Information on all aspects of Karnataka including geography, history, government, districts, business, economy, travel, rivers, education, food, arts, culture, music, dance, festivals of Karnataka
Karnataka State Information
Capital : Bangalore
Languages: Kannada, English, Hindi
Introduction to Karnataka
Karnataka has attractive villages and towns, friendly rural folk, misty mountain ranges of the Western Ghats, lovely waterfalls, cacophony of migratory birds at Ranganathittu, call of the wild at Bandipur and Nagarhole, and the mild aroma of teak, ebony and rosewood in the forests. The state is steeped in tradition yet is one of the forerunners of the information technology revolution in the country. The state has changed the very nature of Indian business and put it in the front row of international frontline technology. The combination of beauty and the brains is just unimaginable here. Karnataka has more than twenty per cent of its area under forest cover. There are many wildlife sanctuaries in the state and they have a rich variety of flora and fauna.
Geography of Karnataka
Karnataka is located in the southern part of the country, it is surrounded by other states like Maharashtra and Goa in the north, Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the south, Andhra Pradesh in the east and the Arabian Sea in the west. The state of Karnataka is situated approximately between the latitudes 11.5° and 18.5° North and the longitudes 74° and 78.5° East. The state of Karnataka is part of two well-defined regions of India, namely the Deccan Plateau and the Coastal Plains and Islands and it can be further divided into four regions - the Northern Karnataka Plateau, Central Karnataka Plateau, Southern Karnataka Plateau, Karnataka Coastal Region. The state boasts of a wide range of topological features. There are chains of mountains, the highest being the Mullayyana Giri (1,925m). Other than the mountains, there are plateaus, residual hills and coastal plains.
Brief History of Karnataka
Evidences from the pre-historic ages indicate that the culture of Karnataka had much in common with the civilization of Africa and is quite distinct from the pre-historic culture of North India. Iron weapons dating back to 1200 BC found at Hallur in Dhaward district point to the inhabitants of the early state using iron much before the metal was introduced in the northern parts of the country.
The early rulers of Karnataka were predominantly from North India. Parts of Karnataka were subject to the rule of the Nandas and the Mauryas. It is believed that Chandragupta Maurya came down to Sravanabelgola after renouncing his empire. Proof of the Ashokan edicts scattered all over the land. After the Kadambas who first laid the foundation of a political empire in Karnataka, came the great Chalukyas of Badami, of whom Pulakesin II was the most illustrious. The Rashtrakutas who followed were no less a powerful dynasty. Consider the pinnacle of their achievement, the rock-cut Kailasanathar temple of Ellora. Renowned among the Rashtrakuta kings, is Amoghavarsha Nrupatunga of the 9th century, under whose benevolent patronage was published the 'Kavirajamarga' (Royal Road to Poetry). Nevertheless, it was the Badami Chalukyas whose style of architecture and patronage of the arts really made way for Kannada and Karnataka to flourish. Moreover, descendents to this tradition of patronage were the Hoysalas, whose poetry endures in the temples of Halebid and Belur and in the one perfect jewel at Somnathpura. In 1327, Mohammed bin Tughlaq took over Halebid and the impact that his army had on the intricately built temple is evident even today. After this, Mysore was in a swing for a great number of centuries with alternating Hindu and Muslim rulers.
A recognized peak in the Hindu kingships came with the success of the Vijayanagar Empire, which was at its prime in the 1550s. Not much later, though, the Deccan sultans took over Hampi, the capital of Vijayanagar. The most prolific rulers after the Vijayanagar kings were the father-son duo of Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan in the 18th century. They overthrown the Wodeyar kings of Mysore and established their new capital at Srirangpattnam. They were the first rulers in India who recognized the importance of scientific warfare and took the services of French to defeat the English. After long drawn fighting with the English, Haider Ali was defeated in 1799, but the heroism and progressive culture that he and his father gave is a legacy still maintained by the people. During the British rule, Karnataka was a part of the Madras Presidency and it became a new state only in 1956. It was name of Mysore and added some districts from the former Bombay Presidency. The state was renamed Karnataka in 1971.
