Karnataka Today

It’s time for Eco-Tourism and Karnataka is the best place for it!

KT Magazine Cover March

Located amid the Western Ghats, Deccan Plateau and Kannada Coast, Karnataka is blessed with diverse forests, beaches, waterfalls, coffee plantations, lakes, and other natural wonders.

Karnataka’s geology and terrain make it the perfect site for various fascinating tourist attractions and landmarks. The state is also proud of having historical monuments and buildings that draw tourists from far and wide. Karnataka, both ancient and culturally varied, has a rich history that visitors can discover.

Karnataka, the sixth largest state in the country, has been ranked the third most popular state to attract tourism. Endowed with abundant natural resources, this state draws many tourists annually.

Coorg, Nandi Hills, and Chikmagalur are just a few of the enthralling hill stations in Karnataka. People looking for pure beaches appreciate its picturesque coastline locations, such as the well-known Blue Lagoon Beach and Ladies Beach in Karwar, both bordered by Casuarina trees. Karnataka also has UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Pattadakal and Hampi, which are great for heritage tourism.

Two other outstanding landmarks that have attracted tourists to Karnataka for centuries are the Gommatesvara statue at Shravanabelagola and the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur. In addition, this state features 5 national parks, including the well-known Bandipur National Park in Mysore and 21 animal sanctuaries. Today, Kudremukh and Madikeri are well-liked ecotourism sites. For travellers’ convenience, Karnataka’s most prominent tourist spots are connected by the Golden Chariot railway.

While attracting many tourists, practising responsible travelling is of utmost importance. Eco-Tourism is a type of tourism involving responsibly visiting natural regions, preserving the environment, and enhancing locals’ quality of life. It also includes educating the travellers about the destinations and the need for funds for ecological conservation or fostering respect for other cultures. This article is a guide to eco-travel and experiencing the natural beauty of Karnataka.

About Ecotourism In Karnataka

The proposal to establish the Karnataka Ecotourism development board was approved by the state cabinet of Karnataka on August 15, 2013. The chairperson would be Karnataka’s minister of forests. The program would greatly assist the government in preserving wildlife, raising public awareness of it, promoting ecotourism and forest safaris, and preventing harm to the environment caused by tourism.

The entire amount that travel and tourism contributed to the Indian GDP in 2012 was INR 6,385.1 bn (6.6% of GDP). This amount is anticipated to increase by 7.3% in 2013 and by 7.9% pa to INR 14,722.3 bn in 2023.

Given the sheer number of international visitors to India and domestic travellers who travel to places that fall under the ecotourism and nature-based tourism categories, studies in the sector must add value and promote positive growth and development if approached from a 360° perspective. In recent years, there has been a qualitative shift and a strong focus on ecotourism in Karnataka, which has been at the forefront of many facets of tourism promotion. The establishment of the Karnataka Eco Tourism Development Board (KEDB) in 2013 has given momentum to introducing a new framework, policy, rules, and chances for training and capacity building among stakeholders in addition to standards and certification.

Objectives of the Ecotourism Board issued by KEDB

  1. To create awareness regarding the conservation of forests and wildlife amongst the people in general and children and youth, in particular
  2. To encourage and promote tourism activities in the country in general and the State of Karnataka, in particular
  3. To encourage local community involvement in ecotourism and provide greater employment opportunities and economic benefits to the local people
  4. To assist in the formulation of policies, laws, and guidelines for the organized development of ecotourism activities in the state
  5. To conduct research and impact studies in ecotourism areas
  6. To promote ecotourism as a front-line non-consumptive activity of the Forest Department
  7. To develop good practices to be followed by ecotourism operators
  8. To standardize and operate certification of ecotourism operators
  9. To train and certify nature guides
  10. To produce literature and electronic media material required for nature education and ecotourism promotion
  11. To facilitate linkages between public and private operators n the cause of the conservation of wildlife
  12. To coordinate and liaise with national /international bodies, experts and funding agencies and receive contributions and funds from the Government of India, State Government, National and International funding agencies etc
  13. To encourage local community involvement in ecotourism
  14. To maintain and facilitate ecotourism activities inside the parks and forest areas
  15. To develop trekking trails and operate wildlife safaris in the “Protected Areas”
  16. To encourage public-private partnerships (PPP) in the area of ecotourism, wherever the law permits

“Once in a while go somewhere you have never been before” is the tagline of the Karnataka Ecotourism Development Board.

