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Karnataka - situated on the western coast of South India offers a rich and varied fare to the tourist. The history of Karnataka comes vividly into focus starting with the reign of Chandragupta Maurya (321-297 B.C.) who is said to have spent his last years at Sravanabelagola. Stone edicts marking his grandson Emperor Ashoka's Buddhist beliefs can be seen at Raichur and Chitradurga. The Satavahanas too, after the Mauryas, set up Buddhist stupas and viharas during the 1st Century B.C. The Hoysalas who ruled between the 11th and the 14th centuries were architectural masters and are famous for what might be called their architectural gems at Somnathpur, Belur and Halebid. The Vijayanagar empire with its capital at Hampi was founded in 1336. It has also left its mark in the embellishment of older temples and the building of new ones. Striding through history came Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan who ruled the erstwhile state of Mysore from Srirangapatnam until the return of the Wodeyar dynasty that steered Karnataka into the 20th century.

Age-old monuments lie scattered throughout the state making it a paradise for the cultural tourist, while the garden city of Bangalore, and Mysore- the capital of the erstwhile Maharajas- wildlife sanctuaries, and the magnificent scenic beauty of Sivasamudram, Kemmangundi and Mercara provide enough variety to make the state a truly fascinating and rewarding destination.

The Jain Trail
It is believed that jainism has flourished in Karnataka for over 2000 years as a vital and powerful force. In the 3rd century BC the Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta came here with his preceptor Bhadrabahu and twelve thousand other Jain sages, and settled down in shravanabelagola, performing austerities. jainism is believed to have been practised here even before that.

Karnataka received royal patronage, and many temples and monuments have been dedicated to it.

Sravanabelagola has a 58.6 feet tall Gommateshwara statue built by Chavundaraya and carved from a huge rock at the peak of Indragiri Hill, by sculptor Aristenemi in 981 AD.

Dharmasthala - 75 km from Mangalore has a 39 feet tall statue of Gommateshwara, carved out of granite near Karkala.

Humcha also known as Hombacha, Pomburchchha, etc in old inscriptions -- and which means 'a golden bit' -- is situated in the foothills of Bileshvara hill. It is famous for the centuries old Jaina Matha belonging to the Nandi Sangha of Sri Kunda - Kundanasaya which has spacious buildings, the parshvantha Temple, Padmavathi temple, Mathada Basadi, Bogara Basadi and Jattingaraya Basadi.

Karkala, about 52 km from Mangalore has the giant 42 feet tall statue of Gommata installed in 1432 AD

Moodabidri - Just about 35 km from Mangalore, Moodabiddri is known as the Jaina Kashi of the South. It is famous for its 18 Basadis dedicated to Thirthankaras.

Area: 1191,791 sq. km
Population: 44.9 million
Capital: Bangalore
Main anguage: Kannada
Best time to visit: September to February

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