Karnataka, the southern state of India is a goldmine of touristic attractions.
The land offers history, culture, and heritage, culinary delight, adventure, spiritual retreats or sheer relaxation for foreign and domestic tourists.
Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation has taken several initiatives to improve the state’s tourism infrastructure.
Superior quality accommodation, world-class roads and highway network, airport, cities, and transport facilities are found in the state.
Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation has an excellent fleet of buses and extensive network that enables tourists to travel to hitherto unexplored parts of the state.
People of Karnataka are friendly and hospitable with a literacy rate of over 80 per cent.
The state’s strategic position in peninsular southern India ensures it is protected from climatic extremes.
Karnataka is a great destination to shop for handicrafts and curious as well as exquisite, ethnic fashion wear and jewellery.
It is fully accessible from all parts of the world and is well connected with rest of India. So, If you are planning to visit Karnataka then we've Listed down 12 Popular Places to visit in Karnataka.
Tourism During monsoons in Karnataka:
Karnataka receives average 1, 250 mm rainfall annually. The state is divided into three monsoon zones:
- Coastal Karnataka
- North Interior Karnataka
- South Interior Karnataka.
Among these, Coastal Karnataka receives the highest rain volume.
These factors make the state extremely ideal for tourism during the monsoon. Karnataka has the right blend of everything to offer you a happy, memorable holiday during monsoons.
A distinct advantage is, most tourists shun holidaying during monsoon.
Consequently, you can find excellent accommodation and travel services at highly competitive, off-peak season prices.
Your holiday in Karnataka during the rainy season will also save money. You may select from any of the top destinations in Karnataka.
Below is the List of Best Places to Visit in Karnataka
1. Mysuru: The City of Maharajas
Mysuru is undoubtedly the best place to visit in Karnataka. The city features myriad heritage and spiritual destinations that can be visited during the rainy season.
The Amba Vilas Palace, the residence of erstwhile ruling Wodeyar family and their temporary shelter, Jagmohan Palace are must-see attractions.
Top on the list is DariyaDaulat Palace in nearby Srirangapatna where legendary ruler Tipu Sultan stayed during summers. A visit to Mysuru is not complete without visits to Sri Chamundeshwari Temple, ShravanaBelgola Jain shrine complex.
A visit to Mysuru is not complete without visits to Sri Chamundeshwari Temple, ShravanaBelgola Jain shrine complex.
ShravanaBelgola features the larger-than-life nude statue of Mahavir Jain, founder of the Jain faith. The 12th-century architectural wonder, Chamundeshwari Temple is a year-round tourist attraction.
Brindavan Gardens of Mysuru comes to life with exotic plants and flower, as well as migratory birds during monsoon.
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2. Hampi: The mystical land
At best, Hampi can be described as a small village in Karnataka. But… still, Hampi ranks as a popular tourist destination of Karnataka.
It is home to ruins of temples, royal residences and other ancient structures of architectural and historic importance.
In recent years, the Hampi Bazaar has been restored. Unique shrines here include the BadavaLinga temple which features an artistic statue of Lord Shiva’s mythical phallus.
The MalyavantaRaghunathaSwamy Temple, Jain Temple, Virupaksha Temple, PrassannaVirupaksha Temple and YantrodharakaAnjaneya Temple are a delight for every visitor.
The greatest attraction is Chandramouleshwara Temple that is currently undergoing restoration with global efforts.
3. Belgavi: Melting Pot of Many Things
Located near the border of Maharashtra, Belgavi or Belgaum is now the summer capital of Karnataka state.
Belgavi is a melting pot of Kannadiga or indigenous Karnataka culture and that of neighbouring Maharashtra and Goa. It is renowned for its milk and milk-based sweets industry.
The city features excellent tourist infrastructure including accommodation, restaurants and shopping. During monsoons, Belgavi witnesses unique rain patterns: One experience long but mild showers.
Must see attractions in and around Belgavi are Gokak Falls, a cascade waterfall which gathers mass and momentum in rainy days.
Mountains near Gokak Fall are densely forested and lush greenery of monsoon. Jamboti Hills and Vajrapoha Falls add to the beauty of the rainy season.
For spiritually inclined, Belgavi has Kamal Basti and Kapileshwara Temples.
Belgavi has a rich history highlighted by the fort of Kittur Rani Chenamma, a queen and an Unsung Freedom Fighter of India, who valiantly slayed a British general during the colonial war.
4. Badami: A cultural treat
Earlier named Vatapi, it was the capital of ancient ruling dynasty, BadamiChalukyas.
