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Map of India with ಕನಾ೯ಟಕ highlighted.
• Coordinates
• 12.58° N 77.35° E
Largest city Bangalore
Population (2004)
• Density
55,868,200 ( 9th)
• 290.98/km²
• Districts
192,000 km² ( 8th)
• 27
Time zone IST ( UTC +5:30)
• Governor
• Chief Minister
• Legislature (seats)
1956- 11-01
• T. N. Chaturvedi ( list)
• H.D.Kumaraswamy ( list)
• Bicameral (224 + 75)
Official language(s) Kannada
Abbreviation (ISO) IN-KA

Seal of ಕನಾ೯ಟಕ
Karnataka or Karnātakā (ಕನಾ೯ಟಕ in Kannada) is one of the four southern states of India. Before 1973, the state was known as Mysore state, as it was formed out of the former Kingdom of Mysore in 1950, and enlarged in 1956 to include the Kannada-speaking regions of neighboring states. Karnataka's capital Bangalore is the only city in the state with a population of more than 1 million. Other major cities include Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli-Dharwad, Bellary and Belgaum. Kannada is the official language of Karnataka. As of 2001, it is one of 10 Indian states with a population greater than 50 million.

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Natural areas
Water Falls and Caves
Youth Activities
Sun and Sea

Geography - Contents

Karnataka is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, Goa to the northwest, Maharashtra to the north, Andhra Pradesh to the east, Tamil Nadu to the east and southeast, and Kerala to the southwest. It is situated at the angle where the western and eastern mountain ranges of South India converge into the Nilgiri Hills.The state has three principal physical zones;
  • The coastal strip, between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, which is lowland, with moderate to high rainfall levels. This strip is around 320 km in length and 48-64 km wide.
  • The Western Ghats, a mountain range inland from the Arabian Sea, rising to about 900m average height, and with moderate to high rainfall levels.
  • The Deccan Plateau, comprising the main inland region of the state, which is drier and verging on the semi-arid. The humidity in these plains or maidans never exceeds 50 percent.
The Vidhana Soudha, the seat of Karnataka's Legislative assembly
The Vidhana Soudha, the seat of Karnataka's Legislative assembly
There are several suggested etymologies for the name Karnataka. The most reasonable one is that it comes from "karu" + "nadu" meaning "elevated land". Karnataka has one of the highest average elevations of Indian states at 1,500 feet.The highest recorded temperature was 45.6 C (114.08 F) at Raichur on May 23, 1928. The lowest recorded temperature was 2.8 C (37.04 F) at Bidar on December 16, 1918.

Language - Contents

Language was the basis for the formation of the Indian states after independence and the present day Karnataka was formed by unifying Kannada speaking regions from the many districts of erstwhile Madras State (present day Tamil Nadu), erstwhile Bombay presidency (present day Maharashtra) and the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad (present day Andhra Pradesh) to the former Kingdom of Mysore, known as the Mysore State (post independence) around the years 1950-1957. In 1973, the Mysore State was officially christned as Karnataka. There are a total of 27 districts. The languages of Karnataka are Kannada, Kodava Takk, Tulu and Sankethi. Kannada is the official language of the state. Other languages also spoken by linguistic minorities are Marathi, Konkani, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and MalayalamThere is also a village in the Shimoga district of Karnataka called Mattur where the spoken language is Sanskrit

Economy - Contents

Karnataka High Court
Karnataka High Court
Karnataka is one of the more industrialised states in India. Its capital, Bangalore has become a major worldwide hub of the Information Technology industry and is the IT capital of India producing approximately 35% of India's software. It is dubbed as the Silicon Valley of India with more than 50% of all software companies based here. Bangalore has approximately 40% of India's Biotechnology companies. Also, Bangalore is one of the fast growing cities in the world with more than 6 million people and is considered the only truly global city in the country. Over 90% of India's gold production comes from Karnataka. Recently there has been a lot of activity in the extraction of manganese ore from the districts of Bellary and Hospet. Karnataka is the largest producer of coffee, raw silk and sandalwood based products like perfumes.

History - Contents

Mythical History
This statue of Ganesha was created in the Mysore District of Karnataka in the 13th century.
This statue of Ganesha was created in the Mysore District of Karnataka in the 13th century.
The history of Karnataka dates back to the period of epics. The capital of Vali and Sugriva, ' Vanara Sena' of the Ramayana, is said to have been Hampi in the present day Bellary district. Hidimbasura of Mahabharatha, a cruel and fierce demon, is said to have lived in present day Chitradurga district of Karnataka, who was then exterminated by the Bhima who came there along with the other Pandavas and their mother Kunti during the Vanavaasa. Stone transcriptions from the period of Ashoka are the oldest available archaelogical evidence.In the 4th century BCE, a local dynasty called Satavahana came to power, and its rule lasted nearly 300 years.

