Karnataka

History

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Religions, cultures and kingdoms galore have sashayed through Karnataka, from India’s first great emperor, Chandragupta Maurya, who in the 3rd century BC retreated to Sravanabelagola after embracing Jainism, to Tipu Sultan who stood up against the encroaching British empire.

In the 6th century the Chalukyas built some of the earliest Hindu temples near Badami. Dynasties such as the Cholas and Gangas played important roles in the region’s history, but it was the Hoysalas (11th to 14th centuries), who have left a lasting mark with their architecturally stunning temples at Somnathpur, Halebid and Belur.

In 1327, Mohammed Tughlaq’s Muslim army sacked the Hoysala capital at Halebid, but in 1346 the Hindu empire of Vijayanagar annexed it. This dynasty, with its capital at Hampi, peaked in the early 1550s, then fell in 1565 to the Deccan sultanates. Bijapur then became the prime city of the region.

With Vijayanagar’s demise, the Hindu Wodeyars (former rulers of Mysore state) quickly grew in stature. With their capital at Srirangapatnam, they extended their rule over a large part of southern India. Their power remained largely unchallenged until 1761 when Hyder Ali (one of their generals) deposed them. The French helped Hyder Ali and his son, Tipu Sultan, to consolidate their rule in return for support in fighting the British. However, in 1799, the British defeated Tipu Sultan, annexed part of his kingdom and put the Wodeyars back on Mysore’s throne. This was the real kick off for British territorial expansion in southern India.

The Wodeyars ruled Mysore until Independence. They were enlightened rulers, and the maharaja became the first governor of the post-Independence state. The state boundaries were redrawn along linguistic lines in 1956 and thus the extended Kannada-speaking state of Mysore was born. This was renamed Karnataka in 1972, with Bangalore (now Bengaluru) as the capital. About 66% of the state’s population speak Kannada as the main language; other significant languages are Urdu (10%) and Telugu (7.4%)

 Karnataka cuisine

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The cuisine of Karnataka includes many vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisines that reflect influences from the neighboring regions and communities, as well as the state of Maharashtra to its North. Udipi, Malenadu, Kodagu, Mangalorean and Navayath cuisines are a part of cuisines of Karnataka.

South Karnataka is famous for its typical dishes like the Bisi bele bath, Jolada rotti, Chapati, Ragi rotti, Akki rotti, Saaru, Huli, Vangi Bath, Khara Bath, Kesari Bath, Devanagere Benne Dosa, Ragi mudde and Uppittu. Masala Dosa is quite famous and traces its origin to Udupi cuisine. Plain and Rave Idli, Mysore Masala Dosa and Maddur Vade are popularly known as snack or tiffin items.

Coastal Karnataka is famous for its tasty seafood specialities and pork curries. The popular dish of Northern Karnataka is Jola and rice whereas a regular meal in South Karnataka consists of Ragi mudde or steamed dumpling made from ragi flour served with a curry known as Saaru, accompanied by various Palyas (fried, boiled or sauteed spicy vegetables) along with assorted pickle and kosambari (salad), Yoghurt.

Coorg, the hilly district of Kodagu has its unique cuisine that includes: spicy meat (Pork, Chicken & Mutton) dishes.Kadumbutt (round balls made up of rice), Paputt, Thaliyaputt. The spicy meat curries derives a tangy taste from Kokum Kachampuli.

Among the sweets - Mysore Pak, Dharwad pedha, Chiroti are popularly well known. There are also a variety of Payasa (Payasam or Kheer) like the Shavige Payasa (made of vermicelli), Gasgase Payasa (made of poppy seeds, coconut and jaggery), Seeme Akki payasa (prepared with Tapioca, sugar and milk) and many more. Obbattu or Holigem a sweet stuffed pancake/ crepe is also popular sweet meat

Heritage KARNATAKA

Hampi

Hampi was the capital city of the powerful South Indian Vijayanagar Empire . Founded by Harihara and Bukka in 1336, it fell to the Muslim rulers of North India in 1565 after the disastrous battle of Talikota and subsequently lapsed into decline and abandonment. The ruins of the historical monuments have stood the ravages of man and time and still evoke memories of the grandeur of a bygone era.

Set amidst an awesome boulder-strewn landscape along the banks of the Tungabhadra river, 12 km away from the sleepy town of Hospet in Bellary district, Hampi was the magnificent capital of the mighty Vijayanagar kingdom. "The city is such that the pupil of the eye has never seen a place like it, and the ear of intelligence has never been informed that there existed anything to equal it in the world," marvelled a 15th century

Persian ambassador. There were opulent palaces, marvellous temples, massive fortifications, baths, markets, aquaducts, pavilions, stables for royal elephants and elegantly carved pillars. This was a city whose merchants offered diamonds, pearls, fine silks, brocades, horses and according to one Portuguese visitor, "every sort of thing on earth."

A visit to Hampi is a sojourn into the past. The best way to experience this World Heritage Site is to take a leisurely stroll through the eloquent ruins. Most of the important structures and ruins are located in two areas, which are generally referred to as the Royal Centre and the Sacred Centre. The Royal Centre in the southwest part of the site contains structures that seem to have been palaces, baths, pavilions, royal stables, and temples for ceremonial use. The Sacred Centre is situated on the northern edge of the city along the banks of the holy Tungabhadra river.

