Karnataka, is a state located in the southern part of India and is one of the five south Indian states. It lies on the (south) western part of the country, bordering the Arabian sea’s coast.The capital of Karnataka is Bengaluru (previously Bangalore), which is located close to the south-eastern border of the state.
Karnataka is also known as the Silicon Valley and is home to several tech giants and unicorns of India. Karnataka is rich in culture and heritage with a glorious past that is reflected by several magnificent historical architectures and towns. It is also home to some of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is thus, one of the most visited states by people from across the globe.
Before the independence of India in 1947 (from the British empire’s rule), the state was known as Mysore. Mysore state was prosperous but landlocked, on the Karnataka Plateau. It was identified as one of the princely states in India at the time (states which were under the rule of a regional ruler who was affiliated to the British Raj).
Later in independent India, the Kannada-speaking people from the nearby regions united and began living in this state, and its “land-lock” status was ended, by giving the state an outlet to the (Arabian) sea and extending its boundaries to a larger area to accommodate these people, and thus forming the state of Karnataka.
People and Population
Karnataka has a population of about 7 Crore (70 million) people. Hindus, Muslims, and Christians are the three largest religious groups in the total population of the state. Around 84% of the people in the state are Hindus, followed by up to 13% of Muslims and about 2% Christians. Other religions followed by people in the state include Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism which collectively come to less than 2% of the population.
Most people of all religions speak Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, or Hindi language in the state – the city has a blend of people from different parts of the country living and working here, as it is one of the major IT hubs of the country.
Karnataka has many traditional arts, and classical music forms – Carnatic music being the most popular. The state has more Hindus compared to people of other religions, but it also consists of a good number of Muslins, Christians, and Jains.
Women here mostly wear sarees (especially middle-aged women), but western attire (jeans, pants and shirts, skirts, cardigans, etc.) is common among kids, teenagers, and young working professionals.
Although the primary language spoken across Karnataka is Kannada, this state is also home to many people speaking Tulu, Konkani, and Marathi (the languages of surrounding regions).
Tourist Places in Karnataka
Nestled at the center of Deccan Plateau, Western Ghats, Kannad Coast, Karnataka is home to several forests, beaches, waterfalls, historic places, coffee plantations, and lakes, which attracts an influx of visitors from across the country. With a diverse culture and history, Karnataka has a lot to display to mesmerize its visitors and below is a list of some of the best tourist places in Karnataka to visit
- Bangalore – The most technologically advanced and cosmopolitan city in India, Bangalore is a melting pot of diverse culture, traditions, and ethnicities merging harmoniously. Also called the Garden City, Bangalore has numerous attractions from historical monuments to temples, national parks, gardens, amusement parks, and a hoard of cafes, restaurants, and nightclubs, and when clubbed with the pleasant weather, makes it a must visit place. Some of the best tourist places here are Lalbagh Garden, Bannerghatta Park, Tipu Sultan Palace, Aerospace Museum, VidhanaSoudha, Wonder La Theme Park, Bangalore Palace, etc.
- Coorg – One of the quaint hill stations in Karnataka, Coorg is an ideal place to enjoy the solitude with the lush greenery contributing to its beauty and crisp air making it a pleasant summer place. Endowed with the vast expanse of coffee plantation, waterfalls, and the green mountains, visitors can explore the Tibetan Monastery, trek along the coffee estate or along the stream or rive side, Coorg will never seize to amaze.
- Hampi – An architectural marvel and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hampi is located at the banks of Tungabhadra and is home to historical ruins and remains of the Vijayanagar kingdom. A haven for the history and archaeological enthusiast, the ruins in Hampi showcase the architectural brilliance of the craftsman of that era and must be witnessed at least once.
- Mysore – One of the oldest cities and second biggest in Karnataka, Mysore was the city of the royals in the bygone era which is apparent by the many historical and grand palaces. Still oozing the old worldly charm, Mysore has many old temples, palaces, museum showcasing relics, imposing heritage structures, including the Mysore Palace and the Brindavan Garden that are worth every visit.
- Shivanasamudra Falls– If you are there in Karnataka during the monsoon months, the spectacular Shivanasamudra Falls is the place you must visit. A segmented fall with streams running parallel to each other, the mighty falls create a natural swimming pool where visitors can enjoy, and the breathtaking green surroundings makes an ideal backdrop for some Instagram worthy pics.
- Gokarna– A quiet suburb in the north Kannad district of Karnataka, Gokarna welcomes tourists because of its peaceful ambiance, beautiful temples, and enthralling beaches that are not as crowded. The Mahabaleshwar temple is the major attraction here, along with Kudle beach, Om beach, and Gokarna beach where you can even enjoy some water sports.
- Belur and Halebidu – The two towns relay a rich history and tales of the bygone era. Belur was the former capital of Hoysalaempire and consists of various temples with stunning architecture and outstanding sculptures. The most revered temple here is the Chennakesava temple with life-size pillars.
Halebidu, located in Hassan district of Karnataka, is a town of historical and religious significance as well. The main temple here was constructed to welcome king Vishnuvardhana and queenShantala Devi and from the temple, a view of the two hills facing each other that appear like bulls and a Ganesh figure on the southern side draw the attention of the visitors.
