Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai unveils the wonders
This is the day to rejoice and celebrate the pride of Karnataka. Just as the world marvels at the beauty of the landmark Seven Wonders of the World, our land of Karnataka now boasts of its own Seven Wonders. The list is finally out! Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has announced the ‘Seven Wonders of Karnataka,’ which represent the best of the state’s land and water, forest and sea, faith and science, architecture and sculpture, and history and heritage. The Seven Wonders showcase only the very best that this state has to offer.
The declaration of the Seven Wonders was made by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai at a glittering event in a five-star hotel in the city on Saturday. In the ceremonial event, the chosen wonders were awarded a state certificate, which was received by the respective district commissioners.
The Seven Wonders of Karnataka are as follows.
1. Hirebenakal Rock Tombs: Dating back tothe period between 800 BC and 200BC, it is estimated, this prehistoric site in Koppal district’s Gangavati taluk, is declared to be the ‘Mega Stone Age Wonder’.
2. Hampi: Built between 14th and 16th century, Hampi stands as the stellar example of Vijayanagara Empire’s glorious rule. Still standing beautiful in Vijayanagara district, Hampi has been declared the ‘Architectural Wonder’.
3. Gomateshwara: The 57-feet tall towering statue of Gomateshwara was built in the 10 th century atop the Vindhyagiri Hill in Hassan district’s Shravanabelagola. It has been declared as a ‘Philosophical Wonder’.
4. Gol Gumbaz: Built by Sultan Mohammed Adil Shah during the 17th century in Bijapur (now Vijayapura), the massive Gol Gumbaz has been declared the ‘Architectural Science Wonder’.
5. Mysore Palace: Dating back to the 19th and 20th century, the world-famous Amba Vilas Palace, which was envisioned by the Wodeyar Dynasty was declared as the ‘Royal Heritage Wonder’.
6. Jog Falls: Considered among the most beautiful waterfalls in India, water gushes from a great height of 830-feet in Shimoga district’s Jog Falls. This world-famous visual treat has been declared a ‘Natural Wonder on Land’.
7. Netrani Island: Symbolic of love itself, this heart-shaped island on the Arabian Sea off Murudeshwar in Uttara Kannada district has been declared a ‘Natural Wonder onWater’.
Addressing the gathering on this occasion, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that the ‘Seven Wonders of Karnataka’ has created a fresh tourism model for the state. I have already set in motion the preparation of a detailed development plan for Hirebenakal, which is a part of this stellar list of wonders. The District Commissioners of each of the seven wonders are asked to submit a blueprint development report to upgrade the facilities at these places.
The Seven Wonders of Karnataka were scooped out after a year of persistent effort and hard work. CM Bommai requested that the list of 5,000 nominated places be handed over to the government. These places would be used as the blueprint for creating a state tourism promotion plan, he assured.
CM Bommai expressed appreciation for the meticulous process of nomination, whittling down and finally arriving at the Seven Wonders of Karnataka. He lauded the project team for sowing the seeds for a great initiative. He asked that the project not stop here but rather continue as an annual event. By doing this, said the CM, more precious and lesser-known places are likely to emerge. These are not just tourism locations but excellent opportunities to impart the true stories of our rich history, heritage and culture, said Mr. Bommai.
Karnataka state tourism minister Anand Singh said, “Since I have taken the state tourism office, a number of development programmes have been initiated in tourism hotspots. Still, there is much more to do. The project of the Seven Wonders of Karnataka should be eternally kept alive. But, the legislative assembly elections are upon us shortly. It is the nature of politics for parties to change and power to shift hands. There should be a commitment to continue protecting and promoting important tourism centers. In this, public cooperation is most important. It doesn’t matter who is in power, the district commissioners and tourism department officials should undertake the responsibility unfailingly.”
He further added that our country itself is a wonder. Our state is an even more beautiful wonder. There is no doubt that these chosen seven wonders have all that it takes to attract the most curious travelers of the world. He is of the opinion that with the right media promotion, these places will stay intact in the hearts and minds of people.
For a long time now, citizens of the Karavali region are requesting the relaxation of the CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) norms to increase commercial and economic activity here. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit here, he declared a relaxation of the CRZ norms, which comes as a huge relief to this region. The relaxation will promote economic activity along the coastline. Moreover, tourism spots in this region will get a huge boost.
