20 Most Famous Temples in Karnataka

The South Indian state of Karnataka is known for preserving the ancient heritage since ages. This region is blessed with several beautiful temples especially belonging to the Hoysala period. These sacred landmarks not only rejuvenate the spirit but also treat the eyes with mind-boggling architecture.

There are countless temples that are scattered in the region and it is indeed difficult to choose the best amongst them. Here is a rundown of the Top 20 Ancient Temples to visit in Karnataka that deserves a lot of admiration and respect.

1. Virupaksha Temple, Hampi

Located in the heart of Hampi, the Virupaksha Temple is a Hindu religious structure dedicated to Virupaksha, an avatar of Lord Shiva. The temple has a history dating back to the 7th century. It was constructed by Lakkan Dandesha, a chieftain under Deva Raya II, the ruler of the Vijayanagara Empire.

The massive temple complex flaunts 3 antechambers, courtyards and a pillared hall. The entrance gateways surround the temple with the 9-tiered eastern gateway being the largest. The 50 metres tall gate is well constructed and incorporates some previously built structures. It is made of bricks with a stone base and takes you to the outer court that contains several small shrines. The gopurams lead to the inner corridors and are adorned with ornate-stone carvings. The eastern gopuram has 3-storeys while the northern gopuram comes with 5-storeys. Virupaksha Temple is enclosed by a number of mandapams whose ruins can be seen even today.

Virupaksha Temple, Hampi

Entry Fees:  Free

Timings: 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Address: Hampi, Karnataka – 583239

Best Time to visit: October to February

Read More : Top 5 Things To Do In Hampi

Suggested Tour : 3 Days - Hampi and Hospet Tour from Bangalore

2. Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebeedu

Hoysaleshwara is a Hindu pilgrimage centre located in Halebeedu, 150 kilometres from the city of Mysore. In the 12th century, the temple was built by Vishnuvardhana but was eventually invaded in the coming years. This temple is an outstanding example of Hindu architecture and showcases remarkable carvings of the Hoysala period.

Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebeedu

This ancient monument houses over 240 figures that no other Hindu temple in the region has. It is a twin temple that is dedicated to Santaleshwara and Hoysaleshwara Shivalingam. Two Nandi shrines stand tall outside the temple and face the Shivalingas. There is also an inner sanctum built in honour of Surya Dev, the sun god. The intricate artwork in the Hoysaleshwara Temple is mostly damaged after the Muslim invasion in the 14th century. This heritage monument is proposed to be listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nandi Shrine at Hoysaleswara Temple
Nandi Shrine at Hoysaleswara Temple

Entry Fees:  Free (INR 5 for the museum)

Timings: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Address: Halebeedu, Karnataka – 573121

Best Time to visit: November to March

Also Read : Top 10 Heritage Sites of South India

Suggested Tour : 15 Days - Karnataka Goa Mumbai Tour

3. Chennakeshava Temple, Belur

Chennakeshava Temple stands erected in the Hassan District of Belur and flaunt the grandest Hoysala architecture. It was built by the Hoysala King, Vishnuvardhana in the year 1117 and took over 100 years to complete. This historic structure has been constantly damaged during wars and repeatedly repaired over the period. Since its foundation, the Chennakeshava religious centre has been an active Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the form of Chennakesava.  

This temple is an architectural marvel that boasts of a large complex containing the Kappe Channigraya Temple, Ranganayaki Temple and a smaller Sowmyanayaki temple. The 37 metres tall temple features fine artwork of dancing women in different postures. There are a total of 48 pillars that are beautifully decorated with intricate designs. 4 of the central pillars are chiselled by artisans and are engraved with various figures of celestial damsels. Indeed, Chennakeshava Temple gives you a greater insight into the culture and traditions of the Hoysala period.

