This exciting 15-day journey covers the best cultural attractions across two states in South India: Karnataka and Goa. The trip starts with a few days in cosmopolitan Bangalore before you hit the road with a private guide to visit ancient temples, forts, and palaces (spanning several dynasties)—as well as bustling markets and bazaars—as you make your way to Goa for beach time and Goan cuisine along the Arabian Sea.

Highlights

  • Get a hands-on pottery lesson in Bangalore from local artisans
  • Spend two days in Mysore exploring tree-lined streets and historic palaces
  • Check out India's most intricately carved temples at Belur and Halebidu
  • Pick between hiking trails in the ancient village of Hampi (stay for sunset)
  • Take a break from the beach in Goa and visit a four-tiered waterfall

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bangalore Bangalore
Day 2 Bangalore City Tour Bangalore
Day 3 Explore Bangalore's Arts & Crafts Scene Bangalore
Day 4 Transfer to Mysore, via Channapatna Mysore
Day 5 Mysore City Tour Mysore
Day 6 Transfer to Hassan, via Shravanbelagola Hassan
Day 7 Visit the Belur & Halebeedu Temples - Tour Hassan Hassan
Day 8 Transfer to Hampi, via the Chitradurga Temple Hampi
Day 9 Explore Hampi Hampi
Day 10 Transfer to Badami, via Aihole & Pattadakal Badami
Day 11 Explore Badami Badami
Day 12 Transfer to Goa - Free Time Goa
Day 13 Visit Dudhsagar Waterfall - Tour a Spice Plantation Goa
Day 14 Goa Free Day Goa
Day 15 Depart Goa  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bangalore

Aerial view of flower sellers at Bangalore's KR Market
Aerial view of flower sellers at Bangalore's KR Market

Welcome to India! Upon arrival in Bangalore or Bengaluru—and after completion of the immigration and customs formalities—you will be met by an Active India representative for a traditional welcome and transfer to your hotel. By the time your check-in is organized, your representative would introduce the itinerary and hand over any tour documents that you may need.

Take the rest of the day to rest and relax at your hotel. If you're feeling energized, head to the Krishna Rajendra (KR) Market—a busy and vibrant place for wholesale goods in the heart of the city, and truly a photographer’s delight.

Day 2: Bangalore City Tour

Lalbagh Botanical Garden
Lalbagh Botanical Garden

Today, you'll take a full-day guided tour of Bangalore. The excursion starts with a visit to Bull Temple, also known as Nandi Temple, one of the oldest temples in the city. Nandi (the bull) is the mount or vahana of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva, and the guardian deity of his abode according to Hindu traditions. This temple is on every Shiva devotee's must-see list since Nandi holds great importance to Lord Shiva.

Next, you'll visit the Lalbagh Botanical Garden, a nationally and internationally renowned center for botanical artwork as well as the scientific study and conservation of plants. You'll also visit Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, an amazing example of Indo-Islamic architecture. The teak wood interiors are intricately decorated with carving and motifs.

If time permits, you will also visit the Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple, also known as Gavipuram Cave Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is unique from all the other temples in Karnataka due to the presence of two huge discs in the foreground of the shrine. You'll also drive past the house of Karnataka’s state legislative assembly and the center of justice—two important buildings in the heart of the city.

Day 3: Explore Bangalore's Arts & Crafts Scene

Indian potter making clay pots on pottery wheel in Pottery town is old place of Bangalore
An Indian potter in Bangalore

Today, you will experience a slice of the arts and crafts scene in Bangalore.

The excursion starts with a visit to the city's Pottery Town, an age-old settlement in the Cantonment area, where you can try your hand at pottery at an art school. This section of the city oozes with rustic charm and reminds visitors of a bygone area. Explore the narrow streets and look for fresh earthenware hot off the wheel, as well as ready-to-sell items in various shapes and sizes that you can take home.

From here, visit a handloom unit where you'll have the chance to meet the finest craftsmen in textile weaving and printing.

The rest of the day is free time to explore Bangalore on your own!