Early Kannada Kingdoms
With the disintegration of the Satavahana dynasty, the Banavasi Kadambas(325-540AD) came to power in the north Karnataka, and the Gangas(325-550AD) in the south of the state. These were the first kingdoms to give official status to Kannada language. There after, these kingdoms continued their rule as feduciaries of larger Kannada empires, the Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas upto end of 10th century. The 450AD Halmidi inscriptions in old Kannada are attributed to the Kadambas.The Kadambas built some fine temples in Banavasi, Halashi, Goa etc. Some of the earliest Kannada literature (from references made in Kavirajamarga of 9th century AD)is attributed to early 6th century king Durvinitha of the Gangas. The gigantic 10th century AD monolithic statue of Gomateshwara in Sharvanabelagola is considered to be the monument of the Ganga period. They also built some fine jain temples in Kambadahalli.

Political and Cultural Expansion
The Chalukyas of Badami (500-757AD) ruled over a large area, from the Narmada to the Kaveri from the days of Pulikeshi II (609-642AD) who had even defeated Harshavardhana of Kannauj. This dynasty created fine monuments at Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal, both structural and rock-cut in what is called the Chalukya style of architecture. Aihole has been the cradle of hindu temple architecture in the country. Over 140 temples were built in Aihole between 550-650AD. They encouraged Kannada and Sanskrit. The famous Badami inscriptions are testimony to this. The temples of Pattadakal are a designated UNESCO world heritage site. The state government is proposing the cave temples of Badami and temples of Aihole for world heritage site status.

Imperial Kannada and the Great Karnataka Expansion
The Rashtrakutas (753-973AD) of Manyakheta who succeeded them levied tribute on the rulers of Kannauj successfully in the so-called Age of 'Imperial Kannauj'. Kannada literature flourished in this period. Outstanding Jain scholars of India lived in their court. Kannada Language spread far and wide. Kannada inscriptions have been discovered as far north as Jabalpur, MadhyaPradesh. The Rashtrakutas have made significant contribution to architecture in Ellora and Elephanta (Maharashtra), Kuknur, Lokapura and Pattadakal in Karnataka. The great mathematician Mahavira lived in Manyakheta during this time.

Return of the Chalukyas
The Chalukyas of Kalyana played an important role in shaping the history of Karnataka during time period (973-1198AD). They were the descendants of the famous Chalukyas of Badami and were able to emerge from the obscurity of two centuries when the Rashtrakuta power declined. This period saw tremendous growth in Kannada literature. More Inscriptions have been attributed to King Vikramaditya VI than any other king in history of South India. They ruled from Kaveri to Narmada excluding Gujarath. They created the Gadag style of architecture, fine examples of which are Kasi Vishveshvara at Lakkundi, Mallikarjuna at Kuruvatii and Mahadeva at Itagi are the finest examples produced by the later Chalukya architects. In all over fifty temples of their vesara style exist today. Noted jurist Vijnaneshwara (who wroteMitakshara) lived at Kalyana. The great religious leader Basaveshwara was a minister at Kalyana. The great mathematician Bhaskara lived during this time in Bijapur District.

Hoysalas and the Vesara Architecture
Hoysalas of Halebidu (1000-1346AD) built fine temples, encouraged Kannada literature and fine arts. Examples of their splendid architecture can be found in Belur, Halebidu and Somnathpura. They further improvised on the vesara style used by their early overlords, the Chalukyas of Kalyana. They ruled a compact kingdom comprising of Karnataka and parts of Andhrapradesh and Tamilnadu when at their peak. Unlike the vertical temple styles of the northern Rekhanagara and pure dravida, the Hoysala temples find strength in horizontal structures consisting of ornate mantapas and navaranga. Their focus was on highly sculpted pillared architecture to support these large mantapas. Over a hundred temples survive today. The temples of Belur and Halebidu are being proposed as "UNESCO World Heritage Site". Other notable temples are located in Arsikere, Belavadi, Amruthapura, Doddagadavalli, Haranhalli, Nugehalli, Govindanhalli, Hosaholalu, Basaralu etc in Hassan, Mandya and Chikmagalur districts.

Last Great Hindu Empire
The Vijayanagar empire (1335-1565AD) with its capital at Hampi fostered indigenous traditions and encouraged arts, religion and literature in Sanskrit, Kannada and Telugu. Overseas trade flourished. The stunning hindu monuments at Hampi and hundreds of Vijayanagar style temples built across south India are testimony to their cultural contributions. They adopted the Chalukya style of architecture but eventually evolved their own style that was a combination of the deccan (Karnata dravida) and pure dravida (Tamil dravida) styles. After their defeat at Tallikota in 1565AD, the kingdom receeded to a much smaller kingdom administered from Penagonda in Andhra Pradesh. It remained in existance for another hundred years or so. The stunning monuments at Hampi are a designated UNESCO world heritage site.

