The state of Karnataka is blessed with all possible gems of nature. The rocky mountains of the Eastern Ghats, the sandy beaches of the Arabian Sea, lush green forests, sparkling water bodies, exotic coffee plantations, and a rich ancient culture influenced by the Chalukya and Rashtrakuta dynasties, all come together to give a holistic travel experience. While all these natural treasures are spread across the state, a major part of it is concentrated around the northern stretch.
Must-visit places in North Karnataka
Southwards from Goa, at about 86 Km, is the old coastal town of Karwar, surrounded by the Arabian Sea on the west, the Sahyadri Mountains on the east, and flanked by the Kali River on north and south. With 300-year old forts and temples, ancient European colonies, the town is steeped in a rich legacy of its own. The highlight of Karwar, however, is its local culture, defined by its delectable coastal cuisine and vibrant traditional festivals. Don’t forget to sample the freshest of fishes, oysters, clams, crabs, rice and coconut dishes, made with ethnic spices and regional warmth. If you are in time, you can witness the Sao Jao and the Karavali Utsav- two significant festivals of the local fishing communities.
Travel another 60 Km from Karwar and you will land at yet another exotic beach locale of Karnataka. With tranquil, virgin beaches on one side and divine vibes of ancient temples on the other, Gokarna earned its popularity among pilgrims, explorers, hippies, and peace-seekers. The Mahabaleshwar temple is the most popular and prominent sight with a view of the sea.
Eastwards from the northern coast of Karnataka, in the Uttara Kannada district, you will find the verdant landscape of Dandeli. The nearest major city is Hubli. You can avail of a cab service in Hubli to reach Dandeli. A perfect place for both adventure and relaxation, this vast stretch of greenery offers a quiet retreat amidst the dense foliage of teak and bamboo trees. The nature trails, thick forests, river rapids, rich in wildlife, Dandeli offers thrilling activities like river rafting, camping, forest trekking, boating, mountain biking, jungle safari, among others. Enjoy an occasional glimpse of the Black Panther, Sambar deer, bison, Malabar giant squirrels, iguana, gaur, pangolin, antelopes, bears, and more wild species.
A heritage town, the ancient city of Hampi is one big monument on its own. The 500-year old ruins and relics that still remain today, reflect traces of its golden years from the days of the Vijayanagar Empire. The grandeur of its old palaces, ornately carved stone temples, public buildings, etc. makes Hampi a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The rocky boulders of granite and sandstone add to the earthy vibes and invite art, architecture, and history lovers of all over the world.
Yet another historic locale, Badami, at about 140 Km from Hampi, is famous for ancient, rock-cut caves. The Badami cave system is an expansive complex comprising Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temples cut out of sandstone, which date back to the 6th century. These caves are not only one of the oldest of the Deccan region but also make to the list of famous caves in India and South Asia.
The quiet town of Belgaum sits on the northwestern part of Karnataka and is a flourishing modern settlement. Its natural landscape and modern history make for a fine balance of man-made and natural wonders like the Belgaum Fort, Kamala Basti, St. Mary’s Church, Godachinmalki Falls (one of the largest and most popular of the region), Jamboti hills, and Vajrapoha Falls. You can rent a car in Belgaum and go around the town or for day trips to the exotic locations in the vicinity. If you are a first-time traveler to Karnataka, you can start from its northern fringes and experience different flavors of the state in one place.
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