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KARNATAKA

FishingKarnataka, with its capital at Bangalore, is home to a fascinating legacy of richly carved temples and imposing mosques. The state's long and colourful history and the many forts, temples, mosques and churches make it a great place to explore. Colourful art forms, indigenous crafts and a rich cultural legacy add further sheen to Karnatakaís diverse tourism potential. Mysore, the capital of the erstwhile princely state has a profusion of palaces and museums. Hampi in Karnataka is the most fascinating historical site. Srirangapatnam is linked to the memory of one of the old stateís best known rulers - Tipu Sultan. Alongside heritage, culture, and natural splendors, Karnataka also boasts of Bangalore - Indiaís Silicon Valley, and a rapidly growing metropolis. The state is also fast emerging as a sought after MICE destination. For adventure lovers, Karnataka offers white-water rafting possibilities.

The state of Karnataka is part of two well-defined regions of India, namely the Deccan Plateau and the Coastal Plains and Islands, the majority of the state lies on the Deccan Plateau. Karnatakaís 320km of unspoilt coastline has good beaches. It has several breathtaking hill stations that are ideal for ecotourism projects. It also boasts a diverse flora and fauna, which make it a nature tourist's paradise.

During the British rule, Karnataka was a part of the Madras Presidency and it became a new state only in 1956. It was name of Mysore and added some districts from the former Bombay Presidency and the state was renamed as Karnataka in 1971.


MYSORE

Mysore PalaceMysore in southern Karnataka is a great city with loads of charm. It offers a lot for tourists including the Mysore Palace and Chamundi Hill. The markets offer excellent shopping for sandalwood carvings, incense, silk etc; There are also many interesting places that can be visited from Mysore including Somnathpur with its famous temple, Srirangapatnam with its ancient ruins and Sravanabelagola with its huge statue of Lord Gomateshvara.

Mysore city was the capital of the old royal Mysore province. The word Mysore expands to "Mahishasurana Ooru" which means the town of Mahishasura. The story goes that the demon Mahishasura was killed by goddess Chamundeshwari atop the Chamundi hill near Mysore. Ever since, the Mysore royal family has worshipped Chamundeshwari as the palace deity. Hills dedicated to her stand at the eastern end of Mysore town today.

The Wodeyar family ruled Mysore since 14th century except for a short period of 40 years in later 18th century when Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan were the rulers. Mysore still retains much of its carefully built character of a Maharaja's capital. Beyond Mysore's architectural heritage, the city's long-held tradition of music and dance, art and literature, scholarship and time-honored crafts were nurtured under their patronage.

On the outskirts of Mysore, Srirangapatnam still harbours architectural gems from the days of the great Indian hero, Tipu Sultan, and the magnificent Hoysala temple of Somnathpur lies little more than an hour's drive away.

Mysore Palace: Built in around 897 AD in Saracenic style, the Mysore palace is a fusion of Hindu and Muslim architectural styles. Designed by an English architect, it was built in place of an earlier palace burnt down in 1897 and was completed in 1912. The main palace building is made of massive gray granite with a tower covered by a gilded dome. There is a temple within the royal courtyard, from where the Dussehra procession starts in the month of October. The museum of the palace houses a collection of musical instruments, children's toys, many paintings, costumes and weapons belonging to the Maharaja's family.

Chamundi Hills: Chamundi Hills is the temple dedicated to the Goddess Chamundeshwari, the royal family's patron deity. One may reach the temple either through a 13-km drive or climb the 1,000 stone steps. Near the temple is the huge statue of Mahishasura, the demon that had been killed by the Goddess. Halfway up along the stone steps, is the 300-year old 4.8-metre monolithic statue of Nandi Bull, chosen mount of Lord Shiva. Its main attraction is the size and the meticulous craftsmanship of its ornaments.

St. Philomena's Church: It is one of the oldest churches in Mysore. Built in Gothic style, the church is among the largest in India. Stained glass windows and lofty towers give this cathedral an imposing look.

Mysore Zoo: Mysore zoo is one of the best kept zoos in India. Situated amidst lush green surroundings, the zoo houses some rare and exotic birds and animals. The zoo has acquired fame for breeding some rare animals in captivity.

Srirangapatnam: Located 15 kms north of Mysore on the road to Banglore, Srirangapatnam has many interesting places including the summer palace of Tipu Sultan, which was built in 1784 in the Indo-Saracenic style. It also houses a small museum exhibiting Tipu's trivia such as a gold-embroidered tunic, old paintings and a coin collection. The Gumbaz, the mausoleum of Tipu Sultan and his father Hyder Ali is another attraction of Srirangapatnam.


BANGLORE

Capital of Karnataka State, Bangalore is famous as the city of gardens. It is one of the most attractive cities in India with its beautiful parks avenues and impressive buildings. Apart from the numerous gardens, it also has some historical sites and other places of interest.

