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A look around some of Karnataka’s renowned heritage sites

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Today is World Heritage Day.  In the year 1982, the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) recognised this day as a special day to be celebrated throughout the world in the name of International day for Monuments and Sites.  ICOMOS was founded after a need to protect valued locations was recognised.  A team of architects, civil engineers, artists, archaeologists came together to work annually and ensure that few of the prominent and beautiful monuments and sites are preserved throughout generations.

This World Heritage Day let us explore the state of Karnataka and take a look at a few magnificent and beautiful heritage sites of the state.


Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh has been a common destination of many visitors who prefer peace and spirituality.

Bylakuppe is a Tibetan town which is lesser known and is one of the largest Tibetan settlements outside Tibet.  It was established for Tibetan refugees who fled from their country to India.  Tibetan diasporas have increased and are nurtured here ever since Jawaharlal Nehru asked the State Government of Karnataka to dedicate a town for the Tibetans upon Dalai Lama’s request.

Golden temple

Upon entering this town one feels as though one has travelled to an altogether different country.  Bylakuppe consists of two Tibetan refugee settlements that were set up in 1961 by Lugsum Samdumpling and Dickyi Larsoe in 1969 and is situated to the west of Mysore District in Karnataka. It is a small, beautiful town near Coorg.  The area is filled with monasteries.  Great Gompa of Sera Jey and Sea Mey are the most famous ones.  The beautiful and magnificent Golden Temple is a popular tourist attraction and has three glorious statues of Buddha Shayamuni, Padmasambhava and the Buddha Amitayus.


Somanathapura is home to the Keshava temple that took 58 years to build with 500 sculptors perpetually working on it.

Somanathapura is a Trikuta style star shaped temple with an elevated platform.  The temple was constructed in 1268 A.D. by Somanatha , the commander of the Hoysala army.  The Keshava temple is a perfect example of the superb architectural style of the Hoysala dynasty.  It is filled with intricate carvings, beautiful ceilings, pillars etc.  This temple which is the last major temple of the dynasty was built to mark the victory of the Hoysalas over the Cholas at Talakad.  The Keshava temple is a protected monument and is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

Somanathapura temple


Bidar is a city on the hill top located on the Deccan Plateau in the north-eastern part of Karnataka.  Bidar was once a part of the great Mauryan Empire.  Most of the monuments in Bidar were built during the Bahmani rule.  Bidar is home to the third largest gurudwara of India.  There are several tombs in and around Bidar and the centrally located one is the Fort of Bidar which is more than 500 years old and still stands strong.  The perimeter wall of this fort is said to be one of the longest.

The Historical Bidar Fort

Halebid and Belur

Halebid and Belur are the most popular temple towns of the Hoysala dynasty.  They give us an idea of the Hindu temple art of the 16th century.  Located in Hassan district, the temples are well- known for their carvings and splendid architecture.  The temples here are crafted from the soft stone called Chloritic Schist and also potray traditional ivory and sandalwood handwork.

Kedareshvara Temple


The main attraction of Halebid is Hoylsaleshwara and Kadareswara temples.  Two Nandi statues are present on the side of Hoylsaleshwara temple that are monolithic.  Halebid was previously known as Dwarasamudra.

Belur was once the capital of the Hoysala empire.  Belur’s primary attraction is Chennakeshava temple complex built by King Vishnuvardhana in 1117A.D.   It is said that it took 103 years to complete and the work was completed by Veera Ballala II, the grandson of Vishnuvardhana.

Chennakeshava temple at Belur.


Hampi is a town that is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is also referred to as the ‘City of Ruins’ and is a place of visit for millions of tourists.  The palaces, temples, monuments and structures totally make Hampi an amazing heritage attraction.  The ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire are scattered around Hampi.  The Virupaksha temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the most famous tempe of Hampi. Hampi is beautiful even in its ruined state and has over 500 monuments and other attractions.

Vittala Temple at sunset in Hampi

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Sharika Nair

Uncrowned Queen of certified PJs. Positive thinker. Writer . Author. Marathon Runner. Brand Marketing expert.

About the Author

Sharika Nair

Uncrowned Queen of certified PJs. Positive thinker. Writer . Author. Marathon Runner. Brand Marketing expert.

Read more from Sharika