Chennakeshava Temple, Belur

Entry Fees: Free of cost

Timings: 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM

Address: Temple Road, Belur, Karnataka – 573115

Best Time to visit: November to February

Suggested Tour : 14 Days - South India Tour from Bangalore

4. Mallikarjuna Temple, Pattadakal

Snuggled in the region of Pattadal, the grand Mallikarjuna Temple is a feast to the sore eyes. Built in honour of Lord Shiva, this monument has a similar architectural style as of Virupaksha Temple but is slightly smaller in size. The temple was constructed in 745 AD by Trilokyamahadevi, Vikramaditya’s second wife. This heritage structure is currently managed by the Archaeological Survey of India and is also listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

Mallikarjuna Temple is an effortless blend of the Nagara and the Dravidian architectural style. The compound boasts 9 major temples that are dedicated to Lord Shiva. The monument also features an antechamber, a sabha mandapa and a sanctum. The timeless interiors are adorned in remarkable carvings that feature different scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Mallikarjuna Temple epitomises architectural beauty and reflects the charm of the bygone era.

Mallikarjuna Temple, Pattadakal

Entry Fees: Free of cost

Timings: 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Address: Pattadakal, Karnataka – 587201

Best Time to visit: October to February

Also Read : Top 20 Richest Temples in India

5. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangapatna

Located in the town of Srirangapatna, Ranganathaswamy Temple is a major pilgrimage site on the banks of the River Kaveri. This religious landmark is dedicated to Sri Ranganatha, a form of Lord Vishnu. According to the inscriptions, this sacred site was first consecrated in 984 A.D. by Tirumalaiah, a local chief. King Ballala of the Hoysala Dynasty made some major renovations to the temple in 1210.

Ranganathaswamy Temple is an architectural masterpiece that has a divine aura. There are several exquisitely carved pillars that take you to the main shrine. The inner sanctum flaunts the idol of Lord Vishnu that rests in a reclining position on the coils of the Adisesha Naag forming a canopy with the snake’s seven hoods. The idol of Devi Laxmi can be seen sitting at the Lord's feet. There are also a number of other deities who stands around Lord Vishnu. Smaller shrines of Narasimha, Gopalakrishna, Garuda and Srinivasa are also visible in the temple complex.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangapatna

Entry Fees: Free of cost

Timings: 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM

Address: Srirangapatna, Karnataka – 571438

Best Time to visit: October to December

Suggested Tour : 7 Days - South India Pilgrimage Tours

6. Gomateshwara Temple, Shravanabelagola

Popularly known as the ‘city of temples and ponds’, Shravanbelagola is a prominent Jain pilgrimage site in South India. This region is known for housing a 58-feet tall monolithic figure of Gomateshwara (Bahubali), the largest in the world. According to legends, Gomateshwara is the second son of the first Tirthankara, Adinath who abandoned his kingdom to become a Digambara saint.

Gomateshwara Temple, Shravanabelagola Karnataka

Every 12 years thousands of devotees gather at Shravanbelagola to celebrate the auspicious occasion of ‘Mahamastakabhisheka’. During this grand festival, the iconic sculpture is bathed with milk and sprinkled with turmeric and sandalwood powder. The statue of Bahubali was carved in 981 A.D. by Chavundaraya and his king. At the base of the figurine, there is an inscription in Prakrit that praises the efforts of these two individuals. The Digambara statue depicts renouncement against all the worldly desires and living a life in search of divinity. Gommateshwara statue can be reached after climbing a flight of 500 steps and offer spectacular views of the nearby hills and plains.

Mahamastakabhisheka Festival, Shravanbelagola
Mahamastakabhisheka Festival, Shravanbelagola

Entry Fees: Free of cost

Timings: 6:30 AM to 11:30 AM, 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM

Address:  Vindhyagiri Hills, Karnataka

Best Time to visit: October to February

Also Read : 20 Most Famous Jain Temples in India

Suggested Tour : 3 Days - Karnataka Tour

7. Mookambika Temple, Kollur

Nestled in the region of Kollur in the Udupi District, the legendary Mookambika Temple rekindles the faith of devotees from faraway lands. The sacred shrine is dedicated to Devi Mookambika, an avatar of Goddess Durga who killed the demon Mookasura. Here, the Devi is worshipped in the form of a jyotirlinga that incorporates Shiva as well as Shakti. It holds high spiritual value as Adi Shankaracharya himself installed the main idol in this sacred landmark.

