State Department overview
TypeState Department
HeadquartersBengaluru, Karnataka, India
State Minister responsible

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Mahamastakabhisheka of Gommateshwara statue (the largest ancient monolithic statue in the world), at Shravanabelagola
Virupaksha Temple Hampi

Karnataka, the sixth largest state in India, has been ranked as the third most popular state in the country for tourism in 2014.[1][2] [3] It is home to 507 of the 3600 centrally protected monuments in India, second only to Uttar Pradesh.[4] The State Directorate of Archaeology and Museums protects an additional 752 monuments and another 25,000 monuments are yet to receive protection.[5]

The ancient sculptured temples, modern cities, hill ranges, forests and beaches are some tourism centers. Broadly, tourism in Karnataka is divided into four geographical regions: North Karnataka, the Hill Stations, Coastal Karnataka and South Karnataka.

The Karnataka government has introduced The Golden Chariot – a train which connects popular tourist destinations in the state and Goa.

The Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation is the governmental body that works to promote tourism in Karnataka.[6]

Tourism in Karnataka is located in Karnataka
Different tourist places in Karnataka. ()

North Karnataka

Distance from major cities of Karnataka to North Karnataka
North Karnataka Region Tourism
Gol Gumbaz Bijapur

North Karnataka has monuments that date back to the 5th century. Kannada royal capitals are also present here. Monuments constructed by the Badami Chalukyas monuments are located at Pattadakal, Aihole and Badami. Aihole has been called the cradle of Indian architecture[7] and has over 125 temples and monuments built between 450 and 1100 CE. Rashtrakuta monuments at Lokapura, Bilgi and Kuknur and Kalyani Chalukyas monuments built in Gadag style of architecture[8][9] at Lakkundi, Gadag, Itagi (in Koppal District) and the Vijayanagar empire temples at Vijayanagara are some examples. Hampi in Bellary district has ruins spread over an area of 125 km2. There are fifty four world heritage monuments and six hundred and fifty national monuments (ASI). An additional three hundred monuments await protection. The Deccan sultanate monuments at Bijapur and Gulbarga show unique and discreet Hindu influences, and rival the Muslim monuments of North India. Archeologically important locations like Sannati, Kanaganahalli in Kalaburagi district have thrown more light on Buddhist centers of the 1st century BCE to 3rd century CE. The first ever statue of emperor Ashoka with his queens and a Prakrit inscription Rayo Ashoka (ASI) has been found.

Badami surroundings important locations are Kudalasangama, Aihole, Pattadakal, Mahakuta and Banashankari.

Hampi surroundings region, they can be visited from Hampi/Hosapete, or from Hubli. There are Kuknur, Itagi, Gadag, Lakkundi, Dambal, Haveri, Kaginele, Bankapura.

Utsav Rock Garden, a museum in the Haveri district, features a cultural heritage and educational tourist center. It is notable for having over 2000 sculptures relating to the depiction of rural life.

World heritage centres

Mallikarjuna and Kasivisvanatha temples at Pattadakal

Historical locations


Ravana Phadi cave at Aihole near Pattadakal
Cave temple 3 Badami
Brahma Jinalaya, Lakkundi
Someshwara temple at Lakshmeshwar, North Karnataka
Doddabasappa Temple at Dambal, Gadag district
Trikuteshwara Temple complex at Gadag
Galaganatha Galageshwara temple, Haveri District, North Karnataka
Panchakuta Basadi

Rashtrakuta dynasty

Kadamba dynasty

Large domical ceiling in the main hall at Tarakeshwara temple Hangal

The second capital of the Kadambas of Banavasi. The huge Bhuvaraha Narasimha temple has tall images of Varaha, Narasimha, Narayana and Surya. Halasi has a fort and temples of Gokarneshswara, Kapileshwara, Swarneshwara and Hatakeshwara.

Hanagal was the capital of Hangal Kadambas, feudatories of Kalyani Chalukyas. It was mentioned as Panungal in records and identified by tradition with Viratanagara of Mahabharatha days. It is on the left bank of the Dharma River. The Tarakeshwara temple here is a huge structure with series of images and polished tall Chalukya pillars. The other temples are Virabhadra, Billeshwara and Ramalinga etc. There is a Veerashaiva Kumaraswamy Matha here.

