Step back 500 years, explore the ruins of Vijayanagara Empire at UNESCO World Heritage Site Hampi.

Hampi has this innate ability to take you inside the pages of history books. Stories of wealthy rajas and maharajas, a prosperous kingdom, majestic elephants, imposing architecture. But now all that remains is ruins of a once glorious kingdom. As you take a tour of Hampi, the structures magically comes alive to tell you tales long forgotten. Such is the beauty of these ruins that you can't help but wonder what they would have looked like some centuries ago. They enchant. They amaze. They inspire. That is Hampi.

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Brew your own perfect cuppa at the home of coffee - Chikmagalur.

Coffee lovers would pledge their unconditional love for the world's favourite beverage - coffee. Little coffee shops springing in every nook of every city gives you a taste for it, but you have not tasted coffee if you haven't had one brewed from Chikmagalur. Home to the first beans, it was planted by a very sly Baba Budan, who smuggled them from Yemen. Once you are done sipping and soaking the rich culture of the region, make time for trekking and golfing too.

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Seek blessings from Lord Gomateswara at Shravanabelagola.

Think divine and the first image that comes to mind is of a large looming figure, with grace, poise and serenity etched on the figure. The 58-ft statue of Lord Gomateshwara is all that and more. Standing near his feet, you falling short of a few centimetres next to his giant toe is probably the closest you can get to having a tete a tete with the Lord. If you are the blessed one, you can make it for the Maha Mastakabhisheka, the head anointing ceremony held once in 12 years.

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View the spectacle of Yakshagana, under a starlit sky.

Otherworldly - probably the only word that could do justice to the experience of watching a Yakshagana performance. Late into the night, the coastal areas metamorphose into an open-air theatre brimming with music, dance, colourful makeup, vibrant costumes and stories of the yore. What could be more goosebump-inducing than watching the powerful performance with live music under a starlit sky? 'Yakshagana' or 'celestial music' stands true to its name. Other dance and art forms such as Bhootha Aradhane, Krishna Parijatha, Nagamandala and the various Kunithas are equally powerful.

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Nourish your soul as you listen to the chanting at the Bylekuppe Monasteries.

If nirvana for you is the calm and chanting from a Buddhist monastery in a lush landscape, then look no further. Just 40 km from Coorg is Bylekuppe, the largest Buddhist settlement in South India. You canft help but be enamoured by the glorious monasteries, the quaint marketplaces, the air perfumed with the fragrance from nearby incense factories, smiling monks in maroon robes and the tranquility surrounding the place.

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Understand the architectural evolution of the Chalukyan Empire at Pattadakal and Badami.

Pattadakal rose into prominence as it was used as the ceremonial centre for the coronation of kings. And Badami for its striking sculptures, rock cut caves and an array of temples which showcase the interesting architectural styles of the Chalukyan period - the choicest fusion of the North Indian and South India styles. Pattadakal, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Badami has become a must-see on the itinerary of most tourists visiting Karnataka.

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Be mesmerised by India's highest waterfall - Jog Falls.

The stately cataracts take drama to another level. The many rivers slice past emerald forests, meander through plains and finally emerge only to take a headlong tumble, sometimes as deep as 253m. Jog Falls in Shimoga is one such rare combination – ferocious and stunning. As it falls down as silvery white curtains over the rugged terrains, all you would be capable of doing is to stare at it in pure awe.

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Greet the wild cats on their turf.

Give your wild side what it seeks - a streak of adventure. Go and meet the beasts in their homes. Large tracts of natural forests inhabited by species of every kind - the priceless gems of the State. The wild cats took a liking to the jungles and now about 10% of the tiger population of the country resides here. Now the jungles have found themselves more dwellers - 15% of the elephant population, hornbills, black buck, and other endemic species of the Western Ghats. Though a sighting of the animals can't be guaranteed, you always come back with a deeper understanding of the wild.

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Gaze in delight and wonder at the Mysore Palace during the Mysore Dasara.

For 10 days in a year, Mysore goes back to the time and comes alive as the imperium it once was. All the pomp and pageantry could only be dimmed by the million lights that grace the city during the 10-day celebration. If one of the largest congregations for a festival in the country isn't one of your reasons to be visiting Mysore, then a centuries old palace radiant with the light of 97,000 bulbs should be. Mysore, during Dasara is a coming alive of an old world, in its entirety.

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Gift your loved ones some handcrafted goodness.

Karnataka abounds in art. One look at the magic that is created on wood, metal, stone, terracotta or cloth and you would know. Visit the quaint market places and be mesmerised by the sheer beauty and diversity of the crafts. Even better, watch an artisan at work sculpting life into a piece of stone. It may be their magnificence or their simple designs, you will be spoilt for choice. What better gift for your loved one than a piece of art made with love.

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Please the most demanding sense - the sense of taste, with the world's best dosa at Udupi.