The ruins of Hampi are extensive and fascinating enough to absorb your attention for several days. There is always something new to discover in Hampi. If you are in a hurry, a day or two will suffice to see all the important structures. Photography and archaeology buffs should plan on staying a little longer

Badami

Picturesquely situated at the mouth of a ravine between two rocky hills, the exquisite sculptures and the rust red sandstone cliffs of Badami tell many a tale of yore. Climb a flight of steps to reach the four ancient rock-cut caves replete with carved pillars and bracket figures, all hewn out of red sandstone on the precipice of a hill. The largest of them is the third cave, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The first sculptural embellishment to dazzle the eye is the 18-armed Nataraja, striking 81 dance poses, in the first cave. Overlooking the caves is the Agastya Theertha Tank, its banks dotted with a cluster of Bhoothanatha temples.

North Fort

An arduous climb through a stone chasm and fortified gateways takes you to the temple , the remains of a granary , a treasure and a watchtower on top of the fort . The upper Shivalaya Temple still has some friezes and sculptures depicting legends relating to Lord Krishna . Preached on a rock , Malegatti Shivalaya is an excellent example of the southern style of architecture . It's a four hour journey to Bijapur and is connected by rail to Gadag - a convenient stop to get a connecting train to Hospet or Hubli

Pattadakal

With its beautifully chiselled temples, this World Heritage Site on the banks of the Malaprabha river bears testimony to the richness of Chalukyan architecture. Pattadakal reached its pinnacle of glory under the Chalukya kings and was once used as a ceremonial centre where kings were crowned and commemorated. It has a cluster of 10 major temples, each displaying interesting architectural features. At the entrance of the site, you can see the 8th century temples of Jambulinga, Kadasiddeshvara, and Galaganatha with their curvilinear shikaras or spires. The biggest temple, dedicated to Virupaksha, has a huge gateway, several inscriptions, and a profusion of friezes from the epics. Facing the temple is a pavilion containing a massive Nandi. The Mallikarjuna Temple is similar in design to Virupaksha Temple, but smaller in size. The ornate Papanatha Temple is yet another impressive piece of architecture, with delicately chiselled ceilings and a 16-pillared main hall. The Sangameshwara Temple dating from the reign of King Vijayaditya (696-733 AD) is the earliest temple in this complex

Aihole

A tranquil village on the banks of the Malaprabha river, Aihole is acclaimed as the cradle of Hindu temple architecture. There are hundreds of temples in the villages and fields nearby. The most impressive one is the Durga Temple with its semicircular apse, elevated plinth, and the gallery encircling the sanctum. The Lad Khan Temple, which is one of the earliest temples, was originally a royal assembly hall and marriage mantapa chosen as the abode of a Muslim prince, Lad Khan. The Huchimalli Temple with a sculpture of Vishnu sitting atop a large cobra, the Ravalphadi Cave Temple celebrating the many forms of Shiva, the Konti Temple Complex, the Umamaheswari Temple, the Jain Meguti Temple, and the two-storied Buddhist Temple are other sights worth seeing

Lakkundi

12km south-east of Gadag is the modest village of Lakkundi. Here, scattered among the tiny houses and dusty lanes are 50 stunning temples and 29 inscriptions dating back to the Kalyana Chalukya period. The most ornate and spectacular of these is the Kashi Vishwanatha Temple. The Jain Temple dedicated to Mahavira is one of the largest and oldest shrines here. Lakkundi is also noted for its steep wells, which are artistically built with small, canopied niches inside the walls, that enshrine lingas. The Archaeological Survey of India also maintains a sculpture gallery here

Kittur chennamma fort

ocated on the Pune-Bangalore highway about 50km from Belgaum and 32km from Dharwad, the tiny town of Kittur with its dilapidated palace, monuments, statues and horse tongas (rickshaws) evokes the glories of a bygone era. The fort stands as testimony to the great freedom struggle led by Rani

Chitradurga, on the highway linking Bangalore with Hospet, is famed for its massive Kallina Kote (Palace of Stone) fort, a marvel of military architecture made impregnable by the Nayak Palegars. It has 19 gateways, 38 posterior entrances, a palace, a mosque, granaries, oil pits, four secret entrances, and water tanks. Amidst rocky surroundings inside the fort complex on the hill are many temples. Ekanatha Temple and Chandravalli Caves are worth visiting. The Hidimbeshwara Temple is the oldest temple on the site. Other places of tourist interest in Chitradurga district are Brahmagiri, Vanivalas Sagar, Nayakanakatte, Jogimatti, and Jattinga, Rameswara

Bijapur

The one-time capital of the Adil Shahi kings (1489-1686), Bijapur is dotted with mosques, mausoleums, palaces, fortifications, watchtowers and strong gateways, with the massive Gol Gumbaz dominating the landscape for miles around

Gulbarge

Gulbarga, the largest district in Karnataka, is a land where the past melds with the present. This historically rich region of the Deccan has been part of a number of kingdoms, prominent among which are the Rashtrakutas and the Bahamanis. A treasure home of architectural delights, Gulbarga is justly famous for the grandeur of the many Indo-Saracenic monuments that dot the landscape. Making it a destination that takes one back through the pages of history

Bidar

Bidar is the northern most district of Karnataka. Medieval Bidar was widely renowned for its splendour, as a seat of learning, cultural marvels and as a capital city. Bidar is situated almost in the centre of geographical ‘Deccan’ and on the eastern border of the historical ‘Deccan’. It was a meeting place of several shades of culture from the very beginning.

