One of the world’s greatest archaeological treasures is the vast site at Hampi or more correctly Vijaynagara which was the original name of the city here. At one time the Vijayanagar Empire ruled over much of south India from here. Hampi today is a rather remote place but the rewards for anyone making the journey are significant. The remoteness serves to keep the area (which covers over 40 square kilometres) largely free of tourists and its sheer size means that space is never at a premium. Literally hundreds of small temples, vast compounds of royal buildings and such wonderful major buildings at the Elephant Stables make this one of the most fascinating tourist places in Karnataka, if not all of India. The rich history of Karnataka, which arguably had its heyday of influence between the 12th and 16th centuries CE, has left a legacy of spectacular sites including some of the most beautiful temples in India. The Hoysala style of temple architecture reached its apex with the neighbouring temples of Belur and Halebid in the south of the state.
A major pilgrimage site for people of the Jain religion is at Sravanabelgola is home to a massive monolithic statue of a Jain deity. At over 17 metres tall it is probably the largest monolithic statue in the world.Karnataka also boasts a long and very beautiful coastline and although much of this is still completely undeveloped from a tourist perspective, the beaches of the Konkan Coast in the states south are among the most serene and unspoilt in India. Another major draw for visitors to Karnataka are the state’s famous National Parks. The best known of these, Nagarhole and Bandipur, are located within easy reach of Bangalore and Mysore and are among the best places in the south of India to see tigers (Nagarhole) and elephants (Bandipur) along with a host of other unique and iconic species.