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Tourism in Karnataka

Karnataka is a southern state of India which was formed on November 1, 1956. It was originally known as the State of Mysore and was renamed Karnataka in 1973.

Karnataka is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the West, Goa to the NorthWest, Maharashtra to the North, Andhra Pradesh to the East, Tamil Nadu to the SouthEast, and Kerala to the SouthWest. The state covers an area of 191,976 sq km, and it is 5.83% of the total geographical area of India. It is the eighth largest Indian state in terms of area, the ninth largest with respect to population and comprises 29 districts, which are listed below. Kannada is the official and most widely spoken language. Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Tulu and Urdu are also spoken.

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Though several etymologies have been suggested for the name Karnataka, the generally accepted one is that Karnataka is derived from the Kannada words karu and nadu, meaning elevated land. Karu nadu may also be read as Karu (black) and nadu (region), as a reference to the black cotton soil found in the Bayaluseeme region of Karnataka. The British used the word Carnatic (sometimes Karnatak) to describe both sides of peninsular India, south of the Krishna River.

With an antiquity that dates to the paleolithic, Karnataka has also been home to some of the most powerful empires of ancient and medieval India. The philosophers and musical bards patronised by these empires launched socio-religious and literary movements which have endured to the present day. Karnataka has contributed significantly to both forms of Indian classical music, the Carnatic(Karnataka Music) and Hindustani traditions. Writers in the Kannada language have received the most number of Jnanpith awards in India. Bangalore is the capital city of the state and is at the forefront of the rapid economic and technological development that India is experiencing.

The history of Karnataka can be traced back to a paleolithic hand-axe culture evidenced by discoveries of, among other things, hand axes and cleavers in the region. Evidence of neolithic and megalithic cultures have also been found in the state. Gold discovered in Harappa was found to be imported from mines in Karnataka, prompting scholars to hypothesize about contacts between ancient Karnataka and the Indus Valley Civilization in 3000 BCE. Prior to the third century BCE, most of Karnataka was part of the Nanda Empire before coming under the Mauryan empire of Emperor Ashoka. Four centuries of Satavahana rule followed, allowing them to control large areas of Karnataka. The decline of Satavahana power led to the rise of the earliest native kingdoms, the Kadambas and the Western Gangas, marking the region's emergence as an independent political entity. The Kadamba Dynasty, founded by Mayurasharma, had its capital at Banavasi; the Western Ganga Dynasty was formed with Talakad as its capital.

These were also the first kingdoms to use Kannada in administration, as evidenced by the Halmidi inscription and a fifth-century copper coin discovered at Banavasi. These dynasties were followed by imperial Kannada empires such as the Badami Chalukyas, the Rashtrakuta Empire of Manyakheta and the Western Chalukya Empire, which ruled over large parts of the Deccan and had their capitals in what is now Karnataka. The Western Chalukyas patronised a unique style of architecture and Kannada literature which became a precursor to the Hoysala art of 12th century.

At the turn of the first millennium, the Hoysalas gained power in the region. Literature flourished during this time, which led to the distinctive Kannada literary metres and the construction of temples and sculptures adhering to the Vesara style of architecture. The expansion of the Hoysala Empire brought parts of modern Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu under its rule. In the early 14th century, Harihara and Bukka Raya established the Vijayanagara empire with its capital, Hosapattana (later named Vijayanagara), on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in the modern Bellary district. The empire rose as a bulwark against Muslim advances into South India, which it completely controlled for over two centuries.

In 1565, Karnataka and the rest of South India experienced a major geopolitical shift when the Vijayanagara Empire fell to a confederation of Islamic sultanates in the Battle of Talikota. The Bijapur Sultanate, which had risen after the demise of the Bahmani Sultanate of Bidar, soon took control of the Deccan; it was defeated by the Moghuls in the late 17th century. The Bahamani and Bijapur rulers encouraged Urdu and Persian literature and Indo-Saracenic architecture, the Gol Gumbaz being one of the high points of this style.

