From the remotest antiquity of Indian history, Karnataka is known to be an integral part of Bharatavarsha; and the course of cultural and political events in this region has been moulded, as anywhere else in India, by the traditions and legends.
Karnataka is the sixth largest state in the country. Provided with long range of Western Ghats and a long coastline by the Arabian sea. Watered by the river Cauvery in the southern part and by the river Tungabhadra in the north, considerable agricultural and hydro-electric activity is present in the state.
In the ancient times, Karnataka was known as ‘Kuntala Desa’ comprising of an enterprising people who had trade connections with the Egyptians, the Sumerians and many other countries. There was close communication between the cities of Karnataka and the Indus valley civilization.
By the 4th century B.C., it had become a part of Mauryan Empire, having Kanakagiri as the Southern capital. It was later taken over by the Satakarnis, who expanded their empire upto the vindhyas in the north and the whole of Deccan in the south. Then came the Kadambas, followed by the Gangas and the Chalukyas. Many architectural monuments were developed in Chalukyan style in North Karnataka.
Another famous dynasty, the Rashtrakutas ruled in the region from the 8th to 10th century. After their decline, the Yadavas of Devagiri, the Kalachuris of Kalyani and the Hoysalas of Dwarasamudra became powerful. Vijayanagara Empire, founded by Vidyaranya through Hakka and Bukka rose to prominence and it was the period of revival of Hindu religion and culture. The two great kings of this powerful dynasty were Devaraya and Krishnadevaraya.
By the 16th century, this empoire too declined and new dynasties such as the Nayakas, the Paleyagars and Wodeyars started coming up. Many of these chieftains were subdued by Haidar Ali who became the Sultan in the second half of the 18th century. His son Tippu Sultan then came to power in Mysore and his conflict with the rising British power ended in his death in 1799.
Karnataka is a land of enriched heritage, culture, natural beauty, arts and its people. Snugly located on the Deccan Plateau, the state is an emerald in the peninsula. At about 600 meters average height above sea level, the climate of Karnataka is almost moderate though widely varying in different places.
Known as Mysore in the olden days, the various dynasties who held sway over the land have left their mark through magnificent edifices strewn over the state. Karnataka has been a melting pot of races, religions and culture in the south with strains coming in from historical interest and beautifully carved and sculptured temples to serve as a pilgrimage for people of diverse faith.
The ruins of the great Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagara-Hampi, evoke the time and spirit of a culture and civilization that existed from the 14th to 16th centuries. The circuit in the state offers the tourist some of the finest stone architecture that are simply incredible. The bygone era boasts of some extremely talented sculptors who have curved brilliant edifices in stone that remain as a testimony to the inherent skill that runs in the veins of men of art.
The monuments scattered all over the south and north Karnataka contain sculptures in stone, of gods, goddesses, dancers, that pierce the imagination of the tourist. The poetry that is relieved in stone and rocks dates this horizon as standing evidence of a glorious past. This land of temples and monuments welcomes all the tourists.
The fabulous land of sandal wood, jasmine, gold and silk, for centuries, it has attracted powerful dynasties. The people of Karnataka are the friendliest people in the world and receive visitors with a great deal of warmth. They are always willing to share their glorious culture to the discerning tourist. An alluring stretch of Arabian coastlines, dark and majestic rocks, crystal clear waters of the rivers, the grandeur of temples of temples and monuments, lush green tropical forests abound with wild life, innumerable species of flora and fauna poured with gay abandon all over the state makes Karnataka an intoxicating amalgamation of the best things nature and man has to offer.
Kannada is the official and spoken language by majority of people besides Telugu, Tamil, Konkani, Malayalam etc. English is understood widely along with Hindi. Karnataka, with its long colourful past has much to offer to the tourists.
The capital city of Karnataka state, originally founded by Kempegowda of Magadi in 1537, is popularly known as the Garden City. It is one of the loveliest cities in India and is considered as the fastest growing cities in the world. With well laid out parks and gardens, long avenues of brightly blossomed trees and salubrious climate throughout the year. Though it is also the greatest industrial and commercial centers of South India, the pollution level has not exceeded the limit in many parts of the city.
Shimoga is located on the banks of river Tunga, it is a historical place which beckons the tourists with her emerald finery studded with lakes, rivers and valleys. The ancient fort is almost in ruins but a few old monuments and temples can still be seen. Shimoga town itself is steeped in history. Shivappa Nayaka ruled this place. A fine museum is set up at the old palace where the entire history of the dynasty and several ancient masterpieces of sculpture are exhibited. The Sacred Heart Cathedral in the town is a beautiful monument which is 10 years old. It is a popular base for tourists visiting places around the region as good lodging facility are available here.
Interesting Places around
30 k.ms. fromSringeri. Agumbe is located on an elevated spot on the western ghats, it is a small village which has become famous for viewing the glorious Sunset in the distant horizon. The landscape and surroundings present one of the loveliest sights in the world. Best season to see is November-December.
10 k.ms. This place is located on the banks of river Bhadra, it was once called the Birmingham of Mysore having the iron and steel producing plant and the Mysore Paper Mills. The town has developed into an industrial region. This was the earliest place to produce iron and steel in South India.