Mookambika Temple has a unique architecture that belongs to the Keladi period. This religious structure features an inner sanctum, a grand hall and the mandapam. The temple shikhara comes with gold covering that looks mesmerizingly beautiful. There is also a Vimana Gopuram that stands in the middle of the sanctum. The deity of Goddess Mookambika has four arms and three eyes. She holds a chakra in one hand and a conch in the other. Apart from the main shrine, there are other shrines of Gopalkrishna, Anjaneya, Lord Subramanya and Dashabhuja Ganapati.

Mookambika Temple, Kollur

Entry Fees: Free of cost

Timings: 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM

Address:  Kollur, Karnataka – 576220

Best Time to visit: December to March

8. Sri Krishna Temple, Udupi

The temple town of Udupi boasts several temples dedicated to Lord Krishna. However, the most revered amongst them all is Sri Krishna Temple or the Udupi Krishna Matha. Sri Madhvacharya established this holy shrine in the 13th century. This religious monument attracts lakhs of devotees every year and offers a tranquil environment to get enlightened. The striking feature about this Hindu temple is that the idol of Lord Krishna can only be worshipped from a silver-plated 9-hole window. And if you are willing to get a glimpse of the idol, you have to peak through the inner and outer windows.

The temple architecture is beautiful and the bells hanging down from the entrance adds up to its surreal ambience. The grand hall of Chandrashala houses a large Hanuman idol that sits in a meditation position. There are four pillars overlooking the hall and supports a raised platform. The main sanctum has a figure of Sri Madhavacharya and another statue of Lord Vishnu stands at the eastern part of the temple. The math complex looks more like an ashram and is a place of daily devotion and worship.

Sri Krishna Temple, Udupi

Entry Fees: Free of cost

Timings: 4:30 AM to 8:50 PM

Address: Udupi, Karnataka – 576101

Best time to visit: December to February

9. Manjunatha Temple, Dharmasthala

Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala is one of the most religious landmarks in the history of South India. This 800 years old temple belongs to Lord Shiva who is known as Manjunatha. This sacred landmark belongs to the Shaiva Hindus and the administration is managed by the family members of Jain Bunt who are popularly known as Pergades. As the Vaishnava priests are in charge of this spiritual abode, the idol of Lord Manjunatha is worshipped in a different way.

The Manjunatheshwara Temple follows a typical Kerala architecture that is simple yet extravagant. The entire structure is made using stones, metals and woods that looks distinct and adds up to its irresistible charm. The interiors are decorated with intricate carvings that treat the visitor’s eyes.  In order to protect the inner framework from the wrath of the monsoon, the pyramidal roof is wrapped in gold plated copper plates. The temple has undergone major renovations to protect it from extreme adversities.

Manjunatha Temple, Dharmasthala

Entry Fees: Free of cost

Timings: 6:30 AM to 2:00 PM, 5:00 PM to 8:30 PM

Address: Dakshina Kannada, Dharmasthala, Karnataka – 574216

Best time to visit: October to February

10. Mahabaleshwar Temple, Gokarna

The 4th century Mahabaleshwar Temple is known for its religious as well as spiritual significance. This revered structure sits in the quaint town of Gokarna and is thronged by devotees throughout the year. It was built by King Mayura Sharma around 365 CE in honour of Lord Mahabaleshwar, a form of Lord Shiva. Mahabaleshwar Temple is a storehouse of historical stories and is associated with the Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Mahabaleshwar Temple is crafted to perfection in the classical Dravidian style and faces the beach of Karwar. The devotees must take a bath in the sea water before entering the temple. The main shrine is a massive stone figure of Lord Shiva which is considered as holy as the one in Varanasi. It is believed, that the deity showers immense blessing to the devotees even to those who closely look at it. This historic temple is enclosed by shrines of Thamira Gowri, Ganapati, Chandikeshwara, Gokaneshwari, Adi Ganapati and Dattatreya.

