Karnataka is renowned for its Dravidian-style temples, beautiful lakes, and India’s Silicon Valley – Bangalore. But what most people often forget about the state is its rich history running down even before the Palaeolithic Era. From the historically & culturally prosperous state of Hampi to the princely state of Mysore, Karnataka is a land of mighty kings & their legacies.
If you’re planning a trip to Karnataka, you shouldn’t miss these 9 historic places that tell a lot about the state’s rich past & culture. These historical places in Karnataka take you through time in that bygone era, telling stories about its past & legacy. If you want such an experience, keep this list handy to not miss any must-visit historical destinations in Karnataka.
Must-Visit Historical Places In Karnataka
Mentioned in the great Indian texts Ramayan & Purans as Pampa Devi Theertha Kshetra, Hampi is famous for its ancient architecture & historical significance. It predates the Vijayanagara Empire and is home to many glorious monuments & cultural sites, placing it among the must-visit historical places in Karnataka. Apart from its rich history, the city also resides the famous Virupaksha Temple, Shree Vijaya Vitthal Temple, and more such sites. If you wish to experience Hampi completely, here are some things you must know.
Best Time To Visit Hampi
The best time to visit Hampi is during the winter months, from October to March. During this period, the weather is relatively more relaxed and pleasant, making it ideal for exploring the historical ruins and outdoor activities.
How To Reach Hampi?
- By Air: The nearest airport is Jindal Vijayanagar Airport (VDY) in Vidyanagar, approximately 40 kilometres away. You can hire a taxi or public transportation to Hampi from there.
- By Train: The nearest railway station is Hospet Junction (HPT), well-connected to major cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Goa. From Hospet, Hampi is just about 13 kilometres away.
- By Road: Hampi is well-connected by road. If you’re coming from Bangalore, it’s approximately a 350-kilometer journey and takes around 7-8 hours by road.
Things To Do In Hampi
- Virupakshi Temple: Visit the architectural marvel of the Vijayanagar Empire. Adorned with intricate carvings, it venerates Lord Shiv and exudes spiritual and historical significance.
- Vijaya Vittala Temple Complex: Explore the Vittala Temple complex, known for its iconic stone chariot and musical pillars that emit different musical notes when struck.
- Coracle Ride to Chintamani Temple: Take a coracle ride to the Chintamani Temple, a serene and less-visited spot with scenic surroundings.
- Sanapur Lake: Relax by the picturesque Sanapur Lake, ideal for a refreshing swim or a peaceful afternoon by the water.
Known as the princely state of Mysuru, the name is derived from Mahisuru – the abode of Mahisa. The term Mahisa means buffalo in Sanskrit. According to ancient Indian folklore, the demon Mahisa was ruling Mahisuru, causing havoc in the state, and The Goddess Chamundeshwari killed the demon to protect humankind. Pay a visit to the Chamundeshwari temple situated on Chamundi hills in Mysore.
The city also has a rich history of great kings ruling the state, making Mysore one of the significant historical places in Karnataka. Here is some information you must know before visiting Mysore.
Best Time To Visit Mysore
The best time to visit Mysore is during the winter months, from October to February. This season also coincides with many festivals and cultural events in Mysore, including the famous Dasara festival, which typically falls in September or October.
How To Reach Mysore?
- By Air: The nearest airport to Mysore is Mysore Airport (MYQ), also known as Mandakalli Airport. It is about 12 kilometres away from the city centre. However, this airport has limited flight options. The nearest well-connected airport is Kempegowda International Airport (BLR) in Bangalore, approximately 170 kilometres from Mysore..
- By Train: Mysore Junction (MYS) is the central railway station in Mysore and is well-connected to major cities in India. You can find trains from Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, and more.
- From Bangalore: Mysore is approximately 140-150 kilometres away from Bangalore, and the journey takes about 3-4 hours by road. You can take a bus from Bangalore or hire a taxi. There are also train services available.
Things To Do In Mysore
- Visit Mysore Palace: Explore the opulent Mysore Palace, an architectural marvel with intricate interiors, stunning courtyards, and a beautiful Durbar Hall. The entry fee for adults is ₹40 and ₹20 for kids. The palace is open for visitors every day between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
- Brindavan Gardens: Witness the mesmerising musical fountain show and stroll through the beautifully landscaped gardens along the Krishnarajasagara Dam. The garden is open every day from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. with an entry fee of ₹15 for adults & ₹5 for kids.
