India is a country of very diverse states, each with its own rich cultural heritage and historical treasures. Karnataka is no different. Blessed with stunning beaches, fascinating architectural wonders, a range of cuisines and unique food items, natural wonders, tons of places to visit, and much much more, there are many reasons to visit Karnataka.
Located in southwest India, Karnataka is quite an underrated destination when compared to some other states of India. Its capital Bengaluru (or Bangalore) is a cosmopolitan centre, and Karnataka has many popular destinations to visit, such as the royal Mysore, medieval Hampi, and numerous places to visit. There are also several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka that are worth visiting. Along with this, some of the natural attractions include gorgeous waterfalls, beaches, forests, caves and the list just goes on.
15 Reasons Why You Should Visit Karnataka
1. Fascinating Ruins And Heritage Sites
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hampi was once the capital of the medieval Vijayanagara Empire and is one of the most popular places to visit in Karnataka. The town is full of majestic ruins of Hindu temples, palaces, and more that date back to the 14th century. Don’t miss the Virupaksha temple and the elephant stables.
Other places to visit in Karnataka for even more ruins, this time of the 12th century Hoysala Empire at the towns of Belur and Halebidu in the Hassan district of Karnataka. They are known for their temples full of intricate carvings and Hoysala architecture, such as the Hoysaleshwara and Kedareshwara temples. You will also find several ancient temples and sites scattered across places in Karnataka like Udupi, Mangalore, Chikmagalur, Coorg, and Mysore.
Also Read: What To See and Do When Visiting Hampi
2. The Hill Stations Of The Western Ghats
The Western Ghats form a major part of the state of Karnataka. Full of unique flora and fauna, the region has been declared a biodiversity hot spot and has even been featured in several wildlife and nature documentaries. It is also home to many hill stations that are perfect for a retreat into nature. Places to visit, such as Agumbe in the Shimoga district of Karnataka and Kemmangudi are known for their scenic waterfalls and rainforests, while Coorg and Chikmagalur are famous for their coffee and tea plantations.
You can also visit Kodachadri and BR Hills, which are known for their trekking trails, as well as the historic Madikeri (also known as Mercara) which is the capital city of the Coorg district. Karnataka’s highest peak, Mullayanagiri, is also a part of the Western Ghats range of mountains and is very popular among trekkers. Kudremukh National Park is also a part of this range and is known as the second-largest wildlife protected area (after Bandipur National Park) in the Western Ghats. Kudremukh Peak, which is in this park is the second-highest peak in Karnataka.
3. Lush And Fragrant Coffee Plantations
Hill stations of Karnataka often mean plantations. Chikmagalur and Coorg are the places to visit for some of the best coffee plantations in the country. Here, you can learn about the history of coffee and its processing, as well as sampling some yourself. You can also visit coffee museums or plantations to know everything about this magic bean. According to legend, coffee is said to have been brought to India from the Middle East by a Sufi saint, Baba Budan, and the first beans were planted in Karnataka. There is now a hill named after him in Chikmagalur called Baba Budangiri. Coorg, which is known as the ‘Scotland of India’ due to its cool climate, is also known for its spices and unique food.
4. More Ancient Temples
Just when you’d thought you’d had enough of historical sites and temples, the regions of Karnataka deliver more. It is famous for the small villages of Badami, Aihole, and Pattadakal (all on the banks of the Malaprabha River) which are known for intricately carved temples, caves, and forts, all made from sandstone. They were once a part of the Chalukya Dynasty, which ruled the area between the 6th and 12th centuries, and are important places to visit on the tourist map of Karnataka. Don’t miss the Badami Fort, Bhootnath temple, and rock-cut Buddhist caves in the town of Badami. Aihole, the town is known for the Lad Khan temple. You must also visit the Virupaksha temple in the town of Pattadakal.
Also Read: Explore the spectacular caves of Badami
5. The Amazing Karavali Coastline
One of the many reasons to visit Karnataka is its amazing coastline. Known as the Karavali Coast, it is home to some truly spectacular beaches, as well as some delicious food. One of the top destinations of Karnataka along this coast is Gokarna. With the Western Ghats on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other, it is known for its beaches and water sports, as well as its temples and historic sites. For many, it is the perfect alternative to the overcrowded beaches of Goa. The most popular beaches in Gokarna are Om Beach (named so for the naturally occurring ‘Om’ symbol), Paradise Beach, and Kudle Beach. You can also visit the town of Karwar and the serene St Mary’s Island in Udupi. The cities of Mangalore and Udupi also have a fantastic coastline with several beaches that are truly offbeat and not as crowded.