In the period that followed, parts of northern Karnataka were ruled by the Nizam of Hyderabad, the British, and other powers. In the south, the Mysore Kingdom, former vassals of the Vijayanagara Empire, was briefly independent. With the death of Krishnaraja Wodeyar II, Haidar Ali, the commander-in-chief of the Mysore army, gained control of the region. After his death, the kingdom was inherited by his son Tippu Sultan. To contain European expansion in South India, Haidar Ali and later Tippu Sultan fought four significant Anglo-Mysore Wars, the last of which resulted in Tippu Sultan's death and the incorporation of Mysore into the British Raj in 1799. The Kingdom of Mysore was restored to the Wodeyars and Mysore remained a princely state under the British Raj.

As the "doctrine of lapse" gave way to dissent and resistance from princely states across the country, Kittur Chennamma, Sangolli Rayanna and others spearheaded rebellions in Karnataka in 1830, nearly three decades before the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Other uprisings followed, such as the ones at Supa, Bagalkot, Shorapur, Nargund and Dandeli. These rebellions which coincided with the 1857 war of independence were led by Mundargi Bhimarao, Bhaskar Rao Bhave, the Halagali Bedas, Venkatappa Nayaka and others. By the late 19th century, the freedom movement had gained momentum; Karnad Sadashiva Rao, Aluru Venkata Raya, S. Nijalingappa, Kengal Hanumanthaiah, Nittoor Srinivasa Rau and others carried on the struggle into the early 20th century.

After India's independence, the Maharaja, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, allowed his kingdom's accession to India. In 1950, Mysore became an Indian state of the same name; the former Maharaja served as its Rajpramukh (head of state) until 1975. Following the long-standing demand of the Ekikarana Movement, Kodagu and Kannada speaking regions from the adjoining states of Madras, Hyderabad and Bombay were incorporated into the Mysore state, under the States Reorganization Act of 1956. The thus expanded state was renamed Karnataka, seventeen years later, in 1973.

The state has three principal geographical zones: the coastal region of Karavali, the hilly Malnad region comprising the Western Ghats and the Bayaluseeme region comprising the plains of the Deccan plateau. The bulk of the state is in the Bayaluseeme region, the northern part of which is the second largest arid region in India. The highest point in Karnataka is the Mullayanagiri hills in Chikkamagaluru district which has an altitude of 1,929 metres (6,329 ft). Some of the important rivers in Karnataka are the Kaveri, the Tungabhadra, the Krishna and the Sharavathi.

Karnataka consists of four main types of geological formations - the Archean complex made up of Dharwad schists and granitic gneisses, the Proterozoic non-fossiliferous sedimentary formations of the Kaladgi and Bhima series, the Deccan trappean and intertrappean deposits and the tertiary and recent laterites and alluvial deposits. Significantly, about 60% of the state is composed of the Archean complex which consist of gneisses, granites and charnockite rocks. Laterite cappings that are found in many districts over the Deccan Traps were formed after the cessation of volcanic activity in the early tertiary period. Eleven groups of soil orders are found in Karnataka, viz. Entisols, Inceptisols, Mollisols, Spodosols, Alfisols, Ultisols, Oxisols, Aridisols, Vertisols, Andisols and Histosols. Depending on the agricultural capability of the soil, the soil types are divided into six types, viz. Red, lateritic, black, alluvio-colluvial, forest and coastal soils.

Karnataka experiences four seasons. The winter in January and February is followed by summer between March and May, the monsoon season between June and September and the post-monsoon season from October till December. Meteorologically, Karnataka is divided into three zones - coastal, north interior and south interior. Of these, the coastal zone receives the heaviest rainfall with an average rainfall of about 3,638.5 mm (143 in) per annum, far in excess of the state average of 1,139 mm (45 in). Agumbe in the Shivamogga district receives the second highest annual rainfall in India. The highest recorded temperature was 45.6 degree C (114 degree F) at Raichur and the lowest recorded temperature was 2.8 C (37 degree F) at Bidar.

About 38,724 km2 (14,951 sq mi) of Karnataka (i.e. 20% of the state's geographic area) is covered by forests. The forests are classified as reserved, protected, unclosed, village and private forests. The percentage of forested area is slightly less than the all-India average of about 23%, and significantly less than the 33% prescribed in the National Forest Policy.

Disctricts in Karnataka
There are 29 districts in Karnataka.

