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Karnataka, the seventh largest state in India, lies on the south west side of the country. The history of the state dates back several centuries when it was known as the State of Mysore. It was renamed as Karnataka just a few decades back in 1973. The state boasts of a rich historical past, pulsating culture, amazing geographical features, ever growing economy and well educated people. It comprises of as many as 30 districts and each of these encompasses several educational institutions, big firms, banks, hospitals, hotels, religious monuments and several recreational spots. Let us have a closer look at the history, geography, economy and tourism of this princely state.

History of Karnataka

Karnataka has been home for various dynasties that have contributed immensely to its rich history, culture and tradition. These dynasties have also developed the state over the years. Let us have a look at the glorious past of the state to know how it evolved to be what it is today.

Early History of Karnataka

During the early times, the state of Karnataka was a part of the Maurya Empire. Shravanbelgola in Karnataka’s Hassan District which is at a distance of about 158 Km from Bangalore is the place where the renowned Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta Maurya breathed his last in 298 BCE. He had spent his last days at that place as a Jain Monk.

The Satavahana dynasty was the next to rule the state. It came to power in 230 BCE and ruled Karnataka for as long as almost four centuries until the early 3rd century CE. Post this, the Satavahana dynasty fell apart and led to the formation of the Kadamba Dynasty of Banavasi in modern Uttara Kannada district with Mayurasharma, a learned Brahmin and a native of Shimoga district’s Talagunda village being the founding king here. The place became an independent political entity and Kannada language became the administrative language here for the first time. The use of Kannada as an administrative language during that time is evidenced through inscriptions found during archaeological surveys.

Medieval History of Karnataka

The medieval history of Karnataka spans between the 4th and 16th century. Various royal empires including the Badami Chalukyas, Western Chalukya Empire, Hoysala Empire, Vijayanagara Empire, Rashtrakuta Dynasty, Bahmani Sultanate and Bijapur Sultnate ruled the place during this era. Chola Empire also conquered some parts of the state. Kannada language and literature was given importance during the medieval times.

History of Karnataka
The cave temples built by Badami Chalukya Dynasty / Flickr

The Badami Chalukyas, which were earlier a feudatory of the Kadambas took over after the Kadambas reign ended. They encouraged the use of Kannada for administrative purpose. Sanskrit also had a strong foothold in the state at that time and was also used as the administrative language.

The Rashtrakutas took over in the middle of the 8th century. The Rashtrakuta family was basically a feudatory of the Chalukyas that sensed an opportunity and overthrew the powerful Chalukyas to rule the state. They emerged as one of the most powerful Deccan Empire. Silsilatuttavarikh, an Arabic writing from 851 CE refers them to be among the four principle empires across the globe. They find a mention in a number of contemporary books and have been praised in each of these.

However, their rule came to an end in the 10th century as the Western Chalukyas, also referred to as the Kalyani Chalukyas, emerged more powerful. It is yet not clear whether they were related to the Badami Chalukyas in any way or not but they were certainly as powerful as them. Kannada was the administrative language during their reign too. The Chola dynasty tried to conquer the region during this period which led to a long warfare between them and the Chalukyas. Though the Cholas suffered some defeats, they were successful in limiting the Chola Empire’s growth to the Tungabhadra River.
Vikramaditya VI, who ruled the state for fifty years starting 1076, is said to be one the most popular king of the Chalukya family. He fought several battles and brought glory to his kingdom.

Hoysalas, who conquered the state in the 12th century, were the next to rule it. Hoysalas promoted the Vesara architecture during their era. Various beautiful edifices constructed by the Hoysala emperors are popular even today. The Chennakesava Temple located in Belur and the Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu are among the popular construction of the time. Veera Ballala II was the most powerful ruler during the Hoysala reign.

Karnataka History
the Chennakesava Temple, Belur / Wherewasitshot

Next in line was the Vijyanagara Empire that came into power in the late 14th century. The Vijyanagara rulers also contributed immensely to the architecture of the state. Several significant monuments of Hampi were build during their reign. The beautiful structure that has been given the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site was also constructed during their reign. Kannada literature and Carnatic music was also promoted during this time.

The Bahmani Sultanate was the next to rule the state and contributed to its architecture and culture only to be overthrown by the Bijapur Sultanate that rose to power towards the end of 15th century. Persian language was given patronage during their rule. Marvellous buildings such as Ibrahim Rauza, Gol Gumbaz and Kali Masjid were built during their reign. The kingdom gradually weakened as it was constantly being invaded by the Mughals. Maratha Shivaji also became powerful during this time and the rule of Bijapur Sultnate ultimately came to an end in the late 17th century.

