Karnataka is a state in Southern India that stretches from Belgaum in the north to Mangalore in the south. It has a coastal region with numerous coconut trees and beautiful beaches and an interior with mountains, valleys and farmlands. Karnataka is the 7th-largest state in India in area and 8th-largest by population. Karnataka is bordered by Maharashtra in the north, Goa in the north west, Tamil Nadu in the south east, Kerala in the south west, Andhra Pradesh in the east and Telangana in the north east.


A map showing where Karnataka is in India


There are many cities in Karnataka. These are some of the more notable:

Other destinations

Below is a selective list of sites of interest in Karnataka. It is far from exhaustive. For other sites, check regional articles.

Stone Chariot of Hampi

Wildlife hotspots

Wildlife in Karnataka is administered under such institutions as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and bird sanctuaries initiatives.

Karnataka has 5 declared national parks that abound in diverse flora and fauna, including:



Modern-day Karnataka has been ruled by various kingdoms and empires throughout its long and varied history.

The Vijayanagara Empire ruled over much of what's now Karnataka and the larger Deccan Plateau from the mid 13th to the mid 16th century. The ruins of Hampi provide a glimpse into the splendor of the Vijayanagara Empire.

The Kingdom of Mysore in the early 14th century was centered around their capital city of Mysore which was then a small town ruled by the Wodeyar Dyanasty. The kingdom remained small till the 16th Century.

The Bijapur Sultanate rose into prominence after defeating the Vijayanagara Empire in 1565. Bijapur was the Capital of the Adilshah Dynasty which ruled the region. Bijapur is a historic place with lots of archaeological sites — most notably Gol Gumbaz, the largest dome in Asia.

After the defeat of the Bijapur Sultanate by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in the mid 16th Century the Wodeyar Dynasty expanded the Mysore Kingdom by leasing land from Aurangzeb. This enabled the kingdom to remain prominent.

In 1857 the British took over what is now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and this period of rule was known as the British Raj.

The Wodeyars continued their rule as an independent kingdom under the British Raj by paying tribute till India's independence in 1947. After India's independence the Kingdom of Mysore became an Indian state. The city of Mysore has so many surviving palaces that it is known today as the "City of Palaces".

The Wodeyars' immense contribution in various fields - education, arts, governance, industry and infrastructure, to name but a few - laid the foundation for the rise of Karnataka after India's independence.


Mysore Painting - Mysore is famous for the Mysore style of painting that is well-known for its attention to detail. Some of the best examples of this style are inside the Mysore Palace.

Flora and fauna

Karnataka is known for its wealth of flora and fauna. Around 25% of India's elephants and 10% of its tigers are in Karnataka. Many regions in Karnataka are as yet unexplored, leading to new discoveries of flora and fauna. The Western Ghats teem with wildlife and are an acknowledged bio diversity hotspot.


Road Sign in Bangalore

Kannada is the official language of the state and the mother tongue of around 70% of the population. Although Kannada is spoken all over the state, dialects of the language spoken in each of the regions differ from each other. Regional dialects in the state are influenced by the languages of neighbouring states, and sometimes a person from the South Karnataka region may find it difficult to understand the Kannada spoken in the North Karantaka region. English and Hindi are spoken by most educated people as well as those in major cities.

In the districts along the borders of neighbouring states, people do speak multiple languages and many of them can speak the language of their neighbours across the border. In the Northern Karnataka region, many people can understand Hindi/Urdu in the districts of Bidar, Gulbarga and Yadgir and Telugu in Raichur and Bellary districts, while in the Belgaum and Bijapur districts bordering Maharastra in the Northwestern Karnataka region, people can speak Marathi.

Get in

By plane

Kempegowda International Airport in the state capital of Bangalore is the 4th-busiest airport in India, connecting with major state capitals and cities as well as 20 international destinations.

Mangalore International Airport serves primarily the Gulf region, and domestically, the Four Metros - New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai and the state capital of Bangalore.

By train

Karnataka is served by South Western Railway and connected to all major railway stations across the country. Major junctions are Bangalore, Hubli, Mysore.

Rajdhani - superfast fully air-conditioned trains connecting India's capital New Delhi with Bangalore. This is a long distance train which takes just under 34 hours to cover the journey.

Shatabdi - superfast fully air-conditioned day trip trains which connects the state capitals and important cities with Karnataka.

By car

A number of national highways link Karnataka with the neighboring states of Maharashtra, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Pondicherry, Goa and Tamil Nadu.

By bus

Karnataka government-owned and -operated Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) connects Karnataka with the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Goa and the Union Territory of Pondicherry . KSRTC provides trip planning, hotels and ticketing on KSRTC as well as smartphone apps for Android and IOS. KSRTC reservation counters are available at their bus terminals and their numerous dedicated travel agents located across the state. Discounts are provided for return journeys purchased online. KSRTC has dedicated bus terminals across Karnataka and in other states use dedicated sections of the government-run Inter-State Bus Terminals (ISBT) that are run by respective state governments.

Other state-owned bus operators from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, Andhra Pradesh also provide inter-state bus services into Karnataka with dedicated ticketing services on their websites.

The numerous private bus operators also provide inter-state bus services into Karnataka. The private bus operators operate from the ISBT located in the states. They feature their own stops as well as schedules. Ticket booking for the various private operators is available on Redbus, Makemytrip as well as owned booking offices for most operators. Some larger private operators maintain individual websites for ticketing services. Travel agents across Karnataka provide bus tickets for the private bus operators.

Get around

By bus

KSRTC, mentioned in "Get in", also plies intra-state buses connecting most of Karnataka.

Services available:

The Subsidiaries of KSRTC provide bus services in Karnataka as follows:

Numerous private bus operator provide bus services for interstate areas, as well as to the neighboring states. Travel agents provide tickets as well as private package tours for various destinations across Karnataka.

