Cities in Karnataka

Karnataka is the land of a lost civilization, and a civilization gained. Here, surrounded by the dumb wasteland, we find the ruins of Hampi. Once a thriving capital of the Vijayanagar Empire, it was visited by travelers from Italy and Arabia. But that was in the 15th century, before the city was invaded, plundered and raze by the Muslim invaders due to inveterate religious hatred towards different faiths.

The bustling and modern city of Bangaluru (Bangalore) is the capital city of Karnataka. Known as the City of Gardens, the floral tradition of Bangaluru dates back to the days of Tipu Sultan who built the famous Lalbagh Gardens some 200 years ago. The religiously seductive center of Nandi Hill is only 60 kilometers from here, while Kolar, with some of the world's deepest gold mines, is at a distance of 66 kilometers. Mysore, 138 kilometers away, is the second largest, golden and grand city of Karnataka. The Maharaja's Palace, the Institute of Oriental Research, St. Joseph's Cathedral and the Sri Chamarajendra Art Gallery are places worth visiting in Mysore.

Some of the most beautiful tourist attractions and destination are found sprawling around Mysore. Coorg, 120 kilometers away from Mysore, is known for its colonial era ambience with coffee plantations. The Brindavan Garden is a symphony of flowers. Near Mysore lies the fortified island of Sirangapatna from where Tipu Sultan, in alliance with the French, waged war against the English. In Sirangapatna in 1799 Tipu suffered the defeat. Inside the fortress is Abate Dubois Chapel, the European traveler of the 19th century. Close to this fort is the Ranganathittoo Bird Sanctuary. The 12th century Kesava Temple at Somnathpur, 35 kilometers from Mysore, is one of the most admirable medieval temples in India. About 40 kms south of Mysore is Bandipur Wildlife Reserve, once wild reserve of the Maharajas of Mysore. Nearby is the beautiful island of Sivasamudran that exhibits its temple and the twin waterfalls of Gaganchukki and Barachukki. A different waterfall is Jog Falls, 378 kilometers from Bangalore, where the Sharavati River dramatically jumps an abyss 253 meters deep.

Equally unforgettable are the sculpted temples of Ahihole, Badami and Pattadakal. The 11th and 12th century architectures of the Hoysala dynasty in Belur and Halebid are worth watching. As the legend says, the temple of Chennakesava in Belur was to be destroyed by the Muslim invaders but having seen its magnificence, they decided not to destroy it.

West of Bangalore, at a distance of 160 kilometers, is Sravanabelagola, a Jain pilgrimage where every twelve years a picturesque Mahamastakabhisheka ceremony is held. The naked statue of Gomateswara, seventeen feet high, is banished and ceremonially anointed with milk, honey, silver coins, curd and vermilion water. Representative of a different faith is Bijapur, once capital of the Adil Shahi dynasty (1849-1668 AD). Medieval walled city, 613 kilometers from Bangalore, is characterized by its domes and minarets. Gol Gumbaz, the tomb of Mohamed Adil Shah, is crowned by a dome that only surpasses the one of San Pedro, in Rome. A fantastic acoustic effect reverberation takes place under the dome. Close your eyes, mutter a message and then hear the voice of the silent stones echoing, not one but nine times. And, remember that this is just one of the many surprises awaiting you in Karnataka.

Most major cities in India are well connected by plane with Bangalore. Belgaum also has another airport where there are flights to Bombay. There are also trains from major Indian populations. The centers of tourist interest have good communications by road with other parts of the state and the country. In Bangalore there are services of visits to the city and of organized excursions.

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