Karnataka, a land offering a wide variety of tourist destinations. From Pristine Beaches, Pilgrimage sites, National parks, reserves, grand palaces, heritage, and historical monuments, attracts travelers from all around the world. Karnataka is a sanctum of nature embracing waterfalls, hill stations, and forest reserves, a state with nature's Kaleidoscope at its best. It is popular for its marvelous temples, boasting the glorious reigns of the various dynasties that ruled Karnataka. These temples are an architectural marvel whilst preserving culture and art that act as a storyteller of bygone kings and mythological legends.
Note : Please keep in mind to wear proper attire, preferably ethnic for women. For men, a bare upper body is required while visiting these places of devotion.
Although Karnataka is home to thousands of beautiful temples, we have curated a list of 6 must-visit magnificent temples.
SRI KRISHNA TEMPLE AT UDUPI
Also known as the Mathura of Southern India for it's divine Sri Krishna Temple, this small town is situated amidst the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats in the temple town of Udupi. The temple is one of the seven Mukti Sthalas (pilgrimage centers) of Karnataka.
Image Credits : Ravikiran Rao on wikimediacommons.org
What's peculiar about this temple?
The idol of Lord Krishna faces the west, although every Hindu temple idol is east facing. There's a popular local story explaining this change; Saint Kanakadasa came to Udupi as a pilgrim but was forbidden from entering the temple since he originated from an oppressed class. A miracle is said to happen in the form of an earthquake, and a small crack appeared in the temple walls. The idol of Lord Krishna turned towards the crack to appease Kanakdasa. This crack was built into a window and came to be known as "Kanakana Kindi" devotees now seek blessings from this window. The temple stays open all days of the week from 8:30 - 10:00 A.M and 2:00 - 6:00 P.M.
Image Credits : Trimurthi Kulkarni on wikimediacommons.org
TTW Recommendations :
Try the delicious Prasadam offered by the temple in the form of Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all free of cost.
Don't forget to gorge on the unique cuisine of Udupi and its renowned Udupi Dosas.
Hoyasaleshwara temple or Halebidu temple is famous for its detailed carvings and imagery from epics like Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, and Ramayana etched into the temple walls, in the form of small friezes, renowned for its remarkable Indian craftsmanship. Although this temple reflects on the Hindu style of architecture, the influence of other traditions like Jainism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism are noticed. Halebidu was the ancient capital of the Hoysala Empire and the temple was built by King Vishnuvardhana. The nearest city is Belur, 17 km away from the temple. Local Taxis are available to reach the temple.
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Get lost in the unique architecture
The armies of Alauddin Khilji and Muhammed Tughlaq raided the temple after defeating the Hoysalas and had also damaged temple inscriptions. What's left of the temple are ruins, protected by the State Archaeology department. One can only imagine the Grandeur of this temple before its destruction. This 12th Century twin temple made of Soapstone is dedicated to Lord Shiva, in the form of Hoysaleshwara and Santaleshwara Shiva Lingas. The base consists of 8 rows of friezes carved with lions, elephants, horses, and floral scrolls. The walls are adorned with intricate engravings of sages, Hindu deities, animals, birds, and friezes, illustrating the lifestyle of Hoysala Kings. The temple stays open from Mondays to Fridays from 6:30 A.M - 9:00 P.M.
TTW Recommendations :
Hire a local guide to understand the meaning of the carvings and delve deep to grasp the unique architecture of the Halebidu Temple. Hoyasala Mahotsava, a dance festival is one of the important festivals celebrated in these temples.
If you're visiting this monument in the Summer season, make sure to carry umbrellas and hats to avoid the scorching heat.
Virupaksha Temple, Hampi
Virupaksha Temple is part of the Group of Monuments of Hampi and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dedicated to Lord Virupaksha, a form of Shiva, Goddess Pampa, and Goddess Bhuvaneshawari, the temple was built by Lakkan Dandesha under the rule of Deva Raya of the Vijayanagara Empire.
