When one thinks of Karnataka, many images come flooding into our mind such as the bustling metropolis, coffee plantations, and temples. Yet there is another side to Karnataka that has been untouched and unexplored. These unexplored places in Karnataka are not necessarily remote or hidden but rather have remained unexplored due to the fact that only a few know about their existence.
If you too want to explore the natural wilderness of Karnataka and are looking forward to tread the road less travelled, you have landed at the right place. From architectural marvels to inexplicable mysteries, we have handpicked a few hidden gems of Karnataka that steer clear of the regular travel packages, for you to discover something completely new.
12 Unexplored Places To Visit In Karnataka
1. Experience A Magical Aura: St Mary’s Island
Not only known for being beautiful but also for having historical significance, St Mary’s Island, located along the coast of Malpe in Udupi district is one of the hidden gems of Karnataka. A well-kept secret, it had been declared in 2001 as one of the 26 Geological Monuments of India by the Geological Survey of India. Legend has it that during Vasco da Gama’s journey from Portugal, he had first landed on one of these islands, fixed a cross, and as a dedication to Mother Mary, named it as O Padrão de Santa Maria. Another interesting fact about this place is that around 88 million years ago when Madagascar was still attached to India, the basalt on the islands was formed by sub-aerial subvolcanic activity.
2. Exhibiting Gothic Architecture: Shettihalli Church
Also known as The Floating Church and The Submerged Church, Shettihalli Church situated in the town of Shettihalli is one of the underrated tourist places in Karnataka built by the French missionaries in the 1800s. A magnificent example of Gothic architecture in India, it is an ideal place for history buffs. An abandoned site after the construction of the Hemavathi Dam in 1960s, the church is partially submerged in water during monsoons. Although the roof of this enchanting church has collapsed, the remnants of its architectural beauty make it look hauntingly beautiful. To fully appreciate its surreal beauty, one can enjoy the great view of this place through a boat ride.
3. Famous For Scuba Diving: Netrani Island
Located in Murudeshwar, Netrani Island is one among the various unexplored places in Karnataka. Famous for diving/snorkelling, the heart-shaped island is known as Netragudo Island and Pigeon Island. With silvery sand and the Western Ghats as a backdrop, the island is accessible by a thrilling boat ride of 70-90 minutes. Known for its overwhelming experience of the underwater world, many varieties of aquatic species such as stonefish, black tip sharks, turtles, stingrays etc can be seen here. Certified divers of all experience levels can even try Scuba Diving here with the prices starting from INR 5,000.
Also Read: 15 of the most beautiful to visit in India
4. Ideal For Camping: Honnemaradu
Situated at the backwaters of Sharavathi river, Honnemaradu is a small village nestled in the majestic stretch of forests in the Western Ghats. Overlooking the Linganamakki Reservoir, the village has a small island that attracts campers. Well sought after by trekkers, its picturesque landscapes also provide fantastic bird watching opportunities. You can spend hours watching and identifying a variety of butterflies and birds. The very essence of this lesser-known place in Karnataka is such wherein nature itself is in love with it. Permitted only with a guide, one can even indulge in water sports activities such as kayaking and boating.
5. A Marvellous Sight: Bandaje Falls
Located in the Charmadi Ghat section of the Western Ghats in the Belthangady taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, Bandaje Falls is one of the hidden gems in Karnataka. An offbeat place in Karnataka, the gushing milky white waterfall makes for a marvellous sight. A great way to enjoy the refreshing scenery of this area is through a hike. Surrounded by serene natural beauty, you will have to trek through the grasslands and dense forests to reach the fall.
6. A Picturesque Destination: Maravanthe Beach
Separated by the river Souparnika on one side and the Arabian Sea on other, Maravanthe is one of the most beautiful beaches and secret destinations in Karnataka. The temple situated along the shoreline is home to three principal deities—Vishnu, Narasimha, and Varaha. The magnificent backdrop of the Kodachadri Hills makes this a picturesque beach. One can take a drive along the beach through NH 17 to experience the serenity of this picturesque virgin beach. For a small fee, you can also accompany the fishermen at the nearby Gangoli port on fishing expeditions.