The history of Bidar had a lot of ups and downs and stories of treachery and bloodbath, but was also marked by good administration and development of art, architecture and literature. The historical monuments and sites, in and around Bidar city, belong to different periods of history- pre-Kakatiya, Tughluq, Bahamani, Barid Shahi, Adil Shahi, Mughal and Nizami. As far the architecture is concerned, there is an intermixture of Hindu, Turkish and Persian artisanship. Some of the designs

Mysore Palace

All roads in Mysore lead to the Mysore Palace. Built in Indo-Saracenic style with domes, turrets, arches, and colonnades, the palace is a treasure house of exquisite carvings and works of art from all over the world. Intricately carved doors open into luxuriously furnished rooms. The majestic Durbar Hall has an ornate ceiling and many sculpted pillars. The Marriage Pavilion is adorned with glazed tile flooring, stained glass windows and domed ceilings. The walled palace complex houses the Residential Museum, temples and shrines, including the Shwetha Varahaswamy Temple. See the magnificently jewel-studded golden throne, the pride of the Wodeyars and the symbol of their sovereignty, displayed here during the Dasara festival in October. The palace, illuminated on Sundays and public holidays, presents a spectacle of breathtaking beauty

Sriangapatna

The island fortress of the legendary warrior king Tipu Sultan, Srirangapatna is just 16km from Mysore city. Inside the fortress is Tipu's mosque with its twin minarets, the celebrated Ranganatha Swamy Temple, Tipu's Summer Palace, the Wellesley Bridge, and the dungeons where British officers were once imprisoned. Equally impressive is the ornate white-domed Gumbaz, an imposing structure with doors of ebony inlaid with ivory and lacquered with Tipu's tiger-striped emblem. About 1km to the east of the fort is Tipu's Summer Palace (known as the Daria Daulat Bagh) set amidst a lovely garden

Somnathpur

Situated in the unobtrusive village of Somnathpur, 35km from Mysore, the exquisitely carved, star-shaped Kesava temple with triple towers is a perfect example of Hoysala architecture. The friezes on its outer walls with their intricately carved rows of caparisoned elephants, charging horsemen, and mythological birds and beasts will leave you spellbound. Beautifully sculpted images of gods, goddesses, and scenes from the epics, as well as the remarkably ornate ceilings in the pillared hall will take your breath away

Belur

On the banks of the Yagachi river in Belur, a star-shaped temple with hand lathe-turned filigreed pillars and sculptures will take your breath away. It is the only Hoysala temple still in active worship. Friezes of charging elephants, each different from the other, mythological figures, military scenes, dancers and musicians, and elaborate decorative motifs charge the imagination. The winged figure of Garuda, Lord Vishnu's carrier, stands at the entrance facing the temple, palms touching in homage. The most marvellous examples of Hoysala architecture found exclusively at Belur are the angled bracket figures depicting celestial nymphs. The beautiful and expressive nymphs are depicted singing, dancing or executing daily chores. They are adorned with a wealth of detail in their makeup, jewellery, and coiffures. The smooth circular platform in front of the shrine displays a sculpture of Shanthala Devi, King Vishnuvardhana's queen. Equally impressive are the temples of Chennigaraya, Viranarayana, Sridevi, and Bhoodevi, all in the same complex

Halebeedu

Just 17km away from Belur is Halebeedu, the ancient capital of the Hoysalas. The temple, perched on a star-shaped base amidst lawns is a sculptural extravaganza. Its walls are richly carved with an endless variety of Hindu deities, sages, stylised animals, birds, and friezes depicting the life of the Hoysala kings. The temple complex has a museum which houses the idols, statues, busts, and sculptures excavated by the Archaeological Department from the ruins

Tipu’s fort and palace

A visit to Tipu's Fort is an enriching experience. Built in 1791, this summer retreat of Tipu Sultan in Bangalore is a two-storied ornate wooden structure with fluted pillars, cusped arches and balconies. It now houses a museum, which contains artefacts relating to the Hyder-Tipu regime

Bellary fort

The Bellary Fort was built on top of the Ballari Gudda or Fort Hill, during Vijayanagar times by Hanumappa Nayaka. Hyder Ali took possession from the Nayaka's in 1769, got the fort renovated and modified with the help of a French engineer. Legend has it that the engineer was hanged for overlooking the fact that the neighbouring Kumbra Gudda was taller than Bellary Gudda, thus compromising the secrecy and command of the fort. His grave is believed to be located near the East Gate of the fort, though some locals believe it to be the grave of some Muslim holy man. Recently, the fort has been illuminated on a 2 km stretch, using 188 special lights and supported by a separate sub station. Visit the illuminated fort in the evening and watch the past come alive

Adi Chunchangiri

The seat of the Swami of the Vokkaliga community, this small town is a noted center of Bhairva worship. The main attraction here is the Gangadeshwara Temple, which attracts pilgrims in thousands during the annual Jatra

Natural karnataka

Coorag

Madikeri is the picturesque capital of Kodagu (also called Coorg) the land of coffee, cardamom, colonels and the Cauvery. The capital of Kodagu district is located in a beautiful hilly setting surrounded by the forested slopes of the Western Ghats. Here, time seems to have stopped. Dotted with a cluster of red-roofed dwellings and a bustling bazaar, the town, situated at an elevation of 1525m, has a charming old-world look. Madikeri provides access to some excellent picnic spots.

