Some temples are culturally and historically significant, with several legends and folklore associated with them. Others are known for their architectural styles ranging from Dravidian to Hoysala and Chalukya. These temples present a treat from the past, being popular tourist attractions. Karnataka is home to hundreds of beautiful temples, irrespective of the religious sect.
Let’s admit it–Karnataka is a state with hundred(s) of temples. It becomes challenging for someone to pick which one time to visit and make a start out of them all. But the following are some names that made it to the list of must-visit temples in Karnataka–
Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Temple, Gokarna
While Gokarna is mainly known for its beautiful beaches, there is another reason why people flock to this place. The Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Temple draws a lot of devotees every year. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and people come here to perform the last rites of their kin.
The temple, perched on the bank of the two rivers Gangavali and Aghanashini, faces the Arabian Sea. The main idol of Lord Shiva here is around 1,500 years old and has a powerful vibe. Devotees are expected to cover their heads before entering the temple premises.
The best time to visit Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Temple would be during Shivaratri when the temple celebrates a grand festival.
Chennakeshava Temple, Belur
One of the most important tourist temples in Karnataka is the Chennakeshava Temple, located in Belur. Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana built this temple in 1117 AD to commemorate his victory over the Cholas. It took more than a century to build this temple. The Chennakeshava Temple is considered one of the best Hindu architecture and sculpture examples. The temple is designed with some of the best pieces of art carved in stone. The architecture of this temple is truly unique and worth your visit.
With Halebidu, which is only 16 km (9.9 mi) away, this is one of the major tourist destinations in Karnataka, India, and a valuable monument of religious and historical importance. Chennakeshava is known for its intricate sculptures and many relief friezes on its walls.
Chennakeshava Temple was established to promote Hoysala architecture, whose influence can be seen today. In ancient times, the site where the temple stands were called Dorasamudra or Dwarasamudra. The temple has three shrines; each has a vimana (tower above sanctum sanctorum). These shrines are connected through a common mandapa (hall).
Virupaksha Temple, Hampi
Virupaksha Temple is one of the oldest temples in Karnataka, located in Hampi. It was built in the 7th century AD by King Deva Raya II, dedicated to Virupaksha, a form of Lord Shiva.
Virupaksha Temple is a massive structure with many halls, gateways, shrines, and pavilions. The temple has nine tiers on the shikhara (central tower).
The temple received significant damage during the Sultanate attacks, and later it was rebuilt by Krishnadevaraya (1509 – 1529 AD) of the Vijayanagara Empire. He built many structures in the temple complex over the next two decades after his coronation.
In 1565, Mughal emperor Akbar attacked Hampi and defeated the Vijayanagara king Rama Raya. The city was looted for five months, and Mughals plundered all its riches. The temple escaped any damage during this attack due to an intervention by one of Akbar’s commanders, a Hindu convert.
Kedareshwara Temple, Balligavi
The Kedareshwara Temple is a temple to the Hindu god Shiva in the temple town of Balligavi. It was built in 1116 by Hoysala Empire King Vishnuvardhana. The temple complex is enclosed in a 20 foot (6.1 m) high fortified wall and has two gateways, one facing east and the other facing north. The eastern entrance has a decorative architrave with a sculpture of the Hoysala emblem above it. The northern gateway also has an architrave but without the Hoysala emblem.
The wall that surrounds the temple is built of dressed stone and brick and is about 1 meter (3 ft 3 in) thick. The plan of the temple is square. Three shrines are aligned on a north-south axis, each with a vestibule and connected by a common rectangular closed hall (called mandapa). The gallery has two rows of beautifully carved pillars into three sections (aranga)—the roof over the entrance, overhung by about a meter all round, supported by these pillars.
This arrangement produces two sets of main entrances to the temple and gives each shrine equal importance, with no single shrine being more significant than any other.
Mallikarjuna Temple, Pattadakal
The Mallikarjuna Temple is located in Pattadakal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple is famed for its architectural charm and being constructed in the Dravidian style.