Day 4: Transfer to Mysore, via Channapatna

Pick up some pineapples and oranges on the streets of Mysore
Pick up some pineapples and oranges on the streets of Mysore

After breakfast in Bangalore, you'll make your way to Mysore (89 miles/144 km). Along the way, stop at the Channapatna Wooden Toy Village. Here, the craftsmen still follow the age-old techniques for doing woodcarving, inlay work, coating, and painting. In fact, the entire state of Karnataka, abounding in forest reserves, is known for the art of woodcarving.

Upon arrival in Mysore, you'll find pretty tree-lined streets and meticulous historic buildings. Dubbed as the ‘City of Palaces’, few Indian cities can rival the stately charm and easy-going atmosphere of Mysore. Today, you'll visit the Sandalwood Factory and the Agarbati Factory for exquisite pieces of art. The most popular images carved out of sandalwood are those of Lord Krishna as well as jewel boxes, combs, trays, and lampshades, to name a few.

Day 5: Mysore City Tour

Inside the Mysore Palace
Inside the Mysore Palace

After breakfast, you'll begin a sightseeing tour of Mysore. Start the excursion with a visit to the Palace of the Maharaja (emperor), located within walled gardens, where you'll experience a harmonious synthesis of Hindu and Saracenic styles of architecture as well as a profusion of decorous archways, domes, turrets, colonnades, and sculptures. 

You'll also visit Chamundi Hill to see a temple dedicated to the goddess of Durga. On the road up to the temple, there is a giant stone Nandi (bull) bull that was carved from a single piece of granite in 1659.

Later in the day, you will visit the city's vegetable and fruit market. Mysore is also famous for some of India’s finest crafts such as printed silk, inlaid furniture (sandalwood), and ivory carvings, so keep your eyes open for potential souvenirs. 

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Day 6: Transfer to Hassan, via Shravanbelagola

Shravanabelagola
Stretch your legs at Shravanabelagola

After breakfast in Mysore, you'll begin the drive to the town of Hassan (78 miles/125 km). Along the way, you will take an excursion to Shravanabelagola—the most well-known destination for followers of an ancient religion in India called Jainism. Here, you'll find a 57-feet tall monolithic statue of Bhagwan Gommateshvara Bahubali who was considered to be the protector of Shravanabelagola. It is here that King Chandragupta died in 298 BC after becoming a Jain monk.

Then, continue the drive to Hassan where you will visit a local school before checking into your hotel for the evening.

Day 7: Visit the Belur & Halebeedu Temples - Tour Hassan

The Chennakesava Temple in Belur
The Chennakesava Temple in Belur

After breakfast in Hassan, you'll visit the UNESCO-listed sites and temples of Belur and Halebid—two destinations that go together like twin cities. Separated only by a short drive, both were home to the Hoysala Dynasty for three centuries (mid-11th to mid-14th century). The temples found here were cut from the soft stone called chloritic schist, which allowed for very fine detailing, evident in the intricately carved temple walls.

Following this excursion, you'll return to Hassan for a tour starting with the Sri Hasanamba Temple, constructed in the Dravidian style. There are actually three major temples on the premise that are dedicated to Darbar Ganapati, Hasanamba, and Siddeshwara.

Next, you'll visit the District Museum, established in 1977, housing a collection of antiquities of rare archaeological importance. Although its location in Maharaja Park is small, it displays a great collection of paintings, sculptures, inscriptions, weapons, and coins.

Day 8: Transfer to Hampi, via the Chitradurga Temple

Chitradurga Temple
Take a driving break by visiting Chitradurga Temple

After breakfast in Hassan, it's time to begin the drive to Hampi (206 miles/332 km).

En route, you'll pay a visit to the Chitradurga Temple a fortification that straddles a peak and several hills overlooking a flat valley. The fort was built in stages between the 11th and 13th centuries by the dynastic rulers of the region. There are 18 temples in the upper fort and one huge temple in the lower fort. Among them, the oldest and most interesting is the Hidimbeshwara Temple

From here, continue the journey to Hampi where you'll check-in and relax for the evening.

Day 9: Explore Hampi

Hampi views
Hampi's mountainous views

Today is an entire day dedicated to exploring the town of Hampi. Known for its historic ruins, this is a marvelous place to visit in south India.

