Rightly defined as one state, many worlds, Karnataka is a divine state. Formerly known as Mysore and bounded by Goa, Maharashtra, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the Arabian Sea, Karnataka represents the perfect mosaic of grandeur, tranquillity, wildlife and culture. With a rich historical background, Karnataka ranks among one of the top states in India for its ancient temples and holy shrines. The temple tours here are unmatchable and a treat for the soul as well as the eyes. Here are the famous temples in Karnataka that will leave you in awe:
List of the 12 Most Famous Temples in Karnataka
1. Udupi Sri Krishna Temple
Dedicated to Lord Krishna Dvaita Matha, Udupi Sri Krishna Temple is a well-known holy shrine with a rich historical backing. Located in Udupi, this temple is over a thousand year old. Founded by the 13th century Vaishnavite saint Jagadguru Shri Madhvacharya who is credited with establishing the Dwait school of Vedanta, the temple attracts tourists and devotees from across the globe. Devotees get a Darshan of the presiding deity through a 9 holed window known as Navagraha Kitiki. The temple structure is built using traditional South Indian style of architecture which adds a sense of whimsical spirituality to the place.
2. Vidyashankara Temple
Located in the holy town of Sringeri, the temple is not only a holy place of worship but is also a serendipitous experience for architects. Built during the 13th century, this beautiful and historically rich temple is built to replicate an old chariot. The traditional Dravidian and Vijayanagara style of architecture can be seen here. Not just that, the 12 pillars in the temple are built in such a way that the sun rays hit each pillar in a chronological manner, according to the 12 months in a calendar. It houses a broken sandalwood idol of Sharadamba, believed to have been installed by Adi Shankaracharya himself. Gracing the banks of the holy Tunga River, the temple is an iconic destination for attaining some peace of mind.
3. Murudeshwar Shiva Temple
Located in the district of Bhatkal, Murudeshwar Temple is one of the most popular temples in Karnataka that houses one of the most iconic, 237 feet tall statues of Lord Shiva in a deep state of meditation. Gracing the stunning banks of Arabian Sea with beautiful views of the unending horizons, this Shiva statue is the 2nd largest statue of Lord Shiva in the world. With the roaring ocean behind the statue, the temple is located on the Kanduka Hills and also boasts of housing one of the tallest Gopurams of India with over 20 floors. The linga that is worshipped in the inner sanctum of the main temple, is actually 2 feet below the ground. For viewing, the priests light up diyas for the devotees who choose to perform special pujas in the temple.
4. Vittala Temple
Built-in the 15th century, the Vitthala temple is at the epicentre of Hampi’s tourism. Showcasing one of the most extravagant architectural masterpieces, this temple is an incredible sight to behold. Beautiful will be an understatement to describe the intricate carvings, elaborate engravings and murals that are showcased in the temple. With compound walls, gateways and towers, the temple is built by Utilising a large sprawling campus. It has many halls, smaller temples and shrines and pavilions within the campus. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vitthala who is a form of Lord Vishnu and was constructed during the 1th century. The main feature that has garnered praises from tourists from all over the world is the pillared halls and the stone chariot.
5. Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Temple
Located in one of the most holy towns of Gokaran, the Mahabaleshwar temple here is a very important and one of the holiest sites of Shiva worship as well as Hindu pilgrimage. Built during the 4th century CE in classical Dravidian architectural style, the temple graces the Gokarna beach and faces the billowing waves of the Arabian Sea. This religious site is so important that according to legends, the presiding deity will bestow immense blessings to the devotees who even catch a glimpse of him at the inner sanctum. The temple is also one of the 7 Mukti Kshetras or places of salvation in Karnataka. Many devotees visit the temple to perform the final rites for their beloved departed souls.
6. Chennakeshava Temple
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu and located in Belur, this 12th-century Hindu temple sits gracefully on the banks of the holy Yagachi River. The stunning, glistening golden temple structure took over 103 years to be built completely and has found various mentions in different Hindu texts as one of the important places of Vaishnavism pilgrimage site. The temple is absolutely breathtaking from its first sight and is adorned in intricate pieces of architecture like relief work, sculptures, engravings, pillared carvings and more. Through the temple art work one can get a glimpse into the life of 12th-century dancers and musicians along with the depictions of Ramayan and Mahabharat.