According to a legend, the city of Bangalore is named the native translation of 'boiled beans' that an old woman offered to a hungry and lost Hoysala ruler. The origin of the present-day city of Bangalore can be traced to the early 16th century, when Kempegowda, a local chief, built a small mud fort here. Bangalore gained prominence in the 18th century, when it became an important fort city, under Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan of Mysore. This area witnessed the struggle between Tipu Sultan and the British. The British defeated Tipu Sultan and took over Bangalore city. In 1831, the British made it the regional administrative city and established a big cantonment here.

Though the origin of Bangalore is ancient, the present-day city was founded in the 16th century and has since continued to be an important administrative center. Due to the high concentration of IT industry, it also called the Silicon Valley of India.

Cubbon Park: This 120-hectare park is one of the most important parks in the city. The park is highly popular with walkers, joggers and nature lovers for its tranquility and the natural beauty of the park complimented by the red Gothic structures of the State Central Library and the High Court.

Government Aquarium: This aquarium is housed in an octagonal building, enhancing the beauty of Cubbon Park. It exhibits the largest number of indigenous and exotic, cultivable as well as ornamental pet fish. The Hocks stick, the Pearl Coushmi, the India Tiger Borb, the Moon Tail, as well as edible fish welcome the visitor.

Lalbagh Gardens: The present day Lalbagh was once a small fruit orchard during the times of Hyder Ali. Later, Tipu Sultan introduced exotic trees such as Cypress, Thuja, Junipers, Grapes, Guavas, Raspberries and Strawberries and other European flora and expanded the garden.

The Fort: Situated opposite the city market, the Fort was originally built in mud by Kempe Gowda in 1537. The Fort was extended and fortified by Tipu Sultan. It is noted for the beautifully carved Islamic-style arches on the gate walls, and for the well-preserved Ganapathi Temple, a testament of the religious tolerance of Tipu Sultan, within its precincts. One of the temple's outer walls carries an exquisite carving of Sri Krishna playing his flute.

Tipu's Palace: Situated near the fort, construction of this palace was begun by Tipu Sultan's father Haider Ali and completed by Tippu himself in 1791. It resembles the Daria Daulat Palace at Srirangapatna, Tipu's capital. It was known as `Rashk-e-jannat' - the Envy of Heaven. Constructed largely of wood, it is known for the five elaborately decorated arches surmounted by exquisite minarets and paintings on the walls and ceilings.

Nandi hills: Situated 38 kms north of Banglore, it was a popular summer retreat since Tipu Sultan days. There are also two notable Chola temples here.


MANGALORE

Situated in the Western Ghats of Karnataka, Mangalore is said to have been named after the famous Mangaladevi Temple. This temple, also a tourist spot, is situated 3 km away from main city area. This temple was built by the Ballal family of Attavar in memory of a princess of Kerala.

A trip to Mangalore would be incomplete without a visit to the 10th century Manjunatha Temple, St. Aloysius Chapel, Mangala Devi Temple, Tipu's Battery and the Jumma Masjid. Mangalore has virgin and unexplored beaches. The Ullal Beach with Casuarina groves is another attraction that draws tourists all through the year.

Yakshagana performance - an elaborate dance is unique to Karnataka. A nightlong event, with people adorned vibrantly and dancing to the beat of the drums, 'Yakshagana' performance attracts hundreds of people.

HAMPI
Ruins in Hampi
Hampi is one of the most fascinating historical sites in south India. The superb ruins are set in a strange and beautiful boulder strewn landscape which has an almost magical quality. The government has taken up the restoration, excavation and the protection work of the ruins which spread over an area of 26 sq. kms. Hampi has become a thriving travelerís center and most people stay at least a couple of days to soak up the atmosphere and explore the area.

Hampi was once the glorious capital of mighty Vijayanagara Empire (1336-1565), from the Deccan Plateau to the tip of the Peninsula. Founded in the middle of the 14th century by two local princes, Hukka & Bukka, the Vijayanagara Empire came to be celebrated for its might and wealth and as a showpiece of imperial magnificence. The emperors of this dynasty were great patrons of art and architecture which can still be seen in the vast ruins of Hampi. The terrain is dominated by rocky hills and the mighty Tungabhadra river, which flows through this rugged landscape. Hampi has been declared a World Heritage site. The temples of Hampi, its monolithic sculptures and monuments attract the traveler because of their excellent workmanship.

The main tourist spots in Hampi can be divided into two broad areas: the Hampi Bazaar area and the Royal center near Kamalapuram. The 15th-century Virupaksha Temple is located in the Hampi Bazaar area. It is one of the oldest monuments of the town. The top of the temple rises about 50 m from the ground and the main shrine is dedicated to Virupaksha, a form of Lord Shiva. Hemakuta Hill, south of the Virupaksha temple, contains early ruins, Jain temples and a monolithic sculpture of Lord Narasimha, a form of Lord Vishnu. Hemakuta Hill offers excellent view of Hampi Bazaar. Two kilometers east of Hampi Bazaar, is the World Heritage Vittal temple, built in the 16th century. The carvings on this temple give an insight into the architectural splendor achieved by the artisans of Vijaynagar Empire. The outer pillars of this temple are said to produce music when tapped. They are also known as the musical pillars. Between Hampi Bazaar and Vittal temple, one can see the deserted Sule Bazaar and the Achutraya temple. Monolithic statue of Lord Ganesh, Nandi, the Kodandarama temple and the Krishna temple are other places to visit in the Hampi Bazaar area.

