achyutaraya Temple. Lined with a number of exquisitely carved pillars, this street was one of the liveliest market places of the Vijayanagara Empire. Even today it grabs the attention of visitors due to its aging beauty and splendour.
Royal Centre Set on a small plateau southeast of Hampi and extending even further southeast, the ‘Royal Centre’ is separated from the area that contains most of the religious monuments by a small valley that today consists of agricultural fields. `The Royal Centre` contains the ruins of palaces, administrative buildings, and a few temples that were once exclusively used by royalty. Little remains of the palaces besides the foundations because they were mostly built of timber. The temples and numerous stone structures, however, have survived, as have many of the surrounding city walls. An aqueduct runs through a greater part of the `Royal Enclosure` and into the `Great Tank` where water was diverted on special occasions.
Anegondi Anegondi, which literally means elephant pit in Kannada, was the original capital city of the Vijayanagara Empire. It is situated beside the northern bank of the Tungabhadra River, across from the Vittala Temple. Numerous monuments dot the rocky countryside around Anegondi, namely the Pampa Sarovara, Anjana Parvatha, and Nava-Vrindavana, in addition to the cemetery of the nine patron saints of Dvaita Philosophy. Another noteworthy monument, dedicated to Vyasaraja, is situated on an island midstream in the river Tungabhadra. He was a renowned teacher of Krishnadevaraya, and the most illustrious of the Vijaynagar rulers.
Badami Badami, formerly known as Vatapi, was once the capital of the Badami Chalukyas from 540 to 757 AD. It is situated in a ravine at the foot of a rugged, red sandstone outcrop that wraps around the Agastya Lake. Badami consists of beautifully carved rock caves set around the Agasthya Theertha tank with distinct influences of Hindu Brahmanical, Buddhist, Jain, and Dravida temple art with enormous sculptures that demonstrate the evolution of the art form. The history of Badami records the city’s capitulation in conclusion to the war between the Chalukya and Pallava dynasties. The victorious Pallava king Narasimhavarman, in his rage, destroyed most of Badami and today the ruins are evocative of many fascinating legends of a Badami in its prime. The ruins of the city are also surrounded by many pre-historic places with rock shelters, megalithic burial sites, and paintings. Visitors can also see forts in the north and the south of the city, which were built much later after the decline of the Chalukyas.
Badami Caves The Badami caves are a complex of four cave temples, and they are considered noteworthy examples of Indian rock-cut architecture, especially the Badami Chalukya, which was completely carved out of soft sandstone between the late 6th and 7th centuries. Verandas, stone columns, brackets, and a corridor line the entrances of the caves, which lead to a columned main hall and then to the small square shrine cut deep into the cave. The network of caves are linked by stepped pathways, which are intermediated by terraces with spectacular views of the town and lake. The collective architecture also includes structures built in the Nagara style, developed in northern India in 5th-6th century. The inscriptions that can be seen throughout the caves are written in an extinct Kannada script. There is also a fifth cave, which is a natural cave that once served as a Buddhist temple; this cave can only be entered by kneeling on all fours
Archaeological Museum The Archaeological Museum is located at the northern foothills near the Pallava Narasimhavarman inscription and the northern fort. It was established in 1979 to preserve sculptures, inscriptions, and architectural artifacts scattered throughout Badami and its surrounding areas. The museum’s collection is mainly comprised of prehistoric stone implements, sculptures, inscriptions, and hero stones - a memorial commemorating the honourable death of a hero in battle, which all date between the 6th and 16th century AD.
Bhutanatha Temple Comprised of a cluster of sandstone shrines dedicated to the deity Bhutanatha, there are two major temples here. One is called the Bhutanatha temple and it is located on the east side of the lake. It has a superstructure with an open veranda extending into the lake. The other, smaller temple is on the northeast side of the lake, and it is sometimes referred to as the Mallikarjuna group of temples. It displays a stepped superstructure commonly found in the edifices built by the Kalyani Chalukyas.
North Fort / South Fort The Badami Fort is an imposing presence that is spread across two hills with the Agasthya Teertha in between, these are the north and south forts. Its main entrance is guarded by a statue of the Hindu bull Nandi, the fort is steeped in the acrimonious history of the Chalukya and Pallava dynasties, and historians believe the north fort housed Tipu Sultan’s treasury. The fort also houses granaries and a 14th century watchtower. Inside, visitors will find a wall covered with paintings depicting mythological tales and beautiful stone sculptures of elephants and horses.