Not much is known about the early history of Kodagu. From 1600 A.D. onwards, the Lingayat rajas ruled over Kodagu and established their capital at Madikeri where they built a mud fort. The Kodavas, as the people of Kodagu are called, troubled the Mysore rulers Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan through sporadic rebellions. Finally, in 1785 A.D., Tipu marched into Kodagu with a large army and devastated the little kingdom.

Four years later, with the help of the British, Kodagu regained its independence and Raja Veerarajendra set about the task of reconstruction. In 1834 A.D., the British took over power in Kodagu

Chikmagalur

Nestled in the Baba Budan hills, Chikmagalur is a calm, serene town full of surprises with hills, valleys, streams and coffee plantations. Coffee seed was planted here for the first time in India. Chikmagalur is a trekker's delight due to its rugged mountain trails, numerous hills, valleys and fresh water streams. Explore the rare wildlife sanctuary, ancient temples and forts. Take a stroll through the coffee plantations or catch a magnificent sunset. Experience the best of Western Ghats in Chikmagalur. For an enriching experience on the world of coffee, visit the Coffee Museum.

Agumbe

If you enjoy spectacular sunsets, sparkling streams, verdant village vistas, and an unspoilt rustic ambience, Agumbe is the place for you. Situated at an elevation of 826m in Shimoga district, Agumbe provided the perfect setting for R. K. Narayan to film his novel Malgudi Days. Agumbe and its environs are full of exciting trekking routes. Forested trails lead from here to a jungle pond called Emkal Kere, a hillock called Nishani Gudda, and to Barkana Falls. Agumbe is also known as the Cherrapunji of South India. You can also stop by the 14th century temple with Hoysala-style sculptures dedicated to Lord Gopalakrishna. The sunset as seen from Agumbe is a spectacular sight and many visitors come here to watch it, especially between November and January. A microwave tower, a significant landmark of Agumbe, is located at this point. Permission for trekking must be obtained from the Forest Department. Contact DFO, Shimoga Division, or Range Forest Officer, Megaravalli, Agumbe Range

Kemmangundi

The picturesque hill station of Kemmangundi is located at a height of 1434m above sea level. This was the summer retreat of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. Ringed by the Baba Budangiri Range and blessed with silver cascades, mountain streams and lush vegetation, Kemmangundi's beautifully laid-out ornamental gardens, enchanting mountains and valley views are a treat to the eye. The spectacular sunset view from the Raj Bhavan is a photographer's delight. For the adventurous at heart, Kemmangundi offers many peaks to scale and intricate jungle paths to explore.

Kundadri

Located on Theerthahalli-Agumbe road, about 12km from Theerthahalli, Kundadri Hill is a gigantic monolithic rock formation. Surrounded by dense evergreen forests, it is a lovely place for trekking. A rough, stone-paved path leads to a Jain temple perched atop the hill. Camping in the open at Kundadri Hills on a full moon night is an exhilarating experience.

Kodachadri

Situated 100km from Shimoga and 36km from Hosanagara is this enchanting mountain which overlooks the vast Western Ghats. Kodachadri is famed for its glorious sunrises and sunsets. The peak of Kodachadri (at an altitude of 1343 m above sea level) can be reached by a five-hour trek. On the western side, the hill descends steeply for about 1220m, meeting the forests of Udupi district. The famous temple town of Kollur is 12km away. These hills (4411ft.) constitute one of the largest forest areas in Karnataka, and part of this region forms the Mookambika Nature Reserve. Kollur is an ideal base to explore the hills. The Mookambika Nature Camp is 4km south of Kollur.

B.R.hills

Lose yourself in these ancient hills, which take their name from the Ranganatha Swamy Temple that sits at the edge of a granite precipice with a drop of more than 1000ft. into a dense forest. Find inner peace at the foot of the great champak tree (Dodda Sampige,) believed to be more than 2000 years old and worshipped by the Soligas, the tribals of that area. Don't miss the coffee estates, the tribal hamlets and the Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra which displays preserved tribal information and the biodiversity of the region. There are many trekking trails here, including one that leads up to Honnamati, the highest point of the range

Nandi

This popular weekend getaway is just 60km from Bangalore. The bracing air and serene environs of Nandi Hills, perched at a height of 1455m above sea level, provided Tipu Sultan and the British with an idyllic summer retreat. Here, you can take leisurely strolls or experience the spine-chilling thrills of paragliding. Two ancient temples dedicated to Lord Shiva grace the hill, one at the foot and the other at the peak. Nandi Hills shot into prominence during the visits of Queen Elizabeth II in the 1960s and the heads of SAARC countries in the 1980s

Jog falls

Bear witness to nature's headlong tumble as the Sharavati river makes a spectacular drop of 253m in four distinct cascades - known locally as Raja, Rani, Rover, and Rocket - to create the highest falls in Asia. The falls are at their best during the monsoon, with arching rainbows colouring the mist. When the sluice gates of the upstream Linganamakki Dam are closed, it is worth taking a walk right down to the bottom of the gorge.

