10 Ancient Temples in Karnataka you must visit

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Top 10 Ancient Temples in Karnataka:

The ageless monuments of Karnataka, with their unique architectural styles are a delight to the history and archaeology buffs. The iconic stone chariot to the intricate sculptures of Halebid or the cave temples of Badami, here is the ten most renowned Ancient temples in Karnataka State of India. All of these temples are built with stone, which is one of the main feature of ancient Indian temples.
10 most popular Ancient Temples in Karnataka
Temples of Karnataka
10. Brahma Jinalaya Temple, Lakkundi (1007 A.D)
This Jain basadi is perhaps the largest and oldest temple at Lakkundi today. Temples at Lakkundi are best examples of Kalyani Chalukya Architecture.
Location:Lakkundi, Gadag
Accessibility: Nearest International Airport is Bangalore (422km), Nearest Railway station is Gadag (13km)
Highlights: Chaturmukha Brahma, one of the most beautiful sculptures of Brahma Jinalaya Lakkundi 
Brahma Jinalaya Temple, Lakkundi - Kalyani Chalukya temples
Brahma Jinalaya Temple, Lakkundi (1007AD-Kalyani Chalukya)
9. Durga Temple, Aihole (7th century A.D)
The village of Aihole has about 125 temples, Durga Gudi temple is the largest & perhaps most beautiful among them.  Aihole is said to be a laboratory of experiments in rock cut architecture, hence called as Cradle of Temple Architecture in India.
Location: Aihole, Bagalkot
Accessibility: Nearest airports are Belgaum (164km) & Hubli (136km), Nearest International Airports are Hyderabad (371km) & Bangalore (465km), Nearest Railway station is Badami (30km)
Highlights: The plan of the temple is in oblong and apsidal shape which is very much unique compared to other Indian temples.
Durga temple, Aihole - Chalukya temples
Durga gudi, Aihole (7th century AD-Chalukya)
8. Vidyashankara Temple, Sringeri (1357 A.D)
This temple combines the Hoysala and Vijayanagara architectural features.
Location:Sringeri, Chikmagalur
Accessibility:Nearest airport is Mangalore (108km), Nearest International Airport is Bangalore (342km), Nearest Railway stations are Shimoga (98km) & Udupi (79km)
Highlights:The twelve pillars in the mandapam are named the Raasi pillars, and are so arranged that the sun's rays fall on each of them, in the order of the solar months.
Vidyashankara Temple, Sringeri - Hoysala & Vijayanagara temples
Vidyashankara Temple, Sringeri (1357 A.D-Hoysala & Vijayanagara)
7. Keshava Temple, Somnathpura (1268 A.D)
The entire fabric of the temple is covered with sculptures; hardly a square inch of space has escaped the carver's hand. This gem of a building is the last, and best-preserved, of the major Hoysala temples.
Location: Somanathapura, Mysore
Accessibility: Nearest airport is Mysore (40km), Nearest International Airport is Bangalore (174km), Nearest Railway station are Mysore (36km) & Mandya (33km)
Highlights: The main feature of the temple is the three star-shaped sanctuaries with intricate sculptures.
Keshava Temple, Somnathpura - Hoysala temples
Keshava Temple, Somnathpura (1268 A.D-Hoysala)
6. Badami Cave temples (578 A.D)
The 4 cave temples at Badami are built in Chalukya style of Architecture out of sandstone. Cave 1 is dedicated to Lord Shiva, Cave 2 & 3 are dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and Cave 4 which is the oldest of all is dedicated to Jainism. 
Badami is an incredible place to explore with its spectacular cave temples carved through the gorgeous red sandstone cliffs over which is the Badami fort and wonderful temples surrounding the more beautiful Agasthya tank. No wonder why so many movies were shot at this place.
Location: Badami, Bagalkot
Accessibility: Nearest airports are Belgaum (141km) & Hubli (108km), Nearest International Airports are Hyderabad (406km) & Bangalore (471km), Badami Railway station (5km) is the nearest railway station from the cave temples
Highlights: The cave temples are popular for the huge sculptures of Shiva and Vishnu, some of them are over 14ft tall. The Sculptures of Vishnu sitting on a serpent, Trivikrama, Nataraja, and Narasimha are one of the finest and best preserved you can find anywhere in India.