Top 12 Eco-Tourist Destinations In Karnataka

Karnataka, the home of sandalwood, silks, and spices, is a colourful experience in and of itself. Its incredible natural beauty and rich cultural legacy make for an enjoyable vacation. Karnataka’s tourism industry offers a diverse range of desirable locations and exhilarating activities. Karnataka, a state in southern India, is home to stunning mountains, calm beaches, thundering waterfalls, deep forests, abundant animals, well-known heritage sites, magnificent architecture, and a spectacular cultural extravaganza. Here, we provide you with a snapshot of Karnataka’s travel industry.

  1. Bandipur National Park

Get as near the wild animals as possible in Bandipur National Park. The ideal retreat for those who enjoy animals and the sights and sounds of the forest. Remember to see the national park’s Tiger Reserve and Bird Sanctuary. You will be enthralled by the reserve’s diverse flora and animals and eager for more. It is the ideal option for a daytime picnic. Elephants spotted deer, and antelopes are a few of the animals you might see in this area. Experience this with the exclusive wildlife safari hosted by the state’s forest department.

This attraction is approximately 220 kilometres from the airport and roughly 80 kilometres from the Mysore train station.

  1. Coorg

One of the picturesque, less populated hill towns in Coorg. Its natural, rich vegetation adds to the panoramic attractiveness of the area. An excellent summer vacation spot.

Aromatic coffee farms, gorgeous waterfalls, lush mountains, and breathtaking views can all be found in Coorg. The Tibetan Monastery is another distinctive feature of Coorg. There are several possibilities for scenic hiking trails through coffee estates, rivers, and mountains for tourists. Any type of shopping requirement can be met at the neighbourhood market.

Coorg is about 106 km from Mangalore rail station and about 250 km from the airport.

  1. BR Hills

The BR Hills or Biligiriranganatha Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary in Southeastern Karnataka is home to ecosystems that are exclusive to both mountain ranges. Given the variety of ecosystems present and its location at the westernmost edge of the Eastern Ghats and the northwest of the Western Ghats, it supports diversified flora and fauna.

It is a popular destination for pilgrims. It gets its name from the Rangaswamy Temple, perched atop a white rock. The celebrations held in this Lord Ranganatha temple during April draw many visitors. The area is home to a wide range of plants, from arid and deciduous to evergreen.

Gaurs, bears, sambhar, tigers, leopards, wild dogs, elephants, and four-horned antelopes are among the animals that call the Wildlife Sanctuary, which shares a boundary with the Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary, home. More than 200 bird species call it home, such as the racket-tailed drongo, white-winged tit, and crested eagle. BR Hills is a must for adventure seekers as it offers plenty of opportunities for trekking and rafting. These hills are crossed by the Kapila and Cauvery Rivers, which provide chances for boating, fishing, and angling. BR Hill might be the ideal location whether you want to seek God’s blessings or are looking for an adventurous adventure. Since the rains bring out the wildlife, June through October are the greatest months to visit.

  1. Chikmagalur

Chikmagalur is a well-known location for coffee lovers and is referred to as Karnataka’s coffee district. Anyone who enjoys spending time in nature should visit this tranquil village in the middle of nature, filled with beautiful hills and valleys. The area is perfect for single travellers looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. It provides a variety of activities, including river rafting on the Bhadra River and trekking to Mullayyangiri. It also offers a breath of fresh air due to its unexplored territories.

