Karnataka is a state in south western region of India. It was formed on 1 November 1956, with the passage of the States Reorganisation Act. Originally known as the State of Mysore, it was renamed Karnataka in 1973. The capital and largest city is Bangalore (Bengaluru). Karnataka is bordered by the Arabian Sea and the Laccadive Sea to the west, Goa to the northwest, Maharashtra to the north, Telangana to the northeast, Andhra Pradesh to the east, Tamil Nadu to the southeast, and Kerala to the southwest. The state covers an area of 191,976 square kilometres (74,122 sq mi), or 5.83 percent of the total geographical area of India. It is the seventh largest Indian state by area. With 61,130,704 inhabitants at the 2011 census, Karnataka is the eighth largest state by population, comprising 30 districts. Kannada, one of the classical languages of India, is the most widely spoken and official language of the state.
The diverse linguistic and religious ethnicities that are native to Karnataka, combined with their long histories, have contributed immensely to the varied cultural heritage of the state. Apart from Kannadigas, Karnataka is home to Tuluvas, Kodavas and Konkanis. Minor populations of Tibetan Buddhists and tribes like the Soligas, Yeravas, Todas and Siddhis also live in Karnataka. The traditional folk arts cover the entire gamut of music, dance, drama, storytelling by itinerant troupes, etc. Yakshagana of Malnad and coastal Karnataka, a classical dance drama, is one of the major theatrical forms of Karnataka. Contemporary theatre culture in Karnataka remains vibrant. Veeragase, Kamsale, Kolata and DolluKunitha are popular dance forms. Bangalore also enjoys an eminent place as one of the foremost centres of Bharatanatya.
Karnataka also has a special place in the world of Indian classical music, with both Karnatakaand Hindustani styles finding place in the state.
Saree is the traditional dress of women in Karnataka. Dhoti, known as Panche in Karnataka, is the traditional attire of men. Shirt, Trousers and Salwar kameez are widely worn in Urban areas. Mysore Peta is the traditional headgear of southern Karnataka, while the pagadi or pataga is preferred in the northern areas of the state.
Rice and Ragi form the staple food in South Karnataka, whereas Joladarotti, Sorghum is staple to North Karnataka. Bisibele bath, Joladarotti, Ragimudde, Uppittu, Benne Dose, Masala Dose and Maddur Vade are some of the popular food items in Karnataka. Among sweets, Mysore Pak, Karadantu of Gokak and Amingad, BelgaaviKunda and Dharwad pedha are popular. Apart from this, coastal Karnataka and Kodagu have distinctive cuisines of their own. Udupi cuisine of coastal Karnataka is popular all over India.
The major Heritage sites in Karnataka are:
- Aihole - is a historical town situated on the banks of Malaprabha River in Bagalkot district of Karnataka. Earlier, this historical town was also called as "Ayyavole" and "Aryapura". Aihole was once capital of the early Chalukyan dynasty.
- Banavasi - is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Karnataka state. Banavasi is one of the oldest towns in the Karnataka and located at a distance of 25 km from Sirsi town in a picturesque location.
- Barkur - was the ancient capital of the Tulu kingdom. It was known as Barakanur. The rulers were known as Tulu kings. Most of the districts ruled by them were in coastal Karnataka. Many ancient inscriptions found in Barkur are in Tulu language.
- Belur and Halebid - The temples of Belur and Halebid are best known for their south Indian architecture. The temples at both these places are built by renowned architect Jakkanna Acharya. This temple of Belur and Halebid are being proposed as UNESCO world heritage site.
- Halasi - a popular heritage site of Karnataka is located at a distance of 14 Km from Khanapur and 25 Km from Kittur in Background of Western Ghats in lush green surroundings. Halasi is also referred as Halsi or Halashi.
- Hampi - was founded in the year 1336 AD, by the two brothers Harihara, also known as Hakka and Bukka. Hampi has also been called as Vijayanagara or Virupakshapura. Hampi has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage centre.