Banavasi was the capital of Kadambas. The place is on the bank of the Varada river and its laterite fort is surrounded by the river at its three sides. Ashoka is said to have sent his missionaries to 'Vanavasa'. Banavasi also contains Buddhist brick monuments. Chutu prince Nagashri built a Buddhist Vihara, a tank and installed a Naga image at the place according to a Prakrit record at the place. There is also a monument at Banavasi, Mudhukeshvara temple and also Kadamba Nagara Shikhara is seen on the garbhagriha of this temple. Records here indicate that Buddhism and Jainism were popular.

Deccan Sultanates

Jumma Masjid at Lakshmeshwar, North Karnataka


Jain Basadis

Main article: Jainism in Karnataka

Kamal Basadi

Jainism has a long history in Karnataka. Belgaum District has the Kamala basadi in Chalukya style in the Belgaum Fort. The ancient centre Tavanidi near Nippani and newly created centre at Shedbal, where 24 Tirthankaras in white marble have been installed in a cluster.

The Chalukyas of Badami built cave temples at Badami, Pattadkal and Aihole. Puligere was a strong centre of religious activities of the Jain monks during this era.

Lakkundi in Gadag District has a large Brahma Jinalaya of Chalukya style, built by a noble lady, Attimabbe.

Navagraha Jain Temple at Varur near Hubli is one of the major pilgrimage. The temple features a 61 feet (18.6 m) tall monolithic idol of the Shri 1008 Bhagavan Parshvanatha and the smaller statues of the other 8 Jain teerthankaras.

Buddhist temples

Shiva temples

Kudalasangama in Bagalkot district

Gokarna is an all-India centre where the Atmalinga (Mahabaleshwara) of Shiva, brought by Ravana is believed to have been installed. Nearby is Murdeshwar where a huge modern Shiva temple in the Dravidian Style has been raised, renovating an ancient shrine. Both the places are on the sea-shore in Uttara Kannada. At Hampi is the Virupaksha Temple, venerated by generations of poets, scholars, kings and commoners.

The Shiva temple at Kudalasangama in Bagalkot District is associated with Saint Basaveshwara. Equally remarkable pieces of art are the Virupaksha and the Mallikarjuna at Pattadakal in Bagalkote.

The Veerashaivas have many venerated places, either associated with Basaveshwara or his contemporaries. Basavana Bagewadi was his place of birth and Kudala Sangama the place of his spiritual practices, are in Bijapur and Bagalkot dts. The latter is at the confluence of the river Krishna and the Malaprabha. Basava Kalyana (Kalyani), the ancient Chalukya capital in Bidar District was the place where he conducted his socio-religious movement. Ulavi in Uttara Kannada, a quiet place amidst forests, has the samadhi of Chennabasavanna, Basaveshwara's nephew. Belgami (Balligavi), the Chalukya art centre in Shimoga dt. is identified as the birthplace of Allama Prabhu and Uduthadi near it, is the native place of Akka Mahadevi. Later Veerashaiva saints are associated with many places. Kodekal (Gulbarga dt.) Basavanna temple, Kadakola Madivallajja Matha, Sharana Basaveshwara temple and Dasoha Math at Gulbarga are few more places of worship.

Athani has the samadhi of the Veerashaiva Saint Shivayogi. Some of the outstanding Veerashaiva Mathas are seen at Naganur near Bailhongal and Kalmatha in Belgaum, Durudundeshwara Matha at Arabhavi and Mahantaswamy Matha at Murgod are in Belgaum dt. Murugha Matha (Dharwad), Annadaneshwara Matha (Mundargi), Tontadarya Matha at Gadag and Dambal, Moorusavira Matha at Hubli, Murugha Matha and Hukkeri Matha (Haveri), Taralabalu Matha at Sirigere, Murugharajendra Matha at Chitradurga, Banthanala Shivajogi Matha at Chadachan and Mahantaswamy Matha (Ilkal) are equally notable. The samadhi of Sharanabasappa Appa at Gulbarga.

Shakti Sthala

The following places are visited by devotees of Shakti

Temple tanks

Mahakuta Temple tank near Badami

Coastal Karnataka

Aerial view of Malpe beach near Udupi

Coastal Karnataka is the stronghold of Hindu and Jain pilgrimage spots with Udupi and its many temples being the centre of Dvaita philosophy, Gokarna is known for Vedic studies, Sringeri has the first of the Shankaracharya mathas and is important for its Advaita philosophy, Karkala and Mudabidri are well known places of Jain worship and Vaishnava rituals. Exquisite Vijayanagar temples built in ChalukyaMalabar region combinational style are seen in Bhatkal, Kumta, Shirali etc. The warm beaches of Karnataka are mostly unspoiled.

