Make visits to temple towns interesting and fun for kids. We give you a list of top 5 awe-inspiring heritage sites around Bangalore.
A mere bookish study of history or archaeological places is bound to elicit bored looks and deeper yawns from kids. Similarly, a visit to historical sites or temples without knowing the stories behind their existence is akin to reading a book without a soul.
Wouldn’t it be great if the lessons were accompanied by relevant field trips where they get to witness the grandeur and splendour first-hand and learn the history through stories?
Let’s do our bit to connect our kids to the rich heritage. Plan a trip to these historical sites and couple it with some deep lessons to pocket; it’s an experience they are sure to remember.
We bring you top 5 archaeological sites around Bangalore
1. Sharvanabelagola, (Distance from Bangalore: 180 km)
History: The Gomateshwara temple, a sacred Jain pilgrimage centre, was built on Indiragiri hills in honour of the mighty king Gomateshwara, the younger son of the first Jain monk, Vrishaba Deva. The king won the war of the throne against his elder brother, Bharata only to renounce all power and wealth later to become a Jain ascetic. The mammoth monolithic statue that stands tall at a height of 58 feet is humbling to witness even as it symbolizes a revered soul that transcended the mortality of life and attained moksha. The twin hill, Chandragiri is situated opposite this temple is where King Chandragupta Maurya breathed his last.
- Gomateshwara was also known as Bahubali. Rings a bell? yes, the story is also the premise of the famed movie.
- You would need to climb a steep flight of about 650 steps to have a look at this gigantic statue.
- How about combining a weekend trip along with this? The gorgeous Sakleshpur is less than 100 km from Shravanabelagola. The drive is scenic and there are fantastic stay options available.
- We did a “do-nothing” and Eco-friendly stay at the Golden Woods, Harley Estate and simply loved it. Highly recommended.
2. Somnathapura, (Distance from Bangalore: 140 km.)
Image Courtsey: By Quietsong – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, 2.
The Somnathapura or the Chennakesava temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna, one of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu. The temple, perceived to be the last temple constructed during the Hoysala reign, was built by Somnath in 1268 CE, the commander of the ruling king, Narasimha III. The architecture of the temple with its intricate carvings of elephants and depictions of Ramayana and Mahabharata is typical of the Hoyasala dynasty and is a sight to behold. The main temple houses three smaller shrines within dedicated to Lords Kesava, Janardhana, and Venugopala. While most of the temple is intact one cannot help notice the damages to some idols; a result of vandalism that followed in the subsequent years after the Hoysala rule. The temple is now a protected heritage site.
- See if you can spot the name of the sculptor, “Malli” inscribed in the sculptures.
- You can combine a day trip to Ranganatithu Bird Sanctuary with a visit to this temple. The well-maintained sanctuary that is home to some rare species of birds and crocodiles is only an hour’s drive from the temple.
- Want to relax over a weekend? Stay at Mysore and explore these gems at leisure.
3. Hampi, (Distance from Bangalore: 350 km.)
Image Courtsey: By Srikar.agnihotram – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Hampi is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Originally known as Pampakshetra, this temple town is an important part of Vijayanagara. There are several temples housed within this town like the Virupaksha temple, Prasanna Virupaksha temple or the underground Shiva temple Vittala temple, BadaviLinga temple, to name a few, that are standing architectural wonders. These temples have a Vijayanagara style of architecture. Hampi has a large presence of iron ore and manganese deposits and hence, also, a mining ground.
- The architecture is a mix of different styles inspired from the dynasties of Hoysala, Chalukya, Chola, and Pandya that existed before Vijayanagar empire.
- The Vittala temple has 56 musical pillars also known as SaReGaMa pillars.
- You can combine this with a trip to Vijayshree resorts for an excellent village-themed experience that has plenty of activities for kids such as a bullock cart ride, Puppet show, camel ride and so on.
- Fancy a more luxurious stay? You might love The Orange County resorts.
4. Belur, (Distance from Bangalore: 220 km)
Belur and Halebidu are known as twin cities and are also famous UNESCO world heritage sites. The Chennakesava temple at Belur was built by King Vishnuvardhan to commemorate his victory over the Cholas in 1117 CE. The sculpture and architecture, done in the inimitable Hoysala style, are in their finest form. The gopuram in the Dravidian style was added later by the Vijayanagara kings. The dancing figurines sculpted on the temple facade were inspired by the queen Shantaladevi, wife of king Vishnuvardhan.
- It took 103 years to complete the construction of this temple.
- The 42 m Dwajastambh stands on its own without a foundation stone. Hence, it is called a gravity pillar.
- A stay at the Hoysala Village Resorts which is a 45 min drive from here is an ideal getaway. There are plenty of attractions for kids at this resort.
5. Halebidu, (Distance from Bangalore: 210 km)
Image courtsey: By Dineshkannambadi – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Halebidu was originally known as Dwarasamudra. It was the royal capital of Hoysala back in the 12th century and houses two beautiful temples, Hoyasaleswara and Kedareswara temple, both dedicated to Lord Shiva. Ketumalla, a minister of King Vishnuvardhan built the former temple while the latter was built by king Ballala II. The Hoyasalewara temple has two gopuras and embodies two smaller shrines within, one for Hoysaleswara (king Vishnuvardhan) and another for Shantaleswara (queen Shantaladevi).
The Kedareshwara temple was built with soapstone in the Chalukya style. Although this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple panel has depictions of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
- Hoysala Mahotsava, a dance festival held in March in the temples of Belur and Halebid, is considered as one of the important festivals.
- The common factor in all the carvings and intricate sculptures of these ancient temples is the mastery of our the sculptors over the Hindu texts, mythology and the science of light and shadow. If you notice, these monuments have weathered the harsh climatic changes for centuries. The ancient day rulers, as well as craftsmen, knew the compositions of the various stones and metals and blended science with art beautifully.
Eyeing that long weekend? Do consider combining this temple visit with the soothing Chikmagalur which is just an hour’s drive from here. Check out these lovely stay options.
Blocking your calendars already? Do let us know how you like these places. Checked these off your travel list? We’d love to hear about your experiences, recommendations, and suggestions.