Javian's Choice

Recommended Sights - Our Top Pick!

Once the hunting grounds for Mysore Kings, the Nagarhole National Park is one of the best wildlife getaways in Karnataka. The blend of dense jungle and open lands makes it great for sighting different types of wildlife. The park stretches across 250 square miles, and is to home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, as well as leopards, elephants, gaurs, barking deer, wild dogs, bonnet macaques and common langurs, and 270 species of birds. Government-run jeep safaris and boat trips are conducted from Kabini River Lodge.

Mysore is the charming city that was once the Kingdom of Mysore under the Wodeyar dynasty. If in town for touring palace, the famous Brindavan Gardens is a must see as well. Though this terrace garden and public park is pretty in the daytime with Krishnaraja Sagar Dam views, it really comes alive in the evening during the musical light and fountain show (often set to Bollywood tunes!)

The Iruppu Falls in Kodagu District (Coorg) is conveniently located near the Nagarhole National Park, 100 km west of Mysore, and within a scenic 2 to 3 hour drive east from the Madikeri hill station. There is also white water rafting at the Barapole river nearby. The waterfall, especially during monsoon, is a stunning sight. The origination of the falls is noted in Hindu legends: It is said that Lord Rama had stayed in these forests during the period of his banishment. Lakshmana, Lord Rama’s brother, shot an arrow into the forest and Iruppu falls were born!

Called the cultural capital of Karnataka, Mysore was once the “Kingdom of Mysore” under the Wodeyar dynasty. They ruled from what is now Mysore Maharajah’s Palace (Amba Vilas) – sometimes also called Tipu Sultan’s palace – one of the largest and most intricate palaces in the country. The colors, carvings, armory, and sheer richness inside the palace is striking, but the sound and light show in the evening is equally breathtaking. The palace also has a large exhibition of art from around the world.

The Classics

Recommended Sights - Our Top Pick!

In the town of Hampi, near Goa, are the spectacular ruins of of the once forgotten 15th century Vijayanagara empire. Marked as a World Heritage Site, the ruins span a large rocky landscape with contrasting hues. One of the oldest temples built in the 15th century and the epicenter of the Hampi Bazaar is the Virupaksha Temple . There are few regions in the world where a ruins of a city that had 500,000 inhabitants can be so easily experienced. This, along with the mystery still surrounding the area, is probably why visitors often find it very difficult to leave once they've arrived at Hampi. Nicknamed the 'Garden city' and more recently the 'Silicon Valley' of India, Bangalore epitomizes the modern and fast growing Indian metropolis with the highest concentration of IT companies, branded malls, clubs, restaurants and lounges. Lalbagh Gardens is the unexpected botanical garden in the city south, with acres of sprawling garden featuring a multitude of beautiful tree specimens. If you love elephants, the Dubare Elephant Camp in Coorg is a must-see location in Karnataka. At this forest camp, visitors observe elephants as they're being fed, bathed, and exercised, and are also given the opportunity to help out with the baths or the feeding!  The activities in the area range from treks conducted by the Forest Department to elephant rides, fishing, and river rafting. A beautiful golden temple, the Namdroling Monastery, based on the Tibetan style of architecture, enthralls any visitor to this place. Around 6000 Tibetan monks stay in and around this campus in the town of Bylakuppe. The monastery is largest teaching center in the world of Nyingma - the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Though the monastery is certainly off the beaten path, it is well worth a visit to see another one of India’s many cultures.

Off The Beaten Path

Recommended Sights - Our Top Pick!

In the town of Hampi lies the stunning Vijayanagar ruins from the 15th century Vijayanagara empire. The hilltop and slopes of the Hemakuta Hill Temples at the ruins offer a splendid view of the entire sprawling site. The best time to visit Hemakuta is in the morning or evening , when the sun's rays are slanting across the tops of the temples. According to Hindu lores, it was named Hemakuta (hill of gold) when it rained gold after Lord Shiva consented to marrying Pampa at this hill top.