Top 5 Historic Places & Monuments in Karnataka

The region where Karnataka is situated presently was once the hub of many powerful empires of South India, such as the Chola Dynasty, Hoysala empire, Chalukya, the Vijayanagar Empire and so on. The magnificent structures and temples that they have constructed thousands of years ago stand as majestically as ever even today reminding generations about the rich heritage of that period. Karnataka is an important historical place and home to many historical and cultural monuments.

Here are the 5 most famous historical places and monuments in Karnataka that are must-visit for anyone who is interested in the history and cultural heritage of India.

1. Hampi

Photo by venkateshwarlukasula, CC BY-SA 2.0

This is the best and most famous historical place of Karnataka. Once, Hampi housed many structures, temples and other fortifications built by the rulers belonging to Vijayanagar Dynasty as Hampi was their capital for about three centuries beginning from the 14th century. Being invaded again and again by enemies, many forts and temples were destroyed and they could never be reconstructed. So, what remains today are just ruins. Yet, they tell you about the intricacy of craftsmanship and the glory of the empire. The Hampi ruins are so amazing that they are amongst the World Heritage sites. To get a glimpse of history and its glory, a visit to Hampi is a must, not just for Indians but for anyone who belongs to this earth.

2. Belur-Halebid

Photo by Pavithrah, CC BY-SA 3.0

Belur and Halebid are two places just 16 kms apart and both are home to some magnificent architecture. The renowned Chennakeshava Temple built in the shape of a star is the main attraction of Belur. It is believed that this astounding temple took 103 years to complete and that three generations of the dynasty pitched in for the building of the temple, although at different times. When you look at the temple, you will agree that something of this grandeur is not easy to build. Belur was also the capital of the Hoysala Dynasty and hence there are other constructions too of the time. Halebid is also home to some splendid temples, a unique feature of which is that they are all build on a raised podium. Before making Belur their capital, it was at Halebid that the Hoysala Dynasty established their kingdom. 

3. Pattadakkal

Photo by Arian Zwegers, CC BY 2.0

The amazing Pattadakkal Complex is a World Heritage Site as listed by the UNESCO and is home to many outstanding temples built in the 8th century. They were built by Chalukya rulers and the architectural style of these temples is unique as it is made in the combination of both South Indian and North Indian styles.

4. Badami Cave Temples

Badami Cave Temples
Photo by Nilmoni Ghosh, CC BY-ND 2.0

When you say Badami, it is actually referred to the cave temples of the place. These temples are the most popular tourist destination of Karnataka. These caves were built by the Chalukya rulers who had made Badami their capital in the 6th century. There are a total of four caves carved out of a hill and is situated at a height. Both in terms of archaeology and architecture, the cave temples are of much importance. These temples are built in Deccan sandstone which had the colour of almond, and hence the caves were known as Badami caves, as badam means almond and then the region around it too came to be known as Badami. Since these cave temples are situated on a hill, there are around 2000 steps that need to be climbed to reach these temples. The first two temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, the third temple is dedicated to both the lords but the fourth temple is a Jain temple. All the temples are adorned with beautiful paintings and inscriptions. The fourth cave was actually built at least 100 years after the completion of the other caves and it is dedicated to Mahavir, the founder of Jainism. The carvings, the figurines and the architecture of the temple are just amazing.

5. Gol Gumbaz

Gol Gumbaz
Photo by Ramnath Bhat, CC BY 2.0

Built in the 17th century by a Adilshahi ruler, Gol Gumbaz is a great example of Islamic architecture. It houses the tomb of Mohammed Adilshah and is located at Bijapur. Bangalore lies around 530 km away. It is beelived that it took 20 years for the building to be completed. With a height of 51 m, Gol Gumbaz is spread around 1700 sq m with the diameter being 37 m. The walls itself have a thickness of 3 m.  The main attraction of the architecture of Gol Gumbaz is its central dome which is the second largest dome in the world and what is also amazing that the dome stands on it and there are no pillars built to support it. This is not all. You can hear the echo of any sound here for about 11 minutes. Gol Gumbaz also has other tombs as well, that of Adilshah’s wives, his daughter and grandson and his mistress Ramba. There is also a mosque in the complex.

Visiting the historical places and monuments in Karnataka offers many clues to the rich knowledge of ancient India. The sheer magnificence and intricacy of each construction will bowl you over and you will want to visit it again.

About Rohit

An architect by profession, Rohit Agarwal is a curious traveller, seeking out the minutest detail about the places he travels to, and that’s what one will find in his writings. His writings have appeared in various blogs, he’s currently trying to bring forth as many different places a traveller who shares the same level of curiosity like him would like to visit through his writings.

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