Also Read: 12 of the best beaches to visit in Karnataka
7. Cherrapunji Of South India: Agumbe
Often referred to as the Cherrapunji of South India, Agumbe is a small village in the Shimoga district of Karnataka surrounded by splendid views, waterfalls, and untampered greenery. One of the underrated places in Karnataka, this village had formed the basis for RK Narayan’s magnum opus, ’Malgudi Days’. With its soothing surroundings to relax and rejuvenate, you will surely fall in love with this place. Offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, one can trek through its forests to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
8. Known For Its Coffee Plantations: Mullayanagiri
Located in the Baba Budan Giri Range of Western Ghats, Mullayanagiri peak is named after a legendary sage, Mullapa Swamy and serves as the highest peak in Karnataka. One of the lesser-known places in Karnataka, it is a peaceful getaway with the temperature ranging between 20-25 degrees Celsius. Known for coffee plantations that are situated nearby, this peak has a temple of Shiva on the hilltop and is adorned with rugged rocks and verdant grasslands. A hub for adventure enthusiasts especially trekkers, this destination has one of the best trekking routes Karnataka has to offer. It is an ideal place for visitors with an adventurous streak as well as for those looking for solitude.
9. The Oldest Town In Karnataka: Banavasi
The oldest town in Karnataka, Banavasi in Uttara Kannada district is surrounded by forests and villages, and you can visit the 9th-century Madhukeshwara temple. One of the offbeat places in Karnataka, it is said to be the ancient capital of Kadambas, the first native empire of Kannada speaking lineage. Entirely centred on the 9th-century Madhukeshwara temple, the river Varada flows around the town on three sides. In 2006, a discovery of a 5th-century copper coin in the region brought to light the fact that the empire had a currency system during their reign. Kadambothsava is an annual December cultural festival organised by the state government that draws together writers, artists, and performers from throughout south India.
10. Famous For Its Printing Press: Gadag
Around 500 kilometers northwest from Bangalore, Gadag is a district in Karnataka, India. Sharing the same administration along with its sister city of Betageri, this city is mainly known for the historic temples and printing presses. The temples of Trikuteshwara and Veeranarayana are a testimony to the fine architecture and art styles of the Chalukya era, often referred to as the Gadag style of architecture. Known for its ornate pillars with intricate sculptures and monolithic Shiva lingas, the Trikuteshwara temple complex is an important site built between the 10th and 12th century. Apart from the Hindu temples of Saraswathi, Veeranarayana, and Trikuteshwara there are also two Jain temples dedicated to Mahavira and Parshvanath. One of the secret destinations in Karnataka, Gadag is an ideal destination for history buffs.
11. An Enchanting Experience: Yana
Situated in the Sahyadri Hills of North Karnataka, Yana is a small hill station which symbolises the rustic Indian rural life with mushroom-like huts, mud roads, and a laid-back lifestyle. As a centre of wildlife, religion, and adventure, the two giant natural limestone monoliths in Yana attracts thousands of pilgrims every year. Coupled with religious associations to Shiva and Parvati, the Mohini Peak and Bhairaveshwara Peak is also a great place to trek and bird watch. An enchanting experience, you can also see a canopy of clouds over the place during the rainy season and winters. One of the underrated places in Karnataka tucked in between one of the richest biodiversity centres of the world, Yana is the perfect getaway destination.
12. Translating To Ponds Of Angels: Apsarakonda
Located near Honnavar, Apsarakonda is an emerging tourist village wrapped by lush greenery. One of the unexplored places in Karnataka, Apsarakonda translates to Pond of Angels. Legend says that once Apsaras or Nymphs had a relaxing bath in the Apsarakonda Falls. The temples of Ugra Narasimha and Maha Ganapati are believed to be established here by the sadhus who lived in the caves. Travellers have to climb around 155 steps to reach the waterfall. It is also known as Nagabana as this place has a lot of serpents.
How To Make The Most Of Your Visit?
The real India though—the India that is incredible, the India that inspires—takes a little effort to find. There are numerous unexplored places in Karnataka that we still are unaware of. It all depends on how willing and adventurous you are to explore these new places. The best part about these places is that they are not inaccessible or far off away.
Promoting lesser known areas, and upholding the culture and traditions of these places is our responsibility as a traveller. Before visiting these hidden gems of Karnataka, make sure to get acquainted with the place by doing your research so that you are prepared for whatever the place has in store for. Whether you are visiting the waterfall or hill stations, don’t throw used plastic items in the surrounding areas. Instead you can carry them in your bag and throw them in the dustbin.
If you are an explorer at heart who likes to seek out the unknown destinations when you travel, get packing because these underrated places in Karnataka are waiting to be explored. It’s time to travel the road less travelled!