Jamboti, 20 km south-west of Belgaum, has popular evergreen hilltop forests.

Karnataka is blessed with over 300 km of pristine coastal stretch. Netrani Island of Uttara Kannada is known for coral reefs. St. Mary's Island, a few kilometres from Udupi has basalt rock formations. Sunny beaches at places like Malpe, Murdeshwar, Maravanthe, Gokarna, Kumta have spectacular mountains to the east. Agumbe, Kodachadri hills, Kemmangundi, are just a few of many hill stations that straddle the coast providing tourists sun and greenery. Unlike many crowded hill stations in South India, the hill stations of Karnataka are still mostly undiscovered and pristine.

Om beach, near Gokarna, North Karnataka
Chaturmukha Basadi, Karkala
Saavira Kambada Basadi, Moodabidri
Giant Shiva statue at Murdeshwar
The Rajagopuram of Murdeswar Temple has 21 floors, including the ground floor. The base measures 105 feet in length and 51 feet breadth. The gopura also possess a lift and visitors can go to the top and have an aerial view of the Arabian Sea and the statue of Lord Shiva. Another highlight is the life-size statues of two elephants at the base of the gopura.
World's tallest Siva idol: The highlights of Murdeshwar lie beyond its beach and rural flair.[tone] On a little green hill, a 37 m (or 123 feet) Lord Shiva idol sits enthroned, surrounded by smaller statues illustrating moments of the Hindu mythology[citation needed]


Karwar has a number of beaches like the Blue Lagoon Beach and Ladies Beach. Rabindranath Tagore described his experiences at Karwar beach in his poetry. Om beach, Murdeshwar are other notable beaches of Uttara Kannada Dist. The Nethrani Island near Murdeshwar. Basavaraja Durga near Honavar is an island fort raised by the Keladi Rulers during 16th and 17th centuries. It is surrounded by a strong fortification raised by gigantic laterite blocks and the hill has a flat top. Devagad and Kurmagad are two islands near Karwar. {Nirvana beach} at Kagal village of Kumta is a 5 km long beach in one stretch with white sand and transparent water in the month of December till March. The entire beach coastline is covered by Casuarina and coconut trees.


South Karnataka

Gommaṭeśvara statue at Shravanabelagola

South Karnataka is a unique combination of spectacular vesara style Hoysala architecture, colossal Jain monuments, colonial buildings and palaces of the Kingdom of Mysore, impregnable fort at Chitradurga and densely forested wildlife sanctuaries that offer some of the best eco-tourism available in the country. Belur, Halebidu in Hassan District, Somnathpura in Mysore District, Belavadi, Kalasa and Amrithapura in Chikmagalur District, Balligavi in Shimoga District offer some of the best of Hoysala architecture dating from the 11th to 13th centuries, while Shravanabelagola in Hassan district and Kambadahalli in Mandya District have well known 10th-century Jain monuments. Scenic forests and the high density of wild animals of this region are a popular attraction for those interested in the wilder side of life. Bandipur National Park, Nagarahole, Biligirirangan Hills, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary and Bannerghatta national parks are a few popular places for jungle safaris.

The river Kaveri flows east from Kodagu District and along its way one finds important tourist destinations like Shivanasamudra and nearby Sivasamudram Falls,

Srirangapattana and Melkote etc. Mysuru, the cultural capital of the state is home to palaces, colonial buildings and cultural activities including Carnatic music, theatre. Bengaluru the capital is a cosmopolitan city with parks, pubs, restaurants, shopping and fast-paced technology-rich lifestyle.

Chennakesava Temple
Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu
Parshvanatha Basadi, Halebidu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Gumbaz, Srirangapatna
Temple complex on Chandragiri hill, Shravanabelagola
Akkana Basadi
Chennakesava Temple (Rear view), Somanathapura


Mysore Palace


In Karnataka there are thousands of Forts, in Kannada called as Kote or Gad or Durga.

Mirjan Fort in Uttara Kannada District in North Karnataka

The Forts in Karnataka are belongs to various dynasties, some of them are more than thousand years old.

