A multiple choice question - What is Karnataka?
1. A state in Southern India where the temperature, in most areas, is uniformly cool and pleasant during most of the summer.
2. A state with a plethora of amazing monuments and sights, with the crown jewel being the incredible and surreal city of Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
3. A state that has incredible natural beauty, ranging from massive granite formations to lush rain forest and mountain resort areas such as legendary Coorg.
4. A state that has some of the best wildlife viewing in all of India, with tigers and large elephant herds and even the elusive leopard.
5. A state with a diverse cultural base that ranges from the modern lifestyles of cosmopolitan Bangalore, to colorful rural communities with a higher standard of living then most other states in India.
6. A state with a unique, delectable cuisine that, although distinctly Indian, has its own special flavors and characteristics, honed by millennia of local evolution.
7. A state with world class lodging options for travelers, ranging from small boutique resorts like the amazing Orange County Resorts, to incredible architecture that is both luxurious and environment friendly like Coorg's Taj Vivanta, situated in the middle of a rainforest.
Answer: All of the Above.
Karnataka is obviously a year around destination with its temperate climate and great selection of attractions that cater to all travelers’ tastes. It should really be a must for anyone touring India in summer because of the cool weather when compared to most destinations in India.
The one drawback is that most of the hotels and resorts do not offer the steep discounts available in most of India during summer as they are aware of the fact that they are a preferred destination during that period. An ideal itinerary could allow you to explore the Golden Triangle and then take you to Karnataka for the rest of your time in India.
Besides Hampi, what else should one experience in Karnataka?
There are many other alluring options and I will go into them in detail over the next few weeks. Below is a brief description of some of them:
India is a nation that has more exquisite ancient stone sculptures than all of Europe combined. Yet, even in India theearly 12th century temples at Belur and Halebudst and out for the level of detail and intricacy in the thousands of incredible sculptures that adorn them. The Serai Lodge at Chikmagalur offers boutique luxury lodging for those wanting to be spoilt, and the Taj Gateway has comfortable accommodations located among gorgeous gardens for those not requiring the pinnacle of luxury.
Just a few hours from Bangalore are the scenic wildlife parks, Nagarhole (Rajiv Gandhi) National Park and Bandipur National Park. Both parks offer a large variety of wildlife, including hundreds of unique avian species. A large number of wild elephants, frequent tiger and leopard sightings, as well as dozens of other species are found in these parks located on the banks of the scenic Kabini River.The Orange County Resort on the banks of the Kabini is a luxurious all-inclusive resort that offers excellent service and cuisine, as well as many activities besides the scheduled safaris into the park.
The Coorg area is an ideal place to relax and enjoy nature. The landscape is a lush combination of rainforest and coffee plantations, making Coorg a popular vacation destination for the affluent from Bangalore. The elevation of this portion of the Western Ghats ranges from 3000 feet to about 5600 feet above sea level and the scenery is spectacular with clouds meandering through the green hills. The Orange County Resort and Taj Vivanta offer very luxurious yet organic lodging and a number of local activities, including rural experiences.
The city of Mysore is the ancient capital of the region and is still considered the cultural hub of Karnataka. A short 3 hour drive from Bangalore, its most famous attraction is the Mysore Palace, this awe-inspiring and colorful structure is one of the most opulent palaces in the world. Various lodging options are available, including the magnificent but poorly maintained Lalitha Mahal Palace. Mysore really comes to life during the 10 days of the Dasara (Dussehra in North India) Festival period. There are 10 days of festivities culminating with the fascinating procession on the final day, locally known as Vijayadashami.