Unchalli Falls

Heggarne, a dreamy hamlet in Uttara Kannada district, is just 35km from Siddapur. A further 5km trek from Heggarne through dense forests brings you to the picturesque Unchalli Falls. The sound of the cataract hurtling down the hilly tract shatters the silence of the forests, and the sight of the falls is unforgettable.

Also known as Lushington Falls, these falls were first discovered by J. D. Lushington, the Uttara Kannada District Collector, during the British rule. The cascade is also called Keppa Joga because of the deafening sound it makes

Magod falls

The mesmerising Magod Falls are located 80km from Karwar. Here, the Bedthi river takes two distinct leaps to hurtle from a height of 650ft. into a rocky ravine. The thickly wooded countryside, the roar of gushing water, and a beautiful view combine to make this spot an ideal choice for outings.

Hebbe falls

Hebbe Falls is located at a distance of 8km from Kemmanagundi. An exhilarating trek along a steep and narrow path leads to these sprightly falls. Surrounded by dense forests and coffee plantations, Hebbe falls gushes down from a height of 250 feet in two stages to form Dodda Hebbe (Big Falls) and Chikka Hebbe (Small Falls). Don't miss a refreshing dip in the herb-infused water

Shivanasamudra falls

Discover nature’s handiwork in the form of this tiny island-town, 65km east of Mysore. Forested hills and lush green valleys cradle a small hamlet and two fine temples. Together, they provide a startlingly calm setting for the Cauvery River as it plummets from a height of 75m into a deep, rocky gorge with a deafening roar, to form two picturesque falls, Barachukki and Gaganachukki. When the Cauvery is in spate, watching the river crash into a cloud of foaming spray can be an exhilarating experience. During the monsoon ( June-September), the falls are at their impressive best. Downstream from the falls is Asia’s first hydroelectric project, established in 1902

Abbey falls

Tucked away between private coffee and spice estates, Abbey Falls (9km from Madikeri) offers a splendid backdrop for picnics. As you make your way past stocky coffee bushes and tall trees entwined with pepper vines, the falls make a sudden and dramatic appearance as they cascade their way down steps into limpid pools to join the Cauvery River. The ideal time to visit the falls is during the monsoon, when they are at their best

Iruppu falls

Nestling beside the Rajiv Gandhi National Park (Nagarahole) Iruppu Falls presents a stunning sight during the monsoon. From their humble origins in the Brahmagiri Range, the falls plunge 170ft. in two distinct stages. They come down to earth to flow as Lakshmana Theertha (Sacred River of Lakshmana.) The ceaseless music of the falls and the hush of the densely wooded forest surrounding them makes this a great picnic spot. A forest trail leads from these falls to the Brahmagiri Peak in Southern Kodagu. En route to the falls, the Rameshwara Temple attracts a large number of pilgrims during the festival of Shivaratri

Kalkatti falls

Water cascades from the top of the Chandra Drona Hill plunge down from a height of 45m to flow before the Veerabhadreshwara Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Lalguli falls

Lalguli Falls are located about 15km north of Yellapur in Uttara Kannada District. Here, the Kali river creates a grand spectacle by tumbling from a height of approximately 250ft. in a series of picturesque rapids set at varying heights

Sathodi falls

About 32km away from Yellapur, several unknown streams converge near Kallaramane Ghat and plunge from a height of about 15m to create a picturesque picnic spot. Situated in the midst of dense forests, Sathodi Falls is locally known as the 'Mini-Niagara of Uttara Kannada District.

Gokak falls

Located 65 kms from Belgaum, Gokak gets its name due to the Goki trees found in abundance in these areas. Close to the town is the Gokak Falls. Here, river Ghataprabha takes a leap over a rocky bed 170 ft down which makes a beautiful sight. The Gokak Falls is also known as the Northern Mysore Falls.

Wild Karnataka

Bandipur national park

Tread the path of the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore with a visit to Bandipur, about 80km south of Mysore on the Mysore-Ooty Road. The reserve is a playground for wildlife, with elephants taking the lead role. Be prepared for an unforgettable experience - you might see a tiger prowling amidst the mix of deciduous, evergreen forest and scrubland vegetation. Set against the picturesque backdrop of the enchanting Niligiri mountains with its mist-covered peaks, Bandipur was once the Mysore Maharaja's private hunting ground. It was brought under Project Tiger in 1973. This is one of the best game sanctuaries in India to observe and photograph wildlife in close proximity. A temple perched atop Himad Gopalaswamy Hill, the highest peak in the Bandipur range, is worth a visit.

Rajiv Gandhi national park

Explore the environs of Nagarahole, Kannada for 'Snake River.' The Rajiv Gandhi National Park derives its name from the winding course of the river that flows through the forests. Nagarahole has an astonishing abundance of wildlife, especially the Asiatic elephant. The backdrop of the distant misty blue Brahmagiri Mountains, the natural sounds of the jungle, the gurgling of streams and rivers, and the twittering of the birds make Nagarahole a memorable experience.

