Knowledge Corner

Karnataka is a state in south western region of India. It was formed on 1 November 1956, with the passage of the States Reorganisation Act. Originally known as the State of Mysore, it was renamed Karnataka in 1973. The capital and largest city is Bangalore (Bengaluru). Karnataka is bordered by the Arabian Sea and the Laccadive Sea to the west, Goa to the northwest, Maharashtra to the north, Telangana to the northeast, Andhra Pradesh to the east, Tamil Nadu to the southeast, and Kerala to the southwest. The state covers an area of 191,976 square kilometres (74,122 sq mi), or 5.83 percent of the total geographical area of India. It is the seventh largest Indian state by area. With 61,130,704 inhabitants at the 2011 census, Karnataka is the eighth largest state by population, comprising 30 districts. Kannada, one of the classical languages of India, is the most widely spoken and official language of the state.

The two main river systems of the state are the Krishna and its tributaries, the Bhima, Ghataprabha, Vedavathi, Malaprabha, and Tungabhadra, in the north, and the Kaveri and its tributaries, theHemavati, Shimsha, Arkavati, Lakshmana Thirtha and Kabini, in the south. Most of these rivers flow out of Karnataka eastward into the Bay of Bengal.

Though several etymologies have been suggested for the name Karnataka, the generally accepted one is that Karnataka is derived from the Kannada words karu and nādu, meaning “elevated land”. Karu nadu may also be read as karu, meaning “black”, and nadu, meaning “region”, as a reference to the black cotton soil found in the Bayalu Seeme region of the state. The British used the word Carnatic, sometimes Karnatak, to describe both sides of peninsular India, south of the Krishna.

With an antiquity that dates to the paleolithic, Karnataka has been home to some of the most powerful empires of ancient and medieval India. The philosophers and musical bards patronised by these empires launched socio-religious and literary movements which have endured to the present day. Karnataka has contributed significantly to both forms of Indian classical music, the Carnaticand Hindustani traditions.


Karnataka’s pre-history goes back to a paleolithic hand-axe culture evidenced by discoveries of, among other things, hand axes and cleavers in the region. Evidence of neolithic and megalithic cultures have also been found in the state. Gold discovered in Harappa was found to be imported from mines in Karnataka, prompting scholars to hypothesise about contacts between ancient Karnataka and the Indus Valley Civilisation ca. 3300 BCE.

Prior to the third century BCE, most of Karnataka formed part of the Nanda Empire before coming under the Mauryan empire of Emperor Ashoka. Four centuries ofSatavahana rule followed, allowing them to control large areas of Karnataka. The decline of Satavahana power led to the rise of the earliest native kingdoms, theKadambas and the Western Gangas, marking the region’s emergence as an independent political entity. The Kadamba Dynasty, founded by Mayurasharma, had its capital at Banavasi; the Western Ganga Dynasty was formed with Talakad as its capital.

These were also the first kingdoms to use Kannada in administration, as evidenced by the Halmidi inscription and a fifth-century copper coin discovered at Banavasi. These dynasties were followed by imperial Kannada empires such as the Badami Chalukyas, the Rashtrakuta Empire of Manyakheta and the Western Chalukya Empire, which ruled over large parts of the Deccan and had their capitals in what is now Karnataka. The Western Chalukyas patronised a unique style of architecture and Kannada literature which became a precursor to the Hoysala art of 12th century Parts of modern-day Southern Karnataka (Gangavadi) were occupied by the Chola Empire at the turn of 11th century. The Cholas and the Hoysalas fought over the region in the early 12th century before it eventually came under Hoysala rule.
 At the turn of the first millennium, the Hoysalas gained power in the region. Literature flourished during this time, which led to the emergence of distinctive Kannada literary metres, and the construction of temples and sculptures adhering to the Vesara style of architecture. The expansion of the Hoysala Empire brought minor parts of modern Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu under its rule. In the early 14th century, Harihara and Bukka Raya established the Vijayanagara empire with its capital, Hosapattana (later named Vijayanagara), on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in the modern Bellary district. The empire rose as a bulwark against Muslim advances into South India, which it completely controlled for over two centuries.