- Devaraja Market: Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture by browsing through stalls selling spices, silk sarees, flowers, and other goods.
- Mysore Silk Saree Shopping: Shop for the exquisite Mysore silk sarees known for their fine quality and craftsmanship.
Shimoga, or Shivamogga, is a picturesque district blessed with lush greenery, waterfalls, and rich history. Ruled by Ashoka, Kadambas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, and many other great Empires, Shimoga is one of the major historical places in Karnataka. In addition to historical legacies, this place also offers an escape from the bustling cities through its greenery & natural sceneries. When in Karnataka, Shimoga is a must-visit destination.
Best Time To Visit Shimoga
The best time to visit Shimoga is during the post-monsoon and winter months, from October to March. This period offers the most pleasant weather for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
How To Reach Shimoga?
- By Air: The nearest airport to Shimoga is Mangalore International Airport (IXE), approximately 190 kilometres away.
- By Train: Shimoga has its own railway station called “Shivamogga Town Railway Station” (SMT). It is well connected to major cities in Karnataka and neighbouring states. You can find trains from cities like Bangalore, Mangalore, and Hubli.
- From Bangalore: Shimoga is approximately 290-300 kilometres away from Bangalore, and the journey takes about 6-7 hours by road.
Things To Do In Shimoga
- Ikkeri Aghoreshwara Temple: Visit this ancient temple 75 km from Shivmogga. It is known for its unique fusion of architectural styles and serene riverside location.
- Kavaledurga Fort: Trek to this historical fort to catch the breathtaking views of the Western Ghats and a glimpse into the region’s past.
- Kunchikal Falls: Visit the magnificent Kunchikal Falls, 96 km from Shivmogga. It is the tallest waterfall in India, set amidst serene surroundings.
Mahakuta Temples, located near Badami in Karnataka, form a significant complex of ancient Hindu shrines. Built during the 6th and 8th centuries, they are remarkable examples of Chalukyan architecture. The complex comprises a main temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, smaller shrines, intricately carved pillars, and a stepped tank known as the Vishnu Pushkarini. The main temple features a lingam surrounded by a circular colonnade adorned with intricate sculptures and carvings. It’s a place to experience history & spirituality together.
Best Time To Visit Mahakuta Temples
October to March is the best time to visit as the monsoon rains have rejuvenated the landscape, and the weather is cool and pleasant.
How To Reach Mahakuta Temples?
- By Air: The nearest airport to Mahakuta is the Hubli Airport (also known as Hubballi Airport), approximately 85 kilometres away.
- By Train: The nearest central railway station is Hubli Junction. It is well connected to major cities in Karnataka and other parts of India. From Hubli, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Mahakuta.
- By Road: Mahakuta is well-connected by road. You can reach it by hiring a taxi or by using public buses. The nearest central town is Badami, which is about 14 kilometres away. You can hire an auto-rickshaw or a taxi from Badami to reach Mahakuta.
If you’re travelling from Bangalore, the capital city of Karnataka, you can take a road trip. The distance between Bangalore and Mahakuta is approximately 450 kilometres, and the journey usually takes 8-10 hours.
Things To Do Around Mahakuta Temples
- Visit Badami Caves: The Badami Caves, also known as the Badami Cave Temples, are a complex of rock-cut caves that were carved during the 6th century. They are located just about 14 kilometres from Mahakuta and are among the best places to visit in India.
- Explore Agastya Lake: Agastya Lake is a picturesque water body near the Badami Caves. It offers a serene environment and is an excellent place for a stroll, picnics, or to enjoy the scenic beauty.
- Aihole Temples: Aihole, often referred to as the “Cradle of Indian Architecture”, is a historic site located about 36 kilometres from Mahakuta. It’s famous for its temples and architectural ruins dating back to the Chalukya dynasty.
Pattadakal is a complex of Hindu & Jain temples constructed during the Chalukya dynasty in the 7th & 8th centuries CE. The temple showcases various Vedic & Puranic story carvings, including Ramayan, Mahabharat, and Bhagavatam Puran. The temple’s central deity is Lord Shiv, but you’ll also see many shrines dedicated to Lord Vishnu & Goddess Shakti. The Jain temple is resides a single Jina. Pattadakal’s intricate carvings & architecture make it one of the famous historical places in Karnataka.