6. Massive Monolithic Statues
Shravanabelagola in Hassan district of Karnataka is home to the largest monolithic statue in the world. It was installed by Chavundaraya, the Prime Minister of the Talakad Ganga Kingdom, in 981 AD. The towering 60-foot Gomateshwara Statue (also called the Bhagawan Bahubali Statue) atop Vindyagiri Hill is of religious importance to Jains, and was added to over decades by many dynasties and kings, and has inscriptions in Prakrit, Kannada, Tamil, and Marathi. Every twelve years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is anointed with water, turmeric, milk, sandalwood paste, and flowers. You can also visit the nearby Chandragiri, where the famous ruler Chandragupta Maurya is said to have retired as an ascetic.
7. Unique Dances And Vibrant Festivals
Karnataka, like much of India, has its own centuries-old traditions of classical and folk music and dances. Some of the most fascinating traditional dance forms are Yakshagana, a mix of dance, music, and dialogue, and Dollu Kunitha, a rhythmic dance that uses decorated drums. It is also known for its vibrant festivals and is famous for the extravagant Dussehra celebrations in Mysore, and Makar Sankranti in Kununurra.
8. The Grandeur Of Mysore
The city of Mysore is famous for its royalty and opulence. Its main attraction is the imposing three-storey Mysuru Palace. Commissioned by Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV in 1897, its sprawling halls, pavilions, and gardens are built in the Indo-Saracenic style, with Mughal, Hindu, Gothic, and Rajput influences. You can also visit the Jagmohan Palace, now an art gallery, and the Brindavan Gardens. Mysore is said to be at its grandest during the festival of Dussehra when it is decorated and lit up. There are actually up to seven palaces in Mysore that you can visit, some of them converted to heritage hotels that will give you a chance to live like the royals for a bit.
9. Delicious Food
Karnataka state boasts an astonishingly diverse cuisine and certain regions are famous for its food alone. There isn’t any ‘one cuisine’ for the whole state as there are several unique regions and communities that come with their own delicious array of dishes. North Karnataka, South Karnataka, Kodagu, Udupi, Mangalorean, Karavali and Navayath cuisines are just a few of these. Local ingredients play a huge role in the diversity of these cuisines. There are also iconic dishes from Karnataka, such as bisi bele bath, Mangalorean fish curry, Dharwad peda, Mysore pak, or the Mysore masala dosa. However, the food, in general, is mildly spiced.
10. Thunderous Waterfalls
Karnataka is also famous for its beautiful waterfalls. At a height of 830 feet, Jog Falls in the Shimoga District is said to be the second-highest waterfall in the country. You can also check out the majestic Hogenakkal Falls on the Kaveri River. Also, the slightly smaller, but equally amazing Abbey, Shivanasamudra, and Irupu Falls. The best time to visit is just after the monsoons as the falls are at their roaring best having been filled up by the rains.
You can also visit during monsoons to witness them in their full glory but since many of these falls require you to trek or hike for a distance, you might not be the most comfortable if it’s constantly raining. Many of these waterfalls offer you a chance to have a short picnic or take hikes and treks through the forests. But do remember to clean up after yourself and leave the place the way you found it (or better than when you found it).
11. The Largest Tibetan Settlement In South India
Just an hour away from Coorg lies the Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe, which is the largest in South India. It’s home to Buddhist monasteries and temples all featuring the unique Tibetan architectural style. Don’t miss the Namdroling Monastery and the Golden Temple, which is known for its gold idols and paintings. It is one of the most popular tourist places in Coorg.
12. Vibrant National Parks
Karnataka is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. The state has many large national parks with incredible wildlife, including mammals, birds, insects, and reptiles lining amidst hills, valleys, and waterfalls and it is known for its efforts in conservation. Two of the most popular are the Nagarhole National Park and the Bandipur National Park, both of which are tiger reserves, and also house elephants, sloth bears, gaurs, and many more animals, birds, and reptiles. Bandipur is the largest national park in Karnataka and was also the first biosphere reserve in India. Additionally, you will also find several wildlife sanctuaries. For ornithologists, the Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary has to be one of the most amazing places to visit in Karnataka.