Entry Fees: Free of cost

Timings: 6:30 AM to 12:00 PM, 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Address: Kotiteertha, Gokarna, Karnataka – 581326

Best time to visit: October to March

Suggested Tour : 16 Days - Karnataka Temple

11. Murudeshwar Shiva Temple, Murudeshwar

Murudeshwar Temple is a prominent Hindu pilgrimage centre dedicated to Lord Shiva. It flaunts a 123 feet tall Shiva statue that is the second highest in the world.  This iconic statue of Lord Shiva sits on top of the Kanduka Hill enclosed by the majestic Arabian Sea on three sides. The temple boasts a rich history dating back to the period of Ramayana and attracts visitors from distant lands.

The temple complex has a 20-storeyed gopura known as the Raja Gopura that offers a spectacular view of the enchanting Shiva sculpture. There is a lift installed in the gopura so that it is easily accessible to the devotees and tourists alike. The main deity in the Murudeshwar Temple is a Sri Mridesa Linga which is often regarded as a part of the legendary Atma Linga. The interiors are adorned with elaborate carvings that will leave you awe-inspired. This spiritual abode of Lord Shiva has been renovated leaving the sanctum sanctorum that still retains its aesthetic appeal. This temple is a great place to seek blessings from the Lord who is admired across the globe.

Entry Fees: Free of cost

Timings: 3:00 AM to 1:00 PM, 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Address: Murudeshwar, North Kanara, Karnataka - 581350

Best time to visit: November to February

12. Sringeri Mutt, Sringeri

Sringeri Mutt or Sringeri Sharda Peetham is one of the Advaita Vedanta Matha founded by Adi Shankara in the 8th century. Standing on the bank of the Tunga River, this iconic temple holds immense spiritual as well as historical significance. Sringeri Mutt houses two major temples, one is dedicated to Lord Shiva and the other one is built in honour of Devi Saraswati.

The Vidyashankara Temple (dedicated to Lord Shiva) is a fusion of Hoysala and Vijayanagara style of architecture that looks unusual yet mesmeric. The temple sits on a platform that looks quite similar to the other Hoysala temples and decorated with animal sculptures and balustrades. The sanctum houses a Shivalinga and also features deities of Vishnu-Lakshmi, Brahma-Saraswati and Shiva-Parvati in different directions. The Saraswati Temple was rebuilt in the 15th century and features a sandalwood shrine of the Devi as Saradamba. Besides the main deity, smaller shrines of Lord Ganesha and Bhubaneshvari can also be found in the temple. Both these temples are absolutely stunning and hold a high spiritual value to the devotees.

Entry Fees: Free of cost

Timings: 6:30 AM to 1:30 PM, 4:30 PM to 9:30 PM

Address: Sringeri, Karnataka - 577139

Best time to visit: October to March

13. Kukke Shri Subrahmanya Temple, Subramanya

Nestled in the village of Subrahmanya, the highly revered Kukke Temple is of immense religious importance to the followers of Hinduism. This temple pays tribute to Subrahmanya, an incarnation of Lord Kartikeya. According to Hindu mythology, the serpent king, Vasuki and other serpents prayed the Lord when they were threatened by Garuda, a legendary bird-like creature. Before entering the temple, pilgrims have to take a holy bath in the Kumaradhara River and afterwards seek blessings from Subramanya. In order to get rid of the Sarpa Dosha, devotees perform the sacred ceremony of Sarpa Dosha in this temple.

The elegant architecture of the Kukke Subrahmanya Temple looks like a breath of fresh air amidst the verdant hues. The main entrance leading you to the holy structure sits at the back of the inner sanctum. A silver-plated pillar stands tall in between the entrance and the sanctum that is believed to protect the devotees from Vasuki’s poisonous breath who resides here. There are two grand halls and the inner hall leads to the sanctum. Statues of Subrahmanya with Vasuki and another figure of Sesha can be seen on the pedestal.