Modern History

Modern history of KarnatakaThe Modern History of Karnataka narrates the tales of the brave Mughal and Maratha rulers who became the new rivals and were constantly engaged in battles post the decline of the Bijapur Sultanate in the late 17th century. The Mughals and Marathas ruled different parts of the state and continually tried to invade each other’s territory. The Mughals and Marathas contributed greatly to the art, culture and the overall growth of the state. The next powerful ruler of the state was the brave Hyder Ali who changed the face of the state taking it to the zenith of power.

His son Tipu Sultan took the legacy further and came to be known as the Tiger of Mysore. He made several administrative innovations during his rule including the new land revenue system that helped in promoting the Mysore silk industry that proved to be a boon for the state. Persian was made the official language during his rule and instituted education in Persian and Urdu language among Muslims staying in his kingdom. He fought four major Anglo-Mysore Wars and breath his last fighting the last among these in the year 1799.

After this, Karnataka was taken over by the British who ruled the state for more than a decade, until the Indian independence in August 1947. The silk industry and various other industries in the state flourished during the British reign. The infrastructure of the state also strengthened during this time.  In 1956, almost a decade after the independence, the Unification of Karnataka was observed.

This was formed as a result of a movement that began several decades back when the British ruled the state. By way of this movement, the Kannadigas put forward the demand of a state based on the Kannada demographics. The demand for the state arose because a large number of Kannadigas were staying in regions other than Karnataka and did not get the administrative patronage they should have been given.  Their issue was finally resolved under the States Reorganization Act of 1956 that incorporated parts of Madras, Bombay, Hyderabad and Coorg into the state of Mysore which was renamed as Karnataka in the year 1973.

Historical Sites in Karnataka

If history interests you then you must be curious to find out about the historical sites in Karnataka. The state houses numerous historical sites that boost about its rich history. Aihole, Badami, Banashankari, Dharwad, Mahakuta, Bidar, Belagavi, Bellary, Mahadeva Temple Itagi, Gulbarga, Haveri, Bijapur, Annigeri, Gadag,-Betgeri, Dambal, Basavana Bagewadi and Lakkundi are among the various historical sites here. Let us have a detailed look at the prominent ones:

Aihole

Historical sites in Karnataka
The famous Durga Temple in Aihole / Incredible India

This ancient historical site in Karnataka attracts several pilgrims from around the state. Aihole, which was the first capital of the Chalukyas, includes around 100 ancient temples. Durga Temple is the most famous and most visited temple here. The beautifully carved pillars and magnificently designed sculptures showing various incidents from the Holy Ramayana form the interiors of this temple. It stands amidst a pillared corridor and sprawling lawns that add to the beauty of this place. The Lad Khan Temple, Konthi Temple, Uma Maheswari Temple and the Jain Meguti Temple are among the other famous temples here. These are known for their beautiful architecture. The Revalphadi Cave which is dedicated to Lord Shiva is also a major attraction of this historical site.

Bijapur
Bijapur, that served as the capital of Adil Shahis from 1489-1686, is one of the main centres of the Indo Saracenic art. The Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur is the biggest dome in our country. It is called the Taj Mahal of South and holds its charm even after so many years.

Historical sites of Karnataka
The iconic Gol Gumbaz of Bijapur / Flickr


Mahakuta
Mahakuta, surrounded by hills on all sides, is another beautiful historical site in the state. It encompasses the revered Mahakuteshwara temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple boasts of the beautiful Dravidian style architecture. The Naganath Temple, another ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, is also located near Mahakuta.

Lakkundi
Lakkundi is another culturally rich historical site in North Karnataka. The place earned fame during the 9th and 14th centuries. It came under Chalukya kings Hoysala and Yadava during this time.  It encompasses some beautiful edifices.

Geography of Karnataka

Karnataka, situated in the Deccan Plateau, is bordered by Andhra Pradesh in the east, the Arabian Sea in the west, Maharashtra and Goa in the north and the northwest side and Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the south. The state is known for its amazing landscapes, mesmerizing beaches and waterfalls and pleasant weather that make it one of the most loved places in India. Let us have a close look at the geographical features of Karnataka.

Geography of Karnataka
Beautiful landscape of Karnataka / Travelunmasked


Area
The total land area of Karnataka is 1,91,791 km² and is the seventh largest state in the country. The area of this princely state extends to around 750 km from north to south and around 400 km from west to east.