Ambassador of the The Seven Wonders of Karnataka project, popular actor Ramesh Aravind said that Karnataka is blessed with hundreds of wonders. When I was approached to wear the hat of responsibility in choosing just seven out of these hundreds of wonders, I immediately accepted as it is a work of honour. Every year, different beautiful women from across the world wear the Miss World crown. But these wonderful places have been wearing the crown of beauty for years on end. Our scriptures have the beautiful phrase of Satyam-Shivam-Sundaram, which literally translates to Truth-Godliness-Beauty. It means that the truth of existence, more than being good, is an experience of Godliness. Similarly, if an idea has to be eternally beautiful, it has to possess these qualities of truth, Godliness and essence.
The Seven Wonders of Karnataka are not just a visual treat. They also carry the essence of belonging, along with reflecting our culture, heritage and, above all, truth, he explained. We may have many differences in the form of language, caste, creed and the God we worship. These Seven Wonders bring together all of us with our various differences of nationality, language and beliefs to agree on the beauty of these wonders.The chosen Seven Wonders have an extra edge for the great potential that they carry. They attract visitors from all over the world to our state to first plan their visit to these seven wonders. These places serve as lessons of our stories and heritage to keen students of our culture. This is the first such brave attempt in the state, making an official entry into the Seven Wonders, he said.
Koppal Deputy Commissioner Sundaresh Babu, Vijayanagara Deputy Commissioner T Venkatesh, Hassan Deputy Commissioner M S Archana, Vijayapura Deputy Commissioner Mahantesh Danammanavar, Mysuru Deputy Commissioner Dr. T V Rajendra, Shivamogga Deputy Commissioner's representative Assistant Commissioner Pallavi, and Uttara Kannada Deputy Commissioner Prabhulinga Kavalikatti received the certificates and official declaration for the winning Wonders of Karnataka.
Kannada Prabha daily newspaper and Asianet Suvarna News channel collaborated with the Karnataka Tourism Department to undertake this mega project of identifying and promoting the ‘Seven Wonders of Karnataka’.
The Selection Panel
The jury that chose the Seven Wonders of Karnataka included VC and social evangelist in the startup ecosystem Prashanth Prakash; Three-time Grammy-winning musician, Global Goodwill Ambassador and environment activist Ricky Kej; Director of films like Wild Karnataka and Gandhada Gudi, wildlife photographer Amoghavarsha; President of the Karnataka Itihasa Academy, renowned prehistory and history expert Dr. Devarakonda Reddy; world-renowned speed painter and young world traveler Vilas Nayak; Managing Director of the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation and Joint Secretary to the chief minister G Jagadeesha; and Editor-in-Chief of Kannada Prabha and Asianet Suvarna News Ravi Hegde.
The Selection Process
The Seven Wonders of Karnataka project was announced to identify the top Seven places within the state that truly represent the best that Karnataka has to offer, including its land, water, forests and seas, architecture, science, sculpture, art, history and heritage. Enthusiastic Kannadigas sent in as many as 5000 nominations from every nook and corner of the state. An internal jury went through each and every nomination and whittled down the places to 100.
These 100 places were put through the test of fire, that is public voting. Over 82 lakh votes were registered on various platforms, including Kannada Prabha newspaper, Asianet Suvarna News channel and the Website. From these votes, the top 21 places with the highest number of votes proceeded to the final stage. It took a year to conduct detailed surveys on these 21 finalists. A Seven-member panel consisting of tourism and history experts critically evaluated these places on seven-point criteria. The panel participated in thorough discussions of each place based on the seven criteria, including history, making/construction and materials used, specialty and identity, beauty, artistic skills, enormity, and current state/condition. The SevenWonders of Karnataka were arrived at unanimously by the panel.
All about the 7 Wonders of Karnataka!
Beauty is not the only criterion for a place to enter the hall of fame that is the Seven Wonders of Karnataka. These wonders represent the range and variety of the state. They are symbols that showcase Karnataka’s richest resources, including land, water, forests, coastline, architecture, science, sculptures, art, history, heritage, and philosophy.