By car

All major cities in Karnataka are well connected by a mix of national and state highways. Tolled roads are applicable on the newer highways as well as certain areas within Bangalore such as Bangalore Elevated Tollway located on the outskirts of Bangalore on the way to Hosur.

By plane

Kempegowda International Airport serves most domestic routes in India.

Mangalore International Airport also serves domestic destinations.

Domestic-only airports in Karnataka with varying service levels include Hubli, Belgaum, Hampi, Vidhyanagar and Mysore. These airports also connect with the Kempegowda International Airport in the state capital of Bangalore.

By train

Shatabdi - fast fully air-conditioned intercity trains connecting nearby important cities in the region. Shatabdi returns the same day to the point of origin.


Mysore Palace

Thanks to its long and varied history Karnataka has an interesting mix of religious sites, remnants of historical empires, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, national parks, bird sanctuaries, wildlife sanctuaries, palaces, forts, beaches, hill stations, caves and waterfalls.

Religious sites

Owing to the multi-religious influence in Karnataka through its history , there are a vast number of religious sites in Karnataka, some even dating from antiquity.


Jog Falls

Waterfalls are one of the major tourist attractions in Karnataka, many of which are primarily located in Cauvery Basin and Karavali regions. Best time to visit these waterfalls would be during rainy seasons or post-rainy seasons between August to October months. Jog falls near Sagara in Shimoga district is one of the highest waterfalls in India and Abbey Falls, Achakanya falls, Balmuri falls, Chunchanakatte falls, Gokak falls are some of the other well known falls among the many waterfalls of Karnataka.

Adventure Sports

Botanical and Rock Gardens

Mandya District

Bangalore Urban District


Scuba diving

Netrani Island

Pigeon Island (Netrani Island) lies about 12 Nm off the coast of Murudeshwar in Karnataka. It is a 4 hour drive from Goa, or can be reached by Konkan Railway, with Murudeshwar and Bhatkal being the nearest stations. The Dreamz Diving is the only local dives centers here. Please check in advance with them as quite a few times due to Navy training the place is closed for scuba diving.

The visibility here is generally in the 15-20m range and the dive sites are between 10 to 30m. Marine life is spectacular, with huge schools of Jacks, Barracuda, Triggerfish and Fusiliers. Many times giant Groupers, Black Tip Sharks, Kobias and Giant Tunas are spotted here, even Whales, Whale Sharks, Orkas, Dolphins, have been spotted by many divers at   Netrani Island.

Netrani is considered to be the best Dive Location from main land India which is accessible within a day's trip to Murudeshwar.

There are plenty of companies in Bangalore who arrange for weekend scuba diving trips to Netrani.


Trekking is the best way to discover the natural beauty of Karnataka. Trekking is the most popular adventure sport for the nature enthusiasts in Karnataka.

There are many places for trekkers starting form the southern parts of the Sahyadri hills to the Western Ghats of Kodagu. Most of the trekking places are found in Uttara Kannada (North Canara) district, Dakshina Kannada (South Canara) district, Shimoga district, Chikmagalur district and Kodagu district.

Kodagu and Chikmagalur districts cover unknown and very beautiful trekking places. These places are well known for beautiful mountain ranges, national parks, forests, wild animals and waterfalls.

The following are popular places for trekking in Karnataka.


Gokarna, Udupi and Shringeri are well-known centres for the study of Sanskrit and Hindu philosophy.


A typical lunch from Karnataka contains white rice, cucumber salad, potato chips, poppy sweet, lentils, yoghurt and bisibele bath.

Karnataka is known for a wide variety of local fast foods which are available at outlets everywhere. Some are standalone outlets while others are well known names with branches while others don't have branches. The outlets are self-service where you stand and eat, although some of the newer ones provide sit-down table service for a higher charge. The outlets are open throughout the day and popular during breakfast and lunch. Some outlets specialize, while others have more variety as indicated in their menus.

These are a few specialty dishes you can feast on in Karnataka:



Karnataka provides a wide variety of accommodation to suit the budget of every kind of traveller. The international chains like Hyatt are not limited to the state capital of Bangalore, but are also present at the smaller cities like Hampi as well with a similar experience as checking into London or Paris or for that matter New York City. The well known domestic hotel chains provide accommodation options at various price points with multiple hotels in some cities across the budget range. Home stays are a New and fast growing option for those who would like to experience the native life and are around places as divergent as Chikmagalur or even Nandi Hills.

The Karnataka-Govt owned Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) also runs in-house branded hotels which range from Budget to Luxury at many of the tourist destinations located around the state.


Budget hotels also called lodges are found near the transport hubs (railway stations and bus stands) as well as the central areas of most cities and towns. Meals are had at the nearby local fast food joint.


Medium range hotels comprise national and notable foreign chains with a range of options to suit the budget. Buffet breakfast is provided as part of the room charges or chargeable separately. In Bangalore for the Upper Medium Range hotels a continental breakfast (chicken variant is provided instead of pork - chicken sausage, chicken ham, chicken salami) and is provided alongside the typical South Indian breakfast of idli, vada, dosa, upma , etc as well as the local specialty items termed Today's Special. Some properties provide only South Indian buffet breakfast.


The High end 5-star and 5-star deluxe hotels are similar to what's offered across India's major cities with domestic as well as international chains and standalone properties. Multiple properties belonging to the same chain adhering to customer categories are found especially in Bangalore. Additionally in Bangalore breakfast includes continental breakfast, specific menu's typical of their target clientele (Japanese, South Korean, etc) and the specialties of various Indian Breakfasts like idli, vada, dosa, upma , poha, parantha with Dahi (curd) including Today's Special. One can try the local breakfasts to get a hang of the varied tastes of India.

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