The city is in Bagalkot district of Karnataka and easily accessible from Belgavi. Carved into a rocky hillock, the Badami Caves Temple is the greatest tourist attraction here.
Badami region is home to Bhootanath Temple, Sangameshwara Temple and Banashankari Temple, all dating to Chalukya and other ancient eras.
A trip to Badami is completed with a visit to Malegitti Fort and Temple, Badami Fort and the twin-towered Shiva temple.
All historical places in Badami contain inscriptions in 18 different ancient scripts and languages that prevailed in the region. Badami is famous for its VatapiGanesha idol, which now is housed in Tamil Nadu.
Also Read: 25 Unknown Facts About India
5. Bijapur: A tribute to Mughal Architecture
Bijapur became part of Mughal Empire during the reign of Aurangzeb. He handed it to Adel Shah Bahaman Shah, as governor.
Adel Shah hailed from the Bahaman dynasty of Iran loved fine arts. He was also a secular ruler.
Bijapur and its nearby areas feature a large number of tourist attractions. These include GolGumbaz, an architectural wonder of the world.
GolGumbaz pays tribute to Adel Shah Bahman Shah: It is his mausoleum. The whispering gallery in GolGumbaz uses unique acoustics: A whisper in one corner can be heard at distant locations near the dome.
Other top attractions in Bijapur include Ibrahim Rauza tomb complex- masterpiece of Mughal architecture, King Edward VII Memorial, Malik-E-Maidan with the world’s largest medieval cannon and a host of other very intricate, artistically designed monuments.
6. Coorg: South India’s coffee house
Also called Kodagi, this city is well known for producing South India’s best coffee beans. Tourists can buy finest Coorg coffee beans and freshly ground powder here.
Coorg has several tourist attractions. These include Dubare Elephant Camp, where one can watch wild tuskers protected against poaching.
The namdroling monastery is an excellent ancient Buddhist shrine to visit. Coorg also has Iruppu, a picturesque waterfall.
Tourists can visit the Golden Temple, Raja’s Seat, Abbey Falls and banks of the river Cauvery here. There is no dearth of attractions for discerning tourists to Coorg.
7. Haveri: Spices and wildlife
Like all Karnataka towns, Haveri is also an ancient Town. It derives the name from ‘Havoo’ (snakes) and ‘Keri’ (pit). The name literally means snake-pit.
Haveri is not anything like a snake-pit. It is surrounded by lush green plantations of high quality, indigenous cardamom.
India’s favourite chilli, ‘Byadgi’ or ‘Bedgi’ grows in this region. Haveri is all about spiritual tourism.
It has several ‘maths’ or ancient Indian spiritual centres where one gets knowledge about the divine. The Blackbuck sanctuary at Ranebennur is nearby.
Within the city, you can visit the Marikkamba temple, Siddheshwara temple, and the Utsava Rock Garden.
Haveri is also an ideal jumping point for going shopping to Chitradurga for more temples and nature or Davengere for shopping homespun fabrics.
8. Mangaluru and Udupi: A delight for the gourmet
Mangaluru or Mangalore and Udipi are in coastal Karnataka. The region is very prosperous due to various reasons.
Mangaluru is also a commercial and Indian Navy port. Excellent beaches, temples and places of historic interest dot Mangaluru.
This is a destination for food lovers and gourmets. Mangaluru have unique coastal cuisine featuring exquisite seafood-based cuisine. Such food can rarely be found in other parts of India.
Udupi is famous for its Sri Krishna temple where thousands of devotees flock every week. Udupi has lovely, clear water beaches. Small islands in the vicinity of Udupi can be accessed with short boat rides.
9. Karwar: In tune with nature
Over two decades, the once sleepy town Karwar has become a bustling city. Karwar is easily accessible from all parts of Karnataka and is just about an hour’s drive from Goa.
Karwar is flanked by the Arabian Sea to its west and nestles between Sahyadri range of mountains.
The city has its own fair share of temples and historic attractions for tourists. Karwar and its nearby villages are excellent retreats for anyone seeking complete relaxation and renew one’s touch with nature.
Small lodges and inexpensive hotels, restaurants as well as home-stay offers make Karwar a delight for relaxation.
The village Ankola, some 20km away is home to three major shrines, Sri Arya Durga Temple, Sri Lakshmi Narayan Mahamaya Temple and Sri Kundodari Devi Temple. Legend states, a couple of idols of deities in
Legend states, a couple of idols of deities in Ankola originated in Sri Lanka and were brought to their current places in supernatural conditions.
10. Honnavar: Seaside serenity, spirituality
Honnavar derives its name from two Kannada words ‘Hanna’ (gold) and ‘Vara’ (Town). This city has sprung into prominence for its seaside temples.
