Top 13 Famous Heritage Sites To Visit When In Karnataka

Top 13 Famous Heritage Sites To Visit When In Karnataka

Aswini Ramesh | January 04, 2020 |

Formerly known as the State of Mysore, it was renamed as Karnataka in the year 1973. Bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, Maharastra to the North, Andra Pradesh to the East and Kerala to the South, the state covers an area of 191,976 square kilometres becoming the sixth largest Indian state by area. The land is famous for its temples, township remains, pilgrimage destinations and ancient civilisation ruin sites which are even recognised by the UNESCO.

Prominent for its various tourist attractions which include historical places, monuments, temples and religious sites, Karnataka is the fifth most popular place in India for tourism and home to 3600 protected monuments in India. Be it for a history buff or someone who loves to travel, we have attempted to put down the top 13 famous heritage sites in Karnataka that one must visit. 


1. Hampi Group Of Monuments, Hampi

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Temples and other fortifications built by various rulers of the Vijayanagar Dynasty were destroyed and never reconstructed due to constant attacks by enemies from other kingdoms. For this reason, this is an ancient village's ruins, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has splendid temples on display such as the Virupaksha and the Vittala. It also has an archaeological museum, market and a sanctuary nearby. Hampi is one of the most searched historical place in Karnataka, a trip here will enlighten you with historical facts of this place.


2. Belur

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Located on the banks of the river Yagachi, Belur is also referred to as 'Velapuri' and is about 223 km from Banglore. The temples of Belur are very famous for their South Indian Architecture. These were built by the renowned architect Jakkanna Acharya (Amarashilpi Jakanaacharya). This stunning structure is also one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

3. Mysore Palace

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Built in the year 1912, designed by Architect Henry Irwin, the Mysore Palace is a historic place and is also known as the Amba Vilas Palace. While looking at the Indo- Saracenic architecture, reflected in the remarkable interiors, reminds us all why Mysore is popularly known as the City of Palaces. 


 Timing: 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM every day for a tour of the palace; 7:00 PM to 7:45 PM for Light & Sound Show from Monday to Saturday.


Entry Fees: "INR 10 for students; INR 30 for kids; INR 50 for Indians and foreigner."


4. Badami Cave temples, Badami

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Badami, formerly known as Vatapi, is a historic town in Karnataka, located about 500 km away from Bengaluru. The story of Ilavala and Vatapi is a popular mythological story, which everyone must read upon. Badami is named after the latter, a demon. The history of the cave temples at Badami can be traced back to 600 CE and 700 CE. The architecture is an aesthetic mix of North Indian Nagara style and South Indian Dravidian style, This could be one of the best examples for South Indian architecture and is a must-visit destination. 


5. Aihole Historic Temples, Bagalkot

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Aihole is situated on the banks of Malaprabha River in Bagalkot district of Karnataka. It has  Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples showcasing early Chalukya style of architecture. It is close to Badami, about 46 km away. This historical town was also called as "Ayyavole" and "Aryapura". This is a heritage site with monuments, but is yet to be on the UNESCO world heritage sites list. The other notable attractions of Aihole are the Suryanarayana Temple, Konti Group of Temples, Museum and Art Gallery.


6. Pattadakal Group Of Monuments, Pattadakal

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Pattadakal is located on the banks of the river Malaprabha. It is known for the group of the 8th-century monuments. The monuments at Pattadakal are listed in the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites. The speciality of monuments at Pattadakal is due to the interplay of both the Dravidian and the Nagara (Indo-Aryan) styles of temple architecture. Visiting this place during the early months of the year is a bonus, as every year during January - February, Pattadakal celebrates the annual dance festival popularly called as the Chalukya Utsava.


7. Somanthapura Heritage Site, Somanthapura

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Somanthapur, also known as Somanthapura, is located on the banks of the river Kaveri. This place is one of the finest examples of Stone architecture. The main attraction of Somnathpur is a temple dedicated to Lord Channakeshava. It is one of the best examples of Hoysala architecture. The temple is  by Archeological Survey of India, under the category of protected heritage sites.


8. Bidar Fort, Bidar

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Bidar is a hill-top site, in the State of Karnataka. Bidar Fort is located on the edge of Bidar Plateau and was built by Adil Shah in the 15th century. Folklore reveals that Bidar has served many ruling families of South India before the arrival of Sultanates, Mughals, and Nizams.

A few other attractions to visit in Bidar are - the Rangin Mahal, Tarkash Mahal, Takht Mahal, Gagan Mahal, Diwan-i-Khas, Diwan-i-Am, Royal Pavilion, Tombs of Bahmani Rulers, Tombs of the Barid Shahis, Solah Khamba Masjid, Madrassa of Mahmud, etc. Also, do not forget to visit the historic water supply system, called karez.

9. Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu

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Hoysaleswara temple, also known as the Halebidu Temple, is a Hindu temple built in the 12th century dedicated to the Hindu Deity, Lord Shiva. It is popular for its sculptures that run all along the outer wall. Hoysaleswara temple and Kedareswara temple complex are one of the most visited tourist attractions in Karnataka. They are quite well known for its magnificent architecture.

10. Bellary Fort, Bellary

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The Bellary Fort was built on top of the Ballari Gudda or Fort Hill. It was built in two parts namely, the Upper Fort and the Lower Fort. The Upper Fort was built by Hanumappa Nayaka, a feudatory of Vijayanagara Empire, but the Lower Fort was built by Hyder Ali, during the later part of the 18th century, 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. 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.

11. Chitradurga Fort

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Chitradurga Fort is located in Chitradurga District, Karnataka. It is must-see, while on the way to Hampi from Bangaluru or Mysore. The fort occupies 1,500 acres on a cluster of rocky hills. It was built in stages between the 11th and 13th centuries by the dynastic rulers of the region, which including the Chalukyas and Hoysalas, the Nayakas of Chitradurga of the Vijayanagar Empire. The fort is a stone fort which has 35 secret pathways and four hidden passages. In addition to this, it also had 2,000 watchtowers! 

12. Mahakuta Group of Temples, Mahakuta

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The Mahakuta Group Of Temples are date back to the 6th or 7th century CE. It was constructed by the early kings of the Chalukya dynasty of Badami. It is situated in Mahakuta, a village in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. This is an important place of worship for Hindus and the location of a well-known Shaiva monastery.

13. Gol Gumbaz, Bijapur 

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Gol Gumbaz is the mausoleum of king Muhammad Adil Shah, Sultan of Bijapur and the seventh ruler of Adil Shah Dynasty. This spectacular monument was constructed by the architect Yaqut of Dabul, in the year 1656 and it is constructed as per the Indo-Islamic architecture. The monument derives its name from "Gola Gummata" or "Gol Gombadh", which mean a "circular dome". There is a museum within the complex. The museum was established during British rule in 1892. It is said that it took about 30 years to complete the construction of this striking monument. It looks as if, it has come straight out from the dusty past. 

About the author

Aswini Ramesh