B.R. Hills Sanctuary

A unique blend of hill resort and wildlife sanctuary, the hills take their name from the ancient Ranganatha Swamy Temple that sits at the edge of a granite precipice with a drop of more than 1000 ft. into a dense forest. Find inner peace at the foot of the great champak tree (Dodda Sampige), believed to be more than 2000 years old and worshipped by the Soligas, the tribals of that area. Don't miss the coffee estates, the tribal hamlets and the Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra which displays preserved tribal information and the biodiversity of the region. There are many trekking trails here, including one that leads up to Honnamati, the highest point of the range

Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary

Tucked away amidst mountains, valleys, a mighty river, jungle sounds, and lush greenery, the sanctuary is an idyllic getaway where anglers and nature enthusiasts can get a whiff of raw adventure and a view of the majestic Cauvery as it bounces over jagged rocks. Here, you can trek to the top of the hill to get a panoramic view of the Cauvery flowing through the picturesque valley below. You could also visit the ruins of the magnificent sculpted Shiva temple, a place of worship for the local Soliga tribes, raft down the rapids of the Cauvery, or even indulge in game fishing.

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

Just outside Srirangapatna, near Mysore, the Cauvery river meanders around a string of tiny islets, which together form a splendid nesting site for waterfowl. Experience the excitement of a boat ride that takes you within touching distance of the birds as marsh crocodiles bask in the sun. Delight in watching the winged visitors making happy forays into the water. You could also test your powers of observation by trying to spot flying foxes hanging on the highest branches of the tallest trees at dusk.

Kokkrebellur Pelicanry

Every year, hundreds of winged visitors come together to set up a unique orchestra at Kokkrebellur with their shrill cries and cacophonous calls. You can watch the performances of painted storks and pelicans resplendent in their breeding plumage, as well as the seemingly frail but gregarious fledglings perched atop the tamarind, peepul, and portia trees dotting the village. These birds have become an integral part of this tiny hamlet in the sugarcane-rich Mandya district. It is believed that the villagers look after them like family members

Kaggaladu Heronry

A nondescript village in Tumkur district wakes up each year to the raucous cries and colourful plumage of painted storks and grey herons as they nest on old tamarind trees amidst the houses. This is the only place in Karnataka where these species nest side by side. The birds live in perfect harmony and mutual tolerance with the villagers and enjoy their protection - a perfect example of peaceful co-existence between man and nature.

Bannerghatta National Park

For a walk on the wild side, look no further than the southern outskirts of Bangalore city, where you can find everything from avifauna to panthers in the Bannerghatta National Park. The 25,000 acre park is home to panthers, lions, tigers, and a large variety of birds. Indulge your sense of adventure with a lion and tiger safari for a tête-à-tête with the big cats. You could also wander through the Zoological Garden, with its canopy of shady and sturdy trees, find a quiet resting spot beside a pond and watch waterfowl frolic. The zoo boasts of an amazing reptile collection; a snake park that lets you get upclose and personal with scaly, slithery creatures. A children's corner provides an added attraction. Trekking enthusiasts will enjoy Uddigebande (3.5km) a natural rock formation called Hajjamana Kallu (3km) and Mirza Hill (1.5km)

Anshi National Park

Located in an eco-sensitive part of the Western Ghats, Anshi is rich in rare species of flora and fauna. About 197 species of birds have been spotted here. If you can brave the torrential rains and leeches, you can feast your eye on the varied flowers in bloom in August and September, while enjoying the many small brooks, springs, and cascades. Some of the tourist spots nearby are the Ulvi Channabasaveshwara Temple just outside the southeastern boundary of the Park, Kadra Valley view point (12km,) and Karwar beach (55 km.

Dandeli Wildlife Park

Undulating streams, whispering bamboo, diverse wildlife, and innumerable trekking trails make Dandeli a dream destination. River Kali and its tributaries, Kaneri and Nagajhari, meander through the moist deciduous and semi-evergreen forests. The Dandeli forests also play host to the graceful Virnoli Rapids, the magnificent Supa Dam, the sinister Syntheri Rocks, Nagajhari Viewpoint, the Kulgi Nature Education Camp, the Kavla Caves with their Shivling-like stalagmites, and Sykes Point which offers a stunning view of the Kalinadi Valley

Gudavi Bird Sanctuary

An obscure village in Sorab taluk of Shimoga district, comes alive in June as the energetic chirping of birds fills the air. The tree-lined banks of the Gudavi Lake become a brilliant mosaic of colours, with branches buried under bright plumage. The grey heron, night heron, little cormorant, jungle fowl, waterfowl, white-headed crane, pond heron, and the black-headed crane - you'll find them all holidaying at Gudavi. Their symphony can be heard miles away

Bhadra Bird Sanctuary

The sanctuary takes its name from the Bhadra River, its lifeline. Popularly known as Muthodi Wildlife Sanctuary, after the village of its periphery, it is a great place to sight the tiger, observe the Indian bison, hear the strange calls of the striped hyena and spot the rare flying lizard. The southern part of the sanctuary is rich in birds, butterflies and reptiles. More than 250 species of birds, many of which are endemic to the Western Ghats, are spotted here

Kudremukh National Park

The Kudremukh, or Horse Face Range, gets its name from the unique shape of its peak. The broad hills, 95km south-west of Chikmagalur town, overlook the Arabian Sea and are chained to one another with deep valleys and steep precipices. As yet undiscovered by tourists, Kudremukh is a trekker's paradise. Let the wonderland of lush green forests interspersed with rivers, grassy slopes, captivating cascades, rare orchids, caves, ruins, and traces of old civilizations amaze you as you trek your way through it. The Lakya Dam located near the Kudremukh project area is an interesting spot in the Kudremukh range. Ganga Moola is another scenic spot in the Bhagawathi Forest; you can reach it by trekking0

Dubare Elephant Camp

The once training camp of the famous Mysore Dasara elephants, Dubare Elephant Camp beckons wildlife enthusiasts as well as travellers. Spend hours by simply observing elephants in action. Or learn about their habits and participate in various daily activities like feeding and bathing. A trained Naturalist is at hand to explain the various aspects of Elephant history, ecology and biology. Get 'an intimate experience with elephants' at India's unique eco-tourism destination.

