Karnataka Temples and Tourist Places

Karnataka state abounds with temples that have been influenced by various dynasties: the Badami Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas, the Kalyana Chalukyas, the Holysalas and the Vijaynagar Empire, which witnessed a period of great temple building activity.

The Bull Temple of Bangalore was built by Kempegowda. About 60 km north of Bangalore, the Nandi Hills, are two ancient temples: the Bhoganandeeshwara Temple at the foothills and the Yoganandeeshwara hill temple.

Ranganathaswamy Temple is situated in Shrirangapatna, where Lord Vishnu is worshiped as Ranganatha. Chamundeshwari Temple with 40 km high, seven storey gopuram lies on Chamundi Hill, just south of the imperical city of Mysore.

Ranganathaswamy Temple

About 50 km south-east of Mysore is Talakad, a historic site and once home to over 30 temples. But it is now largely buried under sand. The Vaidyeshwara Temple, along with four others – Arkeshwara, Vasukeshwara or Pataleshwara, Saikateshwara or Maraleshwara and Mallikarjuna constitute the Panchalingams. It is said that these five Lingams represents five faces of Lord Shiva. The Panchalinga Darshan is a rare pilgrimage that occurs once in 12 years, when the temple emerges from the sand dunes.

Near to Mysore is also Nanjangud, with an ancient temple dedicated to Shiva-Nanjundeshwara or Srikanteshwara. It has an imposing Rajagopuram and an array of sculptural work depicting mythological scenes.

Hassan is a suitable base from which to explore the Temples of Belur and Halebid and the Jain pilgrim centre of Shravanabelagola. About 50 km from Hassan is Belur, and has been extensively decorated with intricate sculptures, friezes and angled bracket figures. Gods and goddesses in various incarnations, sages, events from the Hindu epics, life in the Hoysala period… everything is depicted in a superb fashion. Every sculpture is different from other one. It is also said every major Hindu deity is depicted here.

Halebid, 16 km from Belur is Hoysaleshwara Temple, one of the most outstanding examples of Hoysala art. The interior as well as the outside walls are covered with an amazing variety of Hindu deities, sages, stylized animals and birds and spectacular friezes depicting the life of the Hoysala rulers.

About 58 km north of Mangalore, Udupi is an important Vaishnavite pilgrim centre. The Lord Krishna Temple is a magnificent point that draws pilgrims. Sringeri, 100 km north-east of Mangalore is Vidyashankar Temple that has zodiac pillars and a paved courtyard. Also in Sringeri are the Shri Sharadamba Temple and one of the mutts established by Adi Shankaracharya.

About 75 km east of Mangalore, Dharmasthala is regarded as the home of Dharma or righteousness. The temple complex houses a shrine to Lord Manjunatha and the Dharma Devathas.

Moodabidri, 35 km north-east of Mangalore consist 18 bastis (Jain Temples) and the oldest of them is the 15th century Chandranatha Temple.

About 50 km south of Karwar, Gokarna is home to several famous temples, including the Mahabaleshwara Temple, the Ganpati Temple and the Venkataramana Temple. Hampi, the most evocative of ruins in India, built as a showcase of imperial significance, reveals the love for art and architecture of the king of Vijaynagar. The Virupaksha Temple, dedicated to Virupaksha (Lord Shiva) has a massive 50 metre high gateway, finely carved columns and a ceiling painted with scenes from mythology.

The Vittala Temple, despite its ruined state is a World Heritage Monument and represents the highest achievement of art. Here, the 56 Musical Pillars echo with different notes of music, when tapped.

Some of the earliest and finest examples of Dravidian temples and rock-cut caves are Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal in North Karnataka. Once the capital of the Chalukyas, Badami is best known for its beautiful cave temples. Out of the four caves, Cave One, the oldest one is dedicated to Lord Shiva and consists of beautiful image of Nataraja striking 81 dance poses, a large image of Harihara and a huge figure of Ardhanareeshvara. Cave Two and Three are dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Cave Four is dedicated to Jainism with an image of the 7th Jain Thirthankara.

The village of Banashankari, 5 km south-east of Badami is home to an attractive Temple with a huge tank. Another early Chalukyan Temple repository, Mahakoota, about 10 km east of Badami was made sacred by the presence of Saint Agastya.

Pattadakal, 20 km from Badami, Known as the Cradle of Temple Architecture. The temples of Pattadakal represent the climax of Chalukyan architecture. The oldest temple here is the Sanghameswara Temple. The Mallikarjuna Temple is an ancient one. And the largest temple here, Virupaksha Temple has beautiful sculptures and panels depicting scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana.

On the banks of the River Malaprabha, Aihole has about 125 temples divided into 22 groups. Most of the temples were built between the 6th and 8th centuries. The Durga Temple is the largest and the most elaborately decorated temple. The Lad Khan Temple, the adobe of a Muslim prince, is one of the earliest temples belonging to the 5th century. There is a shrine bearing Vishnu and Surya on its walls.

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