10 k.ms. The dam here is an ideal place for picnic. Elephant training camp is located here by the forest department. Visitors can make use of the forest lodge for overnight stay and view wild life around the area.
60 k.ms. A famous Jain pilgrimage established in the 7th century by the noted ruler Jinadattacharya. Padmavathi Devi, the main deity of the temple is held in great reverence. The famous Lakki tree planted many years ago is still green and fresh inside the temple. The Panchakuta Basadi has five cells in a row occupied by serene and splendid images of Mahavira Tirthankara. The temple has a striking Manosthamba, a monolith pillar encrusted with carved elephants and lions, a procession of Ashtadikpalas with their musicians.
3 k.ms. from Sagar. A hamlet of Aralikoppa village which was once the capital of the Nayakas of Keladi. The temple of Aghoshwara built in the 16th century is a well proportioned stone building constructed in a mixed style of Hoysala and Vijayanagar. A huge Nandi is installed in front of the main temple in a separate structure.
Jog Water Falls:
105 k.ms. The magnificent waterfalls is the highest in India. The river Sharavathi cascades down 292 meters in four distinct branches known as Raja, Rani, Roarer and Rocket. This is also the centre of hydro-electric power generating station in the State named after Mahatma Gandhi. Best season to visit is August-December.
5 k.ms. from Sagar. Historical place is associated with Rani Chennammaji. The Keladi dynasty had 16 kings and two queens of whom Chennammaji was most famous. The temple of Rameshwara and the Veerabhadra built by the Nayakas are the famous monuments of the place. There is a museum near the temple which is worth a visit as the entire history of the place is depicted here.
52 k.ms A small village near Soraba which has a Shiva temple. It contains very old mural paintings of the 14th century. The style reminds the Vijayanagar school. This is a place worth a visit.
64 k.ms. A famous historical place for the Shiva temple dedicated to Kaitabheshwara. The entire temple is a treasure house of sculpture. The outer walls, inner halls, ceilings, pillars and every inch of space is filled with finely carved figures.
14 k.ms. it is the confluence of river Tunga and Bhadra with an enchanting beauty in natural surroundings. An ancient Mutt of Shankaracharya order is located here with a pontiff.
10 k.ms. This old village on the banks of river Tunga is the only place in the country where Sanskrit is the spoken language of the residents. All the 90 families who live here speak Sanskrit. There is a Sanskrit college which is run on the ancient Gurukula system.
77 k.ms. A prosperous town in the Malnad area which has developed as the best sandal wood carving handicraft centre. Also famous for its Marikamba temple has a modern structure with many paintings. Nearby is Varadahalli where the famous Samadhi of Sridhara Swamy is located.
10 k.ms. A famous lion safari and sanctuary developed recently by the government of Karnataka.
48 k.ms. A historical place of the Paleagar times of 1558 having some exceedingly good temples of beautiful sculpture. The huge Pushkarini (pond) with a two storied building in the middle is a fine structure with mixed Hindu and Muslim architecture. Built entirely of dressed red granite stone, the sides and corners have shrines for the Ashta Dikpalas.
Other places of interest worthy of visit are Belagami and Bandalike near Shikaripur, Talagunda, Bidanur, Kappagodu and Kuppattur. Shimoga is well connected by rail from Bangalore and the road is exceedingly good as hundreds of buses operate from this place to various parts of the State. Good accommodation is available here. Taxis can be hired for visiting places at reasonable charges.
CHITRADURGA AND DAVANAGERE
Nestling in the heart of Karnataka, Chitradurga was once the capital of the Paleagars with its rich historical background. The hill near the town is surrounded by seven fortifications which are a masterpiece of architectural beauty. They give an idea of their impregnability. According to epics, it is said that Jataya the heroic bird of Ramayana fell mortally wounded here fighting with Ravana to save Sita Devi. Bhima of the Pandavas is said tohave killed the man eating demon Hidimbasura here. There are seven temples on the hill dedicated to Gopalaswamy, Sampige Siddheswar and goddess Ucchangiamma. The Hidimbeshwara temple is the oldest being the patron deity of the local people. It was here that Onake Obavva killed hordes of soldiers all alone fighting with Muslim invaders.
About 3 kms. from the town is the famous site of Chandravalli excavations which has revealed the seat of an ancient civilization.
Situated on the banks of Tungabhadra river, it is famous for the Hoysal style temple of Hari Hareshwara, depicting both the aspects of Shiva and Vishnu. The town has been developed by a few large scale industries. Harihar is about 75 k.ms. distance from Chitradurga.
11 k.ms. Located in a range of hills, about 1200 meters above the sea level, it has been developed into a picnic centre with beautiful surroundings and natural scenery all around. The forest lodge here provides accommodation to tourists and visitors.
32 k.ms. A huge reservoir created by constructing a dam across river Vedavati. From the top of the dam, one could enjoy the natural scenery around. Boating facility is available at the reservoir to reach a small island in the middle of the lake. A fine rest house at this place provides accommodation for overnight stay.
All these places are connected by good roads and a number of buses and vans operate in these routes. Chitradurga offers very good lodging facilities for tourists.