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Karnataka - A state of rich cultural heritage

Updated on August 19, 2016

Great Vijayanagar and Mysore

In India, Karnataka is well-known for it's rich culture and arts. The ancient city of Vijayanagar(now called the Hampi ruins)in the Bellary district (close to Hospet), is a good example. This city was as big as the city of Rome.

Mysore, also is a cool city with many palaces. The fantastic palaces here, reflect the rich cultural and art pieces of ancient times. The support to arts and crafts given by the Wodeyars (rulers of Mysore ) during their reign can be seen here.

Bidar is another city situated in the north of Karnataka, famous for handicraft products. Tourists get attracted to these products which are called Bidari handicraft products. Bidar was prosperous during the period of 11th to 16th century. The magnificient structure of the great Mahmud Gawan Arabic University is reminiscent of the rich architecture of the Bahmani sultan era. The Bidar fort situated very close to the city is one of the biggest forts in India.

The Bahmani Sultanate was split into 5 splinter states in the year 1518, and came to be known as the Deccan Sultanates. Bijapur was one of them. It was ruled by the kings of the Adil Shahi dynasty during the period 1490 and 1686. The city of Bijapur owes much of its greatness to the king, Yusuf Adil Shah, the founder of the independent state of Bijapur. Bijapur is another tourist spot where you can see the world famous Golgumbuz and Bara kaman.

Read more - About places in Karnataka

Badami, Pattadakal, Aihole are all famous for their fine sculptures. They are the most visited places by the tourists.

Vijayanagar - Hampi, the city in ruins

Mohammed Gawan Arabic University, Bidar

Galaganatha temple at Pattadakal


Rulers supported all art forms here :

  The ancient rulers like Gangas, Kadambas, Hoysalas, Chalukyas, Pallavas, Rashtrakutas have all contributed significantly to the culture of Karnataka. Shanthala was a famous dancer, during the rule of Hoysalas. Her beauty and dance attracted the King Vishnuvardhana, and she became his princess. Hoysalas had constructed the famous Belur and Halebid temples, which is another tourist attraction here. The beautiful Madanikas or dancers sculpted on stones are well-known. Jakanachari was a famous sculptor at that time. Temple at Somanathapura is a beautiful piece of art, by Jakanachari.

Tall and famous Gomateshwara statue

Gomateshwara is a monolithic statue standing at 60 feet (18 m) above a hill in a place called Shravanabelagola in the Hassan district 195 kms from Bangalore.The statue was built by the Ganga minister and commander Chamundaraya in honour of Lord Bahubali of the Jain religion.

Other statues of Gomateshwara may also be seen at Venur, Dharmasthala and Karkala (black granite statue). But the one at Shravanabelagola is tallest.

Huge dance platform at Vijaynagar

Bharathanatyam pose in a stone carving

Vijayanagar rulers had some great scholars and artists during their times, too. King Krishnadevaraya's time was the golden period for Karnataka. Diamonds and other precious stones where sold on both sides of the street.

The splendour and richness of the empire became so well-known all over the world that it attracted a large number of scholars, travellers, merchants and visitors from far-off places such as China, Arabia and Europe. Temples and other beautiful stone carvings display their love for art. Vijaya vittala temple, Achyutaraya temple, Virupaksha temple, Lotus Mahal, Mahanavami dibba (a huge dance platform). The huge idols of Gods and goddesses here, prove their interest in culture and arts.

Mahakuta or Mahakoota group of temples near Badami is an example for Chalukyan period stone architecture. it is a town in the Bagalkot district. The style of art developed in the group of temples is a hybrid one, achieved by combining the typological features of the 2 basic architectural styles. It is considered as a peculiarity of the Karnataka state region and defines the beginnings of the Vesara style of art and architecture.

1000 pillared Jain temple at Moodabidri

Moodabidri near Mangalore

Moodabidri, is a small town just 35km from Mangalore. It is also called Jain Varanasi. There are many Jain temples including the famous 1000 pillared temple. It was built during the golden period of Vijayanagara, by Charukirthi Bhattaraka, a jain swamiji.