- Dandeli– Not many people know about this astounding location, but it is worth a visit due to its spellbinding location, surroundings, rocky terrain perfect for trekking, and the interesting wildlife. River Kali flowing here offers great Kayaking experience, while visitors can even camp out here amidst the lush green surroundings, which is a perfect getaway for an adventure seeker.
- Nandi Hills– Experience the feel of a paradise on Nandi Hills that offer the visitors a breathtaking view of the clouds, pristine lakes, timeless monuments, temples, and fresh crisp air. During the monsoons, the place looks like a painting with some of the most vibrant colors splashed on to it.
- Chitradurga Fort – Located in Chitradurga town, the fort is an archaeological marvel with great historical significance as it has been in existence since the era of the Chalukyas. The fort is surrounded by towering hill with the peak giving the view of a valley and different sizes of rocks that makes it look very appealing and is a must-visit tourist place in Karnataka.
Karnataka being a land ruled by various empires and dynasties in the past, has a deep history and a rich heritage, which are manifested through the beautiful monuments and other elements that the state has. Some popular historic places to explore in Karnataka are -
- Hampi - an ancient village with numerous ruined temple complexes and religious (mostly Hindu) heritage sites from 7th century, the Vijayanagara Empire era and other historic eras. The rich heritage manifested through the buildings and monuments makes this place picturesque as well as culturally charming.
- Tipu Sultan’s summer Palace, near Mysuru
- Mysore palace, Mysuru
- Udupi – Another city with rich heritage – historical monuments and temples.
- Bangalore palace, Bengaluru
- Badami – A region with beautiful ancient rock cut temples.
Some popular adventure activities and places to indulge in them in Karnataka include -
- White water rafting (at Dandeli, on the banks of river Kali)
- Zorbing (in Bengaluru)
- Trekking and Hiking (Nandi Hills, Kumaraparvata)
- Parasailing (at Murudeshwara)
- Rock Climbing (at Ramanagara)
- Kayaking (at Bheemeshwari)
- Wildlife Safari (at Nagarhole national park)
- Coracle ride (Shivanasamudra falls)
Famous Food of Karnataka
Rice, Jowar (Sorghum) and Ragi (also known as Finger millet) are the grains used in most dishes in Karnataka’s cuisine and these are the staples here. While Rice and Ragi are mostly consumed in South Karnataka, Sorghum is the primary grain in the food of North Karnataka. Flavors in food are different in different parts of the state such as Mangalore and Uttara Canara are known for their tangy seafood, South Karnataka is known for distinct varieties of bath, and North Karnataka has spicier food as compared to other regions. Some of the most famous foods of the state are:
- Neer Dosa – a very thin rice batter dosa
- KorriGassi– chicken curry cooked with spices and ground fresh coconut
- KundapuraKoliSaaru– chicken dish made with spices, onion, garlic, ginger paste, and coconut milk
- Mysore Masala Dosa – a version of dosa in which a spicy chutney is applied in it before filling the potato masala.
- Allugeda–dish of potatoes mashed with onions, tomatoes, and black grams.
- Mysore Pak – a sweet from Mysore that melts in the mouth and is made from gram flour, ghee, and sugar.
- Coorg Pandi Curry – pork meat cooked in masala paste and uses an extract of locally grown fruit called Kachumpuli that gives it a sour taste.
- Haalbai – a sweet made from rice, coconut, coconut milk, and jaggery
- BisiBele Bath –a porridge made of rice, pulses, vegetables, and coconut.
- RavaKesari– a sweet dish made from semolina, ghee, sugar, dry fruits, and saffron.
- Kane Rava Fry – Lady Fish marinated with red chili paste and then fried after being coated in semolina.
- Chitranna – lemon flavored rice tempered with mustard seeds, curry leaves, and fried lentil
- Ennegai– stuffed eggplant curry made with spices and coconut
Some of the most celebrated and famous festivals of Karnataka apart from Diwali and Dussehra, are:
- Kambala Festival –a two-day buffalo race festival organized in Udupi and Dakshin Kannada districts between November and March.
- Hampi Festival – organized in Hampi with exhibitons and stalls selling handicraft and other accessories and music and dance to celebrate the heritage of Hampi.
- Makar Sankranti – harvest festival dedicaed to Sun God and celebrated with the oncoming of Spring.
- Ugadi – also called GudiPadwa, marks the new year according to Hindu calendar.
- Ganesh Chaturthi – celebrated across India to worship Lord Ganesh
- Karnataka Rajyotsava – the festival signifies the formation of the state
How to Reach Karnataka
- By Air: Seven cities in Karnataka have domestic airports with Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru serving flights from other parts of the world as well. Cabs and buses are available from every airport which operate within city.
- By Train: Karnataka is well connected to other major cities via trains. Bangalore Railway Station connects to neighboring cities while several other train stations in different parts of the state ply intrastate.
- By Road: Karnataka State Road Transportation Corporation has well maintained buses and the highways are also well maintained that offers a smooth journey to travelers visiting from neighboring states.
A land endowed with a rich history, brilliantly crafted temples, dense forests, pristine beaches, and all the bounties of nature, Karnataka is a place where diverse culture and heritage along with the contemporary romance of ethnicities blend to form a world worth exploring.