Entry Fees: Free of cost

Timings: 5:00 AM to 8:30 PM

Address: Subrahmanya, Karnataka - 574238

Best time to visit: September to March

14. Kotilingeshwara Temple, Kammasandra

Lying in the small village of Kammasandra in Kolar District, the Kotilingeshwara Temple houses the tallest Shivalinga in Asia. This sacred landmark is frequented by lakhs of devotees every year. This temple was established by Swamy Sambha Murthy in 1980 and boasts of one crore shivalingas, hence the name. Presently, Kotilingeshwara Temple features over a hundred lakhs Shivalingas in its premise.

The 33 metres tall Shivalinga attract devotees as well as tourists from far off places. It is complemented by 11 metres tall Basava statue and is enclosed by several Shivalingas that spans across 15 acres of land. There is a water tank close to the Shiva sculpture and is used by devotees for performing the Abhisheka ceremony. Within the compound, there are 11 other temples dedicated to different deities. There is a meditation hall where devotees can seek solitude and meditate in a peaceful environment. There is also a marriage hall where about 20 weddings are performed weekly.

Entry Fees: INR 20 per person

Timings: 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM

Address: Kodilingam Temple Road, Kolar, Karnataka - 563121

Best time to visit: July to January

15. Sri Radha - Krishna (ISKCON) Temple, Bangalore

The outstanding ISKCON temple stands in the heart of the Bangalore city and the palatial shrine covers an area of 7 acres. This sacred organisation was founded by Swami Prabhupada in 1997 to promote Vedic culture as well as religious preaching. This temple is dedicated to Radha - Krishna and boasts of the largest ISKCON complex in the world.

The ISKCON Temple in Bangalore is more than a religious landmark. It offers spiritual learning and conducts cultural activities that help in the well being of society. The temple is a neo-classical architectural masterpiece that features traditional South Indian elements.

The magnificent shrine stands erected in a lush green garden with an open amphitheatre attached to it.  Grand ornamental arches lead to the beautifully decorated shrine that is built in honour of Radha – Krishna. Besides the main shrine, there are additional shrines of Sri Krishna Balarama, Sri Srinivasa, Nitai Gauranga and Prahlada Narasimha. There is also a grand hall that covers an area of 10,000 square feet and features wonderful paintings created by a famous Russian painter.

Entry Fees: Free of cost

Timings: 4:15 AM to 5:00 AM, 7:15 AM to 1:00 PM, 4:00 PM to 8:20 PM

Address: Hare Krishna Hill, Chord Road, Bengaluru, Karnataka – 560010

Best time to visit: October to February

Also Read : Top Tourist Places Near Bangalore within 200 kms

Suggested Tour : 11 Days - Karnataka and Kerala Tour

16. Keshava Temple, Somnathpur

Lying in Somnathpur area of Mysore, Keshava Temple is a heritage structure belonging to the Hoysala period. This temple is one of the most preserved landmarks covered in exquisite sculptures. The heritage site was established in the 13th century by Somanatha, a general under Narasimha III, the king of Hoysala. A piece of land was granted to the Brahmins and the resources were provided to build and maintain the temples. Hence, the town was eventually named Somnathpur. 

Keshava Temple is the finest example of Hoysala architecture that exudes charm and grandeur. This religious landmark stands in an open courtyard on a raised platform with three main sanctums. All the sanctums are dedicated to Lord Vishnu in different forms and share a mandapa with numerous pillars. The inner walls and ceilings are intricately carved with inscriptions from Bhagavata Purana as well as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The Keshava Temple was renovated in the 16th century under the patronage of the Vijayanagara Dynasty.

