Karnataka has witnessed the reign of some of the most powerful dynasties in India including the Vijayanagar Empire, the Chola Dynasty, the Chalukya Dynasty and the Hoysala Empire.
It is no wonder that this state has the second largest number of protected monuments in the country. Each monument has stood strong through centuries and tells the stories of the wonderful eras that have thrived in the state.
Here are some of the most significant historical places and monuments in Karnataka:
Hampi Groups Of Monuments
Located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River, this town is testimony to the prowess of King Krishnadeva Raya. During your visit to Hampi, make sure that you visit the wonderful monuments such as the Virupaksha temple, the ruins at Hemakuta hills, Hazara Rama Temple, The tallest structure in Hampi, the Mahanavami Dibba and the Vitthala Temple. While you are here, do not miss out on the Hampi Bazaar near the Virupaksa temple and Courtesan’s street near the temple of Achyuta Raya.
The mysterious whispering chamber that magnifies the faintest sound is the main attraction of the Gol Gumbaz. It is the mausoleum of Muhammad Adil Shah and is a great example of Islamic Architecture. Located in Belgaum, the Gol Gumbaz flaunts beautiful gardens, pillars and decorative paneling that is trademark of rich Islamic Architecture.
Gommateshwara Statue in Shravanabelagla
Shravanabelagola is one of the most popular spiritual destinations for Jains. The Gommateshwara Statue was built by the commander and minister of the Ganga dynasty and is the largest monolithic statue in the world. Every twelve years, the Mahamastakabhisheka is a grand event that includes anointment of this gigantic statue amidst prayers offered by thousands of devotees.
This palace built by the Wodeyar Dynasty in the year 1944 is an example of Tudor style architecture with magnificent wooden carvings. It reminds you of castles in England and Normandy. Today, the famous Palace Grounds holds some of the most spectacular concerts and shows.
The Mysore Palace is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Karnataka. Marble domes and the gothic stone structures used in its construction. The palace is famous for the life like paintings of Raja Ravi Varma that decorate its walls. During the festival of Dusshera, the palace comes alive with thousands of lights and a grand parade passes by the streets of Mysore with beautifully decorated elephants and horses.
This is one of the best testimonies of the era of the Chalukya dynasty between the 7th and 8th century AD. The group of monuments at Pattadakal have traces of North and South Indian architecture. Some monuments that you must visit include the Mallikarjuna temple, the Jaina Temple, the Virupaksha temple, the Kadasiddhewara Temple, the Kasivisweswara temple and a monolithic pillar with beautiful insctiption.
Durga Temple, Aihole
Built by the Chalukyas between the 7th and 8th century, this is one of the most popular temples in Aihole. It is a great combination of Nagara and Dravidian architecture. The temple is built to resemble the back of an elephant. This technique of construction is called Gajaprasta in Indian architecture. The periphery of the temple is covered with sculptures of various gods and goddesses.
Namdroling Monastery – Bylakuppe
This is one of the largest teaching centres for Tibetian Buddhists of the Nyingma lineage. The monastery was built by Drubwang Padma Norbu Rinpochem, the eleventh ruler of the Palyul lineage in 1963. The magnificent golden statue of the Buddha in the serene prayer hall is breathtaking. The walls are adorned with beautiful oriental paintings that talk of the life of the Buddha.
The Narasimha Temple
This cave temple was excavated in a tunnel in Mangalpet in Bidar. The temple houses a self-manifested sculpture. It is certainly an architectural wonder that has a perennial stream flowing through it continuously for hundreds of years now.
The Bidar Fort
This fort located on the Bidar Plateau was built by Adil Shah. The fort is constructed around an old fort that was built by Ahmed Shah Bahmani in 1428. There are several monuments inside the complex such as the Painted palace or the Rangin Mahal, the Jami Masjid, the Takht Mahal, the Sola Khamba Masjid among several others. The water supply system known as the karex is one of the most unusual features of its construction. It has a network of several underground canals that have vertical shafts rising to the surface. These canals supplied drinking water, water for irrigation and several other purposes.
Built between 567-598 AD, these cave temples are masterpieces by the sons of Pulakesi I, Kirthivarman and Mangalesha. Two of the caves are devoted to Lord Vishnu; one to Lord Shiva and the fourth is a temple for Jains. This is a symbol of religious tolerance that was advocated by the Chalukyas. While the exterior of the caves is simple, the interiors are ornate with beautiful rock carvings and pillared verandahs. You can find cliff descriptions around the caves in Kannada and in Sanskrit.