It was, in ancient inscriptions, known as Kuvalala, Kolala and Kolahalapura. Historical evidence says that Kolar was in existence from the 4th Century onwards. The Ganga dynasty originally hailed from this place which was the initial capital. Moreover, Kolar was also part of many other dynasties including Cholas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagara. Moreover, it also has mentioned in the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Geographically, Kolar is surrounded by the Bengaluru Rural in the west, Chikkaballapura in the north, Andhra Pradesh state in the east and Tamil Nadu state in the south. And thanks to its proximity to Bengaluru, Kolar is an excellent weekend getaway with many tourist attractions. Here you have numerous places to visit which include the Kolaramma Temple, built by the Gangas and later renovated by the Cholas, Someshwara Temple built by the Cholas and expanded during the Vijayanagara period, the Koti Lingeshwara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva which has a staggering collection of over 60 lakh Shiva Lingas. Apart from the temples, the beautiful hillocks overlooking the town of Kolar provide ideal trekking tracks for adventure enthusiasts.
This place is perhaps most synonymous with the yellow metal – gold, but then there is more to Kolar than just the yellow metal. The now-defunct Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) is believed to be the world’s deepest gold mines and one of the oldest as it has a history of mining since the 5th Century. And while you are exploring this city, don’t miss the chance to grab its reputed country blanket (Kambli) along the way.
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- Antaragange Cave Exploration: Antargange is around 3 km from Kolar towards Kolar Betta, the hills that forms the town's backdrop. The Antargange range of hills is situated in the Shatasringa Parvata (mountain range). Antargange literally means “Ganges from the deep”. Antargange is famous for Sri Kashi Vishweshwara temple. A continuous flow of underground water/ spring here gushes out to the feet of Lord Vishnu and flows out through the mouth of Nandi (Lord Shiva's vehicle). It is believed that drinking water from the pond cleanse one from many diseases. You can climb the roughly hewn stone steps nearby that will lead to the peak wherein you can get a stunning view of Kolar.
- Markhandeshwara Dam: A scenic spot 3 kms from Budikote and 30 kms from Kolar. The Dam was built by Sir M Vishveshvaraiah.
- Big Rock Dirt Park: Located in Holali Village, BigRock Dirt Park today is a comprehensive training academy and one of India’s most successful and sought-after off-road training facility. The academy is well-designed and welcomes riders to experience tracks of various levels of learning and training. The academy has trained over 1500 riders to date. More details: Visit Here
- Kolaramma Temple: The town's presiding deity is Goddess Kolaramma (another name for the eight-armed Goddess Durga). The temple dates back to the Ganga period and there is no shikara on top of this temple. In the 11th Century, the Cholas made several renovations and additions. The temple itself has beautifully carved statues and designs all done using the abundantly available granite stones. This temple is unique in many respects. The deity here is considered so powerful that Her idol is not placed for direct viewing for devotees but placed in a corner of the sanctum sanctorum. A mirror is placed opposite the idol to let the devotees have a glimpse of the Goddess. The temple also is home to Goddess Kapalabhairavi (Chelaniyamma) who is believed to cure scorpion bite. It is believed that praying here, a person will be guarded from scorpion bites.
- Someshvara temple: Located nearby the Kolaramma Temple, is the Someshwara Temple, one of the best examples of pre Vijayanagara Dravidian Style or the Chola period, having very beautiful architectural quality and sculptural elegance. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple entrance has a high Gopura built of brick and mortar and the main temple has a garbhagriha and a large ardhamantapa. The Kalyanamantapa or the Vasantha Mantapa also is a beautiful architectural creation.
- Kotilingeshwara: Situated around 18 km from Kolar in Kammasandra village, the Koti Lingeshwara Temple attracts thousands of devotees. The main attraction is a collection of big and small Shivalingas which number about 60 lakh in total and have been installed by devotees. In another enclosure near the main entrance is a Shivalinga of 108 feet in height which is believed to one of the highest in the world. This statue can be seen while traveling from Bangarpet to KGF. In front of this huge Shivalinga is a Nandi statue of 35 feet in height. Besides, there are other temples consecrated here are dedicated to Manjunatha, Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwara and Navagrahas.
- Kashi Vishvanatha Temple: This temple in Antaragange is dedicated to Lord Shiva and has a pond that gets continuous supply of fresh water from the hills, through the mouth of a bull. Antaragange is known as Dakshina Kashi or Kashi of the south.
- Avani: Legend associates Avani with many episodes of the epic Ramayana. Valmiki Parvata, a hill situated here, is said to be the location of Sage Valmiki's ashram. It is believed Goddess Sita lived here after she was banished by Lord Rama. The town has a large temple complex with around 12 shrines associated with Lord Rama like Rameshwara, Lakshamaneshwara, Bharateshwara, Sugriveshwara, etc. They are collectively known as Ramalingeshwara temples.
- Bethamangala: Bethamangala was the source of water supply to Kolar Gold Fields. Bethamangala is also famous for Vijayendraswamy temple
- Budikote: Also referred to as Vibhutipura or town of ashes, Budikote has inscriptions from the 8th century AD. Temples of Someshvara and Venkataramana are major temples in Budikote.
- Chikka Tirupathi: This is a place of pilgrimage situated around 10 km from Sarjapura in Malur taluk. The spectacular temple of Lord Srinivasa here has a spacious courtyard and an enclosure. The Varadaraja idol here, generally called as Srinivasa is very attractive. The navaranga has the images of saint Ramanujacharya and Vedanta Deshikar. Chikka Tirupathi is a religious centre believed to be as sacred as the Tirupathi Balaji Temple of Andhra Pradesh.
