Exploring Karnataka's Temples, Beaches and Hills

  • By Sanjay Goel
  • April 2, 2024
  • A day by day our account of nine days spent visiting Karnataka’s Temples, Beaches and Hills. Yeah Dil Mange more.

While we began our holiday had planned only the Coffee Belt in Chikmagalur and Murdeshwar. In reality, it turned out to be a beautiful pilgrimage with so many well known, devout, pious and well revered temples on the way. It was an absolutely divine experience. We visited in February 2024.

Here is a day by day account of our ten day trip with pictures.  

Day 1 Night Stay at Belur KSTDC Hotel

Our journey through Karnataka's cultural and natural treasures began with a visit to the Halebidu Kedareshwara Temple. Nestled amidst ancient ruins, this temple stands as a testament to the architectural brilliance of the Hoysala kings. The intricate carvings and imposing structures left us in awe of the craftsmanship of bygone eras.

“The temple is perched on a star-shaped base, is a sculptural extravaganza. Its walls are richly carved with an endless variety of deities, sages, stylised animals, birds depicting the lives of the Hoyasala kings. Halebidu was earlier referred to as Dorasamudra or Dwaravathi due to existence of a tank at entrance to village.

Temple entrance on south side is called Royal Entrance. Both are doorkeepers or dwarapalas. 

The Shikharas above the garbagrihas have vanished. There is a dancing hall inside the temple. 

Since it is a Shiv Mandir, there has to a Nandi. Temple built in built in 1219 a.d.

Dwarpalas with Lingam in centre of pic. 

Albums on Halebidu Temple – One and Two, Halebidu Jain Temple

Next on our itinerary was the Chennakesava Temple at Belur, another marvel from the Hoysala period. The temple was built by King Vishnvardana in 1116 a.d. and took 103 years to complete. It’s intricate sculptures and detailed carvings narrate stories of gods, goddesses, and mythological creatures, offering a glimpse into Karnataka's rich mythological heritage.

“The temple is made of soft soapstone with very intricate carvings. Standing on a platform the temple is 178 feet long (east west) and 156 feet broad (north west). Do see external walls, sculptures of dancing maidens and images of various manifestations of Lord Vishnu. The temple tank was built in 1175 a.d.”

Gopuram built by Vijaynagar king. In centre is flag post. Temple dedicated to Bhagwan Vishnu. 

Entrance of temple sanctum.

You see bracketed figures called Madanikas. Note their clothes design. 

Lady has bird on her left hand. Many sculptures of ladies with mirror and playing musical instruments. 

Centre is Narasimha  avatar of Lord Vishnu killing demon Hiranyakashyap.

Nagnakalabhairava - Shiva holding a trishul, sword, kapala with demon head decorated in skulls and snakes. Look at the platform below his paduka (feet) indicate wooden footwear.

Albums of Belur Temple – Album One and Two

Day 2, 3 and Night Stay at Chikmagalur - Winter Valley Home Stay

Leaving behind the temple architecture, we ventured into the serene beauty of nature at Chikmangloor's Mullayanagiri Hills. Trekking through lush greenery and misty trails, we reached the summit to behold breathtaking panoramic views of the Western Ghats, a reminder of Karnataka's diverse landscape. Additional highlight was the most memorable lunch at The Estate Cafe in the hills surrounded by Coffee/Pepper plantations.

Our journey continued to the enchanting Jhari Falls, where cascading water amidst countryside surroundings provided a refreshing escape from the bustling city life. The rhythmic sound of the waterfall and the cool spray rejuvenated our spirits, making it a memorable stop on our trip.

Day 5 Night Stay at Sringeri Hosanane Farm Inn

As we delved deeper into Karnataka's spiritual heritage, we visited the Horanadu Annapoorneshwari Devi Temple. Devotees thronged the temple, seeking blessings from the goddess of nourishment, while the tranquil surroundings offered solace to weary souls.

Our pilgrimage (with so many temples of value and belief being visited, we actually started feeling that we were on a pilgrimage). This lead us to Shringeri Maa Sharada Peeth, a revered seat of learning and spirituality. The peaceful ambiance of the temple complex, set against the backdrop of the Tunga Bhadra River, instilled a sense of serenity and introspection.

Gopuram at Sringeri Mutt

Albums Sringeri Mutt and Annashetra Sringeri Mutt

Day 6 Night Stay at Murudeshwar RNS Guest House

Moving towards the coast, we reached Murudeshwar (with a brief stopover at Kundapur - Shetty's Lunch Home for lunch not missing on most recommended Ghee Roast Prawns), where the towering statue of Lord Shiva overlooking the Arabian Sea captivated our senses. The blend of religious fervour and natural beauty made it a captivating destination. A ride up to the 18th floor of the Gopura provided a breathtaking aerial view of the Temple, Shiva Statue and Sea. The Sea Beach was clean and serene.

Murdeshwar also has a lovely beach. 

Left Gopuram. Om Namah Shivay.

Album on Murdeshwar

Day 7&8 - Night Stay at Udupi Paradise Isle Resort on Malpe Beach

Our coastal exploration continued at Udupi's Malpe Beach, where golden sands stretched as far as the eye could see. We savoured fresh seafood delicacies (Surmai, Anjal etc) and soaked in the vibrant atmosphere of this popular seaside retreat.

Immersing ourselves in the cultural hub of Shree Krishna Muth and Manipal Hast Shilp Kala Kendra, we witnessed the rich tapestry of Karnataka's traditional arts and crafts. Intricately woven textiles, vibrant paintings, and skilled craftsmanship reflected the state's artistic legacy.

Pics of Manipal Hast Shilp Kala Kendra. 

Day 9 Night Stay at Mudigere/Sakleshpur Meeslu Mane - The Chic Homestay

Our journey concluded with visits to the Karnakal Gomateshwara Temple and Dharmasthala Sri Manjunatha Temple. Each temple exuded its unique spiritual aura, drawing devotees from far and wide to pay homage to their respective deities. On the way, we also came across St. Lawrence Minor Basilica at Karnakal and Shri Ram Kshetra Mandir at Dharmasthala. Both these places were an excellent piece of architecture. Shri Ram temple was most beautiful and well maintained with pure white marble statues of Shri Ram and all deities including nine Devis and Navagraha.



Albums of Karkala and Dharmashtala

Day 10 - Journey back to Bangalore

As we bid farewell to Karnataka, we carried with us memories of its vibrant culture, majestic temples, serene hills, and picturesque beaches, reaffirming the state's status as a treasure trove of heritage and natural splendour. 

And the icing on the cake was the most delicious west coast cuisine including the Sea Food and all the local dishes at Home Stays. And the most enjoyable was the drive through lush green forests including the Bhadra Wild Life Sanctuary and The Someshwara Wild Life Sanctuary. Negotiating through the sharp curves of the hill road though was a challenge - we loved it.

In our future trips to Karnataka we hope to cover Hampi, Badami Caves and Fort, Beaches of Gokarna, Mysore Palace, Forts of Chitradurga, Somnathpur Temple and more. 

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