Karnataka is a state in Southern India that is located between Maharastra in the north and Kerala in the South. The state is blessed with a coastline lined with numerous coconut trees and beautiful beaches along the West and an interior with mountains, valleys, and farmlands towards the East.

Things To Do In Karnataka

There is no shortage of beaches to swim in or mountains to trek up for the adventurous, neither is there any shortage of UNESCO sites to tick off on the bucket list.

The best part is you can experience all these while crunching on some of the mouth water specialties of each district and quench your thirst with some tender coconut water by the beaches to help you tolerate the heat.

Hampi Karnataka

The Ruins of Hampi from 14th century Vijayanagar empire

Top 10 Cities

There are many cities and tourist destinations in Karnataka. Below are some of the more notable:

  • Bangalore — the state capital as well as the information technology capital of India
  • Mysore — old capital city of Kingdom Of Mysore that ruled over much of present-day Karnataka
  • Belur — the former capital of the Hoysalla dynasty; more temples, bigger temples
  • Mangalore — gateway to the coastal life; the port city with beautiful beaches 
  • Hubli — several waterfalls, temples, gardens
  • Belgaum — famous for its temples and stone fort ruins in North Karnataka
  • Manipal — in Udupi, home to popular Manipal University
  • Sakleshpur — a pleasant hill station town and good for trekking in the hilly region of Karnataka
  • Kalaburgi — historical Gulbarga fort and also known as the city of Domes and Temples

Boat riding at Muthathi_Karnataka

Boat riding at Muthathi, Karnataka

Bangalore

The capital city of Bangalore is well connected by flight to all the other cities of India, is the garden city of India thus making it an ideal city to start your journey in India, walking through the shady lanes covered by trees while watching the traffic move slower than you are! Hop on to the metro if you want to travel far while avoiding traffic.

For a complete list of Things to do in Bangalore, please read Bangalore Travel Guide.

Mysore Palace Karnataka Travel Guide

Mysore

Mysore is known as the Palace city. The Wodeyars continued their rule here as an independent kingdom till India’s independence in 1947. After India’s independence, the Kingdom of Mysore became an Indian state and is now home to few iconic monuments.

For a complete list of Things to do in Mysore, please read Mysore Travel Guide.

Cultural Sites

Hampi is the ruins of the fabulous Vijayanagar Empire. Considered to be one of the finest cities in its time during 14th and 15th centuries. Hampi Utsav in the 1st week of November celebrates its history. Hampi ruins are a UNESCO world heritage site and are a must visit for all history lovers. 

Badami cave temples

Badami was the capital of the Early Chalukyas, who ruled much of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh between the 6th and 8th centuries. The Badami cave temples are a complex of four Hindu, a Jain, and possibly Buddhist cave temple. The caves are considered an example of Indian rock-cut architecture.

Hoysala temples

The Hoysala temples at Halebidu, Belur and Somnathpur are also worth checking out as due to their architecture. The plans are star-shaped featuring intricately carved columns and sculptures. The details will astonish you and make you wonder how they carved them centuries ago. 

Nature & Scenic Sites

You can go white water rafting in Augumbe or Dandeli, feed the elephants in Coorg, go parasailing or be cruising off to a small island off the coast in Malpe beach near Udupi. There is a lot to explore and do in Karnataka.

Coorg

The Kodagu district is known for its hospitality and beautiful scenery. This is one of the best destinations for the nature lovers in India. For a complete list of Things to do in Coorg, please read Coorg Travel Guide.

Shivanasamundra

Shivanasamundra also called as the Bluff falls is best visited in monsoon season (during the month of July and August) makes this waterfall swell to enormous proportions when the river Kabini floods along with Cauvery creating a waterfall perhaps a thousand feet wide.

