Thrill. Isn’t it something we all desire? From going hiking in dangerous places to scuba diving in the deepest waters, we all find some fragments of ourselves in the places we travel to. While traveling remains subjective in nature, I have come across several people who seek to explore the unexplored parts of the world. These people who go beyond the common social conventions and norms, and strive to find inspiration in such ‘offbeat’ or unconventional places, are termed as ‘offbeat travelers.’
While it is certainly a fun thought to travel to places off the grid, it is usually not easy to gain information about the same. However, if you want offbeat travel, what better place to start than Karnataka? Having several unknown places, Karnataka remains the gemstone of offbeat traveling. From serene beaches to temples, these places are undoubtedly the true bounty of Nature. Read on to find out the best places in Karnataka to ignite the traveler in you.
We’ve all read the name of this amazing place in our Geography books, haven’t we? Located in the Chikkamagaluru district, Kudremukh is a picturesque hill station combined with a mining hotspot. A paradise of natural resources, it was earlier known as Samseparvatha and is famous all over India for housing the second highest peak in Karnataka, the Kudremukh peak. Interestingly, the word ‘Kudremukh’ translates to ‘horse face’, this implies that the peak resembles the face of a horse from a certain angle. And as if this wasn’t impressive enough, the Kudremukh National Park contains numerous endangered and rare species of flora and fauna. The perfect spot for a Nature lover, Kudremukh is Nature and adventure combined as several trekkers seek out thrill by climbing to the hilltop. But that’s not all, additionally containing many temples and pilgrimage spots, Kudremukh has a little bit of everything for everyone.
A true treasure is always the hardest to find, no? Agumbe is a small village located in the Shimoga district of Karnataka. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Spot due to the plethora of flora and fauna found in the village. Having extremely rich biodiversity, Agumbe happens to be one of the few rainforests that have managed to survive in India. Nestled in the loving arms of the Western Ghats, Agumbe is mainly famous for its thick, dense forests. Tourists love the adventure sports arranged, such as hiking, bike rides, or even just a relaxing walk in the forest. Check out the various species of butterflies, deers, and snakes in this ‘cobra capital’. A must-visit, indeed!
Channapatna (commonly known by the local people as Channpatna) is a charming small town in the Ramanagara district of Karnataka, located on the edge of the districts of Ramanagara and Mandya. It is the colourful toys and coaters manufactured by brilliant craftspeople and small-scale companies that make Channapatna so unique and famous. This is why the site in Kannada is also called Gombegala Nagara (town of toys). The toys of Channapatna are more than just dolls. They can be complicated and moving parts such like in rocking horses, rabbits, motorcycles, cars, etc. If one ever travels to Channapatna, it is best to immerse themselves into the city’s culture and history. The city has craftsmen, many of whom work from home or have modest booths in which they sell their artworks. Go and meet these craftspeople, talk to them and learn about their lives, art and local history. Just going around the city and watching the craftsman make complex toys from simple woodblocks is an experience in itself. Don’t forget to pick up some wooden toys, not only will they assist craftsmen, but you’ll also bring home a lovely and really excellent work of art.
4. Maravanthe Beach
Even if Kerala is God’s own country, the Maravanthe Beach is no less than heaven. Nothing so beautiful ever existed for us to lay our eyes on and hence, this beach is highly recommended. One of a kind and extremely unique, Maravanthe beach is breathtaking with the Arabian Sea on one hand and the Souparnika River on another. With a line of clear, white sand running in between, the palm trees and blue sky are a splendid add-on to this dream destination. Indulge in the exquisite view as you go for a boat ride in the river, visit the nearby temples and relish the fresh tender coconut to end your day!
We’ve all heard of the historical city of Hampi, but have you ever heard of a city older than Hampi, situated right here in Karnataka? Yes, located in the Koppal district, Anegundi has countless beautiful places to visit. The historical significance of this village is plenty. According to the locals, Anegundi is said to be the former kingdom of the Monkey king Sugreev, Kishkinda, and is also the birthplace of Hanuman. If you visit Anegundi, make sure to check out the Hunchappayana mattha, Aramane, Kamal Mahal, and many other worthwhile attractions.
