Karnataka Trails: Part 2



Undoubtedly one of the most exquisite arts associated with Karnataka, sandalwood carvings has an illustrious thousand year history. Elegantly carved and scented sandalwood figurines, tables, boxes, caskets, stationery and even furniture has found patrons around the world. The Gudigar families of shimoga, Uttara Kannada and Mysore specialise in this craft. 


In the historical town of Bihar, under the rule of the Bahamani Sultans in the 14th century, originated a unique metalware- the Bidriware. Hookahs, goblets, plates and even bangles with patterns of vines are made out of an alloy of zinc, tin, lead and copper, inlaid with the sheets of pure silver. 


Channapatna or 'gombegala ooru', is the small town of toys. Everyday, over 300 local craftsmen produce colorful lacquerware including wooden toys, powder boxes, napkin rings and jewellery.

SILK SAREES                                                                        

Karnataka’s silk history dates back to the time of Tipu Sultan’s reign. The Silk produced in the Kingdom of Mysore was the most grossing and widely popular culture during his period. However, the Great Depression saw the decline of the Silk due to intense competition from imported silk and rayon.The popular Silk from Karnataka now called Mysore Silk saw its revival in the 20th century. 

NAVALGUND DHURRIE                

Jamkhanas (durries) in Kannada means floor covering mats which are usually used during marriages and functions. These durries from Navalagund near Dharwad, Karnataka are well known for their structure, bold colors and form that makes them unique as compared to other durries. This craft is believed to have originated during the time of Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur. In the sixteenth century during the tussle between Deccan Sultanate and Vijayanagar Empire in 1565 AD, Jamkhana weavers migrated from Bijapur to Navalgund and continued this craft. Navalgund or Navelu in Kannada means peacock. These birds are found in abundance in this area and later got incorporated as a part of the pattern in the jamkhana.

ALSO BUY: Rosewood carving and metalware.



 Mangalore and love rice in all forms- red grain rice, pancakes, rice rotti and neer dosaa are extremely popular. Do not miss the mouth watering Mangalorean seafood preparations, which have taken a global appeal, and Patrode, a special dish prepared by steaming stuffed colocasia leaves.


The very common masala dosa has its origin in Udupi, and a whole school of South Indian vegetarian cousine taken its name from this town. This is pure vegetarian food, sans onion or garlic. Adyes, ajayinas and chutneys, including one made of the skin of the ridge gourd, are the specialties of this region.


Kodava cuisine is very distinctive, just as the costumes, customs and festivals of the Kodavas. Pandi curry and kadumbuttu are arguably the most delicious dishes in the Kodava repertoire. The juicy Koli curry, book putty and bembla curry are also worth trying.

ALSO TRY: Uppittu, Kori Rotti and Sandige.



The 'celestial song' or 'Yakshagana' is the most enchanting combination of dance, music and literature. The traditional theater form with a history of over 400 years is known for its extemporaneous dialogue delivery, hued costumes and dynamic dance forms. Bhagavantha, the main storyteller, accompanies a group of musicians- 'chande' and 'mavdale' as they weave mythological stories. 

DOLLU KUNITHA                                              

The Dollu Kunitha is a powerful drum dance accompained by arobatic movements, synchronised group formations and occasional screams. The shepherd community of 'Kurubas' performs the dance to honour their deity, Beereshwara, a form of the Hindu God, Shiva.


 Veeragaase gets its name from the Hindu legendary warrior, Veerabhadra, where dancer narrate the story of Daksha Yajna. Dressed in colorful garb and traditional headgear, the dancers carry a  wooden plaque of Veerabhadra in their left hand and a sword in their right.

KRISHNA PARIJATHA                                    

Krishna Parijatha is a fascinating theatrical art form and is most popular in the northern part of Karnataka. The folk art narrates the adventure of Lord Krishna and Lord Indra and is quite popular throughout the whole country. Along with the vibrant and distinct costumes, Krishna Parijatha has the capability to enchant the viewer with its powerful performance. Moreover, the simple dialogues and the exciting plot add to the charm of the performance.

BEESU KAMSALE                                          

Kamsale refers to the musical instrument, which is made of brass and is used in the performance of the art form of Beesu Kamsale. The dance is performed with rhythmic and synchronized movements of the performers in tune with the music. This art form requires the performer to have intense training and concentration to present a powerful performance.

CHOWDIKE MELA                                            

The devotees of Yellama, the patron goddess of the rural folk of North Karnataka, perform Chowdike Mela. ‘Chowdike’, a unique stringed instrument, partners their mesmerizing praise of the Goddess. The singers usually dedicate their entire lives solely to singing the heavenly glory.

OTHER ART FORMS: Puja Luniya, Jaggahalige Kunita, Suggi Kubota and Ummaattaattu. 


The town of Mysore transforms dramatically into city of lights and celebration during the Dasara festival, held annually to commemorate the victory of Goddess Chamundi over the demon mahishasura. The ten day festival culminates in a magnificent display of horsemanship and the ever memerising torchlight parade. 

HAMPI UTSAV                                                  

The ancient, mystic charm usually sported by the village of Hampi is traded with three days of dance, music and art during the Vijaya Utsav, bringing back the grandeur of the erstwhile Vijayanagar Empire. The festival is held annually by the state government. 

