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Karnataka-A state with rich history

April 14, 2018

Karnataka's History

Karnataka has had a rich and enthralling history that dates back to pre-historic period. The south-western state on the coast of Arabian Sea, has seen several rulers and dynasties conquer the region, the dynasties and rulers have left a strong impression on the culture and history of Karnataka. The invasion of rulers over the centuries have enriched the cultures and traditions in Karnataka.

Pre-historic Karnataka

According to research, the land of present-day Karnataka was inhabited by Dravidians, a community that is pertinent in the Southern Indian states. The research shows that civilisations in South India co-existed during the period of Indus Valley Civilisation. The ancient culture of pre-historic Karnataka was different from the inhabitants of North India, but have a resemblance to pre-historic culture of Africa. Researchers found that the use of axe and other iron objects were in use way before 1200 B.C. in Karnataka.

Ancient History

Some of the ancient rulers of Karnataka came from the northern parts, and during 4th and 3rd B.C. Nanda and Mauryan empires from the northern part of India were expanding their empires and some parts of the Karnataka fell under their empire. By the end of 3 B.C., Mauryan Empire had fallen and Satvahana dynasty took over the rule in northern parts of Karnataka. Satvahana dynasty’s reign lasted for close to 300 years in Karnataka, it was under their reign that Kannda, the main language of Karnataka evolved. The decline of Satvahanas coincided with the rise of Pallavas, they took over the reigns in Karnataka, and became a political power for a short period in history. The Kadambas and the Gangas dynasties were indigenous kingdoms, that led to the downfall of Pallavas. It was during this period under the leadership Kadamba dynasty and Western Ganga dynasty that Karnataka started to gain an independent political identity.

Mediaval History

Kadamba and the Western Ganga Dynasty grew enormously till the beginning of mediaval period in the history of state. Kadambas were considered to be one earliest royal dynasties to rule over the regions of Karnataka, while at the same time Western Ganga dynasty extend their control to the southern region of Karnataka and worked towards the growth of Kannada literature. The Ganga dynasty’s reign lasted for nearly 700 years, it was during the later years of their reign, when Badami Chalukya dynasty emerged. They ruled sovereignly and they were the first to make efforts to unify Karnataka, Badami Chalukya dynasty worked extensively in the of art and architecture.

The fall of Badami Chalukyas resulted in the rise of Rastrakuta Dynasty, who ruled for more than 200 years all over the Karnataka, and the architecture of the state flourished enormously during their reign. In 973 A.D., the Kalyana Chalukyas defeated the Rastrakutas and ascended to the throne, they were huge admirers of art and architecture, literature flourished in Karnataka under their reign. By the end of 12th century, Kalyana Chalukyas power were evading and they were replaced by the Sevuna dynasty who ruled the northern parts of Karnataka. In the same period, Hoysalas ruled the southern region of Karnataka, and just like the previous rulers of the state, Hoysalas contributed significantly towards the development of architecture, art and religion not only in Karnataka but across the South India. The latter end of the medieval period in Karnataka saw the establishment of Vijayanagara Empire, they fought against the Islamic invasions in Southern India. During their reign the region flourished with wealth and power, and the empire contributed enormously to the growth of regional languages along with art and architecture. Bahmani empire and Bijapur Sultanate emerged along with Vijayanagar Empire, while the former ruled the northern parts of Karnataka, the latter ruled the region of Bijapur and adjoining areas in Karnataka. The medieval period saw Karnataka rise to the prominence as political and economic power under various empires and dynasties, they made significant contribution during their reigns.

S.No Kingdom/Dynasty Time line
1 Kadamba Dynasty 325AD-540AD
2 Western Ganga Dynasty 325AD-999AD
3 Badami Chalukya Dynasty 500AD-757AD
4 Rastrakuta Dynasty 757AD-973AD
5 Kalyana Chalukya Dynasty 973AD-1198AD
6 Sevuna Dynasty 1198AD-1312AD
7 Hoysala Dynasty 1000AD-1346AD
8 Vijayanagara Empire 1336AD-1565AD


Modern History

The modern period of history, saw the rise of Wodeyars of Mysore and Hyder Ali, both played significant role as political powers in Karnataka. The early nineteenth century, saw British takeover the charge of administration in several regions of Karnataka. Wodeyars of Mysore were a dominant kingdom in the southern India, although initially they struggled to make an impact as empire as it was a feudal state under Vijayanagara Empire. The decline of Vijayanagara empire, saw the rise of Kingdom of Mysore and by late seventeenth century the kingdom spread all across the southern India. In 1762, Hyder Ali defeated the Wodeyars and brought the territory under their Sultanate. However by 1799, Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan were defeated by the British forces, after the annexation of Peshwa territories, saw British rule in majority of the region except for the Mysore, which was given the title of Princely State. After a period of 30-odd years British tookover the whole region including the Princely state of Mysore, before returning Mysore to the Wodeyars. In 1956, after India’s independence the Princely state of Mysore was integrated with different Kannada regions into the state of Mysore. In 1973, the state of Mysore was renamed to Karnataka.

S.No Kingdom/Dynasty Time line
1 Nayakas of Keladi 1500AD-1763AD
2 Wodeyars of Mysore 1399AD-1761AD
3 Sultanate of Srirangapatnam 1761AD-1799AD
4 Mysore Wodeyars 1800 AS-1831AD
5 Brtish Takeover 1831AD-1881AD
6 Mysore Wodeyars 1881AD-1950ASD
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