Image Credits : Vedamurthy J on wikimediacommons.org
Encounter the grandeur of the Vijayanagara Empire
The Virupaksha temple is the most significant center of pilgrimage in Hampi and is considered the most sacred. Hampi, situated at the embankment of the Tungabhadra river, is an architectural paradise and home to the lost kingdom of Vijayanagara. This civilization bears testimony to the grandeur and wealth of the Vijayanagara Empire. The Empire was so prosperous that Gold and Silver street markets filled the city. Art, craft, and culture prospered in the 14th century, during the reign of the dynasty. However, they were later demolished by Muslim invaders. The temple includes a shrine, a hall with numerous pillars, three antechambers, courtyards, a pillared monastery, and entryways around the temple.One of the most renowned kings of the Vijayanagara Empire, Krishnadevaraya, made a huge contribution to this temple by adding the main pillared hall.
The Virupaksha temple still stands strong as an ode to the Vijayanagara legacy, the only temple in Hampi where Pooja( ritual worship) is still intact and attracts huge crowds, especially in February, during the Chariot Festival. The temple stays open for all days of the week from 9:00 AM - 1:00 P.M and 5:00 P.M - 9:00 P.M.
TTW Recommendtions :
Visit in the early hours to escape the rush.
Hire a guide and take sufficient time to appreciate the architecture and art.
Keep an eye on your belongings and food items as the area is surrounded by monkeys.
Kollur Mookambika Temple, Kollur
Situated on the Southern bank of Souparnika River and at the foothills of Kodachadri Hills, this temple is devoted to Mother Goddess Mookambika Devi. Installed by the famous Adi Shankaracharya, the idol in the Mookambika Temple is 1200 years old and was the state temple for the Nagare, and Bednore Rajas, the jewels adorning the idol are gifted by these Rajas, Overlords of Vijayanagara, and later by Rani Kittur Chennama.
The Legend of Taayi(mother) Mookambika
Demon Kaumasura received a boon from Lord Shiva and was wreaking havoc. Kodachadri, a hill located at 20kms from Kollur, became the hiding spot for all the helpless gods and divine beings. Acting on Guru Shukracharya's prediction that this demon would be killed by a woman, Kaumasura performed an austere penance to appease Lord Shiva. As the Lord appeared and asked the demon to put forward his wish, Devi Vagdevi, the goddess of Speech, makes him speechless, and hence Kaumasura becomes Mookasura. Kollur Devi Parvathi kills this demon and attains a new name, "Mookambika." Since then, the goddess resides in this holy place and blesses everyone who seeks her. The place where the Devi killed Mookasura is known as Marana Katte. The Goddess Mookambika is in the form of Jyotir Linga (combining Shakti and Shiva).
Image Credits : Yogesa on wikimediacommons.org
The temple timings are 5:30 A.M - 1:30 P.M, 3:00 P.M - 5:00 P.M, and 5:00 P.M - 7:00 P.M. You can check the temple worship timings and schedule at the Temple's official website.
TTW Recommendations :
Wake up early in the morning and take a soothing dip in the pure and holy water flowing from the Kodachadri hills before visiting the sacred temple.
Devour the Prasadam provided by the temple kitchen. You can also participate in serving Prasadam to the devotees.
Hike to the Kodachadri Hills and visit another Mookambika temple situated at the peak of the hill.
A holy place for the Royal Coronation, Pattadakal is a temple city situated in Bijapur, the Northern District of Karnataka, and on the embankments of the Malprabha River.
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The Temple Complex
This Temple city houses ten major temples, nine Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, and one Jain with numerous small shrines and plinths. Pattadkal has incorporated Dravidian, Aryan, and a mixture of both Architecture styles. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Pattadakal is also known as Raktapura, a city of red. Among the nine Hindu temples, the Sangameshwara temple is the most ancient in Pattadakal. The Galgantha temple, mostly in ruins, was built between the 8th to 9th Centuries.
Following the Architectural magnificence of the Early Chalukyan style, the Kasivisweswara Temple was built. Rani Trilokyamahadevi and Rani Loka Mahadevi commissioned the Mallikarjuna Temple and Virupaksha Temple to celebrate the triumph of Vikramaditya II over the Pallavas. The Virupaksha temple is known to be the largest and the most complex among the others. Other Hindu temples include Papanatha Temple, Jambulinga Temple, and Kadasiddeshwara Temple.