Located in its namesake district, Bidar is mainly known for its archaeological sites, historical heritage, and pilgrimage spots. It is extremely famous for its artisanal hand-crafted items and is an important Sikh pilgrimage center. Moreover, Bidar also contains the nation’s second-largest Air Force training center. This historical city has been in the hands of numerous dynasties, from the Maurya’s to Tuglaq’s. Indulge in magnificent tourist destinations such as the Bidar Fort, Rangeen Mahal, and more.
Bylakuppe, a place so serene and majestic you’re sure to fall in love with it! Bylakkupe is a refugee settlement consisting of Tibetan monks who migrated to India in the 1960s. It is considered to be the largest Tibetan settlement in the world and is often referred to as ‘little Tibet’. And ‘little Tibet’ it is! A drastic contrast from the rest of the state, Bylakuppe is flooded with about 70,000 or more monks. As soon as you enter the place, I guarantee you that you’ll feel a reverberation of reverence and serenity floating in the air. Make a point to notice the different shops, schools, and nurseries. To get a true sense of the impressive Tibetan culture, visit the various monasteries, such as the Namdroling Monastery, Tashi Lunpo Monastery, and Sera Monastery. Although it is lesser-known, Bylakuppe gets thousands of visitors every year who wish to learn more about the Tibetan culture.
Situated near Sirsi, this ancient town in Karnataka is known for its temples. Once upon a time, Banavasi was the glamorous capital of the Kadamba dynasty of Karnataka and has some of the oldest architecture in Southern India. Be sure to pay a visit to the Madhukeshwara Temple and if you can, attend the grand Kadambothsava festival in December.
Gokarna is one of the many temple towns found in Karnataka and is a significant pilgrimage center in Hinduism. The main deity worshipped is Lord Shiva who is said to have appeared from the ear of a cow here. Gokarna is blessed with plenty of beaches, waterfalls, and temples along with fascinating natural beauty.
The ‘desert town’ of Karnataka, Talakadu is situated near the famous Kaveri River. The origins of the unusual name of the town, have a story behind them. The brothers Tala and Kadu saw a special tree that attracted several wild elephants. With intent to know more about the tree, they decided to cut it down. Upon cutting the tree, the brothers discovered that the tree housed a Shiva idol and the elephants were rishis in disguise. Thus, the town was named after the brothers. Erstwhile containing over 30 temples, these temples are now under the sand. However, the 5 Shiva temples (lingams) which are known to represent the faces of Shiva deserve to be seen. Enjoy the folk culture and numerous legends believed in this area to get a memorable experience!
11. Bandaje falls
If you’re tired of the grey, monotonous city life and are dying for a quick getaway to brush off your worries, trust me, there isn’t a better place to visit than Bandaje falls! Located in Manipal, the Bandaje falls is nestled away in the arms of Mother Nature. Although it is not as high as many other waterfalls in Karnataka, it is the perfect spot to gain a renewed freshness under the clear gushing waters, cool air, and rich greenery. The area is accessible by any automobile and is especially ideal for an adventure trek amongst the youngsters. Bandaje falls is indeed everything you need, packed in a quaint little package!
A colossal treasure of historical heritage and architecture built in the reign of Adil Shah, Bijapur is indispensable in Karnataka. It is officially known as Vijayapur or ‘The City of Victory’ and each region within the city is known to harbor its historic significance. Bijapur has had a long line of rulers, ranging from the Yadava dynasty to the Adil Shahi. Among many of the major tourist attractions include Gol Gumbaz, Malik-i-Maidan, Ibrahim Rauza, and Bara Kaman.
An extremely important pilgrimage center, Udipi is packed with clean and beautiful temples. The term ‘Udipi’ has been taken from ‘Udupu’ meaning moon. Along with housing the famous Krishna Temple, Udipi is also known for being one of the most rapidly growing cities in Karnataka and the famous Udupi cuisine has also been originated from here. Visit the various points of interest, such as the St Mary’s island, Sri Chandramooleshwara Temple, and many more to have a splendid time.
An epitome of life and splendor, Dandeli is the place you’ve got to be if you love adventure. Located on the rocky Western Ghats, it is mostly famous for its lush, undisturbed greenery and the wide range of adventure sports arranged. You can either delve into history by visiting the various temples, or you can go hiking, kayaking, or biking for an adrenaline rush. The Dandeli Wild Life Sanctuary is just as exciting to visit, with a plethora of flora and fauna ready to amaze you.
