Karnataka History

The historical finds dating back over 5,00,000 years refer to the existence of hunter-gatherer communities in the region between the rivers Thungabhadra and the Krishnna.  Iron weapons dating back to 1500 BC have been found at several sites and evidences of earlier (3000 BC) agricultural settlements in what is now North Karnataka have been identified.

Ashokan edicts found in several centers suggest that the Mauryas held sway over this ancient part.  It is said that in the 3 century BC, India's great emperor, Chandragupta Maurya embraced Jainism and retired to a place of pilgrimage, Sravanabelagola.  Remains of monuments of Satavahanas period have also been found at places now in the districts of Gulbarga, Belgaum and Chitradurga. After the fall of Satvahanas dynasty,the Gangas (3-11 centuries) and the Pallavas (4-9 centuries) dominated large parts of modern Karnataka and played a significant role in the region's history.

In 350 AD, Mayrasharman founded the Kadamba dynasty by revolting against the Pallavas and crowned himself at Banavasi.  They are credited with building fine temples and basadis.  The final blow to the might of Kadambas came with the rise of Badami Chalukyas in 540 AD.  The Chalukyas ended the sovereign power of the Gangas.  However they continued to rule over major parts of south Karnataka as subordinates of the Chalukyas and later the Rashtrakutas.  The rule of Gangas came to an end in 1004 AD with the rise of new power, Cholas. One of the descendants of this great dynasty, Sheerpurusha, wrote a samskritha work Gajashashtra.

The Chalukyas of Badami are noted in history for bringing the whole of Karnataka under a single rule.  In the 6 century they built great Hindu temples in Badami.  The great Pulikeshin II (reign 609-642 AD) domain extended from the Narmada to the Cauvery, however he lost to Pallavas in 642 AD but his son Vikramaditya I soon conquered Badami and extended his father's vast empire further.  The constant war with Pallavas however considerably reduced the might of the Badami Chalukyas. In 753 AD the Rashtrakuta wrested control from the Chalukya King Keertivarman II.  The successors of Rashtrakuta dynasty are also noted for their heroic deeds in extracting tribute from the king of Kanauj.  The Kalyana Chalukyas claiming descent from the Badami Chalukyas captured power by over throwing the Rashtrakutas in 973 AD.  The rulers of this dynasty were great patrons of scholars and are remembered for building beautiful temples renowned for intricate engravings.  The Kaluchuris, feudatories of the Chalukyas ousted the Chalukyas from their seat of power in 1162 AD.  Though the Chalukyas regained power in 1184 but the rising influence of their feudatories, the Sevunas (Yadavas) and the Hoysalas weakened their domain.  As both the sevuna and the Hoysalas were at war amongst each other, this resulted in their easy exit from power by the invading Delhi Sultan starting 1296 and finally by 1318Ad the kingdom was wiped out.  The Hoysalas (11-14 centuries) built the magnificent temples of Belur, Halebidu and Somnathpur. These are considered to be the architectural jewels of India. After the death of Ballala III, the last great king of Hoysala, it was his commanders, Harihara and Bukka, who founded the great Vijayanagar Empire, with Hampi as their capital in the mid 16 century.  The invading armies of the Delhi Sultan inflicted heavy losses to the Kingdoms of sevunas, Kakathiyas of Warangal, the Hoysalas and the Pandyas of Madurai in south. Plundered by the aggression of these invaders from north, the people at large were bewildered by the idea of being governed by a power following a religion quite alien to the south.  The kingdom founded by Harihara in 1336 AD, go their wholehearted support and soon it witnessed the dominion of the Vijayanagar Empire over tehnorthern parts of Karnataka and Andhra and its influence extended beyond Goa.  This period is recalled as the glorious period of prosperity and for the notable building activity.  This was followed by sangama and the Taluva dynasties. The greatest of Sangama, Devaraya II (1424-49) defeated the Bahamani Sultans.  Even rulers of far off places in Ceylon and Burma owed him allegiance.  Tuluva Krishnadevaraya (1509-1529) had sawy over vast areas in Karnataka and Andhra and controlled Cuttack (Orissa) in the east.  These rulers were great patrons of music and art.  The popular Tenali Rama famous for his wit and wisdom was one of the scholars in the court of the ruler Krishnadevaraya.

Even during the Vijayanagar period the Muslim Sultanates in the north were annexing more territories. One such Bahamani Sultan founded in 1347 in Gulbarga clashed with Vijayanagar all through its history. The Wazir of this Sultanate, Mahmud Gawan, Seized Karnataka between 1446 and 1481 and also took control of Goa.  The Bahamani Sultans are remembered for the fine Hindu-Muslim structures at Gulbarga and Bidar.  Their rule (1422-1526) is marked by wars with Gujarat, Malwa, Vijayanagar and expeditions against Orissa in the east.  However, internal feuds and dissensions and fissiparous tendencies in general weakened the Bahamanis and by 1530 it had split into five independent kingdoms of the Decan namely Adil Shahi of Baijapur, Qutab Shahi of Golconda, Imad Shahi of Ahmadnagar, Barid Shah of Bidar, and the Imad Shahi of Berar.  Of these the Adil Shahis ruled over the greater part of Karnataka.  The combined assault (battle of Talikota) by the five in 1565 against the Vijayanagar Empire resulted in its collapse.  Bangalore and its surrounding areas were granted as fiefdom to Shaji Bhosle, the father of great Maratha Warrior, Shivaji.  Aurangzeb brought about the end to Adil Shahi's sovereignty in 1686.

The end of the Vijayanagar Empire saw the rise of the Nayakas of Keladi. Channamma (1571-97) is renowned for her valour as she gave shelter to Rajaram, the son of the great Maratha Shivaji and thus earned the wrath of Aurangzeb.  The Marathas had emerged as a dominant force controlling parts of Karnataka to the north of Tugabhadra.  In the south, they had Bangalore and the surrounding areas.  The Wodiyars of Mysore expanded their territory while the Mughal forced the Marathas to flee from Srirangapatnam and Bangalore.  They lost control to Haider Ali (one of their Generals) who with French help exercised control and made Srirangapatnam the capital in 1761.  Haider merged the Keladi with Mysore and extended more territories into Mysore.  The Mysore wars followed and with the death of Hider Ali and then of his son Tipu Sultan in 1799, the great warrior who fought valiantly against the British like his father, Mysore fell into the hands of the British.  The British reestablished the rule of the Wodiyars, crowned Krishnaraja Wodiyar III as the rule of the Wodiyars, and crowned Krishnaraja Wodiyar III as the ruler of the Mysore territory.  The Wodiyars continued to administer the state even up to reorganization of the state in 1956 when the Maharaja was appointed the State Governor.