Where ancient history meets trendy modern life
Karnataka has a great variety of scenery, monuments and traditions.
From game reserves, excellent trekking opportunities in the coffee and spice-growing region of Coorg, and outstanding temple monuments at Belur & Halebid, to the awesome ruins in the ghost city of Hampi and 21st century ingenuity and style in boomtown Bangalore - this state has a diverse range of options for holiday-goers to choose from.
Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka, has developed into an important economic centre, particularly in the fields of software and information technology. Parts of the city are amongst the most modern and westernized areas of India, featuring shopping malls, bars and fast food restaurants.
The state's other major city, Mysore, appeals more for its slow-paced and old-fashioned ambience. It is a friendly and easy-going city with plenty of shady tree-lined avenues, pleasant climate, beautiful palaces and buildings characteristic of the pre-Independence era, giving the place grandeur.
To the northeast, Hassan is a convenient base for visiting the Hoysala temples at the middle-of-nowhere villages of Belur and Halebid. Nearby, Shravanbelagola is famous for the 17-metre statue of Lord Bahubali, said to be the tallest monolithic structure in the world.
West of Mysore, the Western Ghats rise in a wall of thick jungle cut by deep ravines and isolated valleys. Mudumalai and Nagarhole are some of the well-known wild life sanctuaries of this area. Several good accommodation options are available in both reserves, with professionally organised jeep safaris that offer good chances of wildlife sightings.
Kodagu (Coorg), is a picturesque region best known for its coffee estates and spice plantations. With roads lined with hedgerows and flowering trees it is a perfect area for a trek through the surrounding mountains. You can stay here in a 100-year old mansion in Virajpet or in Orange County, a modern luxury plantation resort in Siddhapura.
North of Bangalore is Hospet, a district town in central Karnataka, just 13 km from Hampi, the site of the capital of the Vijayanagar empire, which rivaled Rome in the 16th century. Today, the extensive ruins evoke the history of a very advanced civilization. Moreover, the landscape is remarkable, miles of barren land dotted with gigantic boulders standing against the blue skies.
A few hours' drive north of Hampi are the sleepy villages of Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole, once the capital cities of the Chalukyas who ruled much of the Deccan between the 4th and 8th centuries. They built an astonishing profusion of temples, many of which are still in a remarkable state of preservation.