- Bangaru Tirupathi, Guttahalli: Guttahalli is located in Bangarpet taluk and is on the KGF -Mulbagal road. This place is said to have been the meditation ground of the great sage Bhrigu Maharshi and was popularly known also as Bangaragiri. Here, there is a small hillock about 40 metres high where the Venkateshwara Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu is built. This temple is also called as Bangaru Tirupati or Chinna Tirupathi. On the way uphill, one can visit the shrines of Varahaswamy, Lakshmi, Vighneshwata and Veeranjaneya. At the hilltop, you have the Venkateshwara Temple, where you can view the main deity through a six-hole window. Nearby this hillock, to the South-East, on a small hillock there is a shrine dedicated to Goddess Padmavathi.
- Hunkunda: Relics documenting ancient gold mining were found in Hunakunda. Someshwara temple, a beautiful Nolamba structure with short cylindrical pillars is an interesting temple to see in Hunkunda.
- Mahaganapathy Temple, Kurudumale: Around 10 km from Mulbagal taluk is the Mahaganapathy Temple. The temple built in Vijayanagara style has a garbhagriha, two ardhamantapas and a large navaranga. The temple has a large Lord Ganapathy statue of black stone measuring about 8.5 feet tall and this idol of Lord Ganapathy is one of the biggest in Karnataka. Nearby is Someshwara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is also known as Kutandeshwara (Kuttundadevar).
- Malur: Home to Shankara Narayana temple and Kurubara Gudi
- Mulabagal: Popular for Nacharamma cave temple, Anjaneya, Srinivasa, Varadaraja, Virabhadra, Govindaraja, Gopalakrishna temples
- Paparajanahalli: Home to Patalamma temple, Shiva temple and Usman Ali Darga. Bhutaganda cave near Kotikallu rock with Kannada inscriptions, remains of a fort and palace are other noteworthy attractions in Paparajanahalli.
- Bhairava Kshetra: Pilgrimage centre 19 kms from Kolar, at a village named Seethi. Home to Sripatisvara and Kalabhairava temples
- Tekal: Home to Varadarajaswamy, Anjaneya and Singaperumal temple. Tekal hill is also a scenic location with picturesque rocks and caves.
- Teruhalli: Home to Gangadhareshwara temple and Pandavara Hajara caves.
- Virupakshi: Home to Virupaksha temple
- Markandeshwara Temple, Vakkaleri: Vakkaleri is situated on the foothills of Markandeya Betta (hill), around 12 km from Kolar, is quite an ancient place. This place has earned significance because of copper-plate inscriptions of the Badami Chalukyan ruler Keertivarma of the 8th Century and are popularly called Vakkaleri Inscriptions. These inscriptions record the exploits and sing the praise of Keertivarma who conquered the nearby provinces. On top of the Markandeshwara Betta, behind Vakkaleri village, the Markandeshwara Temple is situated. It is built in the Vijayanagara style, and has a garbhagriha with two ardhamantapas. Legend has it that the great sage Markandeya who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva meditated here. It was destined that he would die at a young age of 16. And when the anointed day came, Yama came to take him. But Markandeya who was worshipping the Shivalinga, held on to it tightly asking Lord Shiva's protection when Yama threw his whip and sprung his noose around Markandeya's neck. But the noose also mistakenly landed around the Shivalinga. Lord Shiva thus emerged and then defeated Yama. And pleased with Markandeya's devotion, Lord Shiva gifted the boon of Chiranjeevi (who has no death) to Markandeya. Even today, one can see a three-finger mark on the Shivalinga and a mark of the whip inside the well situated in the temple.
- Kolar Gold Fields: Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) is around 30 km from Kolar and was at one time the deepest and most productive gold mine in the world. It is said that gold here has been mined from as early as 5th Century. The Champion Reef is believed to be one of the world's deepest and mined to a depth of 50 m. After a brief lull in the 1700s, the British reactivated mining in the 1880s. It is estimated that KGF has yielded around a whopping 800 tons of gold.
- Markandeya Dam: This dam site is near Budikote where the Markandeya River, rising in the Vakkaleri hills and flowing eastwards, splits into two streams here. The village of Budikote is found on the confluence of the two streams of the river. At a higher level of the river at Ukkunda village, across two small hillocks a dam is built between 1936-1940, having a height of 30 metres and 750 metres length. The beautiful reservoir that has been formed is today a local tourist attraction which attracts numerous tourists. Even after 80 years since it was built, it still irrigates many farmlands of paddy and sugar cane fields.
- Shivarapattana: Shivarapattana in Malur taluk has been attributed as "Shilpakashi" which it richly deserves. Shivarapatna is a small village where majority of the local population work on crafting idols mostly in stone and also in metal. Idols of Gods and Goddesses are hand chiseled here by local expert sculptors for various temples in Karnataka as well as other states. In 2010, the Government of Karnataka, gave Shivarapattana the status of ‘Paramparika Shilpakala Grama’ (Heritage Sculpture Village). The sculptors of Shivarapattana are capable of creating any type of traditional sculptures of any style be it be it the Nolamba, Ganga, Chola, Hoysala or Vijayanagara styles. And no wonder, there is good demand for their work in other states of India apart from Karnataka. In fact, sculpture work in stone/ metal are excellent souvenirs items to buy from Shivarapattana.