Climate
The climate in Karnataka is favourable for most part of the year. It has four seasons during the year with the monsoons prevalent for most part of the year. It sees the monsoon season from May to September and post monsoon from October to December. It has a short winter season – January and February are the only two months that are cold here and the summer season runs from March to May. The summer months are quite hot and dry and it is suggested not to plan a holiday to the state during these months.

Climate of Karnataka
A man pedals in rain in Bengaluru / NewIndiaExpress

The state experiences heavy rainfall during the monsoon season. The annual rainfall here ranges from 50 cm to 350 cm. The humidity is usually high during the month of June when the monsoon commences and so is the temperature. The next three months see a dip in temperature and the weather turns favourable however the humidity levels are still high. Also because this is coupled by heavy rainfalls hence it is suggested not to visit the place during the monsoon months either.
The post monsoon and the winter season are pleasant throughout the state.

Forests
There is no dearth of greenery in the state of Karnataka. As much as 20% of the state is covered with dense green forests that are home for a wide variety of flora and fauna. In terms of area it amounts to 38724 km². The forests are further classified into different categories including the protected forests, reserved forests, village, private and unclosed forests. The protected and unclosed forests are spread over the major part. The lush evergreen forests in the Western Ghat region of the state are find a mention at various places owing to the precious timbers such as Rosewood and Teak they offer.

Soil Types

Karnataka is known as an agricultural land rich in various soils that contribute in the growth of different vegetations. The state has eleven groups of soil orders including the Mollisols, Alfisols, Andisols, Entisols, Vertisols, Ultisols, Histosols, Aridisols, Spodosols, Inceptisols and Oxisols. The soils found here have been divided based on their agricultural capacity. The common soil found here include the lateritic soils, red soils, black soils, forest soils, coastal soils and alluvio-colluvial soils.

Water Resources

The state is also rich in water resources. It has a surface water potential of around 102 kilometers. Several rivers, lakes and waterfalls gush in this province to fulfill the water requirements of the inhabitants and also add to the overall beauty of the place. Let us have a look at the various water bodies in the state. 

Lakes

Several lakes are found in different parts of the state. Many of these are found in the state’s capital, Lakes in KarnatakaBangalore - these include the Madiwala Lake, Bellandur Lake, Lalbagh Lake, Puttenahalli Lake, Sankey Tank, Ulsoor Lake, Varthur Lake, Hebbal Lake, Jarganhalli Lake, Munnekolala Lake, Sarakki Lake, Doddanakkundi Lake, Kempambudhi Lake, Nagavara Lake, Vibhutipura Lake and Agara Lake. Some of these have been turned into beautiful picnic spots.

Mysore also encompasses various lakes including the Lingambudhi Lake, Karanji Lake, Devanoor Lake, Kukkarahalli Lake and Dalavai Lake. Besides these the state encompasses the Unkal lake in Hubli, Heggeri Lake in Haveri, Hagari Jalashaya Lake in Malavi and Belgaum Fort Lake. Interestingly, the largest lake in India is also found in Karnataka. Situated in Davanagere’s Channagiri Taluk, this is the second biggest irrigation tank in Asia. It is also known by the name, Sulekere.

Rivers
Karnataka also encompasses numerous east and west flowing rivers that form a part of various towns, cities and districts in the state. The west flowing rivers of the state that offer 60% of the inland water are the Aghanashini River, Shambavi, Kumaradhara River, Sharavathi River, Gurupura River, Gangavalli River, Varahi River, Kali River, Souparnika River and Netrayati River. Kaveri River, Krishna River, Bhadra River, Palar River, Kubja River, Vedavathi River, Chakra River, Lakshmana Tirtha River, Kedaka River, Amarja, Panchagangavali River, Varada, Arkavathy River, Ponnaiyar River, Dandavathi, Kabini River, Ghataprabha River, Honnuhole River, Hemavati River, Malaprabha River, Penner River, Shimsha, Vrishabhavathi River, Tungabhadra River, Tunga River and South Pennar River are among the east flowing rivers in the state.

Waterfalls

Waterfalls in Karnataka
The magical Jog Falls, the second highest plunge waterfall in India / Filmapia

Numerous waterfalls are also found in this state. These waterfalls add to the beauty and splendour of the place. Abbey Falls, Hebbe Falls, Irupu Falls, Kadambi Falls, Kalhatti Falls, Anashi Falls, Vajrapoha Falls, Varapoha Falls, Chakra Falls, Gokak Falls, Vibhooti Falls, Hidlumane Falls, Jaladurga Falls, Jog Falls, Muthyalamaduvu Falls, Barkana Falls, Godchinamalaki Falls, Shivanasamudra Falls, Srimane Falls, Bandaje Falls, Unchalli Falls, Onake Abbi Falls, Mallalli Falls, Hanumangundi Falls, Kalhatti Falls, Chelavara Falls, Magod Falls, Kadra Falls, Sathodi Falls, Devaragundi Falls, Gootlu Falls and Shivganga Falls are the waterfalls that found in Karnataka. Some of these have been turned into beautiful tourist spots that attract thousands of tourists from around the world each year.