There are several temples you can see including the Virupaksha Temple, the Achyutaraya Temple, and the Laxmi Narasimha Temple. In addition, the Lotus Palace is an architectural marvel and worth checking out. Other options include visiting the nearby Daroji Bear Sanctuary or hiking around Bellary Fort. Speaking of hiking, Matanga Hill offers more hiking trails leading to a popular lookout to view the sunrise and/or sunset. 

If looking for souvenirs, make sure to visit the Hampi Bazaar, a vibrant place filled with jewelry, clothes, and antiques.

Day 10: Transfer to Badami, via Aihole & Pattadakal

One of Indian temples in the complex of ancient ruins in the Aihole vilage in India
Ancient ruins in Aihole

After breakfast in Hampi, you'll drive to Badami (111 miles/178 km), the former royal capital of the Chalukya Dynasty, which ruled large parts of this area of India between the 6th and the 12th centuries. Badami is famous for its rock-cut structural temples. 

On the way, you will visit both Aihole and Pattadakal. Aihole is a beautiful temple complex constructed by the rulers of the Chalukya Dynasty. Meanwhile, Pattadakal is a UNESCO-listed site with a mix of Indian architectural styles temples. 

Upon arrival at Badami, check-in at your hotel. The rest of the day is free time to simply relax or explore your surroundings on foot.

Day 11: Explore Badami

See the sites in Badami
Check out various views in Badami

After breakfast, you will embark on a full-day sightseeing tour of Badami, visiting notable gateways, forts, inscriptions, and sculptures.

A large chunk of time will be dedicated to exploring the four rock-cut cave temples in Badami, which were built from sandstone hills—the best example of Chalukyan architecture. The first three belong to the Vedic faith, while the fourth is the only Jain Temple in Badami. The largest and most ornamental is the third cave temple where you will find some splendid carvings of the half-man/half-lion avatar of the Hindu god, Vishnu.

Day 12: Transfer to Goa - Free Time

Beach-goers in Goa include sacred animals

After breakfast in Badami, you will make the drive to the city (and state) of Goa (152 miles/244 km), the former capital of Portuguese India. Here you'll find a plethora of cultures, colonial-era monuments, and wide beaches facing the Arabian Sea. 

Upon arrival, check-in at your hotel and enjoy some free time to relax and enjoy a sunset before dining on local Goan cuisine.

Day 13: Visit Dudhsagar Waterfall - Tour a Spice Plantation

Dudhsagar Waterfall
Take an excursion to Dudhsagar Waterfall

After breakfast, you have the option to join a half-day tour starting with a visit to Dudhaagar Waterfall—a four-tiered waterfall located on the Mandovi River. There will be plenty of time to witness white water gushing over the steep, nearly vertical face of the mountain from a spectacular height. The site is both breathtaking and awe-inspiring.

Later in the tour, you'll visit a spice plantation to experience Goa’s traditional form of farming. Here, you'll discover a vast variety of spices, medicinal herbs, and tropical fruits, while dining on vegetarian Goan food.

The rest of the day is free time! Consider taking a stroll down to the beach, check out architecture in Old Goa, also called Velha Goa, or just relax at your hotel.

Day 14: Goa Free Day

Arambol village (north Goa)

Today is a free day to explore Goa any way you'd like!

Despite a reputation as a counterculture haven, the area has matured into a sophisticated but laid-back beach destination. Portugal occupied Goa for 500 years (until 1961), and you will find remnants of this interesting past in the form of Baroque cathedrals, distinct Goan cuisine, and daily siestas.

You’ll also find flea markets, yoga and meditation classes, as well as small villages and temples throughout the area. Beach types for their part will find numerous long sandy stretches (and watersport options) along the sea in which to while away the day.

Day 15: Depart Goa

Fishermen coming back from the sea in Goa
Fishermen at the end of the day in Goa

It's time to say goodbye to India! At the designated time, you'll transfer to Goa International Airport to board your departure flight. Safe travels!

Map

Map of Best of Karnataka & Goa - 15 Days
Map of Best of Karnataka & Goa - 15 Days