History of Karnataka

Legend has it that the history of Karnataka dates back to the happenings in the Epic, Ramayana.

Moreover, the history of Karnataka also has a bearing to the period when people from the western countries came here in search of a market.

But the ancient history of Karnataka apparently starts with the Mauryas. After the Mauryas, the history of Karnataka witnessed the rule of Satavahanas who ruled Karnataka for nearly 300 years.

The Satavahanas, in their turn, were replaced by Kadambas and the Pallavas, the Gangadikaras, the Chalukyas of Badami, the Rashtrakutas, the Kalacharis, the Hoysalas, the Yadavas, the Kakaiyas and so on.

Moreover, with the rise of the Malik Kafur, the history of Karnataka saw the emergence of the Muslim rulers.

Yet in 1336 a Hindu kingdom was established at Vijaynagar by the Harihara (Hakka) and Bukka. This period of wealth and property and the economy of Karnataka shot up vigorously, under these rulers.

But all good things come to an end and so did this kingdom; it was replaced by the Bahamanis in 1337. The Bhamanis gave way to the Vijayanagar empire, which in its turn, lost to the Sultans of the Deccan at the famous battle of Talikota.

Subsequently, with the emergence of the British in the political scenario of India, the local administrators of India had to yield to the expansionist policy of the Britishers. Karnataka went under the charge of the Britishers in 1799 and it remained a princely state with a presiding puppet king as its head till 1947 when India got its independence.

Ultimately, in 1973 Karnataka became an independent state of the Indian Union.

Ancient Karnataka

Ancient Karnataka, as the legend says, is associated with the happenings in the Ramayana. In fact, legend affirms that the ancient Karnataka was associated with the kingdom of grandfathers of Bhagirath and also with Lord Shiva.

Moreover, Karnataka had long been the interest of the foreign traders, who came to India in search of its material wealth and also for its spices which had a great demand in the western market.

Further, ancient Karnataka dates back to the period when Chandragupta Maurya ascended the throne of Karnataka. Chandragupta Maurya, one of the great rulers of ancient Karnataka, exercised his control over the region till his death. Under the Mauryas, the territory of Karnataka flourished like the Garden of Eden with tremendous wealth within its realms. But the Mauryans could not have held the throne till eternity; therefore it passed on to the Satavahanas. Karnataka ancient history confirms that the Satavahanas ruled Karnataka for nearly 300 years.

The Satavahans, as the ancient history of Karnataka has it, were followed by the Kadambas and Pallavas. After the Kadambas and Pallavas, rose the Gangadikaras who ruled in the region till the 11th century. The Chalukyas of Badami, the Rashtrakutas, the Kalacharis, the Hoysalas, the Yadavs, the Kakatiyas, etc, followed the Gangadikaras in Karnataka.

Moreover, Karnataka also saw the genesis of a Muslim kingdom which began with the Malik Kafur's accession to the throne of Karnataka. But this Muslim kingdom could not hold on for long and in 1336, Harihara (Hakka) and Bukka established a Hindu kingdom at Vijayanagar.

Medieval Karnataka

The medieval Karnataka deals with the Chalukyas, Rahstrakutas, Western Chalukyas, Hoysalas, Gangas and the Vijaynagar empire. These kingdom as a whole constitute the medieval Karnataka or the medieval history of Karnataka, as we call it.

The medieval Karnataka starts with the emergence of the Hoysalas during the first millennium. During the reign of the Hoysalas, as the medieval Karnataka has it, art and architecture flourished tremendously in Karnataka. Throughout the entire region we find temples and structures adhering to the Vesara style of architecture that was prevalent at that point time.

Under the Hoysalas, the kingdom of Karnataka also included parts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Subsequently, the Vijaynagar empire rose in Karnataka in the 14th century AD. The Vijaynagar empire was established by the joint efforts of Harihara I and Bukka Raya, who according to the medieval Karnataka were the commanders of the last Hoysala king, Veer Ballala III.

Further speaking about medieval Karnataka, it can be said that the Bahamani Sultans of Bidar were the actual competitors of the Vijaynagar kings. It is after the fall of the Vijaynagar kingdom in the Battle of Talikota in 1565, that the Bijapur Sultanate under the Sultans of Bahamani, rose to power.

Modern Karnataka

Modern Karnataka holds an account of events that took place after the decline of the Mughal empire. It goes like this that the Wodeyars took Karnataka on lease from the Mughal king Aurangzeb in the 15th century.

As per the history of modern Karnataka, the Wodeyars came to power in Mysore in 1399 AD. Wodeyars made Mysore a small principality with Srirangapatnam as their capital. But, the Wodeyars were overthrown by Hyder Ali. After the death of Krishnaraja Wodeyar II, Hyder Ali, the commander-in-chief of the Mysore Army, came to the throne of Karnataka.

Hyder Ali was an efficient king in the history of modern Karnataka. After the departure of Hyder Ali, it was his son Tipu Sultan who assumed the control of Karnataka.

Tipu Sultan, known as the Tiger of Mysore, is one of the most powerful rulers of modern Karnataka. There were the wars fought between Tipu Sultan and the British, who had assumed great power in the other regions of India. The four Anglo-Mysore Wars are very crucial in the history of modern Karnataka. In fact, it were these battles that paved the way for British supremacy in southern India. Moreover, it was in the last Anglo-Mysore War that Tipu Sultan lost his life, fighting for the cause of his territory.

Last Updated on 26th March 2013

  Geography and History of Karnataka