Bahubali Monolith, believed to be built around 1432 AD, is considered to be the prime attraction of the town of Karkala. With a height of 42 feet, this monolithic statue of Bahubali is the second largest statue in Karnataka (first being the 55.77-feet idol of Gomateshwara at Sravanbelagola).
As per the local belief, the monolith idol of Bahubali or Gomateshwara was built by King Veerapandya Bhairava Raja of the Pandya dynasty to commemorate Prince Bahubali. According to popular folklore, Bahubali was a prince who gave up all the worldly pleasures and spent 12 years of his life in meditation.
Bahubali Monolith is thronged by tourists, especially Jain devotees, from across the country during Mahamastakabhisheka, which is held once every 12 years. This occasion involves the bathing of the monolithic statue with water, saffron paste and milk.
If time permits, tourists can visit Attur, a village located on the outskirts of Karkala. This village is popular among travellers because of the St. Lawrence Church that was established in 1759 AD. This church is believed to be the 3rd church of the town after the annihilation of the foremost church by Tipu Sultan. The second church was constructed in proximity to Nakre of Karkala. After the second church became old, the parishioners decided to shift the idol of the St. Lawrence to a new place. Parishioners found Attur village and placed the idol of the St. Lawrence near Pushkarini pond and decided to construct the church at this village. According to local belief, the Patron Saint Lawrence of Attur Church had healing abilities.
Apart from the church, visitors can enjoy the scenic beauty that surrounds this religious site. Devotees in large number visit St. Lawrence Church during the Karkol Fest that is popular for a display of social activities. In 1997, a 100-feet-high tower was constructed to symbolise this church's message of accepting people from different religions and faiths. While on a visit to Attur, travellers can even visit Mahaganapathi Temple, Vishnu Temple and Mahalingeshwara Temple, which includes a copper-plated garbhagriha.
Tourists on a trip to Karkala must visit Chaturmukha Basadi, which is counted amongst the most attractive Jain monuments in Karnataka. This structure is located on top of a rocky hill. The main attraction of this site, which is located on top of a rocky hill, is its 108 pillars, which were sanctified in the year 1432 by Vir Pandya Deva. These 108 pillars provide support to the flat roof built by granite slabs.
This site was named Chaturmukha Basadi as it has four doorways that are located in four directions and lead visitors to the garbhagriha. Upon entering the garbhagriha, visitors will get the chance to explore statues of Suryata, Malli and Ara. Apart from standing statues, the garbhagriha has images of Yakshi Padmavati and the 24th Tirthankar. Chaturmukha Basadi serves as the ideal place for people who are looking forward to spending time meditating.
Hiriangadi is another renowned attraction that is situated in proximity of Karkala. The place is popular among travellers for its Neminath Basadi complex that lies in midst of Sahyadri mountain ranges. Tourists visiting Hiriangadi can also explore Stone Age structures, tombs of Jain priests, Kanthavara Temple and Gowri Temple that are located in the vicinity. This place is perfect for people who want to know more about the religious harmony of Karkala.
Upon visiting the Neminath Basadi complex, tourists would also get the chance to see Chandranath Swamy shrine, Bujabali Brahmacharya Ashram, Ananthanatha shrine, Padmavathi Basadis, Lord Mahavir shrine and Adinath Swamy shrine, to mention a few. In addition, the complex includes a popular 60-feet-tall Manasthamba.
While exploring Karkala, travellers can visit Moodabidri that is popular among people for its Jain temples. The Chandranatha Temple with 1000 pillars is the major attraction of Moodabidri, which was constructed using hard granite. Upon reaching the Chandranatha Temple, devotees would notice that 1000 pillars are embellished with intricate carvings.
Moodabidri, otherwise known as Jain Kashi, has a 10th century Jain temple. There are some Hindu pilgrimages at this site, namely Gowri Temple (9th century) and Kanthavara Temple (7th century). Guru Basadi is another popular attraction of Moodabidri, which houses famous Dhavala text. Tourists can choose to visit the mutt of Sri Charukeerthi Swamiji that is known for its big granite monoliths called Konaje Kallu. Ammanvara Basadi, Tribhuvana Tilaka Chudamani Basadi and Leppada Basadi are other important pilgrimage sites that can be visited in Moodabidri.