Entry Fees: INR 5 (Indian Nationals), INR 100 (Foreign Nationals)

Timings: 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM

Address: Somnathpur, Karnataka - 571120

Best time to visit: October to March

Also Read : 15 Unforgettable Places To Visit In Mysore

Suggested Tour : Mysore City Guided Full Day Tour

17. Badami Cave Temple, Badami

The historic cave temples lie in the small town of Badami in Bagalkot District. This landmark comprises of 4 cave temples honouring Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu and one of them is dedicated to Jainism. These monuments unravel the rich Indian heritage and depict sheer magnificence. Culture hounds from every nook and cranny visit these shrines to witness the architectural grandeur and religious significance.

Pulakesin I established the Badami Cave Temples in the 6th century. However, it was expanded during the reign of the Chalukyas. All these temples flaunt an effortless mix of Nagara and Dravidian architectural style.  They are decorated with intricate carvings of Gods belonging to Hinduism and Jainism. Each of these temples boasts of a verandah, a hall and a sanctum. Besides the 4 prominent caves, Badami houses several medieval temples and monuments that reflect the rich history of the ancient era.

Entry Fees: INR 10 (Indian Nationals), INR 100 (Foreign Nationals)

Timings: 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM

Address: Badami, Karnataka – 587201

Best time to visit: July to March

Also Read : 20 Most Famous Caves In India

Suggested Tour : Full Day - Tour of Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole

18. Horanadu Annapoorneshwari Temple, Chikmaglur

Tucked in the thick forest of the Western Ghats, the Annapoorneshwari Temple worships Devi Annapurna, the goddess of food and nutrition. It is believed that in the 8th century Sri Adhishakthyathmaka established Devi's icon in the temple. For the past 400 years, the deity is worshipped by Dharmakartharu priests and still today they are in charge of this revered landmark.

In order to reach the main temple, devotees have to climb a few steps. The entrance and the ceiling are beautifully decorated with fine artwork that looks visually impressive. The main deity of Devi Annapurna can be seen in a standing posture and holds a Chakra, Shanku, Devi Gayatri and Sri Chakra in her 4 arms. The idol is completely covered in gold and its beauty cannot be expressed in words. It is said that whosoever visit Annapoorneshwari Temple will never live without food in their entire life.

Entry Fees: Free of cost

Timings: 6:30 AM to 9:00 PM

Address: Hornadu, Karnataka – 577181

Best time to visit: October to March

19. Guddattu Vinayak Temple, Kundapura

Located in Kundapura, Guddattu Vinayak Temple worships Lord Ganapati and is an eminent wonder with mythological stories attached to it. The temple is set amidst emerald green forests and paddy fields that look straight out of the wonderland. According to legends, the main idol in this holy shrine is self-manifested and worshippers can get a glimpse of the lord by peeking through a small hole outside.

Guddattu Vinayak Temple is snuggled in a cave made from jagged rocks. Here you can see a 3-feet statue of Ganapati in a sitting posture which is immersed in water up to his neck. The temple is decorated with Thirthamantapa, Mukhamantapa, Pauli and Hebbagilu that are made from granite and enhances the beauty of the temple. A special puja known as Ayar Koda Seva is performed here. During this grand occasion, the water from the cave is drained and again it is filled with water up to the neck level of Lord Ganapati. The ritual requires a thousand pots filled with water, hence the name.

Entry Fees: Free of cost

Timings: 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM

Address: Guddattu, Karnataka – 576222

Best time to visit: October to March

20. Amruteshwara Temple, Annigeri

Located in the middle of Annigeri Town, Amruteshwara Temple is a black stone monument built during the patronage of the Western Chalukyan Empire. This temple has a history dating back to 1050 CE. This heritage structure was built in honour of Lord Shiva and attracts culture seekers across the country.

Amruteshwara Temple is the first monument in our country that is made from soapstone. It depicts Kalyani Chalukya architecture with a ceiling supported with 76 pillars. The walls are adorned with exotic carvings of different mythological figurines. This temple is indeed an architectural splendour and its irresistible charm cannot be expressed in words.

Entry Fees: Free of cost

Timings: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Address: Annigeri, Karnataka – 582201

Best time to visit: December and January

So when are you planning a visit to these highly revered religious landmarks?