Shimoga is a town in Karnataka State. The name is a corrupted form of Shiva-mukha i.e., face of Lord Shiva. In 2006, the local government renamed Shimoga as Shivamogga.
Shimoga can be reached by train from Bangalore or Mysore. There are many trains running from Bangalore, morning till late at night, every day. If you can rush out of the station soon, you'll be lucky to hit the city service bus (auto-rickshaws are also available) which will take you to the main bus terminus from where you can take buses to other places, e.g., Saagar, and Talaguppa. Also, there is a railway station link bus to Sagar at the time of arrival of trains at Shimoga Railway station.
There are ample buses from the state capital Bangalore during day as well as night time. There are various classes of buses which one can take as per their wallet size. It takes nearly 7 hours by bus and it traverses through Tumkur, Tiptur, Arsikere, Kadur, Tarikere and Bhadravati before reaching Shimoga bus terminus.
Shimoga as such does not have many places to look around since it is the district headquarters. But it consists of many smaller towns and is one of the greenest districts. Hiring a cab is not a bad idea though, but the better choice is try to catch a person who can take you around.
Autos are not metered, and the minimum fare is ₹20 for intra-city distances.
The list is huge:
- Lion and Tiger Safari is around 11 km from the city bus stand on the way to Sagar. This place comprises a zoo and animals in the wild. You can see animals like lion, tigers, and deer.
The buses are well covered and take you into the wild every 30 mins. All cameras are allowed at a cost of ₹150-400 depending on the type. The zoo is also great, highlights being cheetahs, bears, and peacocks.
- Gajnur Dam is around 10 km from the city center.
- Jog Falls Jog Falls is about 101 km from Shimoga, and the water falls down in four different streams named the Raja, Rani, Rocket and Roarer.
- Thirthalli, a small laid-back taluk headquarters.
- Agumbe, the 'Cheerapunji of Karnataka' gets the state's highest rainfall, is around 2 hours away from Shimoga, is an amazing village known for its forest resource, sunset spots, trekking passes, lakes, mountains. This one is a must see.
- Linganamakki Dam is very close to Jog Falls.
- Kodachadri, A glorious and enchanting mountain provides the perfect escape from the hectic pace of everyday life. A paradise for trekkers, the place attracts lot of trekkers around Karnataka state. Kodachadri is situated at 435 m (1411 ft) above sea level and 115 km from Shimoga. A beatific hill abode that overlooks the panoramic Western Ghats. It is clothed with splendid evergreen forests. The first portion of the hill is very steep and difficult to ascend. On the west, the hill descends almost perpendicular for about 1300 m (4026 ft), meeting the South Kanara forests that lie below. The sea appears quite close, and on a clear day, you can also see the ships go by. The famous temple town of Kollur is 12 km away. The steep hills challenge the trekkers for an adventurous trekking experience. If you want to stay, you can go to Kalyani Chowka in Nittur and from there to Nisarga Dhaama. Manjanna always will be there for your help.
- Shivappanayaka's Fort at Nagara.
- Sharavathi Wild Life Sanctuary.
- Kavaledurga - Fort of Shivappanayaka very close to Thirthahalli.
- Elephant Training Camp-Sakrebayalu. On the way to Thirthahalli from Shimoga, 14 km away from the city you can hear elephants reciting their lessons. Yes, it's not a joke, in fact, here, you can find many elephants being tamed by professionals, for log lifting and other such work. Elephants from the adjoining forests bathe at this spot, before they re-enter their forest abode. Every morning these majestic creatures waddle down to the waters, and after having cleansed their bodies and having satiated their thirst, they leave the waters before the rays of the sun get stronger. They are off to deal with their day's routine, only to return the following day. To catch a glimpse of these elaphants at play in the waters, get there before 9AM.
- Mandagadde Bird Sanctuary. 32 km from Shimoga, on the way to Thirthahalli, you can hear the birds chirping. This place is a spot for birds migrating from places around the world. The place is surrounded by dense lush green forest and the flow of river Tunga has created a small island which adds to the beauty. The dense trees on the island provides shelter to migrating birds. Birds like Egrets, Bellakki Cormorant, Darter, Snake bird etc immigrate from different parts of the world during may season for breeding A high platform is built on the edge of river Tunga for bird watching. Boats are available for a closer watch.