Due to its rough mountain routes, various hills, valleys, and freshwater streams, and the fact that it is home to several hills, including the tallest peak in Karnataka, the Mullayyangiri Peak, it is also a hiker’s paradise.

Discover the numerous nature sanctuaries, historic temples, and forts close by. Enjoy a stroll among the coffee farms or watch a breathtaking sunset. In Chikkamagalur, take in the best of the Western Ghats.

Places To Visit Near Chikmagalur: Sringeri (90 Kms), Kalhatti Falls (54 Kms), Mullayyangiri Peak (25 Kms), and Belavadi (30 Kms) are some of the attractions to visit along the place.

By Air: Mangalore is the closest airport (80 Kms) By Train: Kadur Junction is the nearest railway station (40 km) By Road: One can drive down from Bengaluru which is 250 Km

  1. Kemmanagundi

At 1434 meters above sea level, Kemmanagundi is well known for its exquisitely designed ornamental gardens and picturesque vistas of the mountains and valleys. Every photographer loves the lovely sunset vista from the Raj Bhavan. The area has many peaks to climb and complicated forest routes to explore for the more daring.

Vista from Z Point: A stunning view of the Western Ghats is available here; Shanti Falls: View these magnificent falls while taking pleasure in the hike; Hebbe Falls: You can hike there or rent 4×4 jeeps to get there; The little waterfall over elephant-shaped rocks at Kalhatti Falls, which is 10 kilometres from Kemmanagundi, has a temple.

By Air: Mangalore is the closest airport (80 Km) By Train: Birur Junction is the nearest railway station (34 km) By Road: One can drive down from Bengaluru which is located at a distance of 250 Km.

  1. Sakleshpura

Sakleshpur, located at the base of the Western Ghats, is a charming town. Sakleshpur, a place famous for its surreal beauty and coffee and spice plantations, is only 220 kilometres from Bangalore. Numerous majestic temples, historic forts, sparkling waterfalls, and hiking paths can be found in the town. One of the most well-liked locations in the state for weekend getaways is this one.

Hundreds of followers travel to the town’s several mystic temples yearly. The famous pilgrimage sites in the area include Ayappa Swamy Temple, Sri Sakleshwar Swamy Temple, Betta Byraveshwara Temple, Kukke Subrahmanya Temple, and Shettihalli Rosary Church.

Sakleshpur waterfalls would please everyone who wants to take in the roaring waterfalls, take in the beauty of nature, and spend some time in peace. Murkannu Gudda and Hadlu Waterfall, Magajahalli Waterfalls, and Magajahalli Waterfalls are just a few of the breathtaking waterfalls in the area.

  1. Savanadurga

Savandurga entices you with its enormous hills, luxuriant greenery, and breathtaking scenery. This large granite hill was created by the joining of two significant peaks (4024 ft above MSL). The Veerabhadreshwara Swamy and Narasimha Swamy temples, located at the foot of the mountain, are two well-known temples attracting pilgrims. Travellers can fulfil their sense of adventure by going hiking, biking, or rock climbing! Avoid remaining at the peak after dark because the area is densely forested and home to bears and leopards. Do pack a backpack with the necessities, such as food, water, a first aid kit, and a survival kit. Always move in groups and take care when going up or down.

Places to visit near Savandurga: The greatest places to visit in addition to Savandurga are Manchanabele Dam (13 km), Big Banyan Tree (23 km), Magadi (13 km), and Ramadevara Betta (32 km).

Savanadurga is 50 km from Bengaluru city and 90 km from Bengaluru airport. Savandurga is best reached in your vehicle or taxi. Bidadi railway station (30 km) is the closest railway station.

