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10 Best Historical Places In Karnataka To Visit

Nestled in the southern part of India, Karnataka is a land rich in history and these are the best historical places in Karnataka to visit when there.

With a heritage dating back to ancient civilizations and dynasties, the state is a treasure trove of historical places that offer a glimpse into the lives, traditions, and achievements of its ancestors.

Historical places In Karnataka

From splendid temples that reflect the intricacies of Dravidian architecture to majestic forts that narrate tales of valour, the historical places in Karnataka stand as a testament to the passage of time.

Hampi Group of Monuments

The Hampi Group of Monuments is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is easily the number one choice for historical places in Karnataka to visit.

It encompasses the ruins of the medieval city of Vijayanagara, which was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire from the 14th to the 16th centuries. The site is known for its exceptional architecture, intricate carvings, and historical significance.

The Vijayanagara Empire was a powerful South Indian kingdom that flourished during its peak from the 14th to the 16th centuries. The empire’s capital, Vijayanagara, was one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the world at that time. The city was filled with impressive structures, grand temples, majestic palaces, and bustling markets.

The Hampi Group of Monuments includes various religious, residential, and royal structures, reflecting the diverse cultural and architectural influences of the time.

Out of all the truly ancient places in India, Hampi is a must-visit.


Historical places in Karnataka - Mysore palaces.

Mysore is famed for its palaces and is one of the best places in India outside of Rajasthan to see some epic palaces. This was my favourite out of all the historical places in Karnataka that I saw.

The Mysore Palace, also known as the Amba Vilas Palace, is the most iconic landmark of Mysore and one of the most visited tourist attractions in India. It is a magnificent example of Indo-Saracenic architecture, blending Indian, Islamic, and European architectural styles.

The palace was originally built in the 14th century but underwent multiple renovations and reconstructions over the centuries. The current structure was built in the early 20th century after a fire destroyed the previous palace.

The palace is characterized by its stunning domes, intricately carved arches, beautifully painted ceilings, and ornate interiors.

The palace is surrounded by lush gardens and is illuminated with thousands of lights during special occasions, making it a breathtaking sight.

Inside, visitors can explore various chambers, halls, and courtyards, each adorned with exquisite artworks, intricate frescoes, stained glass windows, and an impressive display of royal artefacts.

Find hotels to stay in Mysore here.

Badami Cave Temples

The Badami Cave Temples is another historic place in Karnataka that should be seen and is located in the north of the state. They are a complex of Hindu and Jain temples built inside caves and on the side of cliffs.

The Badami Cave Temples were carved out of the sandstone cliffs that surround the Agastya Lake. They were constructed during the reign of the Chalukya dynasty, primarily between the 6th and 8th centuries CE.

The Chalukyas were known for their patronage of art and architecture, and the cave temples at Badami are a testament to their artistic achievements.

There are four main cave temples at the site, each dedicated to a different deity and showcasing unique architectural styles and sculptures.

Cave 1 (Shiva Cave): This cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva and features a massive 18-armed sculpture of Nataraja (the cosmic dancer) in its central hall.

Cave 2 (Vishnu Cave): This cave is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and includes a seated figure of Vishnu in his Varaha avatar (boar incarnation), rescuing Goddess Earth from the demon Hiranyaksha.

Cave 3 (Vishnu Cave): Similar to Cave 2, this cave also features sculptures of Vishnu in different forms.

Cave 4 (Jain Cave): This cave is dedicated to the Jain faith and features sculptures of Jain Tirthankaras and other Jain deities.

Bidar Fort

The Bidar Fort is a historic fortress located in the town of Bidar. It is an architectural marvel with a rich history that reflects the cultural, political, and strategic significance of the region and is one of the best historical places in Karnataka to visit.

The fort complex is known for its impressive structures, intricate carvings, and historical importance. The fort was initially built during the rule of the Bahmani Sultanate, a medieval Muslim state that ruled parts of the Deccan region.

The architecture of the fort exhibits a blend of Persian, Turkish, and Indian architectural styles and today, the Bidar Fort stands as a heritage site, attracting history enthusiasts, architecture lovers, and tourists interested in exploring the rich history and architectural splendour of the region.