  1. Bagalkote
  2. Bengaluru Rural
  3. Bengaluru Urban
  4. Belgaum
  5. Bellary
  6. Bidar
  7. Bijapur
  8. Chamarajanagar
  9. Chikkaballapur
  10. Chikkamagaluru
  11. Chitradurga
  12. Dakshina Kannada
  13. Davanagere
  14. Dharwad
  15. Gadag
  16. Gulbarga
  17. Hassan
  18. Haveri
  19. Kodagu
  20. Kolar
  21. Koppal
  22. Mandya
  23. Mysore
  24. Raichur
  25. Ramanagara
  26. Shimoga
  27. Tumkur
  28. Udupi and
  29. Uttara Kannada

Each district is governed by a district commissioner or district magistrate. The districts are further divided into sub-divisions, which are governed by sub-divisional magistrates; sub-divisions comprise blocks containing panchayats (village councils) and town municipalities.

As per the 2001 census, Karnataka's six largest cities sorted in order of decreasing population were, Bangalore, Hubli-Dharwad, Mysore, Gulbarga, Belgaum and Mangalore. Bangalore is the only city with a population of more than one million. Bangalore Urban, Belgaum and Gulbarga are the most populous districts, each of them having a population of more than three million. Gadag, Chamarajanagar and Kodagu districts have a population of less than one million.

TOURISM IN KARNATAKA
Karnataka has the second highest number of nationally protected monuments in India, second only to Uttar Pradesh,in addition to 752 monuments protected by the State Directorate of Archaeology and Museums. Another 25,000 monuments are yet to receive protection.

The districts of the Western ghats and the southern districts of the state have popular eco-tourism locations including Kudremukh, Madikeri and Agumbe. Karnataka has 25 wildlife sanctuaries and five national parks. Popular among them are Bandipur National Park, Bannerghatta National Park and Nagarhole National Park. The ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire at Hampi and the monuments of Pattadakal are on the list of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. The cave temples at Badami and the rock-cut temples at Aihole representing the Badami Chalukyan style of architecture are also popular tourist destinations. The Hoysala temples at Belur and Halebidu, which were built with Chloritic schist (soap stone) are proposed UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Gol Gumbaz and Ibrahim Rauza are famous examples of the Deccan Sultanate style of architecture. The monolith of Gomateshwara at Shravanabelagola is the tallest sculpted monolith in the world, attracting tens of thousands of pilgrims during the Mahamastakabhisheka festival.

The waterfalls of Karnataka and Kudremukh National Park are listed as must-see places and among the "1001 Natural Wonders of the World". Jog Falls is India's tallest single-tiered waterfall with Gokak Falls, Unchalli Falls, Magod Falls, Abbey Falls and Shivanasamudra Falls among other popular waterfalls.

Several popular beaches dot the coastline including Murudeshwara, Gokarna and Karwar. In addition, Karnataka is home to several places of religious importance. Several Hindu temples including the famous Udupi Krishna Temple, the Marikamba Temple at Sirsi , the Sri Manjunatha Temple at Dharmasthala, Sri Subramanya Temple at Kukke and Sharadamba Temple at Sringeri attract pilgrims from all over India. Most of the holy sites of Lingayats, like Kudalasangama and Basavana Bagewadi, are found in northern parts of the state. Shravanabelagola, Mudabidri and Karkala are famous for Jain history and monuments. The Jaina faith had a stronghold in Karnataka in the early medieval period with Shravanabelagola as its most important center.

Recently Karnataka has emerged as a hot spot for health care tourism. Karnataka has the highest number of approved health systems and alternative therapies in India. Along with some ISO certified government-owned hospitals, private institutions which provide international-quality services have caused the health care industry to grow by 30% during 2004-05. Hospitals in Karnataka treat around 8,000 health tourists every year.

ART & CULTURE
Karnataka, known as "the priceless gift of indulgent nature", is a unique blend of a glorious past and a rich present. Karnataka is the sixth largest state in India.It is the only state in India where gold is found.It is the land of silk and sandal, of coffee and cardamom, of the 17m statue of Jain Saint Gomateshwara and of the enchaning sculptural wealth of Belur and Halebid of the historical ruins of Hampi and monuments of Bijapur; it is the land that gave India engineer-statesman Sir M Visvesvaraya and the great generals General Cariappa and General Thimmaiah. To the composite culture of India, the contribution of Karnataka, is in no way inferior to that of any other region of India. In fact, in many fields, Karnataka's contribution far exceeds that of the other regions individually. This is specially so in the fields of are, music, religion, and philosophy.