The temple comprises three shrines, out of which two are dedicated to Lord Shiva and one to Lord Vishnu. This temple was designed so that the sun rays penetrate through the sanctum sanctorum during both sunrise and sunset. The front porch of the temple has beautiful sculptures.
The architecture of this temple is outstanding, and one can see the Dravidian style of architecture here. On one side of the inner sanctum, four pillars have sculptures of different deities. Moreover, you can see a demon sculpture on another pillar that Lord Shiva killed.
Vidyashankara Temple, Sringeri
Vidyashankara Temple (Vidyashankara Matha) is a 13th-century temple built by Vidyaranya in memory of his guru Vidyatirtha. It is situated in Sringeri, Karnataka, India. The temple was reconstructed and consecrated in 1273 CE.
This temple is an excellent example of the Hoysala style of architecture. Its star-shaped platform supports a cluster of shrines around a central shrine and an elaborate tower over each shrine. The outer walls are richly carved with figurative sculptures and intricately decorated with friezes and moldings.
Vitthala Temple, Hampi
Vitthala Temple is one of the famous ancient temples in Karnataka. The temple stands on the banks of the Tungabhadra river. It is a world heritage site constructed by Devaraya II in the 15th century. This unique temple was built with a carved stone chariot. The best time to visit the temple is from October to March.
The temple has 56 musical pillars that produce different sounds when tapped lightly with a finger. The main idol of Vitthala can be seen at the center of the temple, along with the sculptures of Garuda and Hanuman. There are two pillared halls inside the temple, adorned with beautiful carvings.
Kotilingeshwara Temple, Kolar
Kotilingeshwara Temple is a Hindu temple located in the Kolar District of Karnataka. The temple’s main deity is Lord Shiva, who is worshipped as Kotilingeshwara. The temple was constructed by Shri Sambhanayaka, the first Ganga King of the region, in 968 AD.
This temple attracts millions of pilgrims from all over the country because it has one crore lingas, about two feet tall. After you enter the premises, you will see two massive statues of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Both of these statues are more than fifty feet tall. The temple also houses a museum that displays photographs and articles related to the temple’s construction. The temple’s most exciting features are its 60-foot-tall gopurams.
Udupi Srikrishna Temple, Udupi
The Srikrishna Temple, Udupi, is one of the most famous Krishna temples in Karnataka. It was built in 1198 AD by Saint Madhvacharya, the founder of the Dvaita philosophy and one of the most popular Hindu saints. The temple is located in the Udupi district, a famous religious destination in India, and many devotees come here to see this stunning temple. This temple is a vital pilgrimage center for all Hindus.
Devotees flock to the temple devoted to Lord Krishna, who his followers believe to be the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The main deity was brought here by saint Madhvacharya and his four disciples from Dwarka when he went there during his pilgrimage. He got the idol from Raja Vidyadharaya, and then he consecrated it at Malpuri, which is now known as the Udupi district.
The temple has a unique structure and impressive architecture with its pyramidal-shaped tower called ‘Gopuram.’ The Gopuram has been constructed to look like an umbrella from outside. Still, it has no pillars inside except four at each corner.
Durga Gudi Temple
The Durga Gudi temple is a beautiful and peaceful place located in the western state of Karnataka, India. The temple was built in the early 1400s as a place for worship for Hindu devotees. It is still used as a worship place today, but it is also open to visitors who are interested in learning more about the religion or just want to admire the beauty of the architecture and location.
The temple has many features that make it stand out from other temples in Karnataka such as its large pillars and central dome. The top of the pillared hall has dome-shaped like an inverted lotus bud with beautiful carvings all around it.
A visit to Durga Gudi Temple will be an unforgettable experience for any traveler who wants to explore more about Hinduism or just enjoy their time in nature.
We all have our travel itineraries for planning a trip out of the city. Still, it is indeed comforting to know that temples are being built in our very own backyard. We can be a part of it whenever we please. So gear up for a trip or two with your family and be a witness as these temples go all gung-ho about their plans to develop and make spirituality more accessible to everyone living in Karnataka.