Districts of Karnataka
Karnataka has 27 districts divided in four divisions:
Bangalore Division: Bangalore, Bangalore Rural, Chitradurga, Davanagere, Kolar, Shimoga and Tumkur
Belgaum Division: Bagalkot, Belgaum, Bijapur, Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri and Uttara Kannada
Gulbarga Division: Bellary, Bidar, Gulbarga, Koppal and Raichur
Mysore Division: Chamarajanagar, Chikmagalur, Dakshina Kannada, Hassan, Kodagu, Mandya, Mysore and Udupi.
Economy of Karnataka
Karnataka is one of the leading states in the field of industrial development both in the private and public sectors and in the area of computer software, which has attracted national and international firms to the city of Bangalore. The state capital was long ago chosen by the central government for the location of a number of industries like Bharat Electronics Ltd, Bharat Earth movers, Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT), Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL) etc. Bangalore has become one of the major centers of electronic industry apart from computer software. The state has a number of traditional cottage and small industries like handlooms, silk weaving etc. Karnataka has been the leading state for silk rearing and production of Khadi and village industries. Apart from the numerous factories in engineering, chemicals, electrical, and electronic goods, there are food processing and processing of plantation products like tea, coffee, rubber, cashew etc. About 70% of the people live in the villages and 71% of the total work force is engaged in agriculture. The main crops are rice, ragi, jowar, maize, and pulses besides oilseeds and number of cash crops. Coffee is the principal plantation crop. Cashew, coconut, arecanut, cardamom, chilies, cotton, sugarcane and tobacco are among the other crops.
Karnataka Travel Information
Karnataka tourist destinations can be classified as historical and archeological. Entire North Karnataka is a showcase of the great heights South India achieved in the field of architecture. Places like Hampi, Halebid, Gulbarga, Badami, Bidar, Bijapur, and Bangalore are known not only in India but world over because of their architectural significance. On the other hand, there are some of the best-managed wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka. There are many destinations for visiting - Badami, Bandipur National Park, Bangalore, Belgaum, Bidar, Bijapur, Coorg, Gulbarga, Hampi, Hassan, Hospet, Mangalore, Madikeri, Mysore, Nagarhole National Park, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Srirangapatnam, Aihole, Nisargadama, Somnathpur etc.
Rivers of Karnataka
The Kalinadi, the Gangavathi Bedti, the Tadri, and the Sharavati are the prominent rivers of North Karnataka. Sharavati is the shortest river and is famous for the mighty Jog Falls, the site of the hydel projects. All these rivers are west flowing and some of them are torrential streams, which are in full flow in the monsoon. Most of the major rivers of the state have their origin in the Ghats and flow eastwards towards the Bay of Bengal, through Andhra Pradesh or Tamil Nadu. Krishna with its tributaries like the Bhima and Ghataprabha and Tungabhadra is among these mighty rivers. The Kaveri river in the southern part of the state, which has its origin on Brahma Giri in Coorg, with its tributaries like the Shimsha, Hemavati, Kapila and others enters Tamil Nadu and is a major source of irrigation both in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The rivers Polar and Pennar in the eastern parts of the state are among the other important rivers.
Education in Karnataka
Karnataka is producing some of the country's foremost statesmen, scholars, educationists and scientists. The state has a unique educational environment in the whole of south Asia with largest number of professional colleges in the country. There are 15 universities in the state, apart from the reputed outstanding Institutions like Indian Institute of Management, Indian Institute of Science, Raman Research Institute, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences, Central Food Technological Research Institute, Indian Space Research Organisation, National Aeronautical Laboratory and National Institute for Sports etc. There are a large number of outside students who are also studying in these institutions. In addition, southwestern region for the All India Council for Technical Education for the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Goa is located in the capital city-Bangalore. The overall literacy rate for Karnataka is 67.04% with male literacy rate of 76.29% and female literacy rate of 57.45%.