Mangalore Mangalore was once a quaint port town, but today it is a rapidly growing industrial area as well. Officially named Mangaluru, it is located about 350 kilometres West of the state capital, Bengaluru, snug between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghat mountain range. Mangalore has been ruled by several dynasties throughout different points of its history - the Kadambas, Alupas, Vijayanagar Empire, Keladi Nayaks, and the Portuguese. Strategically located, the city was a contentious subject between the British and Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, the Mysore rulers. Annexed by the British in 1799, Mangalore remained in the Madras Presidency until India's independence in 1947, when it became a part of the state of Mysore and later Karnataka. The city's landscape is picturesque, composed of undulating hills, groves of coconut trees, freshwater streams, pristine beaches, broad roads winding through serene residential areas, and many houses with hard red-clay tiled roofs. The city features a flat topography until it dramatically climbs to the undulating hilly terrain towards the east. Mangalore is situated beside the backwater of the Netravati and Gurupura rivers. The rivers encircle the city, with the Gurupura flowing around the north and the Netravati around the south of the city. The rivers form an estuary at the southwestern region of the city and flow into the Arabian Sea. If the sun, sea, and lengthy expanses of pristine beaches topped with generous slices of history sounds like an ideal holiday, then Mangalore is the destination for you. Several scenic beaches line the coast near Mangalore including Mukka, Panambur, Tannirbavi, Suratkal, and Someshwara beaches, which are fringed by seemingly endless stretches of coconut and Ashoka trees.
Seemanthi Bai Government Museum The Seemanthi Bai Museum is located at Bejai in the heart of Mangalore and is the city's only museum. The museum’s collection provides an evocative historical connection between modern India and the tumultuous Indian landscape of the16th century with its ancient coins that point to the port’s historical links with international voyagers, coins belonging to the British East India Company, and beautiful display paintings. The museum’s exterior is shaped like a ship, and it was named after Seemanthi Bai, the mother of V.R. Mirajkar who founded and built the museum in 1955. The museum’s collection also features a trove of metallic icons, statues, lamps, teapots from Kashmir, and inscriptions on copper plates, one of which dates back to 1624 and displays the verses of Keladi Venkatappa Nayaka.
Panambur Beach To the north of Mangalore is the popular and picturesque Panambur Beach. With a lighthouse on top of a knoll at one end, the beach stretches all the way to the small town of Surathkal. The tourist attractions in Panambur include camel rides, boat rides for tourists, boat races, kite flying contests held during the kite festival, air shows, sand-sculpture contests, and carnivals organized by the district authorities. The carnivals are particularly popular among children.
Kadri Manjunath Temple Situated in the Kadri Hills outside the city, the Kadri Manjunath Temple is dedicated to the god Manjunatheshwara, and it is believed to have been built during the 10th or 11th century. Historians and mythology date the temple deity’s idol as the oldest of any temple in South India. The temple was probably a Buddhist centre of worship for a brief period in its history because Buddhism was practiced in the area around the 10th century AD, and today the temple is adorned with statues of Machhendranath, Gorakhnath, Shringinath, Lokeshvara, Manjushri and Buddha. After the decline of Buddhism in the area, the people of the region still devoted themselves to Manjushri and Avalokitesvara. The temple holds a bronze statue of Lokeshvara in the seated position with three faces and six arms, and it is said to be the finest example of its kind in India. Behind the temple, there is a natural spring called Gomukha, which flows into small ponds surrounded by picturesque gardens located beside the temple. Visitors wash their feet in the ponds before entering the temple – a Hindu ritual.
Torvi Narasimha Temple Torvi is located 5 km outside of Bijapur. The Narasimha temple located here is built underground, very close to Adil Shahi's Sangeeth Mahal. Near this temple is another Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Lakshmi.
Basanta Vana Situated about 3km from Bijapur, Basanta Vana is an 85 ft. tall idol of Lord Shiva that is made of cement and steel. Believed to be among the tallest idols of Lord Shiva in India, the site is gradually gaining a reputation as a pilgrimage centre.
Gagan Mahal Gagan Mahal, or Heavenly Palace, was built by Ali Adil Shah I in 1561 as a palace with a durbar hall within. The palace has three impressive intact arches with the central arch being the widest. The durbar hall was located in the ground floor while the first floor contained the private residences of the royal family. Sadly, the structure is now in ruins.

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