- Guduvi Bird Sanctuary. This bird sanctuary is unique for many reasons, but is the only sanctuary located in the midst of the dense forest. Guduvi is one of the 5 famous bird sanctuaries of Karnataka. The place is 16 km from Soraba taluka of Shimoga district. This bird sanctuary is spread over an area of 73.68 ha. As per 1993 survey, it is told that 191 varieties of birds are found at this place. A natural lake and the trees gives shelter to this birds. Some important birds found are White Pebis, Stone Bill, Egret, Cormorant, Snake bird, Heron. Different birds immigrate from other parts of the world in different seasons for breeding. A platform is built for a closer look of birds.
- Honnemaradu. Honnemaradu, a small town alongside a reservoir, is tucked away in the lush greenery of the Western Ghats along the Sharavati backwaters near Sagar. Encompassing an area of 50 km by 80 km, this reservoir stretches as far as the eye can see. Honnemaradu, or “Golden Lake”, has some of the most spectacular views of the sunrise and sunset. Deep in a forest, without the slightest trace of civilisation, Honnemaradu is a haven for die-hard outdoors fanatics as well as those who want a complete break from the city. Hiking is permitted along roads only, and boats are available with a hired guide. Honnemaradu is 8km outside of Talaguppa. Some of the water sports activities here include coracling, canoeing, kayaking, and wind rafting. There are many travel groups who organise island camping and water sports.
- Nagara. A 16th-century place situated 84 km from Shimoga. This was also known as "Beendanoor" in the 16th century. This place was the capital of the Keladi rulers and later on, was captured by Hyder Ali. Other places of interest are Shivappanaika Palace, Neelakenteshwara Temple, Devagana tank and Gudde Venkataramana Swamy Temple.
- Shivappa Nayak Palace Shivappa Naik Palace. Situated on the banks of the River Tunga in the busy lanes of Shimoga is a 16th-century place built by Shivappa Naik of Keladi. A good architectural piece built with rose wood. The palace has a museum which has several interesting and rare archaeological collections of stone carvings and antiques from the Keladi period. Recovered idols of the Hoysala and Chalukya periods from the early 16th century to late 18th century are displayed here.
- Sacred Heart Church. Situated in the heart of city, the church was renovated and is said to be second largest church in India with an area of 1800 m² (18000 square feet). Also equipped with a prayer hall with a capacity to hold up to 5000 people at a time.
- Bhadravathi. Bhadravathi, a town in the South Indian state of Karnataka, it is about 20 km from Shimoga. There are many buses to this place and many taxis are also available. Lakshmi Narasimha temple built by Hoysalas in the 13th century is located in Bhadravathi. This beautiful Hoysala architecture temple is maintained by the Archaeological Department of the Karnataka state. This temple is dedicated to Lord Narasimha (incarnation of Lord Vishnu). Bhadravathi is around 20 km from Shimoga in Karnataka. Bhadravathi is also known as steel town as there is one huge steel factory called Vishweshwaraya Iron and Steel Limited (VISL), earlier known as Mysore Iron and Steel Limited. There is a Dam called the Bhadra River Project (BRP) which is located 15 km from Bhadravathi. It is a very beautiful sunset point.
- Kuppalli. Birthplace of the renowned Kannada poet Kuvempu (Jnanapitha award winner). 18 km from Thirthahalii, it is a must-see place for its natural surroundings and well-kept house of Malnad architecture.
- Ambuthirtha (Via Thirthahalii to hosanagara route). 1/2. Birthplace of the River Sharavathi. This river forms a beautiful waterfall at Jog. Sharavathi River is the major source of hydro electric power in Karnataka. 12.
- Sri Sigandur Chaudamma Temple. The Chaudamma/Chaudeshwari temple in Sigandur in Sagara Taluk. Of note is the "launch" which is used to get across the backwaters of the Sharavathi river. This launch also transports vehicles, including cars and buses, and even people.
- Bhadra Tiger Reserve. Lakavaali (B.R.Project) near Bhadravati is the gateway to Bhadra wildlife sanctuary from Shivamogga side.
Nature photography and hiking are the best things to do in this district which houses a plethora of waterfalls, trekking passes, mountains, viewpoints, and hill stations. Also, it is home to a large variety of wild animals, butterflies, moths, snakes, and insects.
