Karnataka is home to several forts, architectural marvels and is blessed with a rich cultural heritage. Other diverse visitor attractions include, pilgrim sites, coastal landscapes and wildlife/national parks. The state offers a variety of tourism products that cater to the demand from different visitor segments, such as eco-tourism, wellness tourism and adventure tourism. Over the years Karnataka has emerged as one of the most sought after tourism destinations in the country, and also created a space for itself, in the international tourism circuit. As of 2013, the state was ranked as the fourth preferred destination among domestic tourists and ranked third with regard to attracting investments in the tourist sector.
It is made of the most breath taking and transcendent locations of nature and experience true tranquillity that you have most longed for. Be it the Jog Falls or the coffee plantations in the Scotland of India (Coorg) or the spectacular view of the Sunrise at Nandi Hills, Karnataka is where your bucket list is set to begin. When it comes to adventure and exploring inches of Karnataka, there are so many places you will find as you keep visit each place. Surrounded by hill stations, cities and places that have exquisite architecture, you will come across some breath-taking falls, mountains and hills that you can trek through, water bodies you can drive around like Tungabhadra River, Cauvery River or Agastya Lake, or you can be part of the mountain biking and hiking groups that have some interesting activities always lined up. Karnataka is so beautifully surrounded by nature and related places that are both thrilling and spectacular. There is places that are so uncommon which is why Karnataka is the ultimate destination to experience the best of nature.
Karnataka is widely known mainly for the famous Bandipur National Park but did you know there are totally 27 various Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks spread across the state? Karnataka gives huge importance to preserving the wild and wildlife and these sanctuaries are proof of the same. Starting all the way from Bandipur National Park to Bannerghatta National Park and extending further. They also offer a wide range of options for luxurious jungle resorts. Kabini is one such place that is about 1 hour away from Mysore is an absolute treat to the eyes. Surrounded completely by greenery and close to Nagarhole National Park and Tiger Reserve, this uncommon place offers you so much to explore in the wild and be one with nature.
Most tourists are well aware of Mangalore for its serene beaches namely, Malpe and Panambur beach of the others, but now, here is another place not many know about but has become one of the ultimate beach retreat places. Call it our little Goa or the replica of Goa, about 5 hours away from Mangalore is Gokarna. This place sees many foreign travelers every month and why not? If you are looking to go on a pilgrimage or to spend some sea time at the Om Beach and Kudle Beach, well, this is the ultimate destination.
11 colorful, vibrant and prestigious festivals are celebrated all over Karnataka and the most famous one is Dasara (Dussehra), on which day the Mysore Palace is decorated and the entire city of Mysore comes together to pay homage to the guardian goddess. The Hampi Festival celebrated in the month of November remembering the Vijaygarha Kings. The Tulu Sankramana Coorg Festival or Theerthodbhava is a festival of joy in celebration of Goddess Cauvery which is ideally celebrated in the month of October. Believers and followers from all around the world come to take the holy dip in the waters and seek the blessings of the deity. Pattadakkal Dance Festival is an extravagant festival of dance celebrated at the temples of Pattadakkal which is 135kms away from Hampi and is celebrated in the month of January. The Vairamudi Festival, celebrated in the month of March is in the worship of Lord Vishnu where the idol is decorated and decked up with a diamond-studded crown and brought outside of the Mysore palace. Buffalo Race otherwise known as Kambala is one festival that has been followed and continued in Mangalore and Udupi mainly apart from other surrounding regions, up until today since the days of the royal Kings, as a royal sport. These races are held typically from November to March. Hoysala Mahotsava is another dance festival celebrated in grandeur in the month of March in Belur and Halebidu, portraying the vivid Hoysala culture of Hoysala rulers, temples, culture and architecture.
Karnataka clearly is a state that holds witness to history extensively and to be able to understand the significance and enjoy the beauty, festivals and art forms have so many stories to portray and as tourists, this is how you experience this state that is filled with so many surprises.