- Ikkeri - is a historical place located at a distance of 3 km from Sagar in Shimoga district. Ikkeri was the capital of the Keladi rulers for about 120 years. The prime attraction of Ikkeri is the Aghoreshwara Temple.
- Kavaledurga - is a historical place located at a distance of 16 Km from Thirthahalli in Shimoga district. Kavaledurga is situated 5056 ft above sea level and the place is well known for a magnificent fort called Kavaledurga Fort built on the hill top.
- Keladi - is a temple and historical town located near Sagar in Shimoga district of Karnataka. Keladi was once the capital of the Keladi rulers also called as Keladi Nayakas. The main attraction of Keladi is Rameshwara Temple.
- Lakkundi - is paradise of temples. Lakkundi is located at a distance of 11 km South-East of Gadag in Gadag district. Lakkundi is also noted for its steep wells, artistically built with small, canopied niches inside the walls of several wells, etc.
- Pattadakal - is located at a distance of 22 km from Badami, the capital of the Chalukya dynasty. Pattadakal is located on the banks of the river Malaprabha. Pattadakal is well-known for the group of the 8th century monuments.
- Somnathpur - is located at a distance of 30 km from Mysore, the city of Palaces. Somnathpur is situated on the banks of river Kaveri. The main attraction of Somnathpur is temple dedicated to Lord Channakeshava.
- Srirangapatna - is located at a distance of 15 km from Mysore. Srirangapatna is located in Mandya district and is of great religious, cultural and historic significance. The entire Srirangapatna is enclosed by the river Kaveri to form an island.
The state of Karnataka in South India has a rich diversity of flora and fauna. It has a recorded forest area of 38720 km2which constitutes 20.19% of the total geographical area of the state. These forests support 25% of the elephant population and 20% of the tiger population of India. Many regions of Karnataka are still unexplored and new species of flora and fauna are still found. The Western Ghats mountains in the western region of Karnataka are a biodiversity hotspot. Two sub-clusters of the Western Ghats, Talacauvery and Kudremukh in Karnataka, are in a tentative list of sites that could be designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The state bird and state animal of Karnataka are Indian roller and the Indian elephant respectively.
For true Nature Lovers below listed are the places to visit:
Wildlife & National Parks are as below:
- Magod Falls - beautiful waterfalls of River Bedti is located at a distance of 17 km from Yellapur in Uttara Kannada district. River Bedti flows down in two leaps offering a beautiful view and the surroundings offers an ideal picnic spot.
- Lalguli Falls - is located at a distance of 13 km from Yellapur in Uttara Kannada district. Winter is the best time to go through these picturesque hills and view the magnificent Lalguli Falls.
- Agumbe - is located at a distance of 380 km from Bangalore in Shimoga district. It is situated at an elevation of 826 meters. Agumbe is also known Cherrapunji of South India because this place receives highest rainfall in Karnataka state.
- Chikmagalur - is situated in south western part of Karnataka.
- Nandi Hills - is located at a distance of 60 km north of Bangalore in Chikkaballapur district. It is also known as Nandidurg. Nandi Hills gets its name from an ancient temple Nandi located on the hill
- Kundadri - is a huge monolithic rock formation with various outgrowths and is about 3200 feet above sea level. Surrounded by dense evergreen forest, Kundadri is an adventurous place for trekking.
- Abbey Falls - is located amidst of lush green coffee plantation and spice estates. The gushing waters of the Abbey falls, dropping down a rocky ravine, results that the roar of the falls can be heard from the road.
- Kalhatti Falls - is located at Kallattipura in Chikmagalur district. Kalhatti Falls is about 10 km from the picturesque hill station Kemmangundi, a summer retreat of KrishnarajaWodeyar IV. Kalhatti Falls is also known as Kalahasti Falls.
- Coorg-also called Kodagu, is a district in Karnataka State, is known for its hospitability of people and beautiful scenery.