Best Time To Visit Pattadakal
The best time to visit Pattadakal is during the winter months, from October to February. This period offers the most pleasant and comfortable weather for exploring the historical site.
How To Reach Pattadakal?
By Air: The nearest airport to Pattadakal is Belgaum Airport (IXG), approximately 155 kilometres away.
By Train: The nearest major railway station is Badami Railway Station, which is around 22 kilometres away from Pattadakal.
By Road: Pattadakal is well-connected by road. You can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach the town. It is approximately 22 kilometres from Badami, the nearest major town.
If you’re travelling from Bangalore, you can take a road trip. The distance between Bangalore and Pattadakal is approximately 480 kilometres, and the journey usually takes around 8-10 hours, depending on traffic conditions.
Things To Do Around Pattadakal
- Banashankari Temple: Located about 20 kilometres from Pattadakal, this temple is dedicated to Goddess Banashankari and is known for its unique Chalukyan architecture.
- Museum of Archaeology (Badami Archaeological Museum): This museum, situated near the Badami Caves, houses a collection of sculptures and artefacts from the Chalukya period.
- Shopping for Local Handicrafts: You can explore the local markets in Badami for traditional handicrafts like stone carvings, jewellery, and other souvenirs.
Bijapur is an ancient town known to be settled during the late Palaeolithic era. The Rashtrkuta kings ruled the town first, followed by the Chalukya kingdom, Khalji Sultanate, & Britishers. With many kingdoms ruling over the city, Bijapur has a history speaking through every corner. The iconic Gol Gumbaz, with its colossal dome, is a testament to Indo-Islamic architecture. This city stands as a living legacy of Karnataka’s historical and architectural heritage, placing it among the best historical places in Karnataka.
Best Time To Visit Bijapur
The best time to visit Bijapur is during the winter months, from October to March. The temperatures are relatively cooler, ranging from around 15°C to 30°C (59°F to 86°F), making it comfortable for exploring the historical sites and attractions.
How To Reach Bijapur?
- By Air: The nearest airport to Bijapur is the Belgaum Airport (IXG), which is approximately 205 kilometres away.
- By Train: Bijapur has its own railway station, known as “Bijapur Railway Station” (BJP). It is well-connected to major cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and others.
- By Road: The distance between Bangalore and Bijapur is approximately 530 kilometres, and the journey usually takes around 9-10 hours, depending on traffic conditions.
Things To Do In Bijapur
- Visit Gol Gumbaz: This iconic mausoleum is one of the largest domes in the world. Climb up to the whispering gallery for an acoustic marvel and enjoy panoramic views of the city from the top.
- Visit Upli Buruj: This ancient watchtower offers a panoramic view of Bijapur and is a great spot for photography.
- Explore the Citadel: Walk around the old city to discover historical structures like the Asar Mahal, Gagan Mahal, and Sat Manzil.
Want to explore ancient literature & language of India? Melukote is the land of wisdom & knowledge derived from Vedic and Sanskrit manuscripts. The city is home to the Academy of Sanskrit Research, which has a collection of Vedic books, manuscripts, and more in the Sanskrit language. Melukote’s inclination towards Sanskrit & Vedas places it among significant historical places in Karnataka. If you wish to delve deeper into India’s history & culture, Melukote is a must-visit.
Best Time To Visit Melukote
The best time to visit Melukote is during the winter months, particularly between November and February. This season offers pleasant weather to explore the famous historical places in Karnataka.
How To Reach Melukote?
- By Air: The nearest airport to Melukote is Mysore Airport (MYQ), which is approximately 132 kilometers away.
- By Train: The nearest major railway station to Melukote is Mandya Railway Station, which is about 35 kilometers away. From Mandya, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Melukote.
- By Road: Melukote is well-connected with Bangalore. The distance between Bangalore and Melukote is approximately 133 kilometers, and the journey usually takes around 3-4 hours.
Things To Do In Melukote
- Visit Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple: This ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is one of the main attractions in Melukote. It’s known for its intricate architecture and religious significance.
