Explore Karnataka Today – A to Z of Karnataka Tourism

    Categories: Tourism

The land of sandalwood, silks, and spices, Karnataka is a vibrant experience in itself. Its rich cultural heritage and spectacular natural beauty make for an engaging getaway. Tourism in Karnataka is a thrilling assortment of appealing destinations and exciting experiences. Located in the southern part of India, Karnataka offers an amazing tryst with lofty mountains, serene beaches, roaring waterfalls, dense forests, rich wildlife, celebrated heritage sites, majestic architecture, and an incredible cultural extravaganza. Here we present to you a glimpse of Karnataka tourism.

Mysore Palace during Dasara. Image courtesy Arul Prasad

Major Tourist Hubs in Karnataka

Karnataka is dotted with a number of tourist hubs that provide diverse attractions for the explorers. One of the major tourist hubs of Karnataka is its capital city, Bengaluru. The silicon valley of the country is a melting pot of ethnic diversity. The city stands out with its malls, theatres, parks, lakes, gardens, cafes, pubs, IT companies, palaces, museums, and other attractions.

Mysore, another popular tourist hub, exhibits an influence of the Raj era. It is scattered with architectural splendour and natural beauty. The coastal city of Mangalore remains surrounded by major pilgrimage centres like Udupi, Horanadu, and Dharmasthala. Places like Hassan, Halebidu, Badami, Hospet, and Belur are known for their exquisite temples, forts, and historical structures. They capture the essence of the bygone eras.

The picturesque hill station of Coorg is an ideal destination for a romantic getaway. The plantations and scenic beauty of Chikmagalur have made it popular among tourists from all over the world. But the high point of Karnataka tourism remains Hampi. The ruined seat of the Vijayanagara Empire is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It stands testimony of the grandeur and artistic flair of the opulent empire.

Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore. Image source Muhammad Mahdi Karim/Augustus Binu

Government Initiatives to Boost Tourism in Karnataka

Karnataka has the maximum number of tourist destinations in the country. It is among India’s top ten tourist destinations. The state has received more than 100 million tourists in the last five years. During this period, the tourism sector in the state witnessed a growth of 50%.

The government launched the Tourism Policy 2015-2020 to encourage mega tourism projects in the state. To further boost the tourism and hospitality sector in Karnataka, the state government has undertaken many initiatives. Some of the major initiatives for Karnataka tourism are as follows:

  • Providing infrastructure and other facilities at tourist destinations through Karnataka Tourism Infrastructure Limited.
  • Development of tourism facilities in Mysore, Chamarajanagara, Kodagu, and Mandya districts through Cauvery Tourism Development Authority.
  • Enabling of investment in the state tourism sector through the Karnataka Tourism Trade Facilitation Bill.
  • Enlisting rating agencies to evaluate the quality of service providers in the state tourism industry.
  • Allowing cruise tourism at various ports like Belekeri Port, Malpe Port, Karwar Port, Tadri Port, and new and old Mangalore Ports.
  • Development of tourism related infrastructure like the Hidkal Dam and the Malaprabha Dam at Belgaum, the Gorur Dam at Hassan, and the Manapalla Lake at Udupi.
  • Construction of theme parks at various places in the state.
  • Proposals to establish cable cars at Nandi Hills, Madhugiri, Chamundi Hills, and Kemmannugundi Hills.
  • Initiatives to facilitate adventure sports at places like Udupi, Mandya, Davangere, and Shivamoga.
  • Identification of 46 destinations as part of the project called Adoption of Tourist destinations.
  • Providing concessions and subsidies to investors and operators in the tourism sector.

Karnataka Tourism – Diverse Attractions

Karnataka has countless natural attractions and man-made wonders to woo tourists. It also offers numerous attractions for those interested in adventure and wildlife activities. Some of the varied attractions of Karnataka tourism are as follows:


Bangalore Palace. Image courtesy Image Source

Karnataka has been under the rule of many empires and dynasties. The rulers left behind their imprints on the landscape of Karnataka through various structures, including many palaces. Even today, the palaces reflect the past glory of those eras. A visit to the palaces in Karnataka will offer you a glimpse into the bygone world of the royalty. Some of the famous palaces of Karnataka are:

  • Mysore Palace, Mysore
  • Bangalore Palace, Bengaluru
  • Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore
  • Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, Srirangapatna
  • Jaganmohan Palace, Mysore


Gulbarga Fort Image courtesy UserGulbarga

The forts in Karnataka are a reflection of the might and strength of the state’s erstwhile rulers. Built by rulers of various dynasties, some of them date back to thousands of years. Vijayanagara, Mysore, Badami, Srirangapattan, Chitradurga, Gulbarga, and many other ancient capitals of the state had grand forts. Some of the well-known forts of the state are:

  • Chitradurga Fort
  • Bijapur Fort
  • Bidar Fort
  • Gulbarga Fort
  • Badami Fort
  • Bellary Fort
  • Kittur Fort
  • Raichur Fort

Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks

Photographer Ashwin Kumar

The state has dense forests teeming with wildlife. There are 21 wildlife sanctuaries and 5 national parks in Karnataka. They are home to diverse species of flora and fauna. If you are a wildlife enthusiast, you must not miss visiting some of these wildlife destinations when on a trip to Karnataka. A few wildlife sanctuaries and national parks of the state are:

  • Bannerghatta National Park
  • Nagarhole National Park
  • Bandipur National Park
  • Anshi National Park
  • Kudremukh National Park
  • Arabithittu Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary


Virupaksha Temple, Hampi. Image courtesy Vedamurthy J

Karnataka is one of the best places to explore the beauty of temples in South India. Many of its temples date back to hundreds of years ago. Whether you are a pilgrim or simply interested in admiring temple architecture, Karnataka won’t let you complain by any means. Among its significant temples are:

  • Kollur Mookambika Temple
  • Udupi Srikrishna Temple
  • Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple
  • Murudeshwara Temple
  • Horanadu Annapurneshwari Temple
  • Sri Virupaksheshwara Temple
  • Kukke Subramanya Temple
  • Gokarna Mahableshwar Temple
  • Kateel Durgaparameshwari Temple
  • Guddattu Mahaganapathi Temple

Historical Monuments and Heritage Sites

Stone Chariot, Hampi. Image courtesy Ankit Darsi

The state of Karnataka is the right place for history buffs to travel to. It has more than 25000 historical monuments and heritage sites that are worth visiting. Each monument is a reminiscence of the state’s rich past. When in Karnataka, be sure to check out some of the monuments and heritage sites of the state, such as:

  • Hampi Group of Monuments
  • Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur
  • Raja’s Tomb in Madikeri
  • Group of Monuments in Pattadakal
  • Badami Cave Temples, Badami
  • Ibrahim Rauza, Bijapur
  • Somnathpur Heritage Site, Somnathpur


Kite Festival at Panambur Beach, Mangaluru. Image Source canaracollege.com

Beaches make for perfect holiday destinations. Being bordered by the Arabian Sea on the west, Karnataka has a number of picturesque beaches. For water sports enthusiasts, the beaches are the perfect places to indulge themselves and have fun. If you are planning a trip to Karnataka, take out some time to explore the scenic beaches of the state. Among the popular beaches of Karnataka are:

  • Gokarna Beach
  • Om Beach
  • Malpe Beach
  • Ullal Beach
  • Murudeshwar Beach
  • Kudle Beach
  • Surathkal Beach
  • Kaup Beach


Photo credit: Alemaari

Karnataka is blessed with gorgeous waterfalls that add to its scenic beauty. One can find various types of waterfalls in Karnataka. Some of them offer a mesmerizing sight throughout the year and some are seasonal beauties. If you are not aware about the fascinating waterfalls of the state, then start with exploring the handful of them mentioned below:

  • Jog Falls, Shimoga
  • Shivasamudram Falls, Mysore
  • Abbey Falls, Coorg
  • Dabbe Falls, Shimoga
  • Kadambi Falls, Kudremukh
  • Iruppu Falls, Mysore
  • Jomlu Theertha Falls, Udupi
  • Sural Falls, Belgaum
  • Viboothi Falls, Karwar
  • Honnemaradu Falls, Shimoga

Hill Stations

Sunrise at Thadiyandamol hills in Coorg. Image Courtesy snapper san

Lush greenery, misty clouds, and serene retreats define the hill stations of Karnataka. The beautiful hill stations of the state have so much to offer to tourists from all walks of life. If you want to break free from the monotonicity of daily life or pace down your hectic schedule for a while, escape to one of these hill stations to rejuvenate your senses.

  • Coorg
  • Chikmagalur
  • Agumbe
  • Madikeri
  • Kemmanagundi

Adventure Sports Destination

White water rafting in Dandeli. Image courtesy bangaloretrekkingclub.com

For enthusiasts of adventure sports, Karnataka has a lot to offer. With hundreds of trekking destinations, the state is a major draw for trekkers. Rock climbing, white water rafting, boating, coral riding, sky diving, cave exploration, parasailing, kayaking, scuba diving, angling, and biking are some of the other adventure sports that can be experienced across various destinations in the state. If you have the spirit of adventure in you, then you must explore at least a few of the adventure sports destinations of Karnataka, such as:

  • Trekking and cave exploration, Anthargange
  • Cauvery fishing camp, Bheemeshwari
  • White water rafting, Dandeli
  • Rock climbing, Badami
  • Ranganathaswamy Betta Trek
  • Parasailing, Murudeshwar
  • Wildlife Safari, Nagarhole
  • Rock climbing, Ramanagara
  • River rafting, Sitanadi, Agumbe
  • Coracle rides, Shivanasamudra Falls
  • Cycling to Nandi Hills
  • Skandagiri Trek
  • Rock climbing, Hampi
  • White water rafting, Gokarna
  • Kudremukh Trek
  • River rafting, Kabini

The list of tourist attractions in Karnataka is endless. Unearth the tourist destinations in the state by embarking on an exciting journey of Karnataka tourism.

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