  1. Gokarna

Gokarna is a small, sparsely inhabited town in Karnataka’s northern Kannad district. Due to its tranquil atmosphere, this is typically on travellers’ lists of “to-go” locations. Gokarna entices travellers with its alluring beaches and reverent temples. You must visit the well-known Mahabaleshwara temple and learn about its fascinating history to ensure your journey to Gokarna is complete. Kudle Beach, Om Beach, and Gokarna Beach are a few of Gokarna’s well-liked yet serene beaches. Any of these beaches allow you to enjoy tranquil sands and exhilarating water activities.

The Vasco Da Gama airport is 150 kilometres from Gokarna, and the Karwar train station is 60 km away.

  1. Jog Falls

The second-tallest waterfall in India is called Jog Falls, and it descends from a height of roughly 850 feet. A sight to behold is the split falls. To get to the viewing area and take in the breathtaking view of one of nature’s magnificent creations, there are steps to climb. The Jog Falls’ sight and sound provide a calming and unwinding impact on the guests.

Jog Falls is around 28 kilometres from Sagar Station, and Hubli Airport is about 130 km distant.

  1. Dandeli

Dandeli has developed over the past few years into a popular tourist destination. Due to its mountainous topography, which is ideal for trekking, abounding green forests, and intriguing animals, it is a hotspot for adventures. Dandeli is the perfect package for those looking for experience. Dandeli’s River Kali provides kayaking and boating excursions.

Dandeli is located about 55 kilometres from Hubli airport.

  1. Mangaluru

A lovely tourist destination, Mangalore is situated between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. Travellers typically favour Mangalore. Travellers can experience more than 40 tourist attractions in and around Mangalore. Beautiful beaches, temples, cathedrals, and mosques are among Mangalore’s top tourist destinations. There are many well-known tourist attractions in Mangalore. Shopping, excursions, the nightlife, etc., are all very enjoyable in Mangalore. The strange atmosphere of Mangalore makes it an even more fascinating place to explore. India’s prominent port city of Mangalore welcomes countless visitors from abroad each year.

Both historical sites and areas of stunning natural beauty may be found in the city of Mangalore. Over the years, Mangalore’s tourist destinations have drawn many people. This trend will likely continue as one of the greatest tourist destinations. With its shopping destinations housed in large complexes and a thriving seafood culture, Mangalore provides an almost perfect natural setting. Many hotels are available for tourists, ranging from luxury resorts to low-cost lodging and beach resorts.

Mangaluru has its own International airport, railway station and harbour.

  1. Kabini

Whether you are an adventure enthusiast, a fan of flora, or simply someone who enjoys leisure travel, Kabini is a lovely and captivating spot in Karnataka that you should see at least once in your lifetime. The ideal weather, a wide range of sports, camping possibilities, and more make Kabini a favourite among tourists. The sanctuary’s rich flora is best viewed during the monsoons, making summers perfect for wildlife visitors, and making Kabini a year-round vacation destination. Due to its strategic location, Kabini has excellent access to important cities like Bangalore, Mysore, and Coimbatore. If you are flying, you can land in Bangalore or Coimbatore and continue to Kabini.

Make sure to stop at the Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary while you’re here. Ironically, the refuge now features a wide variety of plants, rare animals, and magnificent waterfalls despite having been a hunting ground for the British. Explore the jungles as you embark on a jungle safari, opt to ride an elephant, and show your appreciation for the gracious, amiable creatures by feeding them. A trip to the Kabini Dam and a boat ride on the glistening Kabini River, a tributary of the Kaveri, amid a picturesque setting, should come next. Return to your resort so you can relax by the campfire and discuss your day’s adventures. If you still have time, go on an early-morning nature hike the following day, and do remember to browse tiny shops for locally-made gifts for your loved ones.

Hope this helps all the travellers looking forward to experiencing the large part of the Western Ghats and other parts of Karnataka. Whilst you are travelling, follow responsible tourism. It will educate people, raise ecological awareness, make the world a better place, and support local communities and conservation efforts. We must conserve nature’s and ancestors’ gifts and allow future generations to experience them.

For more information on Ecotourism, visit https://www.karnatakaecotourism.com/