7. Kotilingeshwara Temple
Home to the tallest Shivling structure in the world (33 metres) the Kotilingeshwara Temple is located in the tiny South Indian hamlet of Kammasandra. With a footfall of over 2 lakh devotees each year, the temple is one of the most famous ones in Karnataka. Accompanying the tallest Shivling structure, is an 11 metre tall basava statue which is surrounded on all sides by different shivlings. Constructed in 1980 by Swami Samba Shiva Murthy the temple also houses about 11 different temples dedicated to various deities which includes Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma and Lord Maheshwara. They also include temples and shrines within the complex dedicated to goddess Annapoorneshwari, goddess Karumaari Amma Temple among others.
8. Mallikarjuna Temple
Located on the southern banks of the holy Krishna River in the holy temple town of Srisailam and dedicated to lord Shiva, the Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple is the most important and highly celebrated temple of the town. The temple is also a UNESCO world heritage site whose building dates back to the 7th and 8th century. Staying to the temple adorning trend of the South Indian temples, the pillars, walls and halls of the temple is decorated with elaborate carvings, sculptures, delicate cravings and intricate designs. One can find the idols of Nandi, Nataraja and Sahasralinga in the temple.
9. Kedareshwara Temple
Showcasing the best of Hoysala’s era of construction, the Kedareshwara Temple is located in the Hassan district of the iconic town of Halebidu. Constructed during the 12th century using soapstone as the main construction material, the temple stands tall on a platform called Jagati. Protected as a monument of importance by the archaeological survey of India, the outlay of the main shrine is star-shaped with 2 other smaller sized shrines that also contain perforated windows on the sides. The hoysala temples don’t traditionally have platforms, however, this temple is a unique hoysala innovation that contains a flight of stairs to approach the temple with convenience.
10. Durga Gudi Temple
Built during the early 8th century and located in Aihole, the temple showcases the most embellished and largest relief panels of artwork in Aihole depicting Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Vedic deities and Shaktism. One first glance is the fine engravings that capture the attention of every visitor. Initially dedicated to Lord Surya, the temple is now home to Durga Maa because a ‘Durg’ or a fortified lookout was constructed on top of the temple during the 13th-century wars between the Hindu kingdoms and the Islamic sultanates. Along with being a prominent tourist attraction in Karnataka, it is also soon to become a part of the UNESCO world heritage site. The temple is an architectural marvel, a phenomenon that is common among the various temples of South India.
11. Nanjundeshwara Temple
Also known as Srikanteshwara Temple, Nanjundeshwara Temple is located in the town of Nanjangud. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this ancient temple graces the right bank of the holy river Kapila and due to its religious importance, it has often been called ‘Dakshina Prayag’ or the ‘Prayag of the South’. The temple is dedicated to the time when Lord Shiva drank the poison that had sprung up during Samudra Manthan or the churning of the ocean. The 9 storied and 120 feet tall Gopuram is covered in extensive traditional temple art work which was commissioned by the queen of the Mysore king Krishna Raja Wadiyar III.
12. Nimishamba Temple
Located 2 kms away from Srirangapatna, in the village of Ganjam enroute the confluence of Sangam, Nimishamba Temple graces the banks of the holy Cauvery River. The temple is dedicated to one of the incarnations of goddess Parvati, since it is believed that it was here she had performed serious penance. It is a saying that if anyone even takes the name of this goddess their desires and wants are immediately fulfilled. Located adjacent to the main shrine of the goddess is a small Linga and a small sized Nandi bull statue sitting diagonally to the Nimishamba Idol.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Which Is The Biggest Temple In Karnataka?
Ans. The biggest temple in Karnataka is Srikanteshwara Temple.
Q. Which City Is Known As The Temple City In Karnataka?
Ans. Udupi city is known as the temple city of Karnataka.
Q. When Is The Best Time To Visit Karnataka?
Ans. October to February is the ideal time to plan a visit to Karnataka.
Q. Why Is Karnataka Famous?
Ans. Karnataka is famous for its wildlife sanctuaries, culture, art, temples and holy shrines.
Q. Which Is The Smallest Temple In Karnataka?
Ans. The smallest temple in Karnataka is Hoysaleswara Temple.