Jungle Campus & Trails

Jungle Camps and Trails” provides authentic eco-tourism experiences through “Jungle camps” that offer visitors an opportunity to explore, experience and appreciate various wilderness areas spread across Karnataka. Each camp is uniquely situated in a different forest ecosystem and provides a different ambience. The camps provide comfortable accommodation and a number of eco activities among which are cave explorations, hornbill safari, butterfly trail, herbal trail, herpeto-trail, nature walks, machan night-outs, river rafting, forest treks, bird watching and boating. Following are the Jungle Camps and Trails properties

Costal KARNATAKA

Karwar

With gentle waves, miles of golden sand, a tranquil ambience, and acres of emerald foliage, Karwar has all the makings of a perfect holiday destination. The captivating landscape is ringed with rugged hill ranges, thick woods, and mysteriously deep valleys. This paradise inspired the great Indian muse Rabindranath Tagore to pen his first play. Since then, this little town has continued to inspire all its visitors.The Sadashivgad Hill Fort with a Durga Temple, the unique octagonal church, the 300-year old Venkatrama Temple with ochre paintings, and the Naganatha Temple, where an ant hill is worshipped, are sure to make a lasting impression. Devbagh is the most enchanting of the five islands along the Karwar coast. Visits to Anjidev Island are restricted.
Best season: September to mid May

Kurugmad

4km from the mainland, this tortoise-shaped island is renowned for the hilltop Narasimha Temple, which attracts thousands of devotees during the annual jatra held on Pushya Purnima every year in early January. Kurumgad is steeped in history, complete with the remains of a fort with cannon holes. Enjoy the panoramic view of the sea, sand, and the neighbouring islands from the tableland of the island, or indulge in activities such as trekking, fishing, dolphin and seal-spotting, boat rides to neighbouring islands, diving, snorkelling, treasure hunts, guided tours, or star-gazing.

Gokarna

With its narrow streets, traditional houses and temples, the nondescript town of Gokarna has become the favourite haunt of Hindu pilgrims, Sanskrit scholars and beach buffs. Locals believe that Gokarna derives its name from a legend in which Lord Shiva emerged from the ear of a cow. Literally meaning 'cow's ear,' this village is formed by the ear-shaped confluence of two rivers. Adventurous travellers must be prepared for a bit of cliff-scrambling in this coastal town. Om beach, one of Gokarna's five famed beaches, takes the shape of an 'Om,' a spiritual symbol. The other beaches, wedged between gigantic cliffs that protrude like delicate fingers into the sea are Gokarna, Kudle, Half Moon, and Paradise.

Marawanathe

Take in the spectacular views at Marawanthe, a seaside town where the West Coast Highway cruises alongside the Arabian Sea on one side, with the picturesque Kodachadri Hills forming a backdrop to the Sauparnika river on the other. Marawanthe wears the look of a fairyland at sunset when the sky turns crimson and the golden rays of the sun are reflected in the sea as well as the river. Water sports promise an action-filled holiday. Visit Baindur, a hamlet 45km from Marawanthe with a lovely beach close by. Near Baindur is the scenic Ottinane with its overhanging cliffs, an ideal place for viewing the sunset. A further drive will take you to the Belaka Theertha Falls near Baindur.

St. mary’s island

About 6km from the Malpe coast into the Arabian Sea, one gets to see the palm-fringed St. Mary’s Island which bears the cross that Vasco Da Gama placed when he landed here in 1498. The island is 300m long and 100m wide. It is famous for its unique salt rock formations. Due to this geological importance, St. Mary’s Island is declared as a National Geological Monument. It is also rated among India’s top 7 Natural Wonders by Jet Wings Magazine (November 2009).

Murudeshwar

Murudeshwar will help you rediscover your love for solitude. Seat yourself at a vantage point on a hillock and watch the relentless waves crash against the rock. Murudeshwar will woo you with its beaches,Shiva Temple and the tallest Shiva statue in India.

Malpe

At the mouth of the Malpe river, about 6km from Udupi, is the natural harbour of Malpe, an important fishing centre that enriches Karnataka's coastline with its fabulous beach. The endless stretch of golden sand, graciously swaying palm trees, clear blue sky, and the gentle murmur of the sea set the perfect mood for an idyllic holiday. Across the bay is the island of Darya Bahadurgarh. Be sure to visit the Balarama Temple and Malpe's oldest tile factory, set up by the Basel Mission.