- Explore Yoga-Narasimha Swamy Temple: This temple, dedicated to Lord Narasimha (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu), is among the famous temples of India, perched on a hill and offering stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
- Dip in the Pushkarini Tank: Located near the Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple, this sacred tank is believed to have healing properties. Taking a dip in its waters is considered auspicious.
One of the famous historical places in Karnataka, Srirangapatana has been an urban centre & place of pilgrimage since ancient times. Many dynasties, including the Vijaynagar Empire, Mughals, and Britishers, have ruled this place, making it the historical centre of India. The magnificent Ranganthaswamy temple is a major attraction of this place. Make sure to visit this temple when in Karnataka.
Best Time To Visit Srirangapatna
November to February offers the best weather to explore the major historical attractions in Srirangapatna. Plan your trip during these months to have a comfortable & enjoyable outing.
How To Reach Srirangapatna?
- By Air: The nearest airport to Srirangapatna is the Mysore Airport (MYQ), approximately 14 kilometres away. You can hire a taxi from the airport or use other transportation modes to reach Srirangapatna.
- By Train: The nearest railway station to Srirangapatna is Srirangapatna Railway Station (S) in the town itself. However, it’s small and may not be well-connected to major cities. Alternatively, you can take a train to Mysore Junction (MYS), which is approximately 19 kilometres away from Srirangapatna.
- From Bangalore: The distance between Bangalore & Srirangapatna is 127 km. It generally takes 2-3 hours to reach the destination.
Things To Do In Srirangapatna
- Visit Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple: This ancient temple dedicated to Lord Ranganatha is a prominent religious site. Explore its exquisite architecture and take part in the temple rituals.
- Nimishamba Temple: Located on the banks of the Kaveri River, this temple is dedicated to Goddess Parvati. It offers a serene atmosphere and picturesque views.
- Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary: Situated a short drive away, this sanctuary is a haven for migratory birds. Take a boat ride to get up close to the birdlife.
Named after the residing Goddess Hassanamba, the city of Hassan dates back to the Hoysala Empire in the 11th century. The city is renowned for its archaeological wonders, with the exquisite Hoysala temples like Chennakesava and Belur intricately carved sculptures standing as a testament to ancient artistry. Whether you want to explore the ancient architecture of the region or have a spiritual & cultural retreat, Hassan is among the best historical places in Karnataka for both experiences.
Best Time To Visit Hassan
The best time to visit Hassan is from October to March.
How To Reach Hassan?
- By Air: The nearest airport to Hassan is Mysore Airport (MYQ), which is approximately 124 kilometres away. Alternatively, you can fly into Kempegowda International Airport (BLR) in Bangalore, which is approximately 180 kilometres away from Hassan.
- By Train: Hassan has its own railway station, known as “Hassan Railway Station” (HAS). It is well-connected to major cities like Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, and others.
- From Bangalore: The distance between Bangalore and Hassan is approximately 183 kilometres, and the journey usually takes 3-4 hours.
Things To Do In Hassan
- Chennakesava Temple, Belur: Admire the stunning Chennakesava Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Marvel at the detailed carvings and sculptures that adorn this masterpiece of Hoysala architecture.
- Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu: Visit the Hoysaleswara Temple, another architectural gem known for its impressive sculptures and detailed craftsmanship.
- Shravanabelagola: Explore this renowned pilgrimage site known for the colossal monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali. The town also offers beautiful views from the Vindhyagiri and Chandragiri hills.
India has a rich history that dates back to the Vedic era, whose remnants are still present around the country. In this article, we tried to cover the top historical places in Karnataka, giving you an overview of what to expect and include in your itinerary when you visit the state. If you want to learn more about India’s rich history, visiting these 9 places is a prerequisite to exploring the vastness of this country’s past. So, bookmark this list so as not to miss any important historical places in Karnataka.
More To Explore
- If you’re planning to explore the vast history of India, don’t forget to check out the Best Historical Places in India to get an idea of the significant historical places in the country.
- Learn about Andhra Pradesh’s rich past & architecture through Top Historical Places In Andhra Pradesh and know more about the cultural beauty of South India.
- Pune is another famous city in India with various ancient architectures & history alive. Check out the Top Historical Places in Pune to discover the stories of India’s glorious past.