Decan Sulthanates
Gol Gumbaz
Gol Gumbaz
The Bahmani sultans of Gulbarga (1347-1686AD)(later capitals were Bidar and Bijapur) and the Adil Shahi sultans of Bijapur raised fine Indo-Saracenic buildings and encouraged Urdu and Persian literature. Gol Gumbaz is said to be the inspiration that eventually lead to the building of Taj Mahal in Agra. Its whispering dome is said to be an acoustic marvel.

Kingdom of Mysore
The Kingdom of Mysore (1490-1761)and (1800-1947AD)was a kingdom of southern India, which was founded by the Wodeyar dynasty, who ruled the state until the independence of India in 1947, when the kingdom was merged with the Union of India. The kingdom originated as a small state based in the city of Mysore, and was established by two brothers, Vijaya and Krisha Wodeyar. It remained a vassal kingdom to the Vijayanagara empire until the collapse of the latter in the second half of the 16th century. In common with every other feudatory of that Empire, Mysore, under the Wodeyar dynasty, then assumed the trappings of independence. It was in the reign of Raja Wodeyar and his successor, the celebrated Ranadheera Kantheerava, in the mid-1600's, that the kingdom really asserted its independence, and expanded to include most of the southern part of modern-day Karnataka, as also parts of neighbouring states.
Mysore Palace
Mysore Palace
The Mysore kings were patrons of carnatic music and other arts. They are also credited to having encouraged modern science and technology. During the brief period from 1761-1799AD the Mysore kingdom came under the rule of Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan. After the fall of Maratha Peshwa ( 1818AD) and Tipu Sultan ( 1799 AD) Karnataka came under the British. After Indian independence, the Wodeyar Maharaja acceded to India. In 1950, Mysore became an Indian state, and the former Maharaja became its rajpramukh, or governor. After accession to India, the Woyedar family was provided with a pension by the Indian state until 1975, and members of the family still reside in part of their ancestral palace in Mysore.

Like the Kingdom of Mysore, the Nayakas were vassals of the Vijayanagar Empire who became independent after fall of the empire. The Keladi Nayakas ruled from Shimoga from (1500-1763AD) and built a few fine temples at Ikkeri, Keladi etc. At the same time, the Palyagar Nayakas ruled from Chitradurga and they built the famous stone fortress ("kallinakote")

Kittur Rani Chennamma
Chennamma (1778-1829) received training in horse riding , sword fighting and archery in her young age. She was married to Raja Mullasarja of Kittur, a princely state of Belgaum in what is today Karnataka. Her husband died in 1816. Her only son died in 1824. Chennamma adopted Shivalingappa as her son and made him heir to the throne. The British did not accept this and ordered the expulsion of Shivalingappa. The Rani defied the order. A great battle ensued. The Rani fought the British with great courage and skill. She could not, however, hold out for long. She was taken captive and lodged in Bailhongal Fort where she died on 21-02-1829.On November 1, 1956 or Kannada Rajyotsava Day (Formation Day), Mysore State was enlarged to its present boundaries, incorporating the state of Coorg and the Kannada-speaking portions of neighboring Madras, Hyderabad, and Bombay states, with an elected Chief Minister and state assembly. On November 1 1973 the name of the state was changed to Karnataka.

Music - Contents

Karnataka gave the world carnatic music. The Kannada haridasa movement sowed the seeds of this art in the 13th-15th century AD. With the rise of Vaishnavism and the Haridasa movement came Karnataka composers like Purandaradasa, whose Kannada language works were complex, devotional and philosophical. Other haridasas of medeval times were Kanakadasa, Vijayadasa and Jagannathadasa. One of the earliest and prominent composers in South India was the saint, and wandering devine singer of yore Purandara Dasa (1480-1564 AD). Purandara Dasa is believed to have composed 475,000 songs in Kannada and was a source of inspiration to the later composers like Tyagaraja. He also invented the tala system of Carnatic music. Owing to his contribution to the Carnatic Music he is reffered to as the Father of Carnatic Music or Karnataka Sangeethada Pitamaha. Karnataka has achieved a prominant place in the world of Hindusthani music as well. Some famous performers are Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Pt. Madhava Rao Nayak, Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur, Basavaraj Rajguru & Gangubai Hangal.