Main article: History of Karnataka

Botanical and Rock gardens

Hill stations

See also: Chikkamagaluru district and Kodagu

The Hill stations in Karnataka are generally unexplored and more pristine than better known ones in South India.

Shola Grasslands in Kudremukh, Karnataka.

Mullaiyanagiri highest peak

National parks and wildlife

Kudremukh National Park

Karnataka in all has 21 wildlife sanctuaries and 5 National parks. Well known among them are Bandipur National Park in chamarajanagara District, Bannerghatta National Park in Bangalore district, Nagarhole National Park in Mysore District and Kodagu district, Kudremukh National Park in Dakshina Kannada and Chickmagalur district, Dandeli & Anshi National Park in Uttara Kannada district, Gudavi and Mandegadde bird sanctuaries and Sharavati WLS in Sagara Taluk, Shimoga District, Biligirirangan Hills WLS in Chamarajanagar district, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary in Mandya district, Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuary and Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in Kodagu district. Interior dry areas have their own unique wildlife.

There are twenty-one wildlife sanctuaries and five national parks in all.

Recently, the government of India has proposed to the UNESCO to include important ecosystems in the Western Ghats as a World Heritage Site. Two subclusters of natural areas occurring in the list are entirely in the Karnataka region covering several wildlife sanctuaries and some reserve forests. Fragile and exotic ecosystems like Kudremukh NP, Brahmagiri WLS, Pushpagiri WLS, Agumbe, Talakaveri WLS, Someshvara WLS figure in this list. As such, the Western Ghats that run south–north through the Karnataka is considered as one among the twenty-five bio-diversity hotspots of the world.

The Niligiri Biosphere Reserve (also a designated UNESCO Biosphere reserve) is located at the junction of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerela. Nagarahole National Park WLS and Bandipur National Park and Nugu WLS in Karnataka are included in this biosphere reserve.

The state is home to the largest concentration of Asian Elephants along Kabini River in Nagarahole and Bandipur parks. These two parks also hold among the most viable population of the highly endangered Indian Tiger. Ranebennur Blackbuck sanctuary in Haveri district is home to one of the largest populations of blackbuck anywhere in India. The Doraji wildlife sanctuary and areas in Karnataka like Bellary district, Chitradurga are strongholds of the sloth bear.

Karnataka is home to more than 500 species of birds.[25]

Wildlife sanctuaries

White water rafting near Dandeli

Dams and Resorvoir in Karnataka


Some well known caves in Karnataka are Yana caves and Kavala caves and Syntheri rocks in Uttara Kannada district, Sugriva's cave in Hampi holds similarity to the descriptions of 'Kishkinda' in the epic Ramayana, hundreds of caves in Basava Kalyana in Bidar District.

Ravana Phadi cave, Aihole in Karnataka


Main article: List of waterfalls in Karnataka

Gaganachukki Falls at Shivanasamudram

Karnataka has a number of waterfalls. Jog Falls of Sagara Taluk is one of the highest waterfalls in Asia. Some well known waterfalls are Varapoha Falls, Magod Falls, Lalgulli Falls, Sathodi Falls, Unchalli Falls, Lushington Falls, Shivaganga Falls, Ulavi Falls, Irupu Falls, Sivasamudram Falls near Shivanasamudra, Balmuri Falls, Gokak Falls, Abbe Falls, Achakanya Falls, Chunchanakatte Falls, Hebbe Falls, Kallathigiri Falls, Sogal Falls, Godachinamalki Falls etc.

Godachinamalki Falls, Hukkeri Taluk, Belgaum District


Topographic map of Karnataka. Western Ghats is rich in wildlife.

The districts of the Western Ghats and the southern districts have popular eco tourism locations.[31] Some of the popular locations include Kudremukh, Madikeri and Agumbe. Karnataka boasts of the highest elephant Gaur bison and tiger population (greater than 6000, 8000 and 400 respectively) in India. Its forests hold some of the largest remaining populations of the endangered tiger and leopard. Eco-tourism is a very popular activity in the state. Karnataka leads other states in eco-tourism. Jungle Lodges & Resorts, a state-run organisation has camping and safari facilities in several wildlife sanctuaries. Private safari providers have sprung up in several places along the western ghats.

