Travel inspires movies, and movies inspire travel. And that’s why popular films, shot in beautiful locales across Karnataka, set serious travel goals. Iconic Kannada, Bollywood and international movies have made the state a hub for travellers seeking interesting destinations.
Travelling is not only among the biggest perks of being an actor but an integral part of my career. Karnataka has something for everyone and is extremely camera friendly. Even in this age of CGI domination, nothing can ever match the beauty that awaits you at the actual locations. From David Lean’s Passage to India and Jackie Chan’s The Myth, Karnataka has long been a part of celluloid magic.
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Hit Kannada films have helped transform many hidden travel gems into popular tourist destinations. Yana in Uttara Kannada, which was an unexplored destination, became an incredibly popular tourist spot following the release of Nammoora Mandara Hoove (1997). Parts of my father, Dr Rajkumar’s film, Ondu Muttina Kathe (1987) were also filmed in Yana. I had visited the sets to meet the renowned Shankar Nag, the director. The trek to Yana was strenuous, and my father decided to spend the night in the caves where they were shooting instead of going back. It was a chilly night, but we made the most of it by talking the night away over a satisfying menu of local delicacies.
Food is a big part of any travel experience, and I cultivated my taste for local cuisine with my father. He was, in fact, partial to food prepared in small local eateries and hotels. He felt that the firewood and manual stone grinders used to prepare dishes gave them their distinct flavour. His weakness was the dosa and coconut chutney in Mahadevpura near Mysuru, which was a must-have whenever he was filming there. This apart, Hanumanthu Hotel’s mutton pulav, dosa from Mylari or the well-blended, spicy sambar served in Mysuru, were all distinct tastes and aromas he enjoyed.
Mysuru and its surrounds like Mandya and Srirangapatna are a food lover’s paradise, and are also home to pilgrimage and heritage sites and green spaces. The view from the top of Chamundi Hills, where the Sri Chamundeshwari Temple is located, offers splendid panoramas of the city. The climb up the hill is a photographer’s delight. You can spot both nature lovers and fitness enthusiasts around the Kukkarahalli Kere Lake, which also has a jogger’s track. The regal majesty of the Mysore Palace that I visited after watching the film Mayura (1975), will leave you impressed. For a vibrant experience, though, visit the palace during the Dasera festivities in autumn.
St Mary’s Island in Udupi and the Sigandur Temple, which can be reached by taking a boat ride on the backwaters of the Sharavati, are scenic spots that you can see in films like America America (1995) and Kavacha (2019). For my father, however, Muthathi, where we shot together for Shiva Mecchida Kannappa (1988), remained an all-time favourite location. In fact, he got the name Mutthuraju from the Muthathi temple deity.