Shivanasamudra_falls_Karnataka_India

Jog Falls

Jog Falls is a beautiful waterfall in Shimoga district, famous for the hydroelectric project, a major tourist attraction. Raja, Rani, Roarer, Rocket are the 4 splits of the falls, collectively forming the Jog falls

Wildlife in Karnataka

Karnataka has five declared national parks that abound in diverse wildlife. Below are the top 10 wild life sanctuaries you should explore:

Tigers_National Parks_in_Karnataka_India

The forests in Karnataka is home to 20% of the tiger population of India

  • Nagarhole National Park — Elephant, Jackal, Tiger, Panther, Spotted deer, Mongoose, Civet cat, Hyena, Sloth Bear, King Cobra, Python, Viper, Tortoise, and Monitor Lizard
  • Bandipur National Park — is a wildlife sanctuary known for tigers, spotted deer (chittal), and sandalwood trees 
  • Bannerghatta National Park — a zoological reserve, safari, butterfly enclosure, and an important elephant corridor
  • Kudremukh National Park — Malabar civet cats, wild dogs, sloth, and spotted deer
  • Anshi National Park — a tiger reserve
  • Kudremukh Wild Life Sanctuary — supposedly a haven for the King cobras
  • Devarayandurga Reserve Forest — home to leopards and other wildlife
  • Jayamangali Black buck Sanctuary — Black Buck Sanctuary
  • Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary — Sloth Bear Sanctuary
  • B.R.Hills Forest Range — a major elephant Habitat

Lions in Bannerghatta National Park Karnataka

Lions seen in Bannerghatta National Park

Spotted deer_Nagarhole National Park Karnataka

Spotted deer seen at Nagarhole National Park

Wild_Elephants_Bandipur_National_Park_Karnataka India

Wild Elephants in Bandipur National Park. The forests in Karnataka support 25% of the elephant population in India.

Beaches & Sports Activities

Karnataka has a long coast dotted with several great beaches. Below are some of the most popular ones:

Gokarna Beach

Gokarna Beach, though famous for the Pilgrim place and Athmalingam Temple, this place is dotted with Beaches far away from the Pilgrim site. Om Beach, Half-moon Beach are most common. Beach treks are a common here.

Kodalu_beach_Gokarna_Karnataka_India

Kodalu beach in Gokarna

Local_fisherman_in_Gokarna_Beach_Karnataka

Malpe Beach, Udupi

Malpe Beach is a famous attraction. St. Mary’s Island, another great spot is accessible from a ferry.

St_Marys_Island_volcanic_rocks_Karnataka

Kaup Beach, Udupi

Nice, relatively unknown beach. There is a lighthouse from which one can get a nice view.

Kaup_beach_Udupi_Karnataka

Padukere Beach, Udupi

A little away from Malpe on the other side of the port is a calmer beach with less people called Padukere. Go there if you want to avoid the crowds and still enjoy a scenic sunset.

Murdeshwar Beach

Murdeshawar Beach is famous for Scuba diving. Also known as the ‘Pigeon Island’, Netrani Island in Murudeshwar rises above the tranquil and azure waters of the Arabian Sea.

This heart-shaped island is counted as one of the best and stunning sites for scuba diving. Its rich and vivid marine life, the shallow depth of the water level make it such!

Pigeon Island_Netrani Island_Karnataka_India

Pigeon Island (Netrani Island) Sunset

Murdeshwar Beach is also a religious spot with a massive statue of Lord Shiva located by the coastline. It is a temple with a view!

Shiva statue at Murdeshwar

Trekking in Karnataka

The following are popular places for trekking in Karnataka. Though none of these is high altitude treks, they provide a sense of adventure, walking right into dense jungles with wildlife. 

  • Agumbe and Kodachadri, in Shimoga
  • Kudremukh and Narasimha Parvatha, in Chikmagalur
  • Kumara Parvatha and Yedakumeri, in Southern Karnataka
  • Tadiyandamol in Coorg

mountain karnataka scenery

When to Visit

You can visit the state anytime through the year. Though to go for treks or to visit the monuments it is ideal to do it during the winters (November to March) as the climate gets very hot during the summers.