Karnataka, the "Lofty land" is bounded by Andhra Pradesh in the east, Maharashtra in the north and Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the south. A long coastline hedged by miles and miles of tall, waving, palmgroves frames this pretty land. The majority of the state lies on the Deccan Plateau. Bangalore is the state capital. Karnataka boasts a diverse flora and fauna, which make it a nature tourist's paradise. The state's long and colourful history, and the many forts, temples, mosques, and churches make it a great place to explore.Garden city Bangalore, Jog Falls,the beaches of Karwar and Malpe, Golgumbuz in Bijapur, the stone temples of Belur and Halebid, Mysore Palace, the list is endless.

Art & Architecture
Chalukyan Dynasty from 450 to 650 A.D, made a great contribution to the enrichment of Karnataka in the form of development of architectural wonders, notable amongst them being the temples at Aihole (Brahman temple design), Patta Dakal (North Indian Nagari principle) and Badami. Influence of Jainism of the Jain temples built in Karnataka can be seen at Badami. The contribution of the Hoysala dynasty, four centuries later, in the field of Art and Architecture is no less. For example, temples at Belur, Halebid and Somnathpur, with a star shaped plan of the base and the shrine, bell shaped towers and extensively carved entrance and interiors, became a distinctive hall mark of this dynasty's temples.

Vijaynagar king's contribution to the advancement of Hinduism and distinct from of temple architecture seen mostly in their capital Hampi was no less. The temples of these times, blended with the rocky, boulder-ridden landscape of Hampi. The Muslim influence on Karnataka's art and architecture is no less. One can see features like - domes, minarets etc., in the world's second largest dome the "Gol Gumbaz, fort at Gulbarga, Bidar, Dargaha of Hazrat Khwaja Banda Nawaz Gisudiraz, Gulbarga, Madrasah of Mohammed Gawan & Barid Shahi tomb complex at Bidar, to name a few.

Dance, Drama & Music
Open air folk theatre or "Bayalata" of Karnataka is a famous dance form. This dance is performed at religious festivals and family celebrations. It usually starts at night and continues till the wee hours of the morning. This dance-drama usually has four or five actors/actresses, assisted by a jester. The theme in these is usually mythological but sometimes real life incidents are also highlighted."Doddata" is a less refined dance form than Yakshaganna. In both these dance forms, stories from "Ramayana" and "Mahabharta" are enacted. The costumes are elaborate, the make-up is loud, facial expression are vigorous and are accompanied with loud noises and war-cries.

The People :
The total population of Karnataka is 4,49,77,201. The Kannadigas, as they are locally known, are famous for their hospitality and friendly and cultured attitude towards visitors. The people of Karnataka are accommodating, often, to a fault. Violence is a rare phenomenon, for the people are peace loving.

Karnataka possesses a rich cultural heritage. The folk theatre has an ancient and rich tradition, the two principal forms being Yakshagana and the puppet theatre. Sravanabelagola, near Mysore, has a giant 1,000-yr-old stone statue of Bahubali, the Jain saint. Huge monolithic Jain statues are peculiar to the Kannada culture. 'Yakshagana' is akin to Kathakali of Kerala in the choice of its elaborate costumes and vigorous dancing. 'Bhootada Kunita' (Dance of the Divine Cult), 'Nagamandala' and the demon dance are some quaint rituals prevalent only in Dakshina Kannada coastal area.

The Lifestyle
As major part of the State is rural, the people live a very simple life. The cities however, present a different picture, being more modern, fast and cosmopolitan in nature. Kannada is the main language spoken, read and written. In urban areas, one can get by with the knowledge of English and Hindi.

The Religions
As in most states of India, the population here is predominantly Hindu. Followers of Saivism, Vaishnavism and Veera Saivism form the majority. But all faiths are represented here, and by and large, people live in amity and co-operation. Muslims and Christians are in considerable numbers, while Jainism has struck deep roots in Karnataka. Jains form a sizable section of the population and have become prominent in the business sector. There are also Buddhists and Parsis in the State. Religious tolerance is in the very blood of the Kannadigas, and so conflicts between followers of the different faiths are rare.

List of Major Tourist Attractions and Best Places, Spots & Sites to visit in Karnataka are given above. Tourist spots in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala border are also detailed.

Malpe Beach, Balmuri Falls are few of the important Karnataka Tourism Attractions in Karnataka State.

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