Food of Karnataka
Karnataka meal has many delicacies like kosambari, a salad made of the broken halves of the soaked green moong dal (lentil) minus its skin, spiced with salt, green chili and mustard seed (oggarane) and mixed with tiny scrapings of coconut, cucumber and carrot and dressed with a little lime juice. Other popular Karnataka specialties are bisi bele huli anna - created out of rice, dal, tamarind, chili powder, and cinnamon, gojju - a vegetable, most popularly bitter gourd, cooked in tamarind juice and jaggery with chili powder in it, chitranna - rice with the juice of lime, green chili and turmeric powder and sprinkled with fried groundnuts and coriander leaves, and majjige huli with tovve - vegetables in a buttermilk base. Kesari bhath (a halwa made of semolina, sugar, and saffron), chiroti and Mysore pak are among the favorite sweets in Karnataka. However, the most delicious is the obbattu or holigea-flat, thin, wafer-like chappati filled with a mixture of jaggery, coconut and sugar and fried gently on a skillet. Along with payasa (south Indian kheer), obbattu is always served with celebratory meals in Karnataka. Other delectable sweets that come out of the Kannada kitchen are the shavige payasa made of vermicelli and sugar, hesaru bele made with green gram dal, and baadami hallu, which is crushed almonds mixed with milk, sugar and saffron.
Arts and Culture of Karnataka
The majority of Kannadigas are of Dravidian origin. Dravidians were the original inhabitants of Indian subcontinent and in Vedic literature they have been mentioned as Dasyus and Rakshasas, the people who had black skin and were opposed to the Aryans. The Aryans, with their better war technology (they were the first race who brought to India horses and iron), defeated the original inhabitants of the land and forced them to convert to Hinduism. Many of them left the plains of North India and moved towards the south to inhabit the Indian Peninsula. Karnataka is a part of the Indian Peninsula and the people of this land speak a language that has its roots in the Dravidian languages. The religion of most of the people is Hinduism with a small population of Muslims.
In Karnataka, as in the rest of India, a very thin line divides 'art' and 'craft'. And this is manifest in every home in the state where even the mundane articles of daily use, including an earthen pot, resemble a work of art. Karnataka has come to occupy pride of place in the country in the field of woodcarving. The state's relatively good forest cover provides enough raw material for its craftsmen who continue to employ age-old techniques to carve, inlay, veneer, paint and lacquer articles in wood. 'Mysore silk' is famous and Karnataka has contributed a great deal to the progress of India's silk industry. It has also helped the country to overtake Japan, after China, in the production of mulberry silk.
Dance and Music of Karnataka
Music of the Carnatic style really developed after the impetus given by Vidyaranya and the royal patronage of the Vijayanagar Empire. After a period when it was sidelined, Haidar Ali and Tipu, during their reign, showed special interest in Carnatic music and musicians. Later, the Wodeyars, and especially Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, gave valuable support and encouragement to the tradition.
Festivals of Karnataka
True to its colorful heritage, Karnataka has an array of festivals that add life, gaiety, and color to mundane activities. The Paryaya Festival of the Krishna temple at Udupi, held biennially in January, marks the ceremonious handing over of the charge of the shrine to one of the eight religious orders of the Madhwacharya's spiritual descendants in rotation for a two-year term. The Karaga Festival, peculiar to Bangalore, is a quaint celebration of goddess Shakti invoked in the earthen pot from which the festival derives its name. This pot, heavily bedecked with flowers, is borne by a man who observes severe penance for several days before the festival. Dressed as a woman in saffron, sword in hand and wearing the mangalsutra (necklace) of his wife, the karaga bearer precariously balances this pot on his head to set out from the Dharamaraya Temple on the day of the Chaitra Purnima in April. Dussehra, a ten-day festival in September-October is symbolic of the triumph of good over evil. The city of Mysore is transformed into a fairyland of illuminated places, gaily-festooned streets and arches. The celebrations are marked by cultural programs, exhibitions, classical music festivals, torchlight processions, culminating with a grand procession on the tenth day headed by a gaily caparisoned elephant bearing a golden howdah with a deity.
Last updated on Friday, 08 December 2023.
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