Those interested in a very different culinary experience can visit one of the local temples for lunch. (See suggested day trip below)
Kudali Sangama-14 km from Shimoga where the Tunga and Bhadra rivers merge. It also has a branch of the Sringeri Math, Chintamani Narasimha Temple, a rare Brahma temple and inscriptions on stones. There is no shade for visitors and it is also like a Land's End since two rivers are meeting, hence, even though people specifically come to this place, there is no place for them to linger. It is called Kudali Sangama and not to be confused with Kudalasangama, as otherwise this place will show up in all searches for Kudalasangama and add to confusion.
A suggested day trip is Jog Falls - Varadahalli - Ikkeri - Lion & Tiger safari
- Jog Falls is about 101 km from Shimoga. This is the highest waterfalls in India and during the monsoons the 4 jets of water named Raja, Rani, Rocket, and Roarer gush in full strength. It takes the better part of 2 hours to climb down and a little more to climb back up. A trail of approx. 1400 steps has been constructed from the top of Jog Falls till the bottom. Though it eases the descent and ascent greatly, it can be quite tiring and exhausting. Its always advisable to carry a water bottle (though refreshments are available till a point) and some snacks when going to the bottom.
- Varadahalli is a hamlet that is off the main road near the town of Sagar. This is the place where Guru Sri Sridhara Swamy meditated for salvation. There is a temple here and like most other temples in the region, free lunch is provided at a communal dining hall every day to all visitors between 12:30-14:00. The fare is a simple vegetarian meal consisting of rice with rasam, sambar, and buttermilk. Although the lunch is free, donations are recommended (₹50 per person is adequate). Local traditions require all people to remove their footwear before entering the dining hall, and for all males to remove the shirts at the time of lunch. Also, the seating is on the floor and there are no tables or chairs.
- Ikkeri is best visited on the way back from Varadahalli and has an approx. 500-year-old beautiful stone temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
- Lion and Tiger Safari is around 12 km from the Shimoga bus terminus. Not a safari in the true sense of the word because the lions and tigers are housed in fenced enclosures and a sighting is guaranteed. The park also has a mini zoo housing hyenas, bears, porcupines, pythons, and alligators. Entrance is ₹15, cameras ₹50 (video cameras ₹150) and safari bus ticket ₹40. Unlike some other tourist spots in India, the charges here are the same for Indian and foreign nationals.
There is no nightlife in Shimoga. A few bars may be found in the commercial areas only. There are a few remote bars near Mandagadee which serve alcohol till 2AM.
- Hotel Royal Orchid Near to bus stand
- Hotel Jewel Rock Durgigudi Road
- Meenakshi Bhavan Hotel BH Road.
- Hotel Mathura Residency Mathura Arcade, Balraj Urs Road
- Hotel Sundar Ashraya Thirthahally Road
- Tirumal Lodge Park Extension
- Hotel Ashok Deluxe
- Hotel Surya Comforts
- Hotel Sanman Lodge Garden Area, 3rd Cross Nehru Road
- Hotel Durga Lodge
- Hotel Chandrika Lodge
- Hotel M.G. Palace
- Ramakrishna Lodge
- Vihangama Holiday Retreat, Bharathipura Post (4 km from Thirthahalli on Highway 13 towards Shimoga), ☏ . A family-run resort in the middle of the Western Ghats on the bank of river Tunga.
- Hotel Heritage, Opp Railway Station, B.H.Road, ☏ . (low average)
- River View Farm Stay, Harakere, Thirthahalli Road (River View Farm Harakere is located on National Highway-13, Thirthahalli Road 3 km from Shimoga bus terminal and 6 km from Shimoga Railway station), ☏ . The guest accommodation lies on the river bank with rooms facing the Tranquil Tunga River. The region around farm is blessed with outstanding natural beauty, panoramic river views and lush greenery. The local tourist attractions are only a short drive away from Harakere Farm
Shimoga comes under Malenadu geographical region of Karnataka state. Dense evergreen rain forests are found at many places, be careful while venturing into these forests. There may be flood or water logging on roads and within forests during rainy season months of June, July, August and September. Take torch, water, food, rain coat, first aid box whistle, cotton wicks and other essential items with you. Petrol or Diesel must be filled up in your vehicle fuel tank before entering these forests as there are no petrol bunk or petrol pump in many rural areas.