After travelling in India and abroad for more than two years, if there’s one thing I have learned it is that no other country in the entire world is as diverse and distinct as India. Every state in India represents a tiny country on its own. And Karnataka, lying in the southern part of India, is a beautiful example.
In Karnataka, one can find the bustling cities like Bengaluru, get cozy-up in the rainforests (of Coorg) or experience royalty in the princely city of Mysore — from glittering palaces to rare national parks to ancient ruins, from beaches to yoga retreats to evocative temple ruins, Karnataka has something for everyone. And if you’re planning to spend a weekend with your family and friends, here are my top 5 destinations in Karnataka:
Top Tourist Places to Visit in Karnataka
The City of Bengaluru
Among all the Indian cities, if there’s one name I had to choose as the best Indian-city to travel, then Bengaluru would be my first choice. Blessed with a benevolent climate and a burgeoning drinking, dining and shopping scene, Bangalore offers the finest city-like experience in India.
What’s better is the fact that Bangalore can moreover be visited anytime throughout the year and is well connected by road, railways, and air. Speaking of what to see and do in Bangalore, here are some quick tips:
- Soaking in the architecture of the Attara Kacheri (High Court)
- Enjoying the beauty of the Bangalore Palace
- Strolling around the lush Lalbaugh Gardens
- Being mesmerized by the colorful Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain
- Marvelling at India’s inventions at the Visveswaraya Industrial & Technological Museum and feel proud.
The Jungles of Coorg
Coorg, also known as Kodagu, is a gorgeous hill station located 256km from Bangalore. I visited Coorg about 3 years ago, and since then, it’s my favorite place in Southern Indian, if the idea is to relax and unwind yourself. Visit the postcard-like town of Virajpet, the Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe (home to South India’s largest monastery) and of course, the district headquarters of Madikeri.
Coorg can be visited any time of the year with each season having its own joy and delights. Other than Bangaluru, Coorg is well connected by road to all other major cities including Mangalore, Belgaum, and Mysore. The closest airport is in Mangalore (136km) and the nearest railway station is in Hassan (118km). Some of the highlights in Coorg include:
- Going back in time at Madikeri Fort
- Watching the majestic Abbey Falls
- Saying a prayer at the monastery in Little Tibet
- Embarking on a coffee plantation tour in Coorg. [Read: Visiting the coffee plantations in Kabbinakad, Coorg]
- Heading out for a wildlife safari at the Rajiv Gandhi National Park
Mysore is another city of Karnataka worth travelling and appreciating. Located at only a few hours from Bangalore, Mysore unravels itself as a city rich in history, and of stories about being ruled by the Wadiyars, Tipu Sultan, and the British.
Visiting Mysore with family and kids is moreover a good idea as it will give them a chance to learn about India’s proud history. Just like Bengaluru, even Mysuru has its own railway station and an airport and is connected by road to major cities in Karnataka. Some quick activities to try in Mysore include:
- Marveling at the stunning beauty of the Mysore Palace
- Visiting the popular (and India’s only) Wax Museum
- Studying the architecture of the St. Philomena’s Church
- Spotting your favorite bird at the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
- Paying you tribute at the Chamundeshwari Temple
Beaches In Gokarna
If the idea is to breaking away from the busy city life and experiencing the tranquil beaches, then there can’t be a better place than Gokarna. Located at a distance of 514 km from Bangalore, the town of Gokarna reveals itself as a popular pilgrimage centre. And if you’re only looking forward to relaxing on beaches, be known that Gokarna is home to some of the cleanest beaches in India.
The Om Beach, Kudle Beach, Gokarna Beach, Half Moon Beach and the Paradise Beach are the five main beaches here. Gokarna Beach is the town’s main beach and pilgrims gather here when they visit the Mahabaleshwar Temple. The Kudle Beach is the largest of the five beaches and it is crowded during the peak season November to February. Some of the popular things to do in Gokarna include:
- Beach Trekking
- Visiting the temples
- Experiencing water sports
- Soaking up the town and night markets
Seeing It All In A Luxury Train
And if you have a little more time and a lot more money, then a luxury train ride with The Golden Chariot to cover most of the places mentioned above, in addition to a day in Goa can be your best bet to explore the highlights of Karnataka on a fast track.
Please note that The Golden Chariot covers two routes, and the one that covers Karnataka is called the Pride of South. The Pride of South that starts from Bangalore and concludes in Goa, covers destinations including Mysore, Bandipur, Chikmangalur, Hampi, and Badami.