Bharathanatyam dancer

Bharathanatyam :

  Bharathanatyam is also a famous dance performed in Karnataka. Basically, this dance is from nearby state. But during the Mysore Wodeyars rule they introduced their own style, the Mysore style of Bharathanatyam. Many a people in the world get attracted to this and have learnt this beautiful dance. Beautiful expressions given by a Bharathanatyam performer, during her dance, breathes life and awakens emotions in the people who see it.

Mysore dasara :

Mysore or Mysuru is a place well-known for its magnificent palaces built during the reign of Wodeyars. Srirangapatna is a nearby place where King Tipu Sultan fought with British. His museum and tomb are located. Later the Wodeyars who ruled Mysore had a great passion for art and culture. The famous cultural show and procession known as Mysore dasara (on Vijayadashami day, the next day of Navarathri festival) was started by the Mysore rulers. It is well-known all over the world even to this day. Every year millions of people gather to look at the dasara procession. Apart from this, at many places of Karnataka, the processions of this kind could be seen, during Navarathri (For example at Mangalore). But the beauty of Mysore Dasara is Unique.

Dasara at Mangalore is a different experience. The long procession of the idols of Goddess Sharada is a beautiful sight to see here. The colorful tiger dance is a special dance performance at Mangalore and it's surrounding cities.

The famous Mysore palace

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi

Yakshagana artist

Famous classical music artist :

List of artists never end when it comes to Karnataka. Famous classical music singer, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is from Karnataka. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan, (a national level award) for his enchanting music.

Other art forms at Mangalore, South Kanara District :

  Mangalore is also known for Yakshagana, a colorful and typical folk form of drama that includes terrific dressings and dances.

 Bhutha kola or Nema is another kind of dance related to spiritual worship. Bhuta Kola is the dance performance and speech of the Paatri ( impersonator ) also called as 'Nalke' in tulu, getting possessed by holy spirit. This event mostly happens annually.

Bootharadhane or Bhuta Kola in South Kanara district

Tiger dance or Hulivesha ( in Kannada language), during Navarathri festival at Mangalore

There are many other art performers like Dholu Kunitha in North Karnataka. Men dancing with drums and hitting them in a very pleasant way.

All these are samples of arts and culture in Karnataka State.


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    • vivekananda profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from India

      Hello Sunil, thanks for the encouraging comment.

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 

      5 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Useful and informative. Thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      Noori Nahid 

      9 years ago

      I want to know india;s glorious past as she was known as golden bird.i want to know its reverence as earlier she was eagle & flying high in the sky & now she in eagle with chain as she wad under BRITISH subjugation.

    • profile image

      Lakshminarayana KG 

      9 years ago

      Checkout more yakshagana snaps over here, the one used here is also here

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Really good information. You have portrayed our karnataka very beautifully.

      Keep it up.

    • vivekananda profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from India

      Thank you Prasadjain for an encouraging comment.

    • prasadjain profile image


      10 years ago from Tumkur

      very good hub. This hub fulfills every requirement of a tour-oriented hub.Pictures and descriptions are qwuite matching.Congrats

    • vivekananda profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from India

      Sofia you're right. The Karnataka state government has much to do in order to support tourism here.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      really, every thing in the nature has its own importance,the main thing is that we have to relaize its beauty then only we can understand to conserve its culture heritage.

    • vivekananda profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from India

      thanx Eve and Raj for your comments. As u said, only education and knowledge can save these historical monuments. There are many more forts and fortresses which are to be taken care. This might also encourage more tourists to come to Karnataka.

    • Raj kamal profile image

      Raj kamal 

      10 years ago from Guntur, A.P., India

      Great hub man. The sad part of the story is that not enough measures are being taken in India to preserve it's rich culture and heritage. It took so many years for the government to act for protecting the Tajmahal. People should be educated and encouraged to save these relics for the next generations. Thanks for the hub

    • evemurphy profile image


      10 years ago from Ottawa

      A great read and informative!


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