Badami Cave temples - Chalukya temples
Badami Cave temples (578 A.D-Chalukya)
5. Virupaksha Temple, Pattadakal (740 A.D)
Virupaksha Temple is part of the Pattadakal temple complex an UNESCO world heritage site built with soapstone, and is the largest temple among the chalukyas spreading accross a builtup area of about 6000 sq ft including its nandi mantapa.
Location: Pattadakal, Bagalkot 
Accessibility: Nearest airports are Belgaum (152km) & Hubli (125km), Nearest International Airports are Hyderabad (383km) & Bangalore (460km), Nearest Railway station is Badami (17km)
Highlights: The pillars inside the temple have detailed scenes of the epics Mahabharata & Ramayana delicately carved. Another important sculpture is the image of Surya (on the ceiling) in relief moving on his seven-horses chariot.
Virupaksha Temple, Pattadakal - Chalukya temples
Virupaksha Temple, Pattadakal (740 A.D-Chalukya)
4. Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebid (1121 A.D)
At 4th spot is the Hoysaleshwara temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva, it took 86years to complete this marvel. The 240 plus life-size stone sculptures on its exterior walls, leaves behind no space untouched. Watch out for the 1248 sculptures of elephants carved on the base of the temple wall.
Location: Halebeedu, Hassan
Accessibility: Nearest major Airport is Bangalore (231km), Nearest Railway stations are Hassan (34km)
Highlights: The Sculptures of Shiva, Avatar's of Vishnu, Trimurti & the Sun God Statue are one of the highlights of the temple. The two dwarapalakas on either side of the entrance are one of the richest and elegant ornate sculptures you can find anywhere in the world.
Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebid - Hoysala temples
Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebid (1121 A.D-Hoysala)
3. Virupaksha Temple, Hampi (7th century AD - 1510 AD)
One of the oldest functional Hindu temples in India dedicated to Lord Shiva and located on the banks of the River Tungabhadra. It is part of the ruins of Hampi, an UNESCO world heritage site.
Location: Hampi, Karnataka
Accessibility: Nearest major Airport is Bangalore (353km) , Nearest Railway station is Hospet (14km)
Highlights: Significant feature of the temple complex is the 165ft tall main gopura.
Virupaksha Temple, Hampi - Vijayanagara temples
Virupaksha Temple, Hampi (7th century AD-1510 AD-Vijayanagara)
2. Chennakeshava temple, Belur (1117A.D)
Built in Hoysala style of Architecture and completely carved out of soap stone. Each of the Pillars inside the temple are uniquely carved. The outer walls of the temple are also elaborately carved with Intricate Sculptures and friezes. The temple is one of the finest examples of ancient art and architecture. Only by visiting this place personally can justify its amazing craftsmanship.
Location: Belur, Hassan
Accessibility: Nearest major Airport is Bangalore (243km), Nearest Railway stations are Hassan (41km) & Chikkamagaluru (25km)
Highlights: Belur is famous for its beautiful sculptures of Madanikas or Shilabalikes at various dance poses. The large central dome inside the temple is one of the most elaborately decorated ceilings in all India; it is about 10 ft in diameter and six feet deep.
Chennakeshava temple, Belur - Hoysala Temples
Chennakeshava temple, Belur (1117 A.D-Hoysala)
1. Vitthala Temple, Hampi (1513 A.D)
The Numero Uno is the Vitthala temple of Hampi, which is the most popular ancient temple in Karnataka. It is perhaps the most beautiful and prominent among the ruins of Hampi, dedicated to lord Vishnu. It is part of the ruins of Hampi, an UNESCO world heritage site.
Location: Hampi, Ballari
Accessibility: Nearest major Airport is Bangalore (353km), Nearest Railway station is Hospet (17km)
Highlights: The temple is famous for its remarkable monolithic musical pillars and the iconic Stone Chariot. 
Vitthala Temple, Hampi - Vijayanagara temples
Vitthala Temple, Hampi (1513 A.D-Vijayanagara)

Apart from these 10, there are many other popular ancient temples in Karnataka which are worth a visit. The list goes on below,

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