In 1565, Karnataka and the rest of South India experienced a major geopolitical shift when the Vijayanagara empire fell to a confederation of Islamic sultanates in the Battle of Talikota. The Bijapur Sultanate, which had risen after the demise of the Bahmani Sultanate of Bidar, soon took control of the Deccan; it was defeated by the Moghuls in the late 17th century. The Bahamani and Bijapur rulers encouraged Urdu and Persian literature and Indo-Saracenic architecture, the Gol Gumbaz being one of the high points of this style. During the sixteenth century, Konkani Hindus migrated to Karnataka, mostly from Salcette, Goa, while during the seventeenth and eighteenth century, Goan Catholicsmigrated to South Canara, especially from Bardes, Goa, as a result of food shortages, epidemics and heavy taxation imposed by the Portuguese.

In the period that followed, parts of northern Karnataka were ruled by the Nizam of Hyderabad, the Maratha Empire, the British, and other powers. In the south, the Mysore Kingdom, a former vassal of the Vijayanagara Empire, was briefly independent. With the death of Krishnaraja Wodeyar II, Haidar Ali, the commander-in-chief of the Mysore army, gained control of the region. After his death, the kingdom was inherited by his son Tippu Sultan. To contain European expansion in South India, Haidar Ali and later Tippu Sultan fought four significant Anglo-Mysore Wars, the last of which resulted in Tippu Sultan’s death and the incorporation of Mysore into the British Raj in 1799. The Kingdom of Mysore was restored to the Wodeyars and Mysore remained a princely state under the British Raj.
 As the “doctrine of lapse” gave way to dissent and resistance from princely states across the country, Kittur Chennamma, Sangolli Rayanna and others spearheaded rebellions in Karnataka in 1830, nearly three decades before the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Other uprisings followed, such as the ones at Supa, Bagalkot, Shorapur, Nargund and Dandeli. These rebellions — which coincided with the Indian Rebellion of 1857 – were led by Mundargi Bhimarao, Bhaskar Rao Bhave, the Halagali Bedas, Raja Venkatappa Nayaka and others. By the late 19th century, the independence movement had gained momentum; Karnad Sadashiva Rao, Aluru Venkata Raya, S. Nijalingappa, Kengal Hanumanthaiah, Nittoor Srinivasa Rau and others carried on the struggle into the early 20th century.

After India’s independence, the Maharaja, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, allowed his kingdom’s accession to India. In 1950, Mysore became an Indian state of the same name; the former Maharaja served as its Rajpramukh (head of state) until 1975. Following the long-standing demand of the Ekikarana Movement, Kodagu- and Kannada-speaking regions from the adjoining states of Madras, Hyderabad and Bombay were incorporated into the Mysore state, under the States Reorganisation Act of 1956. The thus expanded state was renamed Karnataka, seventeen years later, in 1973. In the early 1900s through the post-independence era, industrial visionaries such as SirMokshagundam Visvesvarayya born in Muddenahalli, Chikballapur District played an important role in the development of Karnataka’s strong manufacturing and industrial base.


The bulk of the state is in the Bayaluseeme region, the northern part of which is the second-largest arid region in India. The highest point in Karnataka is the Mullayanagiri hills in Chickmagalur districtwhich has an altitude of 1,929 metres (6,329 ft). Some of the important rivers in Karnataka are Kaveri, Tungabhadra, Krishna, Malaprabha and the Sharavathi.

Karnataka consists of four main types of geological formations — the Archean complex made up of Dharwad schists and granitic gneisses, the Proterozoic non-fossiliferous sedimentary formations of the Kaladgi and Bhima series, the Deccan trappean and intertrappean deposits and the tertiary and recent laterites and alluvial deposits. Significantly, about 60% of the state is composed of the Archean complex which consist of gneisses, granites and charnockite rocks. Laterite cappings that are found in many districts over the Deccan Traps were formed after the cessation of volcanic activity in the early tertiary period. Eleven groups of soil orders are found in Karnataka, viz. Entisols, Inceptisols, Mollisols, Spodosols, Alfisols, Ultisols, Oxisols, Aridisols, Vertisols, Andisols and Histosols. Depending on the agricultural capability of the soil, the soil types are divided into six types, viz. red, lateritic, black, alluvio-colluvial, forest and coastal soils.


