Temples, Shrines And Spiritual Places Across Karnataka
Karnataka is known for its rich heritage sites, ancient temples, historic places, beautiful mountain ranges of Western Ghat (Sahyadri) and sun-kissed beaches. The name Karnataka is derived from the Kannada words ‘karu’ means ‘elevated’ and ‘nādu’ means ‘land’, literally meaning ‘elevated land’. A tour of famous temples in Karnataka is an enchanting gateway into the opulence and magnificence of its bygone eras. Impressive architecture, spectacular sculptures, breathtaking landscapes and divine ambience in its temples and monasteries combine to offer visitors a rejuvenating experience.
Religious tourism in Karnataka is best depicted by the colossal statue of Lord Shiva with the Arabian Sea as backdrop at the Murudeshwar Shiva Temple in Bhatkal. Another must-see for Shaivites is the Kotilingeshwara Temple in Kolar featuring the tallest Shiva linga in Asia. Aihole is home to 125 temples with the most famous being the 7th century Durga Mandir, known for its impressive and unique architecture.
The 1200 year old Mookambika Mandir in Kollur is a spectacular temple believed to be the area where Goddess Parvati killed the demon Mookasuran (Mahishasura). Famed as ‘Dakshina Kashi’ and revered as the most sacred pilgrimage center in Karnataka is the Mahabaleshwar Mandir in Gokarna dedicated to Lord Shiva. Ghati Subramanya near Bengaluru famed for snake worship is distinctive for its deities of Lord Subramanya and Lakshmi Narasimha carved as a single idol and facing opposite directions.
For a unique temple experience, head on to the Badami Cave Temples in Bagalkot dating back to 578 AD and featuring four temples. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most ancient temples in the state is the Vitthala Mandir, nestled amongst the ruins in Hampi and famed for its stone chariot. The 12th century Chennakeshava Mandir in Belur is famed for its stunning artwork that showcases life in the bygone eras.
Buddhism too has a delightful presence in Karnataka. The Dhondenling Tibetan settlement is home to five monasteries with the Dzogchen Monastery being the largest and most stunning. Bylakuppe near Mysore is home to another Tibetan settlement and the famous Namdroling Buddhist monastery known for its prayer wheels, majestic statues of Buddha and mystical ambience.
Jainism runs deep in the religious history of Karnataka. Thanks to the patronage of rulers from various dynasties such as the Mauryas, Hoysala, Kadamba and Chalukya, the state is now home to numerous Jain monuments dating back to as far as the 3rd century BC. Shravanabelagola is home to 106 Jain monuments, including 92 monuments in Chandragiri Hill, some of them dating back to 300BC. Do not miss the stunning Gommateshwara Statue in Shravanbelagola – a 57-feet tall, monolithic statue of Bahubali. It is believed that praying at the feet of nine statues of Tirthankaras at the Navagraha Jain Temple in Hubli will help appease graham doshas.
Sikhs can find spiritual solace at the various gurudwaras in the state. The Guru Nanak Jhira Sahib Gurudwara in Bidar known for its tranquil surroundings is historically significant as the place where Guru Nanak created a spring of fresh water in the region ravaged by famine. Another prominent Sikh pilgrimage center is the Guru Singh Sabha Gurudwara in Bengaluru.
With rich cultural heritage, captivating history and thousands of religious centers, Karnataka continues to mesmerize generations and offers a truly unique spiritual getaway.