Literature - Contents

Kannada has had an unbroken literary tradition of atleast 1500 years. Though the earliest extant book on Kannada literature is Kavirajamarga 850AD, references made in this book refer back to early Kannada literature of 6th century. For information on Kannada and Sanskrit classics and writers through the span of Kannada kingdoms, please refer to Karnataka Literature. Chudamani (a 96,000 verse-measures), a commentary on logic Tatwarthamahashastra by Tambulacharya belonged to the 7th century. (Ref: History of Kannada Literature by Dr. Jyotsna Kamat)

Religion - Contents

Karnataka played a very important role in shaping present day Indian religion and philosohpy. Udupi, Sringeri, Gokarna and Melkote are well known places of sanskrit learning.The great saint Madhwacharya (1238-1317AD), proponent of "dwitha" philosophy and Raghavendra swamy (1601-1671AD) were born here. Shankaracharya(8th century AD), proponent of "advitha" philosophy found enlightenment in Sringeri which became the first of four shankara matts established in India. Ramanujacharya (1017-1137 AD)fearing persecution from the Tamil Cholas fled Tamil Nadu and came to Karnataka during the rule of Hoysala dynasty and preached his philosophy from Melkote.In the 12th century AD, Veerashaivism spread from northern Karnataka across the deccan. Shree Basava (also known as Basaveshwara or Basavanna) is known as the founder of the Lingayat religious sect of Hinduism in India. He brought on a social transformation, often referred as "revolution," in that he tried to usher a caste-less Saiva society.

Natural areas - Contents

Karnataka is home to several national parks, including Bandipur National Park in Mysore District, Bannerghatta National Park, Nagarhole National Park in Mysore and Kodagu districts, Kudremukh National Park in Dakshina Kannada and Chickmagalur districts, Dandeli & Anshi National Park in Uttara Kannada district, Gudavi and Mandegadde bird sanctuaries and Sharavati WLS in Shimoga district, B.R Hills WLS in Chamarajanagar district, Rangantittu bird sanctuary in Mandya district, Bhramagiri and Pushpagiri WL sanctuaries in Kodagu district. There are other wildlife sanctuaries and nature preserves as well.Recently, UNESCO has been considering designating some areas like Kudremukh NP as UN world heritage site for its natural beauty. As such, the Western Ghats that runs south-north through the state is considered as one among the twenty five bio-diversity hotspots of the world.

Water Falls and Caves - Contents

Jog Falls
Jog Falls
Jog falls of Shimoga District is one of the highest waterfalls in Asia. Karnataka is famous for its waterfalls. Some well known ones are Magod falls, Lalgulli falls, Sathodi falls, Unchalli falls, Lushington falls, Shivaganga falls, Ulavi falls, Iruppu falls, Shivanasamudram falls, Balmuri falls, Gokak falls, Abbe falls, Achakanya falls, Chunchanakatte Falls, Hebbe falls, Kallathigiri falls, Vajrapoha falls, Sogal falls, Godchinamalaki falls etc.Some well known caves in Karnataka are Yana caves and Kavala caves and Syntheri rocks in Uttara Kannada district, Sugriva's cave in Hampi holds similarity to the descriptions of 'kishkinda' in the epic Ramayana, Hundreds of caves in Basava Kalyana in Bidar district.

Eco-Tourism - Contents

Karnataka boasts of the highest elephant and Gaur bison population (greater than 6000 & 8000 respectively)in India. Its forests hold some of the largest remaining populations of the endangered tiger and leopard. Th Niligiri Biosphere Reserve (also a designated UNESCO Biosphere reserve) is located at the junction of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerela. Nagarahole WLS and Bandipur NP in Karnataka fall in this region. Eco-tourism is a very popular activity in the state. Karnataka leads other states in eco-tourism. Jungle Lodges and Resorts, a state run organization has camping and safari facilities in several wildlife sanctuaries. Private safari providers have sprung up in several places along the western ghats.(Ref: Several NGO's (youth groups) are actively involved in birding and other conservation activities.

Youth Activities - Contents

Karnataka is a rock climbers paradise. Yana in Uttara Kannada, Ramnagara near Bangalore district, Shivagange in Tumkur district and tekal in Kolar district are a rock climbers heaven. A climbing academy has been formed in Ramnagara called General Thimmaiah Rock Climbing Academy.

Sun and Sea - Contents

Fishing in Mukkah, near Mangalore
Fishing in Mukkah, near Mangalore
Karnataka is blessed with over 300kms of pristine coastal stretch. Nethrani Island of Uttara Kannada is well known for coral reefs. St. Mary's Island, a few kilometers from Udupi is famous for its basalt rock formations. Sunny beaches at places like Maple, Murdeshwara, Maravanthe, Gokarna, Kumta are complimented by spectacular mountains slightly to the east. Agumbe, Kodachadri hills, Kemmangundi, are just a few of many hill stations that straddle the coast providing tourists the best of sun and greenary. Unlike many crowded hill stations in South India, the hill stations of Karnataka are still mostly undiscovered and pristine.
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