The Church of Shettihalli is a beautiful example of gothic architecture in India and is sometimes referred to as the Submerged Church and the Floating Church. Built by the French missionaries towards the end of the 1800s, the church became an abandoned site in the 1960s, when the Hemavati Dam and Reservoir began to be built.
In order to properly appreciate their surreal splendour, one has to visit Shettihalli’s ruins twice a year – once between July-October when it is submersed and next Dec-May when the water retreats and church ascends to its full splendour.
16. Karighatta Hill
Karighatta, often known as “Black Hill,” is a hill a few kilometres away from Srirangapatna’s island city. This is an astonishing place with a view of the junction of the rivers Lokapavani and Cavery, which is 2.967m above sea level. While it is a location of tremendous religious and spiritual importance, the natural beauty and serenity of nature bring many people from Mysore and Bangalore here. The mention of Karighatta is found in old books such as the Varaha Purana, with the term Neelachala or Blue mountains being used for it. Due to the awe-inspiring scenery, countless Kannada and Tamil movies and TV serials highlighted the hills and narrow valleys through which Cauvery and the River Lokapavani run. The rivers and their tributaries flow quickly through the enclosed valleys and are bordered on the bank by trees and several modest shrines. The east part of the hill has a path that climbs directly towards the peak with enormous rocks and trees and is a great place for adventures, nature lovers and shutterbugs.
Honnemaradu is a modest village in the backwaters of Sharavathi River, a little town nestled in the gorgeous stretch of Western Ghats forests with a village named reservoir, and an island in the middle of it. The name of Honnemaradu was taken from the Honne tree. Apart from that ‘Honnemardu’ literally means ‘Golden Lake.’ This may be a reference to it being located on the backwaters of the river Sharavathi.
In addition to different adventure sports, the beautiful surroundings of Honnemaradu are sought after by campers and walkers for its magnificent landscapes that open up the way for the radiant sunset and wonderful opportunities for bird watching.
18. Ottinene Secret Beach
The very existence of Ottinene is quite unknown to the general public hence its name stands true. Ottinene Beach is located in the region of the Udupi district of Kundapur taluk. The stretch of the lovely beach is full of waves that hit steep mountains. The palms are high and swing to the brisk wind, soothing the water. The scenery of the beach, surrounded by lush green forests overlooking the sea, is breathtaking, located under a little hillside that houses the Someshwara temple. In addition to this, the river Sumana Estuary merges into the Arabian Sea, which makes sense why it had once been selected “the Most Exotic Beach in India.” A long walk rejuvenates the body and the sunset is especially memorable. It is a place to which you want to return over and over again.
19.Guru Nanak Jhira Sahib
Located in the Bidar region of Karnataka, this place is a holy shrine dedicated to Guru Nanak, the first teacher of Sikhism. The shrine was constructed in the year 1948 and is situated amidst lush greenery to soothe its devotees. An interesting legend says that once Guru Nanak visited Bidar and found out that the city was suffering from a terrible, crushing famine. Guru Nanak performed a marvelous miracle to relive his devotees: he created a water spring from a rock mountain. The spring exists to this very day and is considered especially medicinal. Guru Nanak Jhira Sahib is also known for its langar and Amrit Kund which is a beautiful pond, collecting water from the springs.
Located in the Dakshin Kannada district, Southadka is a wonderful pilgrimage destination. The unique name of the place translates into the ‘cucumber field’. According to local sources, the place gets its name from when the royal Ganpati idol was taken to a field of cucumber to protect it from getting destroyed by the enemies. The farmers of the field wanted to build a temple for their Lord. But instead of building a temple, they kept the idol in the open air (to avoid any restrictions). Even today, the idol of Lord Ganpati sits amidst the green surroundings, attracting pilgrims often
After reading this article, I sincerely hope that you have gotten a glimpse of the simple, yet enchanting beauty that is Karnataka. A must-visit with your family, friends, or even by yourself, these places are nothing short of a jewel waiting to be unearthed. So which place would you visit first? Take your pick!