Ours is the land of such vivacity. Arriving at the seven wonders was no mean task. It was done using a scientific approach with each of the seven wonders representing a category. The selection process was elaborate, starting with 5000 nominations pouring in from every corner of Karnataka. The exercise witnessed over 82 lakh public votes, location surveys that lasted a year, and an assessment by an expert panel that consisted of global tourism and history professionals. The result of this hard work is here before you. Here’s presenting the Seven Wonders of Karnataka!
Hirebenakal Rock Tombs: A Megalithic Stone Age Wonder
This site remains unfamiliar even to many native Kannadigas. The megalithic site is estimated to date back 3,000 to 4,000 years old. Travel 10 km from Koppal district’s Gangavathi to reach Hirebenakal village. On Moryara hill in this village, hundreds of manmade prehistoric rock tombs and cave paintings welcome the curious visitor. Reminiscent of the UK’s Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Egypt and Bahrain’s Dilmun burial mounds, the Hirebenakal rock tombs are a mausoleum, like a cenotaph that is an ode to the dead carved in stone. Dilmuns or burial mounds are found in many parts of the world. Republic of Korea alone houses 40% of the world’s Dilmuns. Even though India has several such burial mounds, the megalith at Moryara in Hirebenakal is South India’s biggest site. The tombstones vary in height from one-foot tall to ten-foot-tall tomb slabs; these stone beauties have withstood the vagaries of nature for over 3,000-4,000 years, standing strong and unshakeable till date. That in itself is a wonder! The rock tombs of Hirebenkal at Moryara Hill represent the most wondrous of many such prehistoric sites of Karnataka.
Hampi: An Archeological Wonder
The entire city of Hampi, quite like Rome, is a wonder. It is among the world’s biggest open-air archeological museums. Its architectural splendor, sculptural variety, and the number of monuments all make it world famous. Hampi’s Stone Chariot is the highlight of this historical site. That the stones at Hampi sing a melodious tune is both a belief and a reality. From the rhythm-inducing pillars of the Sri Vijaya Vittala Temple to the dinner plates sculpted in stone near the Mahanavami mound, there are plenty of examples throughout Hampi where the stones sing. Besides the frozen stone beauties, the hills and lush greenery that surround Hampi lend this site a uniqueness that sets it apart from other natural wonders in Karnataka. Karnataka has several architectural wonders within its borders, each boasting such exclusive features that they can each be listed as a wonder of the state. Sri Channakesava temple in Belur is only one such shining example of architectural excellence. If, on the one hand, we have the Helebidu and Pattadakal sculptural temples, Aihole is famed as the cradle of India’s temple architecture. Badami’s magnificent cave temples offer great competition to the top spot. Karnataka also can boast of the beauty and history of Lakkundi and Talakadu. The examples are plenty. Of all of these, Hampi stands as the ideal representative of these collective historical wonders of Karnataka.
Gomateshwara, Shravanabelagola: A Philosophical Wonder
What Christ the Redeemer statue is to Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, the Gomateshwara statue in Shravanabelagola is to Karnataka. Christ the Redeemer statue is among the seven wonders of the world. Similarly, the Gomateshwara statue is among the top statues of Karnataka. Even though a number of monolith statues are being planned and erected in Karnataka in recent years, none can hold a candle to the Bahubali statue in Shravanabelagola, which dates back hundreds of years. This statue’s fame around the world is not the only reason it deserves to make it to the list of the top seven wonders of Karnataka. This statue stands tall as the ultimate representative of peace. It is that symbol of history when peace was chosen over war. Let us look at the Bharata-Bahubali story of brothers again. It tells us that Kannadigas are as committed in war as to ensuring peace. The greatest power of the Kannada culture is in not oppressing anyone. If anyone like Bharata attacks us, it is not difficult for Kannadigas to protect ourselves and destroy the attacker. But left to ourselves, we are lovers of peace, much like Gomateshwara. The Bahubali statue stands as the symbol of this Kannadiga attitude of being war ready and also peace-loving. Not just that. This site stands as the ideal representative of the many philosophical greats such as Kanakadasa, Purandaradasa, Basavanna, Madhvacharya, Shishunala Sharief, etc., that walked this land, adding to its philosophical vibrancy.
