The region of Karnataka strikes a beautiful balance between its important ancient heritage and the modern beat of innovation. With the second-largest number of protected monuments in the country and the ever-emerging tech-savvy scene in Bangalore, a journey through this state reveals a fascinating juxtaposition of India’s cultures and quirks.

Mysore has long been known for its international exports of silk, sandalwood, incense, and yoga. Its well-planned city streets are marked by ochre-colored buildings, and the Maharaja’s Palace is perhaps its most famous. An architectural blend of Hindu and Muslim styles was built in 1897, and continues to delight visitors with its intricate sculptures, archways, domes, and towers. A Ker & Downey guide will escort you through the wonders inside the palace too, regaling you with tales of bygone splendor and tradition as you inspect the private chambers formerly occupied by the royal family.

The hill country of Coorg—the “Coffee Cup of India”—churns out coffee and spices from its many plantations, plus a healthy dose of distinct cultural wonders. The proud culture of the Kodavas remains tangible and is unique to this region. Theirs is a civilization that was never conquered by the British, or the advances of Tipu Sultan preceding the colonials. Travelers will also find diversity and history at Bylakuppe, the largest Tibetan settlement outside of Tibet.

Make sure to visit Central Karnataka for a stop in Bangalore, which is sometimes referred to as the Silicon Valley of India. The software and technology industry is booming here amidst the well-kept metropolis of landscaped avenues, lush parks, and a magnificent 18th-century botanical garden.

Traveling in Karnataka introduces you to the western half of the peninsular Deccan Plateau. The geology of the region is colorfully diverse and is home to the UNESCO World Heritage-recognized Western Ghats. Running parallel to the Arabian Sea, this range stretches across several states in Southern India and is known for its incredible biodiversity, sheltering over one-quarter of India’s flowering plantlife and an impressive number of endemic animal species.

Within Karnataka you will find architectural marvels, religious sites and spectacles, refreshing natural wonders, and an appreciation for the multi-faceted beauty of India.