Kaup

Situated 12km south of Udupi, on the coastal belt that passes through the West Coast National Highway, Kaup has a lovely beach, a ruined fort and an old 100ft. high lighthouse. The two temples of Goddess Mariamma in Kaup are famous. The Jain basadis here are in ruins, but are worth a visit

Mangalore

Ensconced on the coast, this maritime city makes a pleasant and convenient stop between Goa and Kerala. With its narrow, winding streets fringed with coconut palms, quaint houses with terracotta-tiled roofs, beautiful beaches, temples and churches, and the aroma of spicy coconut curries, it has preserved its old-world charm. Mangalore was a major seaport and ship-building centre in Hyder Ali's time. Today it is a business and commercial centre and Karnataka's major port for the export of coffee, spices and cashew.

The Someshwar Temple overlooking a rocky promontory, the ancient 10th century Mangala Devi Temple dedicated to the Goddess Mangala Devi, and the 11th century Kadri Manjunatha Temple with its exquisite bronze images of Lokeshwara co-exist with splendid churches and mosques. Among the more remarkable mosques are the Jumma Masjid in Bunder, built centuries ago by the Arabs, and the Idgah Mosque at Lighthouse Hill whose construction is attributed to Tipu Sultan at the end of the 18th century. The St. Aloysius College Chapel with its magnificent Biblical frescoes adorning the walls and ceilings is worth a peek. Equally impressive is the Shreemanthi Bai Memorial Government Museum with its wonderful collection of objets-de-art, archaeology, ethnology, porcelain, and wooden carvings. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy the Pilikula Nisagardhama, a sprawling 300-acre park, 12km from Mangalore, which has boating facilities, wildlife safari, mini aquariums and a science centre

Adventure Karnataka

White Water Rafting

Experience the thrills of white water rafting on some unpredictable stretches of the Kali river at Dandeli - an experience so far unavailable this side of the Ganga. Kemphole is another popular destination for white water enthusiasts. Sitanadi (near Agumbe) and Netravati are also favourite white water rafting spots. The azure waters of the Cauvery also provide for some great river rafting.

Rock Climbing

The craggy wilderness around Ramnagar, 50km from Bangalore on the Bangalore-Mysore highway, is a climber's delight. If you can supplement your love of adventure with some time, there are other rock climbing options around the city; Bangalore and its neighbouring areas are fortified by interesting rock formations at places like Savanadurga, Kabbaldurga, Tumkur, Turahalli, and Kanakpura. Yana, famous for its unique formation, is also a favourite rock-climbing haunt. Bouldering provides yet another adventure option. Some of the best climbing areas in Karnataka are at Badami and Hampi, where you can also take a cultural tour to the ruins and cave temples

Terkking

With its lush tropical forests, hills, dales, caves, cascades, roaring rivers, gurgling streams and flora and fauna, Karnataka is a trekker's paradise. Trekking trails are mostly located in the Ghat districts of Uttara and Dakshina Kannada -Shimoga, Chikmagalur, Hassan and Kodagu. Try railway-track trekking through the spectacular Western Ghats between the towns of Donigal and Kukke Subramanya. This unique activity lets you savour natural beauty while watching trains thunder by. Die-hard trekkers can explore the coastline on foot via the enchanting Golden Trek from Karwar to Gokarna. Tadiyendamol, the tallest peak in Kodagu, from where you can view the distant Arabian Sea on a clear day, is a trekker's delight. The ideal time for trekking is immediately after the monsoon, from September to December

Angling

The Mahseer, Asia’s premier sporting fish and prize catch of all committed anglers, is the pride and joy of the Cauvery. Here, intrepid anglers wait day and night in anticipation of their catch. At the Cauvery Fishing Camp run by Jungle Lodges and Resorts, avid fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers can soak in the tranquil environs and also grab a whiff of adventure. Besides the thrill of fishing, there are other activities like trekking, river rafting and coracle riding. Valnur, on the banks of the Cauvery River near Kushalnagar, is another interesting place for Mahseer fishing.

Aerosports

Hang-gliding is a truly Zen experience. To experience the exhilaration and euphoria of parajumping, head for Nandi Hills. The beautiful airstrip set in 1sq. km of tall wild-grass close to Bangalore's Hebbal Lake is the focus of aerosports like parasailing and microlight flying

Yana

The gigantic rock formations of Yana stand proud and tall among the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats in Uttara Kannada district. Located 25km from the coastal town of Kumta and 40km from Sirsi near the Chandrika river, Yana is an ideal destination for pilgrims, trekkers, and nature-lovers alike. A 16km trek through the cool and breezy hills brings you to the foot of the mountain where the rock formations begin. At the top, a stunning sight of the awesome Bhairaveshwara and Jaganmohini shikharas, or peaks, is viisible. A cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva lies below these shikharas. The vagaries of time have caused these limestone structures to turn blackish brown; a profusion of beehives dots the rock surface.

Bird Watching

Roam the Western Ghats to get your fill of the Malabar whistling thrush, Malabar drogon, imperial pigeon, ruby throated bulbul and shama that rule the lush evergreen forests. Or, move down south for reserves of herons, pelicans and painted storks. Go on a bird watching spree at National Parks like Bandipur National Park, Rajiv Gandhi National Park (Nagarahole), B R Hills Sanctuary and Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. The calls of Malabar parakeets and the songs of magpie robins echo through the forests along with more than 550 species of other birds, making Karnataka a bird watcher's paradise. If you don't want to go far into the jungles, Bangalore and its environs also provide excellent bird watching opportunities.

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