Gol Gumbaz: A Vaastu Science Wonder
If Taj Mahal is a White Wonder of the world, Karnataka’s Gol Gumbaz can be called the Dark Wonder of the world. Gol Gumbaz in Vijayapura is among the world’s biggest mausoleums. Constructed in the 17th century in the Indo-Sarcenic architectural style, this giant memorial serves as Adil Shahi’s ancestral mausoleum. It is a wondrous construction for its near-perfect Vaastu science of architecture, geometry and, interestingly, phonology, too. The elaborate dome, which is built over nothing but the four foundational pillars stands as an example of unique architecture and science. Moreover, the echoes emanating from these walls are nothing short of a symphony in stone. Stand in one corner of the Gumbaz and whisper. You can be heard with remarkable clarity in the other end of this marvellous building. Every sound echoes seven times. A fascinating marriage of geometry and phonology or sound science comes together to make a wonder in construction. This is the Gol Gumbaz. This wonder of Karnataka truly represents the several architectural marvels that are spread across Karnataka state.
Mysore Palace: A Royal Wonder
Amba Vilas Palace in Mysore is one among India’s most beautiful palaces. This palace stands as amagnificent reflection of Mysore state’s glorious past. When it is lit up during the annual Dasara festivities,this palace looks nothing short of a golden palace. Attracting as many visitors as the Taj Mahal, the MysorePalace is the highlight of Karnataka tourism. These are not the only reasons the Mysore Palace deserves to take a spot among the Seven Wonders of Karnataka. Mysore Palace is the backdrop of the grand Mysore Dasara festivities every year, a 400-year-old important cultural heritage that is kept alive to this day, celebrated with great pomp and pageantry. Not just that, the palace is a symbol of Mysore royalty – rulers who are known for their progressive ideas and modern styles of governance, which set a leading example for the rest of India to follow. Whether it was dam construction, irrigation schemes, electricity supply, streetlights, gold coin circulation and railway connectivity, Mysore rulers were always ahead of their times. Even before India was independent from British rule, Mysore rulers had set the tone for democracy and led by example to set up India’s political system. Karnataka state has been fortunate enough to be ruled by some exemplary leaders and dynasties, including the Vijayanagara kings, Kadambas, Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas, Chalukyas, and other big and small (but significant) rulers. Mysore royalty stands as a shining example of the best of these dynasties’ contributions to politics and public life.
Jog Falls: A Natural Wonder on Land
Jog Falls stands among the topmost of India’s most beautiful and big waterfalls. Falling from a great height of 830 feet, Jog Falls is a sight to behold in its lush fullness, especially during the monsoon season. Attracting lakhs of visitors to its natural beauty, Jog Falls is a highlight must-visit in Karnataka tourism. These are not the only reasons for the waterfalls to be listed among the Seven Wonders of Karnataka. The Western Ghats, which is rich in biodiversity is Karnataka’s gem of a forest. Jog Falls sits as the reigning jewel of these verdant green forests, which also houses rare species of wildlife and vegetation. From the Shola forests to the dense evergreen forests, Karnataka boasts six forest ranges. Nagarhole and Dandeli are among the main tiger reserve forests. The state also has green valleys like Kudremukh, Kodagu and Kodachadri, and rivers like Sharavathy, Kaveri, Krishna and Tungabhadra. Among the waterfalls are Gokak, Gaganachukki, Bharachukki and Unchalli. Jog Falls stands as the towering representative of all this natural beauty that Karnataka is blessed with.
Netrani Island: A Natural Wonder on Water
The wonders of Karnataka are not restricted only to the land. The Arabian Sea coastline that abuts the state is an entire stretch that is marvelous. One such wonder is the heart-shaped Netrani Island, symbolic of love. Situated off the coast of Murudeshwara in Uttara Kannada district, this island is so picturesque and so rich in marine life that it is rated as the second in the country for scuba diving activity. The top-rated scuba diving location in India is the Andaman Islands. Scuba divers can hope to spot colourful coral reefs in their dives off Netrani Island. One also gets to spot rare aquatic species and marine life off the coast here. Karnataka boasts 310 km of stunning coastline. Not every state in India even has a coastline. More recently, Murudeshwara, which is near Netrani island, has emerged among the top tourist spots in Karnataka, and is promoting beach tourism in this region. It can be said that Netrani island is representative of Karnataka’s rich coastline, truly bringing to life what the state has to offer in terms of coastal views and tourism.