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This lush state lies tucked within the southern end of the nation and sports a great number of local treasures. Karnataka has a rich diversity of flora and fauna due to 20% of its area being covered in forest. In fact, one quarter of the elephant population in India resides in these dense forests. Many regions of Karnataka are as yet unexplored, resulting in the constant discovery of new species of flora and fauna. The region also hosts 25 wildlife sanctuaries, seven of which are bird sanctuaries. Bangalore is known as the “Garden City of India” because of its abundant greenery and the presence of many public parks. With an estimated population of 8.5 million, Bangalore is the third most populous city in India and is well known as a hub for India’s information technology sector. Other cities of note in Karnataka include Mysore, Hampi and Pattadakal, all known for historic temples, palaces and forts.
As patrons of art and culture, the members of the Wodeyars dynasty contributed significantly to the cultural growth of the city, thus earning Mysore the nickname of the “Cultural Capital of Karnataka”. It is also noted for the festivities that take place during the Dasara Festival (Sanskit for “remover of fate”) when the city receives a large number of visitors. This is the city of palace because here you will find several decorated and beautiful examples in the city. The local production of premium silk, sandalwood and incense also figure prominently, offering prime gift possibilities.
Amba Vilas: Also known as Mysore Palace, this grand building is still the official residence of the Wodeyars, the former royal family of Mysore, and houses two durbar halls used as ceremonial meeting halls of the royal court. The architectural style of this luxurious mahal (Palace) is commonly narrate as Indo-Saracenic and blends together the Hindu stayle, Rajput style, as display throughout the country. Visitors should also be sure to view the palace at night when the entire facade is illuminated with brilliant colors and strings of small lights outline every feature.
Jaganmohana Palace: Built in 1861, this three story palace is built in the traditional Hindu style sporting interior walls painted with murals which follow the traditional style of the Mysore school of painting. Art lovers will relish the art gallery which contains one of the largest collection of artifacts in South India, namely over 2000 paintings following the Indian styles of painting such as Mysore, Mughal and Shantiniketan.
Rajendra Vilas: Located on top of the nearby Chamundi Hills, this 1822 building was used as a summer palace by the Wodeyars of Mysore. A semi-circular verandah to the north provides a panoramic view of the city for visitors. Now a heritage hotel, the palace hosts 25 royal suites.
LalithaMahal: The second largest palace in Mysore, it was fashioned on the lines of the St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and is set amidst sprawling landscaped gardens. Decorative glass has been used extensively to reinforce the elegance of the palace both within the exterior facades and in interiors doors, windows and ceilings. Italian marble floors, Belgian crystal chandeliers, glassware lamps, heavy ornate furniture, mosaic tiles and exquisite Persian carpets all give the palace its regal ambiance.
Jayalakshmi Vilas: Located in lush green surroundings, the 125-room mansion houses a museum of priceless collections of artifacts of the royal family.
Chamundeshwari Temple: One of the many features located atop the Chamundi Hills, this seven story temple was built in the 17thcentury and is decorated with intricate carvings featuring gold and silver detailing. Although vehicles can access the upper reaches of the hill, ardent travelers will find that the temple can be reached by climbing 1000 ancient steps. Partway up the staircase lays an enormous statue of Nandi, the bull vehicle of the god Shiva, carved in 1659 of solid black granite.
Saint Philomena’s Church: Built in honor of St. Philomena in 1936, this grand church follows the Neo-Gothic style with its architecture having been inspired by the Cologne Cathedral in Germany.
This village in the northern part of the state lies on the banks of the Tungabhadra River within the ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital from the 14th to the 17thcenturies. Hampi has various notable Hindu temples and the topography abounds with large stones which have been used to make statues of Hindu deities. T
Virupaksha Temple: This Shiva temple is situated in the Hampi Bazaar and is the main center of pilgrimage at Hampi, having been considered a most sacred sanctuary over the centuries.
Vittala Temple Complex: it is the most famous tmeple of Hampi. On main entry pont of the temple is one of the three famous stone chariots in India, the other two keep in Konark and Mahabalipuram. This temple was originally conceived for group participation, as the wheels of the chariot could be rotated and each of the pillars that support the roof of the main temple, when struck, emanate a note representing a different musical instrument.
Ramachandra Temple: This temple looks in a rectangular courtyard with story showing everyday routine life and festival picture on outside the temple walls and whole Ramayana story scenes on inner wall of the temple. The temple may only used for only royal family and temple is well known as the Hazara Rama Temple, on the wall recurrence of Picture of Lord Rama called “Temple of a Thousand Ramas”.
HASSAN, HALEBID AND BELUR
Hassan is a prominent railway stop west of Bangalore and Mysore more known for its easy access to the nearby temple-rich areas of Halebid and Belur. Guests will find Hassan a good jumping off point to popular neighboring areas of interest.
Hoysaleswara Temple: Built in 1121, this temple in Halebid is a dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and is a prime example of 12thcentury carvings. The intricate detailing of the temple is heralded as being some of the best of its type in all of India. Massive lathe-turned pillars accent walls and ceilings finished is exquisite detail for both images of deities and ornate pattern work.
Kedareshwara Temple: Only a short distance away lays this 13thcentury temple dedicated to Shiva. Noted for its archeological significance, this temple is a prime example of Hoysala architecture.
Chennakesava Temple: Located in the nearby city of Belur, this temple from 1117 CE has been noted by scholars as a masterpiece of local architecture. With a stunning compliment of 48 enormous stone pillars, all carved or turned in meticulous detail, this temple is certainly a site to be explored for its rich history of craftsmanship.
Often noted by its previously Anglicized name of Coorg, this lush and verdant countryside provides travelers with a delightful region for touring the predominant agricultural areas and for taking in the local color. Vast expanses of coffee plantations, cardamom forests and rice paddies stretch out to the horizon en route to local temples in the region. The months of March and April, blooming season for the abundant coffee plants, make the countryside explode with white blossoms and their accompanying rich scent.The rich vegetation of the surrounding areas supports the lush Nagarhole National Park as well as three wildlife sanctuaries, Bhahmagiri, Talakaveri and Pushpagiri.
Nagarhole National Park: Also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park, the rich forest of this park is located within the Nilgiri Biosphere Preserve. Prominent residents of the lush hills and valleys include tigers, Indian bison, elephants, leopard, hyena as well as numerous deer species and smaller animals. With a native bird population of 270 species, the park is an excellent location for bird enthusiasts to roam for native life.
Bandipur National Park: Due south of Mysore lies this tiger reserve, which was previously the private hunting reserve for the Maharaja of Mysore. A dry deciduous forest at the southern tip of Karnataka, Bandipur is also part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Preserve which is the largest protected wildlife area in all of southern India. The park has a sizable number of tigers, gaur, antelope, bear, panther and boar plus a wide array of reptile and bird species. The park offers guests safari adventures into the park via open-topped jeeps and on foot as well.