Karnataka is home to several national parks, including Bandipur National Park in Mysore District, Bannerghatta National Park in Bangalore, Nagarhole National Park in Mysore and Kodagu districts, Kudremukh National Park in Dakshina Kannada and Chickmagalur districts, Dandeli & Anshi National Park in Uttara Kannada district, Gudavi and Mandegadde bird sanctuaries and Sharavati WLS in Shimoga district, B.R Hills WLS in Chamarajanagar district, Rangantittu bird sanctuary in Mandya district, Brahmagiri and Pushpagiri WL sanctuaries in Kodagu district.
There are other wildlife sanctuaries and nature preserves as well.
Recently, UNESCO has been considering designating some areas like Kudremukh NP as UN world heritage site for its natural beauty. As such, the Western Ghats that runs south-north through the state is considered as one among the twenty five bio-diversity hotspots of the world.
Karnataka Water Falls and Caves
Jog falls of Shimoga District is one of the highest waterfalls in Asia. Karnataka is famous for its waterfalls. Some well known ones are Magod falls, Lalgulli falls, Sathodi falls, Unchalli falls, Lushington falls, Shivaganga falls, Ulavi falls, Iruppu falls, Shivanasamudra falls, Balmuri falls, Gokak falls, Abbe falls, Achakanya falls, Chunchanakatte Falls, Hebbe falls, Kallathigiri falls, Vajrapoha falls, Sogal falls, Godchinamalaki falls etc. In fact the waterfalls of Karnataka and Kudremukh National Park are listed as must see places in Michael Bright's 1001 Natural Wonders of the World, by Barrons Educational Series Inc., published by Quinted Inc., 2005.
Some well known caves in Karnataka are Yana caves and Kavala caves and Syntheri rocks in Uttara Kannada district, Sugriva's cave in Hampi holds similarity to the descriptions of 'Kishkinda' in the epic Ramayana, hundreds of caves in Basava Kalyana in Bidar district.
Karnataka boasts of the highest elephant and Gaur bison population (greater than 6000 & 8000 respectively) in India. Its forests hold some of the largest remaining populations of the endangered tiger and leopard. Th Niligiri Biosphere Reserve (also a designated UNESCO Biosphere reserve) is located at the junction of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerela. Nagarahole WLS and Bandipur NP in Karnataka fall in this region.
Eco-tourism is a very popular activity in the state. Karnataka leads other states in eco-tourism. 'Jungle Lodges & Resorts', a state run organization has camping and safari facilities in several wildlife sanctuaries. Private safari providers have sprung up in several places along the western ghats.
Sun and Sea
Karnataka is blessed with over 300kms of pristine coastal stretch. Nethrani Island of Uttara Kannada is well known for coral reefs. St. Mary's Island, a few kilometers from Udupi is famous for its basalt rock formations. Sunny beaches at places like Maple, Murdeshwara, Maravanthe,
Gokarna, Kumta are complimented by spectacular mountains slightly to the east. Agumbe, Kodachadri hills, Kemmangundi, are just a few of many hill stations that straddle the coast providing tourists the best of sun and greenery. Unlike many crowded hill stations in South India, the hill stations of Karnataka are still mostly undiscovered and pristine.