13. An Affordable Tourist Destination
The state of Karnataka has plenty of accommodation options that are rather affordable and won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Regardless of which district of Karnataka you are in, accommodation and other expenses will not be a pain to book and they won’t be unnecessarily expensive. There are also plenty of homestays that are available, especially in places like Coorg, Chikmagalur, and Sakleshpur where you might actually get a chance to live in an estate or plantation and get a peek into the lives of the locals or a unique tour of your own. Places that are worth visiting but off the tourist map will also have amazing hotel or resort accommodations where the facilities will be good and the rooms will be amazing but they will not be as expensive as places overrun with tourists.
14. Secular, Friendly, And Generally Liberal
The state of Karnataka is famous for its secular stance, usually devoid of racism and xenophobia. It also has a significantly lower crime rate than several other states of India. The people here are sweet, and tourist-friendly and ensure the safety and protection of visitors to make their stay truly satisfactory. A lot of the establishments are run by locals, so not only will they ensure that you get the best experiences, but you will also be contributing to the local economy and supporting small-scale establishments as opposed to large corporations. This also ensures that your experiences are more personalised as people always wish for visitors to leave with good memories of their hometowns.
15. Cosmopolitan Capital
You don’t really need an introduction to Karnataka’s cosmopolitan capital, the city of Bengaluru (which is also known by its old name, Bangalore). Famous for its thriving IT sector, plenty of job opportunities, top-class educational and research institutions, pleasant climate, and thriving social scene, Bangalore has attracted people from all over the country and is now its third most populous city. Considering its close proximity to Mysore, Bangalore also has a few relics of the past from the Vijayanagar Empire to the rule of the Wodeyars, to Tipu Sultan, and so on. There are lots of places to visit in and around this city alone. Outside of this, it also has a thriving pub culture. It was one of the first cities in India to have a brewery and since then pubs have exploded all over Bangalore and remain an active part of the city’s social scene.
Also Read: 11 unique places to Visit in Bangalore
16. Lots Of Weekend Getaways
One of the best reasons to visit Karnataka is that it has many places like Coorg, Mysore, Chikmagalur, Hampi, Nandi Hills, and many others that make excellent quick escapes from cities like Bangalore. In every city of Karnataka, there is something to do in close proximity. So, you are always inclined towards exploring more and more of the state. If you run out of things to do in the state of Karnataka, then it’ll be truly surprising.
So, When Are You Planning To Visit Karnataka?
If you did not already know about all these amazing things about the state of Karnataka, you do now. And if these reasons don’t convince you to visit, we don’t know what will. Trust us, it wasn’t even hard to come up with this list as the state speaks for itself. And as you can see from this vast list of reasons, there is something in Karnataka for every kind of tourist and traveller. There are umpteen places to visit and lots of things to do. You have beaches and mountains, you have nature and urban life, you have great food, an amazing social scene and so much more. Let us know if you plan to visit and what are your reasons for loving Karnataka.
FAQs About Karnataka
Karnataka is famous for magical hill stations, spectacular waterfalls, pilgrimage centres, and a long coastline dotted with un-spoilt beaches.
Karnataka is an ideal travel destination for a traveller with diverse interests. Other than its magical hill stations, spectacular waterfalls, pilgrimage centres, and un-spoilt beaches, it also has heritage destinations, many wildlife and national parks, and cosmopolitan cities for those who are looking for some active social scenes.
Visit Karnataka during the months of October to April. Attend the grand Mysore Dussera and go on a wildlife safari during winter. Lying close to the western coast, Karnataka is quite humid during summer from April to June, and monsoons (June to September) in some regions can be intense. While coastal regions are hotter, hill stations are mild and colder.
You can trek to Jog Falls or bird-watch at Ranganathittu, explore wildlife at Bandipur and Nagarhole, enjoy the quaint charm and quiet life of villages and towns, and fall in love with the misty mountain ranges of the Western Ghats and the sparkling coastlines.