Population
As per the census taken in the year 2014, Karnataka is home for 64.06 million people. It is the ninth largest state in terms of population. The population density of the state is 319 persons per km².

Economy of Karnataka

Each state benefits from different sectors that contribute towards its economic growth and development. Karnataka is amongst the states that sees the highest economic growth in India. Here are the different sectors that contribute to the Karnataka economy:

  • The primary sector of economy in the state is Agriculture, Forestry, Logging, Fishing and Animal Husbandry.
  • The secondary sector of economy in Karnataka is Manufacturing, Electricity, Gas, Mining, Quarrying and Water supply.
  • The tertiary sector of economy in the state is Banking, Insurance, Business Services, Education, Transport, Public Administration, Hotel, Restaurant, Real Estate, Trade, Storage, Communication and certain other services.
Let us have a closer look at the major sectors that contribute towards the growth of Karnataka’s economy.

Agriculture

Agriculture is the primary source of income for the state. It is the main occupation of the people living in rural parts of Karnataka. As much as 64.6% of the total land in the state is used for agricultural purposes. Though the state has an arid land however it becomes suitable for agriculture purpose owing to the heavy rainfalls witnessed here and also because of the good irrigation facility available in the region.

Agriculture in Karnataka
Farmers toiling at a farm in Karnataka / DeccanChronicle

Rabi, Kharif and Summer are the three agricultural seasons seen in Karnataka. Different varieties of crops are grown here during different seasons. Karnataka is known to be the biggest producer of coffee, coarse cereals and raw silk. These are supplied to various parts of the country and even outside. Ragi, rice, pulses, maize, jowar and oilseeds are among the main crops grown in the state. The economy benefits a great deal by cultivating these much-in-demand crops. Coconut, cardamom, cashews, cotton, sugarcane, arecanut, tobacco and chillies are some of the other crops cultivated here.

Horticultural crops are also grown in the state in large number and these make for more than 40% of the total income generated by agriculture. Karnataka also stands at second number in the country when it comes to floriculture. Tons of flowers are grown here each year and supplied to various parts of the country. As per a census taken about a decade back, more than half of the workforce of the state was involved in farming and other agricultural activities.

Industries in Karnataka

I.T. Industry
A pioneer in the IT industry, the state of Karnataka generates huge revenue from this sector each year. As many as 1973 companies in the state are into this lucrative business. Bangalore, rightly termed as the Silicon Valley of India, encompasses the maximum number of IT firms in the state. It is the headquarters for renowned brands such as Infosys and Wipro. Mangalore, Mysore and Hubli also house a number of IT companies that contribute to the state’s economy. Majority of the revenue comes from software export while a minor share comes from hardware export.

IT Industry in Karnataka
People working at an IT office in Bengaluru / Wikimedia

Education Industry
Education is among the most important industries in Karnataka. The state has one of the highest numbers of educational institutions in the country. Some of the best medical, engineering and management institutes are housed in the state and numerous students from around the country try hard to seek admission in these institutes each year. Institutes at Bangalore, Mangalore, Mysore, Belgaum, Devangere and Hubli-Dharwad are known for producing brilliant IT professionals that are sought after by big national as well as international brands. There are several renowned universities and institutes in the state and many more to come. So the educational opportunities in Karnataka are likely to see a rise in the coming years.

Banking Industry
Karnataka has a strong foothold when it comes to the banking industry. Interestingly, some of the leading names in the banking sector including the Syndicate Bank, Vijaya Bank, Vysya Bank, Canara Bank, Corporation Bank, State Bank of Mysore and Karnataka Bank originated in this very state. There is a good penetration of banks in Karnataka with as many as 5759 branches of various banks serving people across the state as in the year 2009.

Mining industry
Various metals and minerals including the likes of gold, iron ore, manganese, bauxite, kyanite, limestone and quartz are found in Karnataka and the state makes a fair amount of revenue by selling these to various parts of the country and exporting these abroad. Hutti Gold Mines Limited that has set up plants at Chitradurga and Hutti in Karnataka is the only firm in the country that produces gold by mining and extracting this precious metal from the ore. The state’s economy also benefits with the production of iron and steel that are exported to different countries.