The royal center is located between the Hampi Bazaar area and Kamalapuram. One can take a 2-km walk down to this area from the Hampi Bazaar. There are a number of tourist attractions, within the walled area of the royal center.

Apart from the Hampi Bazaar and the Royal center, Anegondi is another area to be visited by the tourist. It is a fortified area north of Hampi Bazaar across Tungabhadra River. It has a number of temples in and around it.


HOSPET

HospetHospet is an active religional centre with none of Hampiís atmosphere. The significance of Hospet lies in its propinquity to the World Heritage Site of Hampi. Being just thirteen kilometers away from Hampi, Hospet acts as a base for the tourists to the Vijayanagar ruins in Hampi.

The Tungabhadra Dam near Hospet boasts of the Japanese gardens at its base and the sweet waters of the river. The terrific dam across the Tungabhadra River is 590 meters in length, 49 meters in height with an enormous storage capacity.

The charming town of Chitradurga is a must visit for the tourists to Hospet. The hill and fort town of Chitradurga is often referred to as Kallina Kote or the Place of Stones. The bold rocky hills and picturesque valleys with huge towering boulders offer nature at its best at Chitradurga. The Palegars, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan built the famous fort of Chitradurga. The fort lies enclosed in series of seven walls and is known for its military architecture. There are as many as nineteen gateways to the fort. There are several ancient temples inside the fort.


BADAMI

Badami was once the capital of the Chalukya kings and the place is famous for many Hindu and Jain rock-cut cave shrines. Badami is well known for its rich history and ancient architecture. It was the ancient capital of the early Chalukya kingdom. A number of richly carved monuments and caves belonging to Chalukyas, dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries can be found here. The Chalukyas laid the foundation of a unique style of architecture, which is a fine blend of North Indian Nagara style and the South Indian Dravidian style of architecture. The architecture and sculptures created in Badami during the time of the Chalukyas inspired later-day architectural and sculpting traditions. A number of places of historical importance are situated near Badami.


BANDIPUR NATIONAL PARK
Bandipur National Park is a beautiful forest reserve located in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. The Moyer River forms a natural boundary between the Mudumalain Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamilnadu and the Bandipur National Park in Karnataka. Nestling at the foothills of the Nilgiris, the Bandipur National Park was formed by extending the Venugopal Wildlife Park which was set up in 1931 by the Mysore Maharajas.

A popular game resort of the rulers of Mysore, the flora in the forest comprises of teak, rosewood, honne, mathi, bamboo, sandal trees. The important animals in the park are the tiger, elephant, gaur, leopard, chital, samber, etc. Birds like the pea fowl, partrige, quail, hornbill, Ibis, etc., are alsofound here.

The Bandipur National Park is one of the 15 sanctuaries selected across India for Project Tiger, a scheme launched in 1973, by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature in conjunction with the Indian Government. The project is designed to save the tiger and its natural habitat from potential dangers.

BIJAPUR

Bijapur is known for its medieval monuments, which are a unique form of Islamic architecture.
The magnificent Gol Gumbaz is the main attraction of this city. Built by Mohammad Adil Shah in 1659, this structure is unsupported by pillars. It is the largest dome in India and the second largest in the world. From the turrets of the Gol Gumbaz, one can have a panoramic view of the city. Tourists are attracted to this city by the various monuments built by the Adil Shahi rulers, who ruled Bijapur between 15th and 17th century. Other monuments include Ibrahim Roza built in 1626, Taj Baoli, Assa M
ahal, Gaggan Mahal, Bara Khamba, and All Saints Church.

The origin of Bijapur goes back to the early medieval period. The Chalukyan rulers of south India, between the 10th and 11th centuries laid the foundation of Bijapur. At that time, it was called as Vijayapura (the City of Victory). The local Yadavas rulers ruled it for about a century. Ala-ud-din Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi, captured it and made it a part of his empire at the end of the 13th century. Khilji could not hold on to Bijapur for long and it became the part of the Bahamani Empire in 1347. The golden period of Bijapur started with the decline of the Bahamani rulers, when, in 1489, Yusuf Adil Shah, one of the nobles under the Bahamani rulers, laid the foundation of the Adil Shahi dynasty and made Bijapur the capital of his kingdom. The Adil Shahis ruled Bijapur until 1686, when the last great Mughal ruler Aurangzeb defeated them.
 

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