Nirvana beach is one of the finest beaches near Kumta and has a 5 km coastline with white sand and palm trees covering the entire coast, could be developed for eco beach tourism on the adjoining land falling in CRZ II category falling within 200 meters from HTL. Farmers and fishermen were allowed to run beach cottages and beach shacks by government of Goa, tourism department to attract tourists from around the world as well as domestic tourists, in the months of September through May every season.

Several NGO's (youth groups) are actively involved in birding and other conservation activities.

Adventure and outdoor activities

Adventure tourism has been growing at a pace of around 24% in Karnataka. The presence of Nilgiris, Western Ghats, rocky regions, waterfalls and lots of lakes and rivers make it an attractive destination. Certain activities at some regions namely Rock climbing at Hampi and Ramnagaram; Mountain biking at Nilgiris; Rafting at Honnemaradu in Sagara, Bheemeshwari, Dandeli and Coorg are famous.

Besides this Sawandurga, Manchinbele (Feverpitch basecamp), Bheemeshwari Antharagange are also famous for rappelling, river crossing, caving and kayaking.[32] There have been more than 100 places for trekking in Karnataka and many of them are organised by Government of Karnataka or government approved local vendors. Seasonal surfing is available in Gokarna and Kaup. Fever pitch base camp has been developed by tourism industry professionals which is located 40 km from Bangalore near Magadi.

Bisle Ghat which is stretch of Western ghats from Kerala to Gujarat is also famous for trekking and adventurous activities. Farmers son Paintball arena and other ATV & Dirtbike sports are some of the things to do at Hassan.

Karnataka tourism started promoting Motorcycle tourism and tied up with Wicked Ride a Bengaluru-based motorcycle rental company to promote adventure and motorcycle tourism as a policy, they are working to set up camping sites across the state to provide safe and clean camping sites for backpackers and motorcyclists to explore the state.[33]

Yana rock formations

Rock climbers visit several areas in Karnataka:

Trekking in Karnataka. Some of the most popular treks are:

Healthcare tourism

In the last couple of years Karnataka has emerged as a hot spot for health care tourism in India attracting health tourists from all over the world. Karnataka has highest number of approved health systems and alternative therapies. Along with some ISO certified government owned hospitals, private institutions which provide international quality services have caused health care industry to grow up to 30% during 2004–05. Hospitals in Karnataka treat around 8,000 and more health tourists every year.[34]

The Golden Chariot

The Golden Chariot is a luxury tourist train of Karnataka operated by Indian Railways and KSTDC (Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation). Initially train was introduced exclusively for Karnataka, but recently it is expanded to whole south India. The train travels to the Karnataka's tourist destinations like Bangalore, Kabini, Mysore, Beluru, Halebidu, Shravanabelagola, Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal, Aihole and Goa.

Train coaches are named after the Karnataka dynasties like Kadamba, Hoysala, Rashtrakuta, Ganga, Chalukya, Bahamani, Adil Shahi, Sangama, Satavahana, Yadukula and Vijayanagar.


Karnataka Tourism is the popular name of the Department of Tourism, Government of Karnataka (website:

Karnataka Tourism is responsible for the sustainable development of tourism in Karnataka along with marketing of the destination worldwide. Karnataka's destination branding and marketing is done by India's leading tourism marketing organisation, Stark Communications. Stark is part of The Stark Group under whose umbrella are companies such as Stark Communications, Stark Expo, Starkworld Publishing, Stark Expo, starkwebworks, Stark Tourism Forum.

Karnataka Tourism develops hospitality infrastructure through two government-owned companies, Jungle Lodges & Resorts and Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation.

See also

Archaeological sites and Monuments in Karnataka


Lakshmeshwar .Lakkundi . Sudi . Badami . Aihole . Pattadakal . Hangal . Halasi . Banavasi . Halebid . Belur . Mahadeva Temple (Itagi) . Hooli . Sannati . Hampi . Anegundi . Maski . Koppal

Gajendragad . Saundatti . Bellary . Parasgad Fort . Kittur . Belgaum . Bidar . Gulbarga . Basavakalyan . Koppal . Chitradurga

Lakshmeshwar . Lakkundi . Sudi . Badami . Aihole . Pattadakal . Hangal . Halasi . Banavasi . Halebid . Belur . Somanathapura . Mahadeva Temple (Itagi) . Hooli . Sannati . Hampi . Anegundi . Galaganatha . Chaudayyadanapura . Bidar · Gulbarga · Bijapur · Raichur


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