Crepes, the Indian way. Picture this, a rich batter of urad dal and gram flour flattened out and made into wafer-thin pancakes and served with a steaming bowl of sambhar and coconut chutney. In other words, the cue to start salivating. And if you thought that this was it, there is more on the menu. The pandi curry from Coorg is legendry, so is the Mangalorean fish curry and Bijapur Biryani. And the Mysore pak, Dharwad peda, chiroti and holige for the perfect sweet ending after a meal.

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Get inspired at Karwar; Tagore wrote his first play here.

There are times when elements of nature play silent muse. The golden sand, the waters as blue as the sky and miles of open space of Karwar was a revelation for Tagore. It was here that he penned 'Prakritir Pratishoota' or 'Nature's Revenge' - his very first play. The islands along the coast, a 300-year old temple and a hill fort also draw visitors. But when it comes to Karwar's USP, it has always been to inspire each and every one of its visitors.

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Echo your message to the world at the Whispering Gallery and marvel at Gol Gumbaz.

The Gol Gumbaz is absolutely captivating. Not only for its majestic dome, which makes it the world's second largest dome unsupported by pillars, every inch of the structure is a reminiscent of the art of the Adilshahi kings who ruled these parts. But if there is one thing more enticing here, it is the Whispering Gallery. Where every word, even the faintest whisper is echoed 11 times. What was used as a hall for dance and music performances, the acoustic wonder of the Gallery has to be heard to be believed.

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Awaken your body at Gokarna.

Allow yourself some hedonistic pleasure. Give in to the ancient art of medicine and allow it to take your body places. Jarred nerves can take a vacation. Choose from Ayurveda, Unani, Naturopathy, Yoga or Holistic Healing; the menu for a happy body is long. All this in the serene setting of a Karnataka's very own little slices of heaven.

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Live like a Maharaja on board The Golden Chariot.

The last of the Maharajas may now be gracing only the pages of history books. But that doesn't stop you from living like one now. Aboard The Golden Chariot, anyone can time-travel to dynasties that once ruled the lands. Everything from the yesteryears is brought alive as South India's only luxury train traverses the rustic lands; luxury intact. With the mixed bag of travel options, the stately setting, delectable cuisine fit for royalty, touring South India is an experience in itself.

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Say hello to the gentle giant, meet the elephants at Dubare.

Call on the elephants at Dubare. Get up close and personal with the gentle giants as you take part in an elephant grooming session. Give them a scrub-bath in the river and watch the rituals of getting the elephants ready, like applying oil to the forehead and tusks. Following the bath, learn how elephant food is prepared and how they're fed. The elephants will be more than happy to comply with the demands of the mahout's commands. Afterwards, climb onto your favourite one and ride into the jungle.

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Let go of your fears, meet the King Cobra in Agumbe Rainforest Research Station.

Agumbe, the 'Cherrapunji of the South' is also a haven of the world's largest venomous serpent – the King Cobra. A bio-diversity hotspot, it was chosen as the centre to study the ferocious and slimy reptiles by Romulus Whitaker, a renowned herpetologist. Surrounding these rainforests are lush verdant forests and beautiful waterfalls that is sure to leave you stumped.

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Learn about the Kodava culture during your home stay at Coorg.

Coorg is a world within a world. A culture so distinct, landscapes so diverse, cuisine so delightful, and people this hospitable are straight out of an enchanting story where only goodness prevails. Try as hard as you may, there is nothing in Coorg that fails to fascinate. The simple Kodava lifestyle is rooted in culture and the once hush-hush land has now become a favourite holiday destination. How else can you travel to another world in such a short span of time?

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Bid goodbye to the cityscape and escape to any of the 16 Jungle Lodges & Resorts.

For the body that has become accustomed to the callous city life, and the soul that yearns for a piece of serenity, there is the Jungle Lodges and Resorts. Not far from the city, 16 properties of JLR take you on a trip of nature - untouched by civilization. India's first eco-toursim destination was started way back in 1980 - the Kabini River Lodge. Fishing, trekking, wildlife safaris, adventure sports or plain lazing on the beach, the Jungle Lodges and Resorts caters to your every escape. And the pleasing setting of the Camps will transport you into one of the pictures you once saw in the National Geographic magazines.

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Be in awe of Hoysala architecture in Halebeedu and Belur.

Ever so often there comes a time, when all you could do was wish for the time to stand still. The stunning Hoysala architecture, with its intricate and delicate designs, has their fair share of stories wound around it. The Chennakesava temple at Belur and the Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebeedu besides being stunning examples of architecture were known for their carving with etched stories of mythology.

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Brush up your history lessons for a tour of Bidar.

For the history buffs, each and every structure in Bidar is a chapter in history. For a place that was under the sway of the Kalyana Chalukya Empire, the Yadavas of Devangiri, the Kakatiyas of Warangal and Muhammad bin Tuglaq, the town is a precious chest of monuments and mausoleums. When in Bidar, the must-visits - Bidar Fort, Gagan Mahal, Takhat Mahal, Bahamani Tombs, Jharani Narasimha Cave Temple, Nanak Jhira Sahib are not just a look into the past. These stupendous marvels are life-changing as well.

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