- Hebbe Falls - is one of the most picturesque tourist destinations of Chikmagalur. It is surrounded by dense forests and coffee plantations, Hebbe Falls gushes down from a height of 168 meters in two stages to form Dodda and ChikkaHebbe.
- Jog Falls - is about 105 kilometers from Shimoga. The river Sharavathi takes a spectacular leap at a height of 292 meters falls in four distinct waterfalls - Raja, Rani, Rocket and Roarer- to form the fifth highest waterfall in Asia.
- Gokak Falls - is located at a distance of 6 km from Gokak on the Ghataprabha River in the Belgaum district. The dull roar of the falls can be heard long before it attained.
- Iruppu Falls - is located at a distance of 50 km from Madikeri, in Kodagu district and 20 km from Nagarahole National Park bordering the Wayanad district of Kerala. The Iruppu waterfall is surrounded by lush green Western Ghats.
- Kammamagundi - is a hill station is located at Tarikere taluk of Chikmagalur district. This picturesque hill station is situated at a height of 1434 meters above sea level. Kemmangundi is also known as Sri Krishnarajendra Hill Station.
- Sathodi Falls - is located at a distance of 32 km from Yellapur. Situated in the midst of dense forests makes Sathodi falls an ideal tourist destination of Karnataka. Sathodi Falls is locally known as the "mini-Niagara of Uttara Kannada District."
- Shivanasamudra Falls - is located in Mandya district. It is located at a distance of 27 km from Somanathapura and 80 km from Mysore. These spectacular waterfalls are surrounded by hill forests of the Kaveri Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Gokarna - A sleepy Brahmin town, lodged somewhere between a conservative society and a faithful hippy fan following, Gokarna is a dream destination for so many different reasons. Its refusal to fall into a certain type casted slot is just one of them. Open beaches, undiscovered coves, epiphanic sunsets, jagged cliffs, quaint temples and an evasive culture make Gokarna whatever you want it to be.
- Dandeli – It is an ideal vacation destination in north Karnataka for those who love nature. It offers tourists an incomparable mix of scenic beauty. The modern town on the river is surrounded by deciduous forests and a renowned wildlife habitat where rare animals and birds roam in deep valleys and hilly terrain.Located 125 KMS. from Goa and well connected for international travelers, Dandeli offers white water rafting, night camps, nature walks, boating, bird watching, tiger and crocodile spotting and angling, along with picnics, eco-tourism, and trips to nearby caves and temples.
- Kabini - Named after the River Kabini, the River Kabini Lodge beckons with the promise of elephants, gaur, deer and a rumour of tiger. Located on the southern fringes of the Nagarahole National Park (Rajiv Gandhi National Park) , this former hunting lodge of the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore was rated as One of the Top 5 Wildlife Resorts in the World by the British Tatler’s Travel Guide. A sprawling colonial estate in the heart of elephant country, the River Kabini Lodge echoes with the call of the wild.
- Brindavan Gardens, Mysore - The gardens are built across river Cauvery and below KrishnarajaSagar Dam which is in itself a magnificent example of engineering and a major tourist attractions. The dam was built by Sir M. Vishweshwariah in 1924 whereas the Brindavan Gardens were built by Sir Mirza Ismail.Its symmetric design and terrace gardens clustered around topiaries, pergolas and gazebos instantly become a favourite among travellers. The illuminated dancing fountains on the northern side of the Brindavan Gardens are surely one of the many highlights of this place. A beautiful orchestrated show with colorful lights, music and harmonious coupling of water can be seen after sunset. The show is made more dramatic with laser lights.
- Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary - Just outside Srirangapatna, near Mysuru, the Cauvery river meanders around a string of tiny nesting sites of waterfowls. Experiences the excitement of a boat ride that takes you within touching distance of the birds as marsh crocodiles bask in the sun. Delight watching the winged visitors making happy forays into the water. You could also you’re your powers of observation by trying to spot flying branches of the tallest trees at dusk.
