Karnataka is a state in southwest India with Arabian Sea coastlines. The capital, Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), is a high-tech hub known for its shopping and nightlife. To the southwest, Mysore is home to lavish temples including Mysore Palace, former seat of the region’s maharajas. Hampi, once the medieval Vijayanagara empire’s capital, contains ruins of Hindu temples, elephant stables and a stone chariot.
The Hoysala dynasty’s 12th-century landmarks include Belur’s Chennakesava Temple and Halebidu’s Hoysaleswara Temple, with ornate carvings. Shravanabelagola draws Jain pilgrims to its hilltop, 17m-high Gomateshwara statue. Another pilgrimage town, Gokarna, is home to Om Beach, with 3 interconnected bays. In Karnataka’s far north, Badami’s cave temples, cut out of sandstone cliffs, date to the 6th century. The walled city Vijayapur (Bijapur) has 2 grand medieval Muslim mausoleums, Ibrahim Rauza and Gol Gumbaz. Near Mysore, Bandipur and Nagarhole national parks are tiger reserves. Jog Falls is a plunge waterfall reaching 250 meters.
Nov–May, generally dry and cooler than other times, is a popular travel period. Karnataka has a tropical climate. Coastal areas and the Western Ghats mountains receive high rainfall, while the interior is much drier. Jun–Oct is the monsoon season. Mysore’s Dasara (Sep/Oct, dates vary) is a Hindu festival with a huge procession featuring dancers, traditional costumes and decorated elephants. Diwali (Oct/Nov, dates vary), the Hindu festival of lights with street illuminations and fireworks, is celebrated statewide.
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