What’s 37 metres tall, wields a trident and sits opposite a giant cow? You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a character in some psychedelic sci-fi film. But this particular marvel can be found in real life – the Shiva of Murudeshwara is one of many giant religious statues dotted around the south-west Indian state of Karnataka.
Gargantuan religious icons are just one of the many reasons to visit the state, as I discovered at a recent trade event held by the Karnataka Department of Tourism to promote its Script Your Adventure marketing campaign.
“The idea behind Script your Adventure was to showcase Karnataka as one state with many themes,” said Vijay Sharma, managing director of Jungle Lodges and Resorts and a member of the board of directors at the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation. “We have wildlife, heritage, art and culture.”
Agents keen to learn more about the state can access free online training, with five modules covering everything from key attractions to wildlife. Destination highlights include the ancient ruins of Hampi – the 14th-century capital of the Vijayanagara empire and home to the nine-storey Virupaksha Temple.
With five national parks and 27 wildlife and bird sanctuaries, there is fauna and flora in abundance: 25% of India’s elephant population and 15% of its tigers reside in Karnataka.
In the state capital of Bengaluru (formerly known as Bangalore), clients can experience a vibrant and eclectic restaurant and bar scene, whose establishments have colourful names such as Fatty Bao – a fashionable rooftop eatery serving Asian street food – and cocktail bar Sotally Tober.
Notable landmarks include the Bangalore Palace, Attara Kacheri High Court and Bull Temple, famous for the gargantuan idol of the sacred cow Nandi.
From the towering 17-metre Gommateshwara statue at Vindyagiri to the 33-metre colossus of the 12th-century philosopher Basava at the Mahadev temple, Karnataka proves it doesn’t do anything in halves. Coupled with its wildlife and historical sites, crafting an inspirational itinerary shouldn’t be a problem when you are putting together your clients’ adventure.
Flights: Air India and British Airways fly direct to Bengaluru in 10 hours. Oman Air offers a London to Bengaluru flight
Weather: In the summer season (March to May), temperatures can reach 34°C, or between 32°C and 20°C in winter (January to February).
Currency: Indian rupee.
Visa: Brits require a visa to enter India – visit indianvisaonline.gov.in