Bringing in an air of rich history, jungle jaunts and the finest fare, very few states like Karnataka can promise many worlds for discerning travellers. Armed with a plethora of unspoilt destinations and beaches, there’s no stopping for Karnataka Tourism in its quest to lure travellers. T Venkatesh, Director, Department of Tourism, Karnataka throws light on the state’s emerging, little-known, interesting destinations.
– Swaati Chaudhury
Ranked as the largest state in South India, Karnataka is a wildlife wonderland with incredible biodiversity and forms the site of the country’s premier coffee plantation. The land is home to several renowned dynasties of India including Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas, Kadambas and Wodeyars. The state has a nearly 320 km long coastline with unspoilt beaches. There are two UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites – one in Hampi or the “City of Ruins” and the other in Pattadakal, lying in the district of Bagalkot in the state. The land boasts of Kabini rated as the best wildlife destination in the country. The region has 35 wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. The hill resort of Coorg tucked away in the Western Ghats has a lot of attractions, including coffee plantations, exotic traditions, homestays and the best South Indian cuisine.
In an effort to bring an impetus to domestic tourist footfalls, the Department of Tourism, Karnataka, along with Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation Limited (KSTDC) hosted a roadshow in Kolkata in July. The roadshow is expected to provide a thrust to the promotional campaigns of state tourism. T Venkatesh shared, “We intend to boost the state as a major tourist destination for leisure travellers, MICE, adventure tourists, wildlife enthusiasts and destination wedding visitors. An increasing number of domestic tourists are heading to our state in the post-pandemic era. We have bolstered the infrastructure facilities for tourists visiting the state. We are trying to emphasise on 27 unexplored destinations in the state. The state tourism has geared up with sound subsidy schemes for the travel trade. We are highlighting the coastal region of the state in a big way that prides in having 93 beaches.” The director also informed that apart from beach tourism, the state tourism department is putting a thrust on caravan and wellness tourism, agriculture, nature camps and jungle resorts. This kind of roadshow provides a window of opportunity for tourism stakeholders to renew their links with the travel fraternity.
The state was once the third preferred tourist destination for domestic travellers in pre-COVID times. The land has a number of discoveries in the vertical of tourism to its credit. The first coffee plantation in India has been at Chikmagalur. Mysuru Palace has been rated as the second most visited monument in the country. Venkatesh said, “Lying in the foothills of the Western Ghats in Hassan district of Karnataka is Sakleshpur, a virgin hill resort replete with tea, coffee and spice plantation sites. There is the 18th-century, star-shaped, Manjarabad Fort that provides breathtaking views of the mountains of the Western Ghats. Some of the other attractions are Sakleshwara Swami Temple, Manjehalli Falls and there are trails leading to Bisle Reserve Forest. One can get to view Jenukallu Gudda peak that provides sound vistas of the Arabian Sea.”
Travellers today are looking forward to visiting heritage monuments dating back to epic and medieval times. Venkatesh further said, “We are trying to popularise the Mahadeva temple at Itagi- an hour’s drive from Hampi in Koppal district. The temple represents the best example of Chalukyan architecture. Another lesser-known pilgrim point that is in focus is Anjanadri Hill in the vicinity of Hampi. Regarded as the birthplace of Lord Hanuman, Anjanadri Hill forms a significant aspect of the epic Ramayana.”
When it comes to the most frequented destinations in the state, it is undoubtedly Coorg and Mysuru. Venkatesh added, “The state has the highest number of tourist count from Gujarat and West Bengal. The rise in the flow of domestic travellers was around 50 per cent in the pre-COVID times and we are confident that the influx of domestic tourists will climb by 80 per cent in the current year. We are looking for a positive outcome in terms of global tourist figures in the present year.”
The department of tourism is into organising road shows across the country and global destinations as well. Apart from this, it is looking forward to hosting the Karnataka International Travel Expo to be held in Bengaluru in February, next year.