Travelling in the Deccan Plateau

The Deccan Plateau is rich in cultural heritage and architectural marvels that span several centuries and dynasties

We are passionate about the Deccan and want to share our enthusiasm with you, our public. If you live in India and have not yet visited the region, or if you are a foreign tourist who has been to India several times but never to Hampi, Mysore, Badami or other of the important sites of the region, we hope that you will consider the Deccan Plateau for your next adventure.

We have assembled below a few illustrative itineraries, guidebooks, travel articles and suggested readings to help you visualise the architectural treasures that await you, and assist you in planning your trip. These resources are by no means exhaustive, but they are a good start.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Deccan

The UNESCO World Heritage List, inaugurated in 1972, is a prestigious inventory of places around the world of outstanding universal value. The 10 UNESCO Sites in the Deccan represent exceptional examples of cultural significance, natural beauty or both, and exemplify the values, history and culture of the Deccan Plateau.


Deccan Heritage Sites


A majestic site situated in a mystical landscape, Hampi Vijayanagara will richly reward the intrepid traveler. Highlights include the Virupaksha temple, the Vittala temple with its iconic stone chariot, the Krishna temple, the Lotus Mahal, the Elephant stables, the Queens’ Bath and the Narashima and Ganesha Monoliths. At least two to three days are required to experience it properly.

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Gulbarga, Bidar and Bijapur

The magnificent monuments of Gulbarga, Bidar and Bijapur in northern Karnataka are manifestations of a vibrant culture that flourished under the rule of the Bahmani and Adil Shahi sultans during the 14th to 17th centuries.

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Aurangabad, Daulatabad, Khuldabad and Ahmadnagar

While Aurangabad in Maharashtra state is well known as a convenient base from which to reach the celebrated cave-temples at Ajanta and Ellora — designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites — the city’s tombs and mosques are less visited. Many of these were built in the 17th century, when the city served as the second capital of the Mughal Empire, taking its name from the emperor Aurangzeb, who spent many years here. A few days can be spent visiting these sites, the fort at Daulatabad, the sufi shrines at Khuldabad, and the 16th century mosques, palaces and tombs at Ahmadnagar.

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Halebidu, Belur and Somanathapura

The 12th century temples of Halebidu and Belur, extraordinary achievements of Hoysala artists, are unsurpassed for their profusion of images and dense ornamentation.

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Once one of India’s richest princely states renowned for its pearl trade and Golconda diamonds, Hyderabad is today a sprawling metropolis and a thriving IT centre.

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Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal

Famous for its rock-cut cave temples dedicated to Hinduism and Jainism, Badami was the capital of the Chalukya dynasty. The caves are noted for their intricate carvings and beautiful frescoes. Nearby, the Badami fort offers insights into acient fortification techniques.

Pattadakal, a UNESCO World Heritage site, showcases a blend of North Indian (Nagara) and South Indian (Dravidian) architectural styles. It served as a ceremonial site for Chalukyan kings and features a complex of Hindu and Jain temples.

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Formerly the capital of a rich princely state, Mysuru is a charming city of tree-lined boulevards and palatial buildings, known for its silks and sandalwood. Within a half a day’s drive, visitors can explore a range of heritage monuments, from renowned Hindu and Jain pilgrimage sites, to intricate Hoysala temples and impressive Indo-Saracenic buildings.

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Buddhist Rock-Cut Monasteries of the Western Ghats

The magnificent rock-cut Buddhist monasteries near Nashik and Junnar, and at Karla, Bhaja, Bedsa, Kondane and Kanheri in Western Maharashtra were cut into the basalt cliffs of the Western Ghats more than 2,000 years ago.


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Suggested Reads

White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India

William Dalrymple

The romantic and ultimately tragic tale of a passionate love affair that transcended all cultural and religious boundaries of its time, between James Achilles Kirkpatrick, the British Resident at the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad and Khair-un-Nissa, the great-niece of the Nizam’s Prime Minister.

A Social History of the Deccan, 1300-1761: Eight Indian Lives

Richard M. Eaton

A history of the Deccan plateau from the fourteenth century to the rise of European colonialism, through the lives of eight Indians who lived at different times, and who each represented something particular about the Deccan.

Malgudi Days

R. K. Narayan

Comprised of powerful portraits and stories written over almost forty years, Malgudi Days presents an imaginary city in Karnataka, in full color.

Hyderabad — A Biography

Narendra Luther

Starting with the period prior to the city’s birth in 1591, the book presents an unbroken and colourful chronicle of Hyderabad, one of contemporary India’s most important cities. Charting the city’s fascinating march from Bhagnagar to Hyderabad to ‘Cyberabad’, this story is replete with diverse engaging, eccentric, and often daring characters, some of whose lives are stranger than fiction.

The Days of the Beloved

Harriet Ronken Lynton and Mohini Rajan

Hyderabadis still remember the reign of Mahbub Ali Pasha as a golden age in the history of their city. Mahbub, beloved by his people, who ruled Hyderabad at the turn of the 20th century, became a legend for his generosity and benevolent concern for his subjects. Weaving together memories, stories and anecdotes, historical facts and archival source material, this book paints a loving picture of life at various levels in this elegant city, and of Mahbub Ali Pasha himself, who, like a fairy-tale prince, mixed with the common people, sharing their joys and sorrows.

Rebel Sultans: The Deccan from Khilji to Shivaji

Manu S Pillai

Packed with riveting tales and compelling characters, this book traces the story of the Deccan from the close of the thirteenth century to the dawn of the eighteenth. We witness the dramatic rise and fall of the Vijayanagar empire, and the intrigues at the courts of the Bahmani kings and the Rebel Sultans who overthrew them.