Bijapur, also known as Vijayapura, is a historic city and was the capital of the Adil Shahi dynasty and is renowned for its architectural wonders, particularly its Islamic monuments that reflect the grandeur and artistic achievements of the Deccan Sultanates.

The city has a rich history that encompasses various dynasties and cultural influences.

The Gol Gumbaz is one of the most famous landmarks in Bijapur and one of the largest domes in the world. It is the mausoleum of Muhammad Adil Shah, the seventh ruler of the Adil Shahi dynasty. The main attraction of Gol Gumbaz is its central dome, which is known for its remarkable acoustic properties.

A whisper at one end of the whispering gallery can be heard clearly at the other end, thanks to the dome’s unique design.


Pattadakal, located in the northern part of the state of Karnataka, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its group of temples that showcase a remarkable blend of architectural styles from North and South India.

The temples at Pattadakal are a testament to the rich cultural and religious history of the region, reflecting the influences of different dynasties that ruled during its time.

The temples at Pattadakal were primarily built during the Chalukya dynasty’s rule in the 7th and 8th centuries. The Chalukyan rulers were known for their patronage of art and architecture, and the temples at Pattadakal display their expertise.

Pattadakal is home to a group of nine major temples, along with several smaller shrines and remains. These temples represent both Dravidian (South Indian) and Nagara (North Indian) architectural styles, showcasing a unique blend of influences.


Halebeedu, also known as Halebidu, is a small town famous for its stunning Hoysala architecture. It was once the regal capital of the Hoysala Empire in the 12th century and is renowned for its intricately carved temples that showcase the artistic and architectural prowess of the time.

The Hoysaleswara Temple is the most famous and impressive temple in Halebeedu. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is known for its exquisite carvings and sculptures. The temple’s exterior walls are adorned with intricate depictions of gods, goddesses, mythological scenes, dancers, animals, and more.

The temple’s detailed workmanship is a testament to the Hoysala dynasty’s artistic achievements.


Aihole is an ancient town located in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. It is renowned for its historical and architectural significance, making it a prominent site for the study of early Indian temple architecture.

Aihole, along with Badami and Pattadakal, forms a trio of heritage sites collectively known as the “Cradle of Indian Architecture.”

The Durga Temple is one of the most famous and intricately designed temples in Aihole. It is dedicated to Goddess Durga and features a unique apsidal (resembling an apse) structure that was not commonly seen in temples of that era.

The Lad Khan Temple is one of the oldest temples in Aihole, dating back to the 5th or 6th century.

Ravana Phadi Cave Temple is known for its monolithic carvings, including a sculpture of Lord Shiva in his dancing form, Nataraja.

Kontigudi Group of Temples are a cluster of temples that includes the Kontigudi, Hucchimalli, and Huchiappayyagudi temples.

Nagareshwara Temple

The Nagareshwara Temple dates from the 12th century and is located inside Bankapura Fort, although the fort is now in a ruined state. It’s a historic Hindu temple located in the town of Begur near Bangalore (Bengaluru).

The Nagareshwara Temple is an example of Dravidian temple architecture, which is commonly found in Southern India. The temple’s design includes a sanctum (garbhagriha), a towered gateway (gopuram), a pillared hall (mandapa), and other structural elements characteristic of Dravidian temples.

The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva, worshipped in the form of Nagareshwara. Lord Shiva is often depicted as the deity who rules over the town or city (nagara), and this temple is dedicated to that form of Shiva.

Mirjan Fort

Finally, the Mirjan Fort should be on your list of historical places to visit in Karnataka if you have a big interest in forts.

The most famous forts in India tend to be in the north, especially in Rajasthan, but other parts of India have some epic forts to visit as well, like this one.

Mirjan Fort is located in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. Situated near the coastal town of Kumta, the fort holds both historical and architectural significance. It is known for its strategic location and picturesque surroundings.

Mirjan Fort has a history dating back several centuries. It was originally constructed by the rulers of the Vijayanagara Empire. Over time, it came under the control of various dynasties, including the Bijapur Sultanate and later the Marathas.

The fort’s location along the Arabian Sea coast made it an important strategic stronghold.

Historical Places In Karnataka

Those are 10 of the most famous historical places in Karnataka to visit. Visit at least one of these places when in the state for some epic history.

For more historical places in India have a look at the 15 best castles in India to visit.

And for travel in India in general take a look at my guides to India.

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