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KARNATAKA A state in South India, Karnataka has an area of 74,051 square miles (191,791 square kilometers). In 2001 its population was 52.7 million. Its capital is Bangalore, and the language is Kannada, which belongs to the Dravidian family of languages. The name of the state means "highland," which refers to its Deccan plateau, though Karnataka also has a coastline of about 185 miles (300 kilometers). The state in its present form was established in 1956, but its name was changed from Mysore to Karnataka only in 1973. It consists of two areas: the former princely state of Mysore and the Kannada-speaking districts of the erstwhile Bombay presidency, which were merged with Mysore to form a unified linguistic state. The maharaja of Mysore had signed the treaty of accession to India immediately after the attainment of indepedence. The legislature of the Bombay presidency had decided as early as 1938 that the Kannada-speaking districts should be merged with a future linguistic state. There was a dispute concerning the Belgaum and Karwar districts later on, since they had a sizable Marathi-speaking population, but they remained in Karnataka.

The state has many ancient monuments. The Mauryan emperor Ashoka had some of his famous inscriptions installed there in the second century b.c. Later, this area became a stronghold of Jainism. The huge statue of a Jain Tīrthānkara at Sravanbelgola is an impressive example of this tradition. In the northwestern part of the state, the Chalukya dynasty of Badami (Vatapi) created several beautiful temples in the seventh and eighth centuries a.d., which were influenced by the style of the Northern Gupta dynasty. Pattadakal, one of these temple towns, has been recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a World Heritage site. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Hoysala dynasty established the beautiful temples of Belur and Halebid. From the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries, the Vijayanagar empire dominated the region. Its capital, Vijayanagar, (City of Victory) is located near Hampi, about 185 miles (300 kilometers) north of Bangalore. Bijapur, in the northwestern part of the state, houses one of the most impressive monuments of Muslim architecture, Gol Gumbaz, the seventeenth-century mausoleum of Sultan Muhammad Adil Shah of Bijapur, which has the widest cupola in the world.

Karnataka is a stronghold of the Congress Party. It does not have a state party like its neighbors Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, though the Janata Party had played this role and ruled the state for some time after it had lost its importance as a national party. In the assembly elections of 2004, the Congress Party lost many seats while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) captured 79 seats, an unprecedented party success in a southern state. Even though the BJP won the largest number of seats of any party in the assembly, the Congress Party (with only 64 seats) managed to form a new government with the help of other parties.

With the exception of Bangalore, Karnataka has no big industrial cities. There are only two other major urban centers in this state: Mysore and Hubli-Dharwar. The latter consists of two separate towns that have formed a joint municipal corporation. Dharwar is a university town, and Hubli is a major trading center. In addition, there are some important district towns, such as Belgaum, Bellary, and Mangalore. As far as per capita income is concerned, Karnataka is close to the national average.

Dietmar Rothermund


Desai, P. B. History of Karnataka. Dharwar: Kannada Research Institute, 1970.

Diwakar, R. R. Karnataka through the Ages: From Prehistoric Times to the Day of the Independence of India. Bangalore: Government of Mysore, 1968.

Gururajachar, S. Some Aspects of Economic and Social Life in Karnataka (AD1000–1300). Mysore: Prasaranga, 1974.

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Karnataka (kärnä´təkə) or Carnatic (kärnăt´Ĭk), formerly Mysore (mīsôr´), state (2001 provisional pop. 52,733,958), 74,122 sq mi (191,976 sq km), SW India, bordering on the Arabian Sea. It is bordered on the north by the states of Goa and Maharashtra, on the east by Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, on the south by Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and on the west by the Arabian Sea. The capital is Bangalore (Bengaluru).

Most of the area is a plateau (alt. 1,000–3,000 ft/305–915 m) traversed by the upper Kaveri, Tunga, and Bhadra rivers, flowing east. These plus its many other rivers are used for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation. Coffee is the major crop, but cotton, millet, sugarcane, rice, and fodder are also grown. The state has the most valuable sandalwood forests in India. Karnataka produces nearly all of India's chromite and has considerable deposits of iron ore and manganese. The gold mines at Kolar are now closed, but some gold is still mined near Hutti. There is an excellent road and railway system, and the state manufactures steel and steel products, computer components and software, automobiles, and airplanes. At Karwar is a major modern Indian naval base. The population is largely Hindu and speaks Kannada (Kanarese). The linguistic uniformity of the state and its excellent education system contribute to one of India's highest literacy rates. Karnataka is governed by a chief minister and cabinet responsible to a bicameral legislature (with one elected house) and by a governor appointed by the president of India.

The region was part of the empire of the Mauryas (c.325–185 BC). From the 3d to the 11th cent. it was ruled by the Gangas and Chalukyas. In 1313 it was conquered by the Delhi Sultanate, but it was soon lost to the Vijayanagar kingdom. The region was the site of the earliest European settlements in India. During the 18th cent. the Carnatic plains became the arena for the struggle between Great Britain and France for supremacy in India. The early European settlers sometimes applied the term Carnatic to all of S India. In the late 18th cent. the Muslim leaders Haidar Ali and his son, Tippoo Sahib, conquered the Hindu rulers of Karnataka, but were defeated in 1799 by the British, who restored the Hindu dynasty and thereafter provided protection. In 1947 the state of Mysore acceded to the Indian Union. For centuries Kannada-speaking peoples had been fragmented by division into different regions; in the 1950s Mysore was granted additional territories, doubling its area and largely consolidating the linguistic group. In 1973 the state was renamed Karnataka.

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