The Jain temple was built in the 9th century with a statue of Jina carved into the North Side. The Pattadakal Monuments are a significant historical example of religion, culture, and society in the Deccan Religion. The temple entry fees are Rs 30 for Indian citizens and citizens from the SAARC and BIMSTEC countries, Rs 500 for other Foreigners. The temple stays open from Sunrise to Sunset.
TTW Recommendation :
Visit the nearby Badami Cave Temples and Aihole Temple Complex, also built by the Chalukyas.
Sringeri Sharada Peetham
Located in Sringeri in Bagalkot District, Sharada Peetham dates back to the 8th Century and is one of the four Peethams established by Sri Adi Shankara to promote and preserve Advaita Vedanta.
The legend of the Cobra and the Frog
Sri Adi Shankara, while traveling across the country with his disciples, noticed an outlandish sight on the banks of the Tunga River, A cobra unfurling its hood to shield a pregnant frog from the scorching heat. Amazed by the act of non-violence from a natural predator, Sri Adi Shankara decided to set up his very first Peetham in Sringeri, a place also associated with Sage Rishyashringa from Ramayana.
Image Credits : Sringeri Sharada Amba Temple. Some guy 2086 on wikimediacommons.org
The Matha includes two major temples, the Vidya Shankara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and the Sharada Amba Temple dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. According to tradition, the Sandalwood image of Goddess Saraswati installed by Sri Adi Shankara was replaced with a gold copy by the Vijayanagara Kings. The temple and nearby structures also house a library, a Vedic school, a shrine for Adi Shankara, and other facilities. The temple celebrates two festivals, the annual Navratri festival, and the Chariot Festival held in February or March every year.
Image Credits : Vidya Shankara Temple. Bhallamudi.ravi on wikimediacommons.org
Accommodation is also available at the temple premises by the temple authorities.
The temple timings are 6:00 A.M - 2:00 P.M and 4:00 P.M - 9:00 P.M.
TTW Recommendations :
Go down the steps toward to temple river and feed the fishes.
Visit the nearby Sirimane Falls.
Visit the other nearby temples like Torana Ganapati temple and Kera Anjaneya Temple.
Have lunch or dinner at the Temple dining hall, free of cost.
Chamundeshwari Temple, Mysore
This famous temple is named after Chamundeshwari or Durga, a fierce form of Shakti and the slayer of demons, Chanda, Munda, and the King of demons, Mahishasura. Held in great reverence for centuries by the Mysore Maharajas as the tutelary deity, Chamundeshwari is known as the Naada Devatha or the state goddess by the people of Karnataka.
It is situated on the peak of the Chamundi Hills, 13 km from the city of Mysore. The original shrine is known to be built by the Hoysala rulers in the 12th century, while the Vijaynagara rulers of the 17th century built the towers. Several images of Nandi, the bull vehicle of Lord Shiva can be noticed at the temple, a huge granite Nandi is situated in front of a small Shiva Temple. An enormous statue of the Demon Mahishasura, holding a sword and a serpent, is located right before the temple.
Image Credits : Arun Mohan on wikimediacommons.org
Explore the festival of Navratri at the Chamundeshwari Temple
Navaratri is the most important festival celebrated here, the goddess is decorated in 9 ways, each different from the other, to depict the 9 different aspects of the goddess. On Kaalaratri, the 9th day of Navaratri, valuable jewels donated by the Wodeyar Maharajas are brought from the district treasury of Mysore to adorn Goddess Chamundi. Mysore Dasara is celebrated as Nadahabba or the state festival. The goddess's idol is taken around the temple in a golden palanquin during the Chamundi Jayanti. The temple stays open from 7:30 A.M - 2:00 P.M, 3:30 P.M - 6:00 P.M and 7:30 P.M - 9:00 P.M.
TTW Recommendations :
Visit Jwalamuki Shri Tripurasundari Temple, located at the foothills of Chamundi Hill. This goddess is considered a sister of the goddess and is known to have helped Goddess Chamundi slay the demon Raktabija at the battlefield.
Visit the famous Mysore Palace and Museum to know more about the royal lifestyle of the Mysore Maharajas.
Shop for unique Mysore Silk Sarees.
Taste the delicious Mysore Dosas at the local restaurants.