BENGALURU UTSAV                                        

This nine- day long festival is conducted by the Thigalar community, in the heart of city Bangalore. The festival is dedicated to Shakthi Devi, Draupathi in her godly form. The main priest is dressed in female attire, complete with a large pyramid of flowers on the head to symbolize her. He leads a spectacular procession of Thigalars who, with swords in hands, play the mythical roles of fearless soldiers of the Goddess, once more.

OTHER FESTIVALS: Kambala, Vairamudi, Tula Sankramana, Huthri &Kadalekayi Parishe.


JOG FALLS                                                       

 Visit to nature's headlong tumble as the Sharavati River takes a spectacular drop of 956ft. In four distinct waterfalls to create highest waterfall in India.

SHIVANASAMUDRA FALLS                            

Discover nature's creation in the form of this tiny island- town, 65km south-east of Mysore. Here the Cauvery River plummets from a height of 75m into a rocky gorge with the deafening roar. It is also home to Asia's first hydro- electric project.

IRRUPU FALLS                                                  

Nesting beside the Nagarahole National Park, Irrupu Falls presents a stunning sight during the monsoons. The falls plunge 170 ft. In two distinct stages. It is a great picnic spot.

UNCHALLI FALLS                                            

 A 5km trek from Heggarne, a dreamy hamlet in Uttara Kannada District, through dense forests brings you to the picturesque Unchalli Falls. The sound of the large waterfall hurtling down the hilly tract shatters the silence of forests, making it an unforgettable sight. 

ALSO VISIT: Gokak Falls, Hebbe Falls, Abbey Falls, Kalhatti Falls, Magod Falls, Sathodi Falls and Lalguli Falls. 


With gentle waves, miles of golden sand, rugged hill ranges, thick woods and acres of emerald greenery, Karwar is a great holiday destination.


This coastal town draws Hindu pilgrims, Sanskrit scholars and beach buff. Visit Om beach, which is in the shape of 'Om', a spiritual symbol. 


Situated 12km south of Udupi, on the coastal belt that passes through the West Coast National Highway, Kaup has a lovely beach, a ruined fort and an old 100ft. light house. The two temples of Goddess Marianna and the Jain Basadis her, though in ruins, are worth visiting. 

ST. MARY'S ISLAND                                        

The 300m long and 100m wide palm- fringed St. Mary's Island bears the cross placed by Vasca de Gama when he landed in 1498. Famous for its unique salt rock formations and geological importance, it has been declared National Geological Monument.

ALSO VISIT: Maple, Murudeshwara, Marawanthe, Ullal Beach, Suratkal Beach and Bhatkal. 


WHITE WATER RAFTING & OTHER SPORTS                                                

Indulge in the thrills of white water rafting on some unpredictable stretches of the Kali River at Dandeli, an experience so far unavailable this side of the Ganga. Kemphole, Sitanadi and Netravati are other popular destinations for white water enthusiasts. The azure waters of the Cauvery also provide for some great river rafting.                                              

Karnataka is a haven for all kinds of water sports. If you are looking for activities like coarcling, canoeing, kayaking and wind surfing, visit Honnemaradu. For scuba diving, power sailing, water skiing, sailing and water sledging, Devbagh is the ultimate  destination.


Die-hard trekkers can explore the coastline on foot via the enchanting Golden Trek from Karwar to Gokarna. If you want to view the distant Arabian Sea, trek to Tadiyendamol, the tallest peak in Kodagu. When it comes to rock climbing areas like Ramanagar, Savanadurga, Tumkur, Yana, Hampi and Kanakapura are the best places for it. 




This was the private hunting ground of the Mysore Maharaja. Set against the picturesque backdrop of enchanting Nilgiris, with its mist covered peaks, this reserve is a playground for wildlife, with elephants taking lead role. Also found are tigers and other rare wild animals.


It is a great place to sight the tiger, the Indian bison, striped hyena and the rare flying lizard. The southern part of the sanctuary is rich in birds, butterflies and reptiles. More than 250 species of birds can be spotted here. 

RAJIV GANDHI NATIONAL PARK (NAGARAHOLE)                                  

Explore the surroundings of Nagarahole, which means 'Snake River' in Kannada. The park derives its name from winding course of the River Kabini that flows through the forests. Nagarahole has astonishing abundance of wildlife, especially the Asiatic elephant. It also has the backdrop of distant misty blue Brahmagiri. 

ALSO VISIT: Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, Anshi National Park, Daroji Bear Sanctuary, Ranganath ittu Bird Sanctuary.



Coorg (also called Kodagu) is the land of coffee, cardamon, and colonels, located in beautiful hilly area settings, surrounded by the forested slopes of the Western Ghats. Kodagu seems to be a little corner of England. It is the place where River Cauvery originates. 


Nested in the Baba Budan Giri Hills, where India's first coffee seeds were planted is a calm, serene town full of scenic surprises with hills, valleys, streams and coffee plantations. Chilamagalur is a trekker's due to its rugged mountain trails.


Kudremukh or Horse Face Range gets its name from the unique shape of its peak. It is a trekker's paradise. This wonderland of lush green forests interspersed with rivers, grassy slopes, rare orchids, caves, cascades, ruins and traces of old civilizations amaze you as you trek your way through it.

ALSO VISIT: Agumbe, Kundadri, Kemmanagundi, Nandi Hills, BR Hills and Kodachadri.