(Last Updated on : 20/07/2013)
Monuments of Karnataka are the witness of its rich culture and tradition. It is the land which experienced some of the great ancient dynasties of India and hosts numerous spots of its long history for tourists. Apart from the dense forests, beautiful beaches and hills this state consists a number of ancient sculptured temple monuments and heritage monuments. Karnataka is the state which ranks second highest for its nationally protected monuments. The State Directorate of Archaeology and Museums protects its 752 monuments whereas a lot of monuments are in the queue to receive protection.
The monuments of Karnataka depict the saga of its vast history and can be traced back from the Indus Valley Civilization in ancient Karnataka. Evidence of such monuments are present in large amount in the province. It also has several monuments of third century BC when most of this province was the part of Nanda Empire and later shifted under the Mauryan Empire of Ashoka's period. Karnataka experienced several monuments in Satvahana dynasty that ruled for four centuries. The decline of this dynasty gave way for the native kingdoms of the state. These native kingdoms such as Kadambas and Western Gangas emerged as an independent power and helped to develop monuments in a separate architectural style. The contribution of the Kadambas in the monuments of Karnataka is precious.
This style has the most common features is the Shikara or Kadamba Shikara which is pyramid shaped with a Kalasha at its peak and is similar to the Chalukyan style and the Pallava style. The famous Madhukeshwara or Lord Shiva temple still exists in Banavasi city, built by the Kadambas in 10th century. The wonderful carvings of the temple attracts tourist to that place.The Ganga dynasty contributed the religious monuments to the state. The famous Gomateshwara temple, Jain Basadi's of Shravanabelagola, Kambadahalli and lots of Hindu temples to the districts of south Karnataka are the witness to their rich contributions.
In the later period, the other dynasties like Badami Chalukyas, Western Chalukya Empire and Rashtrakuta Empire of Manyakheta emerged as separate powers which ruled over the major portions of the Deccan. The Western Chalukya rulers developed a unique style of architecture that became popular and was accepted by the Hoysala art of 12th century. The Hoysala dynasty constructed several religious monuments during their reign to the province in the first millenium. Their architectures were of the Vesara style of architecture. Then in the period of Harihara and Bukka Raya dynasty in the early 14th century, they established the Vijayanagara Empire and constructed many famous monuments.
The monuments of Karnataka experienced a major shift with the decline of Vijaynagara Empire in 1565. Islamic sultanates took control of the Deccan and constructed monuments in Islamic styles. Later this dynasty was defeated by the Mughals in the late 17th century. These rulers encouraged the Islamic style of building arts. The most famous monument of this period of this style is the Gol Gumbaz. Several monuments were also constructed by the Nizam of Hyderabad in the northern parts of Karnataka, by the Mysore Kingdom in the southern parts, and later by the Britishers during their colonial rule.
Several monuments of Karnataka fall under the list of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. They are the famous Pattadakal monuments and Vijaynagara Empire at Hampi. The religious monuments famous as the cave temples and the rock temples present at Badami and at Aihole respectively represent the popular Badami Chalukyan style of architecture. UNESCO has also proposed to protect the monuments of the religious Hoysala temples at Belur and Halebidu as the World Heritage sites. These are the popular tourist destination of Karnataka and people come to this place for a glimpse of these historical heritage.