Seven Wonders of Karnataka
By Meenakshi Gupta
The list of seven wonders of Karnataka is officially unveiled. An initiative by the media giant Asianet Suvarna News, Kannada Prabha and Karnataka Tourism is supported by the Government of Karnataka, Karnataka State Transport Development Corporation and Jungle Lodges and Resorts. Launched in May 2022, passing through rigorous selection and voting, the 7 wonders of Karnataka were announced on 25th February 2023 post-Expert Jury evaluation. These splendid wonders represent a unique category that showcases the enormous diversity of the state.
The pride of Karnataka, these 7 wonders are powerful symbols of the state’s history, heritage, lavish natural resources, breathtaking architectural marvels, and mesmerising coastlines and adventure. These wonders are visited by travellers of all genres several times and it is often said ‘One cannot have enough of them’.
A pre-historic wonder destination, 10 km away from the Koppal district centre towards Gangavathi, Hirebenakal is the largest megalithic site in India. Dating back to 800 BCE to 200 BCE period, the site contains around 400 funerary monuments. Located 360 km away from Bengaluru, these pre-historic sites can be reached in 5 plus hours by road. An astonishing site on the banks of River Tungabhadra is covered with thorny bushes, slippery boulders, and uneven trails, and can be reached via Gangavathi, the nearest railway station. The site is restored and maintained by the Archaeology Survey of India. Even though India has numerous sites, the megalith at Moryara Gudda in Hirebenakal is the largest necropolis among the 2000-odd megalithic sites present in South India. An ode to the departed souls, these manmade prehistoric Hirebenakal rock tombs are mausoleums carved in stone that welcome curious visitors. The tombstones ranging from a height of 1- foot to 10 feet tall slabs are unbelievably standing strong and unshakeable.
The pride of Karnataka which is also considered one of the biggest open-air museums in the world is also featured on the Indian Currency note. An architectural marvel, the ruins of which are one of the most visited destinations in Karnataka and South India is one of the UNESCO heritage sites of the state. Hampi surely deserves to be one of the 7 seven wonders of Karnataka for its historic significance, heritage, temples, ruins, and exquisite craftsmanship.
The splendid capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi is a must-to-do destination for its major attractions Virupaksha Temple, Ugranarsimha Vigraha, Lotus Palace, Hampi Bazaar, Vittala Temple, and much more. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the 7th-century Virupaksha Temple is still active and is the highlight of the ruins. The Chariot featured on a 50 rupee note of Indian currency is like an emblem of the state.
A glorious example of Islamic engineering found in the Deccan region, Gol Gumbaz is one of the most important monuments in Karnataka. A landmark of Bijapur, showcases its outstanding architecture, seven-fold octagonal plaques, curves on the sides, attractive fences, columns and a curved arrow to conquer the towers. Built by Mohammed Adil Shah, Gumbaz, the mausoleum is an amazing piece of art and the home to the second-largest dome in the world at a height of 210 feet. Second, to St Peter’s Basilica, Rome, the dome of Gol Gumbaz is unsupported by any pillars making it one of its kind.
Gomesteshwara Statue, Shravanabelagola
Gomesteshwara Statue, Shravanabelagola
An important Jain pilgrimage in South Karnataka is an important part of Indian history and heritage. Home to an 18 m high statue of Lord Gomesteshwara, Shravanabelagola is an important site in Hassan District. Constructed in 981 AD by Chamundaraya, a Ganga warrior, carved out of a single rock of granite, the statue is one of the tallest free-standing monolithic creations on the top of Vindhyagiri hills. Closely 700 steps take you up to the Vindhyagiri hills where the statue of Lord Gomesteshwara is installed. The Chandragiri hills opposite the deity lie a cluster of other 14 Jain Temples.
The most visited palace in the country is the Amba Vilas Palace, popularly known as Mysore Palace. Constructed in the Indo-Saracen style of architecture, the magnificent Mysuru Palace is the official residence of the Wadiyar dynasty and the seat of the Kingdom of Mysuru. Its exclusive interiors of carved mahogany ceilings, stained glass, gilded pillars and glazed tiles – epitomize royalty and splendour. Illuminated with 97,000 lights, the palace turns into a magnificent spectacle at dusk on Sundays and public holidays. Built-in the early 14th century by the royal family of Wodeyars, the current palace is the fourth reconstruction after being damaged by fire. The current restoration was completed in 1912.
Cascading at a great height of 830 feet, Jog Falls is arguably the most visited waterfall in South India and one of the most in India. Located in the Shimoga district of Karnataka state, Jog Falls is one of nature’s splendid masterpieces located in dense forests. The breathtaking views of plunging waterfalls especially post-monsoon will leave you spellbound. A group of 4 waterfalls namely Raja, Rani, Rocket and Roar forms the Jog Falls. Located amidst the bio-diversity of Karnataka’s Western Ghats, Jog Falls lies in the middle of a lush green forest and some rare species of fauna and flora.
Not just restricted to the heritage and history of the Karnataka Land, the seven wonders also include the beautiful coastline of the state. One of its kind and famous for scuba diving, Netrani Island is the second best place after Andaman and Nicobar islands. Located off the Murudeshwara in Uttara Kannada district, Netrani with its corals and clear waters is probably the best snorkelling/ dive site in India. The heart-shaped island also known as Pigeon Islands is famous for its sparkling water and coral reefs. The state can easily boast the 310 km long shoreline with amazing water-based adventure sports, food, culture and serenity making it one of the best in the country.