Infrastructure

Road and Rail
Karnataka is no less when it comes to infrastructure. The state has one of the best infrastructures in the country. It is well connected to all its neighboring states as well as the other parts of the country via road and rail. There is no dearth of means of transport when it comes to commuting within the state either. The metro rail and mono rail projects are also in progress in Bangalore. The projects are expected to spread to other parts of the state in the years to come.

Airports
The state is also connected via air to various parts of the country. It also houses two international airports that connect it to the rest of the world. Both Mangalore International airport and Bangalore International airport see numerous travellers flying to various parts of the world every day.

Ports
Some of the biggest ports in the country are located in the state and are maintained very well by the authorities. New Mangalore Port and Karwar Port are the major ports here. Both these ports have huge number of vessels and handle a good amount of traffic. They help widely in the import and export of various goods and contribute to the state’s economy.

Also See: Mangaluru and its famous ports



Site Seeing in Karnataka

There are numerous places for site seeing in the stare. Weather you love waterfalls or hill stations or sea beaches or lush green gardens this is the right place for you as it encompasses all sorts of places for site seeing. Those who love exploring old forts, palaces, historical sites and religious monuments have some really mesmerizing pieces awaiting them here.

To explore tourism in Karnataka, click here.

Cuisines

Karnataka offers some really delicious cuisines that have become popular throughout the country. However, the taste and flavour of these cuisines that you get to it in the state is special. Some of the speciality cuisines of Karnataka include the Mysore Masala Dosa, Saagu Masala Dosa, Benne Dosa, Set Dosa, Godhi Dosa, Bisi bele bath, Vaangi baath, Mosaranna, Avalakki, Chitranna, Puliyogare, Tovve, Bas Saaru, Menasina Saaru, Gojju, Hurali Kaayi Palya, Hurali Palya, Akki Roti, Jolada Rotti and Ragi Roti.

Know more about the various cuisines and best places to eat in Karnataka here.

Accommodation Options in Karnataka

Whether you are looking for a luxurious accommodation equipped with all the modern facilities for an ultra comfortable stay or an affordable accommodation that fits in your tight budget Karnataka has it all. Several lodges, guest houses, inns, budget hotels, 3 star, 4 star, 5 star hotels and resorts are glad to welcome you and offer great hospitality.

Social Welfare Organizations in Karnataka

Karnataka houses a number of social welfare organizations that see numerous people coming forward to support different sectors and help the needy. The government is also doing its bit to make Karnataka a better place to live for different segments of the society.

Aarvee Care Home, Abala Ashraya, Sangha, Abalashrama, Abhaya Ashram and Orphanage, Abhayadhama, Abraham Johnson, Acess Society, Action Aid India, Action on Disability and Development, Acts Ministries, Acts Trust, Adhyathma Prakasha Karyala, Adi Sree Kaveri Foundation Trust, Afpro Field, Agape Leprocy Ministries India, Agrawal Samaj Vikas Trust, Agroam Trust, Aina Trust, Ajas Devlopment Centre, A.K. Gopalan Memorial Social Education Trust, Akhila BHarata Madhva Maha Mandala, Asroji Rao Choultary Trust, Asha Foundation, Asha Deep, Bangalore Rural Educational and Development, Best Practices Foundation and Bharatha Swamukti Samsthe are among the Social Welfare organizations that are helping people in the state.

Quick Facts about Karnataka:

Date of Formation - 1/11/1956
Total Area - 1, 91,791 sq km
Area under forests - 38724 sq km
Latitude - 11.5 degree and 18.5-degree North
Longitude - 74 degree and 78.5-degree East
Capital - Bengaluru (or Bangalore)
No. of Lok Sabha seats - 28
No. of Assembly seats - 224
No. of Districts - 27
Largest City - Bangalore
Revenue Divisions - 4
Revenue Sub-Divisions - 49
Revenue Taluks - 175
Revenue Villages - 27,028
Population (2014) - above 64 millions
Population Density - 275 per sq. km
Male population - 50.9%
Female population - 49.1%
Sex Ratio - 973 females per 1000 males
Literacy rate - 66.64%
Per Capita Income (2013) - Rs 77015
Religions - Hindus, Jains, Muslims, Christians
Language(s) spoken - Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi & English
Time zone - IST (UTC +5:30)
Temperature - Min. 6 °C; Max. 40 °C
Average Rainfall - varies from 50 cm to 350 cm
Best Time to visit - September to February
Railway track length - 3,089 km
Road length - 1, 37,500 Km
National Highways length - 2,587 Km


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