The Karnataka landscape is characterized by a profusion of ancient temples and sacred shrines that have withstood the vagaries of time. These temples, spread across the length and breadth of the state, are renowned as much for their magnificent architecture as for their religious pre-eminence.
The growth and proliferation of temples in Karnataka can be ascribed to
the zealous efforts of a succession of royal dynasties who reigned
supreme in the Deccan plateau. The Kadambas, Chalukyas, Hoysalas,
Gangas, Vijayanagara Kings - all of them were devout rulers and prolific
During their reign, each of these kingdoms has given rise to a
distinctive school of temple architecture. While the Badami Chalukyas
were the builders of rock cut caves and ancient temple complexes, the
Hoysalas built temples on raised complex star shaped platforms. The
Hoysala temples were characterized by a wealth of intricate carvings and
friezes on the temple walls.
Karnataka has also been home to prodigious scholars and great spiritual
leaders like Adi Shankaracharya and Saint Basaveshwara who consecrated a
number of holy shrines and temples.
A supreme example of Hoysala temple architecture, the Chennakeshava
temple in Belur, Karnataka leaves one spellbound with its exquisite
structure. The temple was constructed in 1117 AD by Hoysala king
Vishnuvardhan to celebrate his victory over the Cholas at the battle of
Built in the 16th century by Kempe Gowda, the founder of Bangalore, the
Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple is an architectural marvel that attracts
devotees by hordes. One of Bangalore's oldest temples, the Gavi
Gangadhareshwara temple was built by Kempe Gowda in gratitude after
being released from his five-year incarceration by Rama Raya.
A gem of Hoysala temple architecture, the Hoysaleshwara temple of
Halebid is ornamented with a plethora of exquisite carvings and
sculptures. It was built by Ketamalla, a minister of Hoysala ruler
Vishnuvardhana, in the 12th century AD.
The renowned Madhukeshwara temple is the prime attraction of Banavasi,
a quaint town located on the border of Uttara Kannada and Shimoga
The Mahabaleshwar temple is located in Gokarna, a sacred pilgrimage
site in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. One of the seven Mukti
Sthalas of Karnataka, Gokarna is also known for its idyllic beaches and
Nestled in the foot of the Western Ghats, the Mookambika temple in the
village of Kollur attracts devotees from all over India.
The Pattabhirama Temple is a major pilgrimage center in the ruined city
of Hampi. Along with the Virupaksha and Vitthala temples, the
Pattabhirama temple embodies the prolific temple-building ventures of
the Vijayanagara rulers.
One of the prominent temples in Bangalore, the Someshwara temple was
built during the reign of the Chola dynasty. Endowed with splendid
architecture, the Someshwara temple bears testimony to the architectural
expertise of the Chola era.
The majestic Virupaksha temple stands proudly amidst the ruins of
Hampi, the erstwhile capital of the mighty Vijayanagara Empire.