The culturally rich and diverse country of India is home to 38 UNESCO World heritage sights that spread all across the country in different states. The south Indian state of Karnataka is one such place that has been home to an incredible amount of historical places as it was ruled by the Vijayanagara empire, Hoysalas, Chalukya dynasty, and many. There are ancient civilization ruins, temples, township remains, and pilgrimage destinations that are still alive with the stories and legends of the royals and are still fragrant with the impressions left by them on every nook and cranny of Karnataka. And, many of these places are recognized as world heritage sites by UNESCO. Check below the list of UNESCO Heritage Sites in Karnataka and ensure to visit them as part of Karnataka Tour Packages to discover the land.
1.Group of Mouments at Hampi
Situated in Northern Karnataka, the Group of Monuments at Hampi is essentially the ruins of the Hampi town, the former capital of the powerful Vijayanagara Empire in 1343-1565. The epitome of the glorious architecture of the Vijayanagara Empire, these ruins were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in the year 1986. Hampi is one of the most popular heritage sites in Karnataka and also one of the must-see attractions not to miss in a South India holiday packages.
Among the must include places in Hampi Tour Packages, the ruins of Hampi reveal incredible architecture, sculptures, and stories that date back to a thousand years. It has around 500 ancient temples, royal complexes, pillared halls, mandapas, water reservoirs, treasury buildings, bastions spread over an area of more than 26 sq. km across the Tungabhadra River. Virupaksha Temple, Vitthala Temple, Hemakuta Hill Temples, Hazara Rama Temple, Archaeological Museum, Queen’s Bath, Elephant Stables, Lotus Mahal, Lakshmi Narasimha, Stepped Tank, Riverside Ruins, Hampi Bazaar, residential areas, and tanks are some of the top places to visit in Hampi.
2. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal
Located along the Malprabha River, the small village of Pattadakal houses a group of monuments built by the Chalukya dynasty during the 18th century CE. The group covers a remarkable series of nine Hindu temples, as well as a Jain sanctuary that exhibits a unique blend of Dravidian and Indo-Aryan designs. The fabulous designs of these temples in Pattadakal make this site got UNESCO world heritage status in the year 1987. Pattadakal, one of the popular heritage places to visit near Bangalore, is also praised as the “City of Crown Rubies” as it had been the holy city for the Royal Coronation during the Chalukyan dynasty.
The group of monumental temples at Badami are considered some of the oldest ones in the country and were exceptional examples of Chalukyan architectural style. Virupaksha Temple, Sangameshwara Temple, Chandrasekhar Temple, Mallikarjuna Temple, Papanatha Temple, Kashivishwanaath Temple, Galganath Temple, and Jain Temple are among the best places to visit in Pattadakal. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Hindu temples are known for their intricately designed sculptures, pillars, walls, and facades that are decorated with the stories of the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and other Hindu epics. Along with the tentative UNESCO heritage sites of Aihole and Badami, Pattadakal can be visited as part of the 3 day trip from Bangalore.
3. The Western Ghats
Also known as Sahyadri Mountains, the Western Ghats is a mountain range that covers an area of 160,000 sq. km in a stretch of 1,600 km parallel to the western coast of the Indian peninsula, traversing the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, and Gujarat. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee inscribed the Western Ghats of India as a world heritage site on 1st July 2012. It comprises a total of 39 properties including national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and reserve forests– twenty in the state of Kerala, ten in Karnataka, five in Tamil Nadu, and four in Maharashtra.
Older than the Himalayas, the mountain chain of the Western Ghats influence Indian monsoon weather patterns by intercepting the rain-laden monsoon winds that sweep in from the south-west during late summer. The Western Ghat Range of Karnataka is also home to many attractive waterfalls, among the most popular places to visit in Karnataka. Besides, it is one of the ten hottest biodiversity hotspots in the world as it has over 7,402 species of flowering plants, 1,814 species of non-flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species, 179 amphibian species, 6,000 insects species, and 290 freshwater fish species. The Western Ghats are home to at least 325 globally threatened species.
Also Read: Waterfalls in Karnataka
4. Hoysala Temples of Belur & Halebidu
Belur & Halebidu situated in the Hassan district of Karnataka are renowned for the temples of Chennakesava, & Hoyasaleshwara that were built during the reign of Hoysala reign. The Hoysala reign (from 10th – 14 th century CE) was an important period in the development of art, architecture, and religion in South India. These temples are known for the star-shaped platform, minute & intricate carvings, and sculptures with metal like polishing. Of the hundred surviving Hoysala temples in Karnataka, the temples at Belur & Halebidu are the most iconic structures and were collectively under the list of tentative UNESCO world heritage sites in India.
The Chennakesava Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture and was built by king Vishnuvardhana in 1117 CE. This is probably the biggest of all the Hoysala temples as it is the only fully constructed temple that is still intact and maintained well. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Hoysaleswara Temple was built by Ketumalla, a minister of Vishnuvardhana during 1121 AD, and is the common tourist spot that can be visited as part of Chikmagalur Tour Packages. The walls of these temples are covered with an endless variety of depictions from Hindu mythology, animals, birds, and madanikas, the dancing figures. Belur and Halebidu are among the best places to experience Karnataka Tourism.
5. Monuments of Srirangapatna
Srirangapatna is a historical town located near Mysore in Karnataka. An island in River Cauvery, the town of Srirangapatna is home to some of the most magnificent architectural masterpieces from Vijayanagara and Hoysala kingdom. This island town takes its name from the celebrated Ranganathaswamy temple which dominates the town, making Srirangapatna. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, it is one of the largest temples in Karnataka, and one of the most important Vaishnavite centers in South India.
Once the capital of Mysore state, Srirangapatna is one of the top heritage sites in Karnataka, and among the must include places in Mysore tour packages. Daria Daulat Bagh, Srirangapatna Fort, Gumbaz of Tipu Sultan, Jama Masjid, and Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary are some of the top places to visit in Srirangapatna. Owing to its cultural, religious, and historic importance, the monuments in Srirangapatna has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its application is pending on the tentative list of UNESCO.
6. Monuments & Forts of the Deccan Sultanate (Bidar, Bijapur, & Gulbarga)
The ‘Monuments of the Deccan Sultanate’ is a serial property comprising of four components constructed by the rulers of the Deccan sultanates. These monuments in Gulbarga, Bidar, Bijapur, and Hyderabad emerged as important medieval fortifications and walled cities of the Deccan Sultanates with the exemplary convergence of national and international styles of Islamic architecture and their intersections with the prevalent Hindu southern Indian architecture. The Government of India has submitted the nomination for the inclusion of Monuments and Forts of the Deccan Sultanate in the World Heritage List for the year 2020. Bidar is one of the most popular heritage places to visit near Hyderabad.
The monuments at Gulbarga, the first capital of Bahmani Kingdoms, comprise of the Gulbarga Fort, Great Mosque, and the Gumbad complex with seven tombs. The monuments at Bidar include Bidar Fort, the Madrasa Mahmud Gawan, the Bahamani tombs at Ashtur, and the Barid Shahi tombs, among the must include places in Bidar Tour Packages. while the Bijapur group comprises 80 small and big monuments including the fortifications, gates, water systems and tanks, several mosques and tombs and palatial structures. Of these, Gol Gumbaj is the most remarkable monument, and has the world’s second-largest dome, after the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The chamber inside the mausoleum is also the biggest single chamber in the world with an area of 1700 square meters.
Santhi is an avid traveler and primary contributor to the blogs at Trawell.in. She has explored most of the states in India and gained vast knowledge on tourist destinations in India and abroad. She also contributes content to other travel websites.