These include the Sri Murudeshwar Temple, with its large idol of Lord Shiva with back turned towards the Arabian Sea.
Honnavar is home to Mirjan Fort and Colonel Tower, of historic interest. Apsara Konda waterfalls nearby is credited with mystical powers: Mythical divine beauties called Apsaras bathe and swim in its crystal clear waters.
Honnavar is a hopping point to other cities Bhatkal, Gokarna, and Kumta, which feature places of spiritual interest.
11. Gokarna: From the cow’s ear
Not really, but as suggested by the ancient, Sanskrit name, Gokarna is a tourist paradise of sorts.
Nestling between Sahyadri mountain range and the Arabian Sea, Gokarna is renowned for its unexplored beaches and serene temples.
The Om beach, Half Moon beach, Sri Mahabaleswars Temple makes Gokarna an excellent destination for rest, relaxation and spirituality.
In recent years, a variety of exquisite accommodation facilities that allow tourists to stay in touch with nature and tranquillity have opened in Gokarna.
12. Bengaluru: For young, young-at-heart
The capital of Karnataka state, Bengaluru is fondly called ‘Silicon Valley of India’ and ‘Garden City of India’ or ‘Air Conditioned City’.
Bengaluru is a vibrant and dynamic city, bustling with energy and action round the clock, thus making it popular amongst tourists.
The city features ultra-modern attractions, offers excellent nightlife. Shopping for traditional Karnataka handicrafts and exotic incense is a great attraction in Bengaluru.
The city is dotted with lush green parks. All streets and roads are tree lined, which gives it an appearance of a garden.
Trees and well-maintained gardens keep the city cool round the year. Bengaluru is also a gourmet’s delight. Here you can find food from various exotic cuisines of South India at very affordable rates.
How to Reach to Karnataka:
A. Flying to Karnataka:
Accessing Karnataka is easy from any part of the world and other Indian states.
Most major foreign airlines and every Indian carrier fly to Kempegowda International Airport in Yelahanka, Bengaluru.
The Bajpe International Airport in coastal city Mangaluru is connected to rest of India and the world by various foreign and Indian airlines.
Karnataka also has airports at Belgavi (the state’s summer capital), Hubballi, the state’s second largest city and Mysuru, the city of palaces.
The state has 31 airports and plans are afoot to connect smaller ones with regional, low-cost carriers flying smaller aircraft.
Tourists can also arrive and depart from Karnataka through Dabolim International Airport in neighbouring western Indian Goa state.
Dabolim connects the world with commercial and charter flights while domestic carriers operate excellent frequencies to Goa. This is a route used by most tourists.
Arinyar Anna International Airport and Kamraj Domestic Airport in Tamil Nadu also provide excellent hop off points for tourists visiting Karnataka.
B. Roadways, motoring and bus services:
Major highways and arterial roads in Karnataka are well maintained but roads connecting smaller cities and towns can prove nightmarish to seasoned motorists.
KSRTC and private bus operators offer air-conditioned coach services between cities and places of tourist interest.
Tourists wanting to experience the lofty mountains of India’s the Western Ghats and Sahyadris, the densely wooded Nilgiris and visit famous peaks can drive to these spots or ride the bus.
C. Arriving by train
This is an excellent option for both domestic and foreign tourists. Karnataka is well served by various divisions of Indian Railways.
A sizeable portion of regional Konkan Railways route runs through coastal Karnataka connecting India’s business capital, Mumbai.
Indian Railways offers an excellent selection of meals on board trains and railway stations at economic rates.
The Golden Chariot: How Royals Live
Indian Railways operates South India’s fabled luxury tourist train, The Golden Chariot, through Karnataka.
Tourists can enjoy pristine beaches and dense forests of the state in the comfort of their coaches designed to resemble royal chambers of yesteryears.
A journey on The Golden Chariot is once-in-lifetime experience and not to be missed. Reservations can be made through Indian Railways website.
Health and safety
Travelling in Karnataka is considered generally safe but few basic precautions are recommended. This includes staying indoors at late hours and especially if inebriated.
Healthcare facilities in Karnataka are affordable and meet world standards.
It is prohibited to buy and own sandalwood pieces, logs or other products made from any part of the sandalwood tree under Indian and Karnataka state laws.
Violators face seizure of such stuff and stiff cash fines or jail terms.
However, you can buy excellent sandalwood handicrafts, sticks, powder and other requirements from Cauveri chain of Emporia operated by Karnataka State Handicrafts Development Corporation.