- Anshi National Park - is located at a distance of 60 km from Karwar in Uttara Kannada district. It is spread about 340 sq km and adjoins the Dandeli wildlife sanctuary. Best time to visit Anshi is between November and June.
- Attiveri Bird Sanctuary – is located near Mundgod in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka is home to 79 species of birds including migratory birds from 22 countries.
- Bandipur National Park - is between 680-1454 meters above sea level and is located south of the Kabini River in the foothills of the Western Ghats. Bandipur National Park is one of India's most famous sanctuaries.
- Bannerghatta National Park - is located at a distance of 22 km south of Bangalore. Best season to visit here is throughout the year. This park remains open between 9 AM and 5 PM and remains closed on Tuesdays.
- Bhadra wildlife sanctuary – is situated in the midst of Western Ghats in Chikmagalur and Shimoga districts of Karnataka. This sanctuary is covering an area of 492.46 sq. km. This Sanctuary is located at a distance of 38 km of Chikmagalur town.
- Biligiriranga Swamy Temple wildlife sanctuary - or BRT Wildlife Sanctuary is a hill range situated in south-eastern Karnataka, at its border with Tamil Nadu in South India. BRT Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna.
- Cauvery Wildlife sanctuary - is located at a distance of 100 km from Bangalore in the districts of Mysore, Bangalore and Mandya. Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary attracts nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts and bird watchers.
- Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary - is spread over 834.16 sq. km and rewarded as the second largest wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka. Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is neighboring with the Mahaveer sanctuary in Goa.
- Dubare Elephant Camp - is located at the edge of Dubare forest, on the bank of the river Kaveri, on the Kushalanagar - Siddapur road in Kodagu district. The Elephants used for the famous Mysore Dasara procession are trained at Dubare.
- Gudavi Bird Sanctuary - is spread over an area of 0.74 sq km and offers a number of exquisite bird species. Various kinds of birds migrate Gudavi for breeding in monsoon season i.e., between June and December.
- Kaveri Nisargadhama - is a beautiful island formed by river Kaveri and it is located 2 km off the State Highway from Kushalanagar. Kaveri Nisargadhama also has a forest department run guest house and treetop bamboo cottages.
- Kokkrebellur - The entire village waits eagerly for the arrival of winged guests every year with which villagers have developed a relationship of reverence. According to the villagers, if the birds fail to turn up in a year, they believe it bodes ill for the village.
- Kudremukh National Park - is popular for its scenic beauty, located in midst of mountains and is known for all kinds of flora and fauna spread over an area of 600.32 sq km and is 1,894.3 m above sea level.
- Mandagadde Bird Sanctuary - A small island is formed by the flowing river Tunga, and the dense of trees on the island provide shelter for immigrating birds. Mandagadde bird sanctuary is one of the few bird sanctuaries in the Malnad region.
- Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary - is located near Kollur in Udupi district. This sanctuary is spread around 247 sq. km. This sanctuary is sharing its north-western boundary with Sharavathi Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Nagarahole National Park - a perfect gateway for nature lovers is located at a distance of 95 km from Mysore and it is spread between Mysore and Kodagu districts. Nagarahole National Park includes Forest.
- Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary - is a very small sanctuary, being only 0.67 sq km in area, and comprises six islets on the banks of the river Kaveri. The Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is a paradise for wildlife lovers.
- Tyavarekoppa Lion and Tiger Safari - is a beautiful and popular nature and wildlife destination. This is an ideal picnic spot where you can see animals roaming in the deep forest without any fear.
CLASSIC KARNATAKA (2 NIGHTS/3 DAYS)
- The Gomateshwara statue, Shravanbelgola
- Hassan Sightseeings which includes temples of Hoysala
- Sightseeing tour of Mysore - The BrindavanGardens,TheChamundeshwari Temple, Mysore Palace, Mysore Zoo