To visit the waterfalls it is best during the monsoons (June to September) though as you can see the water flow is its might. Summers are usually very hot and unless you can tolerate temperatures soaring up to 40 degrees C, it’s better to wait for the monsoon.

Culture of Karnataka

If you walk in cities like Bangalore you might not feel the true culture of the state as it has succumbed to urbanisation, but if you go into the towns and villages in the surrounding you will get to experience local cuisine, local festivals, local theatre and dance forms.

In the coastal region also called as Dakshina Karnataka you get to see a dance form known only to these people called Yakshanaga.

Villages all over the state will let you see their temple festival where they pull their local gods or goddess in the chariot around the temple street leading to a night of festivities.

Dances where people are dressed as tigers called as “Huli Vesha” are common during celebrations, especially during Krishashtami (the day Lord Krishna was born). 

Artist in traditional costumes for Yakshagana

Local Cuisine

Here is a list of must-try local food

  • Bisibele Baath – Made of rice and lentils and a lot of spices.
  • Dosa – A thin dough fried until crisp, usually served as One Serving. To eat, the pieces are broken off and dipped in the amazing chutney and sambar served in bowls accompanying the dish. 

  • Idli – Idli, is made by steaming batter, that is traditionally made from black lentils and rice into patties. Always accompanied by steaming hot sambar and fresh chutney that vary in preparation region wise. 
  • Jolada Roti – A thin tortilla made of Jowar (similar to corn/maize) baked on both sides for 2-3 minutes. Jowar is specially grown in the northern part of Karnataka. Served with brinjal curry and chutney
  • Kesari Bhath – Originally a dessert item, this is now popular as breakfast. Made with sooji (semolina), ghee (for taste), water and milk. Garnished with cashew nuts and dried fruits.
  • Mysore Pak – A sweet delicacy created in the Royal Kitchen of Mysore under the Wodeyars. Made with gram (chana) flour, ghee and sugar. 
  • Raagi and Akki Rotis – Similar to tortillas but made of raagi (finger millet) or rice flour and black cumin, asafoetida, fresh coriander, green chillies and finely chopped onions.
  • Churmuri: A collection of puffed rice with coconut oil, onions, tomatoes, chilli powder all mixed up and served dry. 
  • Raagi Mudde – A staple food in the interior since preparation is simple. Basically, the Raagi flour is cooked in water and roll into thick-consistency balls. This dish is swallowed and not chewed after dipping it in ghee and sambar.

A typical south Indian meal on a Plantain/Banana leaf

Getting Around

If you were to fly in and around the state, Kempedouwda Internation Airport in Bangalore serves most domestic routes in India. Mangalore International Airport and Mysore Airport also serve domestic destinations.

The government bus service called the KSRTC provides buses of all types to help reach all the corners of the state. Depending on your destination the buses vary from Airconditioned Volvo/Scania buses to local BMTC buses running within the city. 

You can also move from one part of the state to another by train. Though not as many in frequency as the buses they are also an ideal way of travelling, especially for a night journey. You can book your ticket from IRCTC.

Where to Stay

There is no shortage of places to stay in the state. The top tourist destinations like Bangalore, Hampi, Mysore, Coorg now cater to the needs of both the backpacking travelers with hostels and the family holiday tourists with budget and high range hotels and resorts located all over the state.

Depending on your budget you can check in on online sights like Make my trip or Yatra to get the best deal.

Try spending at least a night in a traditional home or resort to enjoy the feel of a local courtyard, clay tiled roof house.

How Safe Is Karnataka

People of Karnataka are generally friendly by nature and will help you in many ways. However, common crimes such as theft and purse-snatching do occur and one has to be careful with your valuables. Travelling late at night is not advisable in smaller towns while it is better to be in groups while doing so in Bangalore. 

Police assistance is available by dialing 100Within the city of Bangalore, the City Police provides Mobile Patrol Vans Hoysala and bike patrols Cheetah. These vehicles provide first response in emergency situations.

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May 26, 2018 11:56 am Published by

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