Karnataka consists of a population of diverse culture and religion. The state is spread over with some of the most beautiful churches, temples, and masjids. Each architecture has beautiful engravings and significant history worth the knowledge. Karnataka is popularly known for its strong Hindu culture mainly because of the history of rulers. Places like Srirangapatna, Murdeshwar and Hampi are the ultimate destinations for a religious pilgrimage. Be it the 123 feet statue of Lord Shiva or the Anjaneya Hills or Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple, Karnataka always proves to be so rich in religious values and culture. Each of them, centuries old and so captivating.
Did you know that two famous heritage sites in Karnataka are considered part of the Seven Wonders of India? The relics of Karnataka are considered to be so prestigious and renowned with Hampi being known as UNESCO’s world heritage site. Shravanabelagola on the other hand which is about 160kms from Bangalore and is the other heritage site, famously known for the Gomatheshwara Statue that has 650 odd steps to reach the religious place. Apart from these two are other places like Belur and Halebidu that bear testimony to the distinct architectural style of Hoysala Rulers. Today, out of 1500 temples that were built, only 100 survive. Hoysaleshwara Temple, Garuda Pillar, the Chennakesava Temple provide an immense contribution towards Kannada art culture and literature. Other temples, forts, monuments in and around that speak and portray the beauty of Karnataka, the culture, the values, the pride of the ancestors, the famous Mysore Palace in its majestic glory is all a treasure trove of history indeed.
Food is the way to anyone’s heart and food in Karnataka especially is like a tour through various delicious flavors and spices. It is a combination of sweet and spice and everything nice. Just like the rich heritage are the delectable dishes/cuisines of Karnataka with their staple food items being Ragi and rice. Karnataka is known for its homely feeling and so is their food, bringing to you the taste of authentic and traditional Kannadiga cuisine. Be it the sumptuous Mysore Masala Dosa or the appetizing Kundapura Koli Saaru from Mangalore or the mouth-watering Udupi Sambar, you have a plethora of food choices to indulge in. So if you come across dishes like Ragi Mudde and Soppina Saru or Chow Chow Bath or the most famous Obbitu and Holige, remember, you are going to be diving deep into the most mouth-watering and healthy dishes that signify the distinct flavors of Karnataka.
The art of story-telling comes from passion and creativity. It is embedded within and it is portrayed so naturally and beautifully. Be it drama, dance, music or storytelling, you can witness vivid diversity in terms of cultural dress, traditional dance forms, social and cultural history and so on. Yaskhagana is a classic folk play that falls under the theatrical art forms of coastal Karnataka. There are totally 12 art forms of which Yakshagana is undisputedly the poster-child of the art forms, its lesser known counterparts are equally enthralling in their own way. Gamaka is a unique music form based on Karnataka Sangeetha while other dance forms like Boodkali (Coorg), Dasaratha (North Karnataka) seem to have lost their value over the years. Dance forms like Veeragase and Kamsale portray the culture of Karnataka and Dollu Kunitha is a special dance form that makes use of colored drums, performed by male shepherds of the Kuruba community making it looking vibrant and lively. The names of certain dance forms, Devare Thatte Kunitha, Yellammana Kunitha, Sugi Kunitha, to name a few, are derived from either the deity they worship or a symbol or the instruments they use. Apart from the above, Karnataka embraces the most distinguished classical dance form of India, Bharathnatyam and others such as Kuchipudi and Kathak.
KSTDC, established in 1971, provides accommodation and conveyance facilities for tourists visiting Karnataka. It also conducts 26 package tours through its fleet of 52 buses equipped with state of the art facilities and owns hotels and guest houses throughout the State –18 properties at unrivalled locations across popular destinations. KSTDC also undertakes infrastructure development projects.
KSTDC also operates The Golden Chariot, South India’s first and only luxury train. Rated by Vanity Fair as “one of the top seven train journeys in the world”, it takes discerning travelers through its 2 packages, “Pride of the South" and "Southern Splendour”.
JLR, established in 1980, promotes eco-tourism, adventure tourism and various wildlife destinations in Karnataka. Working closely with the Forest Department, it runs 16 properties across National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and the coast, making it India’s largest chain of resorts in wildlife tourism/ eco-tourism. Various outdoor activities such as trekking, camping, safaris, white water rafting, etc. are offered at these resorts.
JLR also provides consultancy services to other state governments in promoting eco-tourism.