According to the 2011 census of India, the total population of Karnataka was 61,095,297 of which 30,966,657 (50.7%) were male and 30,128,640 (49.3%) were female, or 1000 males for every 973 females. This represents a 15.60% increase over the population in 2001. The population density was 319 per km2 and 38.67% of the people lived in urban areas. The literacy rate was 75.36% with 82.47% of males and 68.08% of females being literate. 84.00% of the population were Hindu, 12.92% were Muslim, 1.87% were Christian, 0.72% were Jains, 0.16% were Buddhist, 0.05% were Sikh and 0.02% were belonging to other religions and 0.27% of the population did not state their religion.

Kannada is the official language of Karnataka and spoken as a native language by about 66.26% of the people as of 2001. Other linguistic minorities in the state were Urdu (10.54%), Telugu (7.03%), Tamil (3.57%), Marathi (3.6%), Tulu (3.0%),Hindi (2.56%), Konkani (1.46%), Malayalam (1.33%) and Kodava Takk (0.3%). In 2007 the state had a birth rate of 2.2%, a death rate of 0.7%, an infant mortality rate of 5.5% and a maternal mortality rate of 0.2%. The total fertility rate was 2.2.


Adi Shankaracharya (788–820) chose Sringeri in Karnataka to establish the first of his four mathas (monastery). Madhvacharya (1238–1317) was the chief proponent of Tattvavāda (Philosophy of Reality), popularly known as Dvaita or Dualistic school of Hindu philosophy — one of the three most influential Vedānta philosophies. Madhva was one of the important philosophers during the Bhakti movement. He was a pioneer in many ways, going against standard conventions and norms. According to tradition, Madhvācārya is believed to be the third incarnation of Vāyu (Mukhyaprāṇa), after Hanumān and Bhīma. The Haridasa (Kannada: ಹರಿದಾಸ) devotional movement is considered as one of the turning points in the cultural history of India. Over a span of nearly six centuries, several saints and mystics helped shape the culture, philosophy and art of South India and Karnataka in particular by exerting considerable spiritual influence over the masses and kingdoms that ruled South India.


The Kannada language serves as the official language of the state of Karnataka, as the native language of approximately 65% of its population and as one of the classical languages of India. Kannada played a crucial role in the creation of Karnataka: linguistic demographics played a major role in defining the new state in 1956. Tulu, Konkaniand Kodava are other minor native languages that share a long history in the state. Urdu is spoken widely by the Muslim population. Less widely spoken languages include Beary bashe and certain dialects such as Sankethi, Dharwad Kannada, Mangaluru Kannada or Malnad Kannada, and Bengaluru Kannada.

Skill Test

1. Which district is known as the ‘Cradle of Infantry’ in Karnataka?

2. Name the Chief Minister of Karnataka during the renaming of Mysore as Karnataka.

3. Who is called the ‘Father of Karnataka Music’?

4. In which year the Karnataka Lokayukta Act was enacted?

5. Name the Emperor for whom the Bramhagiri edict is ascribed.

6. Who are known as the ‘Three Gems’ of Kannada Literature?

7. Which is the state bird of Karnataka?

8. Where will 900 families be relocated by the Karnataka Government to protect the heritage and beauty of sculptures?

9. Name the highest point in Karnataka.

10. Who built the ‘Helebidu and Belur’ temples?

11. Which river has created the Jog Falls in the Shimoga District of Karnataka?

12. Which place in Karnataka is well-known for iron ores?

13. For how many Karnataka revenue divisions has the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Residential Schools been approved?

14. Who started the Navaratri Festival in Mysore?

15. Which state is the largest Coffee producer of India?

16. Which district of Karnataka is famous for the Ilakal Saree?

17. In which district are the Nandi Hills located?

18. How many seats has been located in the Parliament for Karnataka?

19. Where the minor rock edict of Ashoka was discovered?

20. Which Karnataka village is called the ‘Jalianwala Bagh’ of the South?

21. Which is the most famous dance form of Karnataka?