– Dr. H. A. Parshwanath

Karnataka bears a history of about 2000 years and occupies sixth place in its extent in India. It is said that the name Karnataka is derived from ‘Karu-nadu’ meaning black soil, or ‘Kammitthu-nadu’ meaning fragrance; it also means that it is a land situated at height. Huientsang the Chinese traveller who visited Karnataka has called the land ‘Moholacha’ (Maharashtra). ‘Karu-nadu’ means Maharashtra in Sanskrit.

There are more than 30,000 inscriptions in Kannada distributed in and outside the state. It is interesting to note that many inscriptions also found in the neighbouring states such as Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and also at distant places in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Majority of these bear a religious background and also plying down the foundation for the culture of the land and consists of stone inscriptions as well as copper plates. These furnish an exuberant information with regard to social, political and historical information of the period. The most ancient inscriptions of Ashoka, the Mauryan emperor are found in Maski (Raichur District), Gavi Mutt (Koppal) and Brahmagiri, Siddapur and Jatinga Rameshwara (Chitradurga District), Nittur, Udagolam in Bellary District and also in Sannathi (Gulbarga district). The Mayura Verma inscription found in Chandravalli in Chitradurga district; Pulikeshi II’s inscription of Aihole; Halmidi inscription of Belur taluk (Hassan district); The Kadamba king Shanthiverma’s Talagunda inscription of Shikaripur taluk (Shimoga district); Ravi Verma’s inscription (Uttar Kannada district), Kappe Arabhatta’s inscription of Badami and Laskhmidhara amatya’s inscription of Vijayanagara constitute the most resourceful historical commodity for a comprehensive understanding of the heritage of the land. Furthermore it is noteworthy to record that more than 800 inscriptions are found in Shravanabelagola alone. These are of great help for understanding of the antiquity of Brahminic, Jain and Buddhist establishments. Many hero stones designated as garudass, Lenkas, Velevalis, Shulabradras, Julavadis, Mahasathi and Nishadi stones are found scattered all over Karnataka.

Karnataka was ruled by many powerful dynasties these include Mauryas, Shathavahanas of Pythana, Kadambas of Banavasi, Chalukyas of Badami, Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta, Kalyana Chalukyas, Talakadu Gangas, Kalachuryas of Mangalavada, Hoysalas of Dwarasamudra, Vijayanagara kings, Adilshahis of Bijapur, Mughal kings, Mysore Wodeyars and the British. Further more Yadavas of Devagiri, Goa Kadambas, Nolambas, Keladi and Ikkeri kings, Shilharas of Tagara, Kolhapur and Akkalakote, Shenavanas of Kudalore, Sathas and Salavas of Hombuja and also Chengalvas, Kongalvas, Latas, Sindhas of Yelburgi, Malavas, Bhojas, Banas of Parige, Chutus, Alupas of Udyavara, Guttas of Guttal, Nalas of Bellary and Kurnool area, Punnatas of Keerthipura, Pandyas of Uchhangi, Rattas of Saudatthi, Cholas of Nidigal and Veng, Sangama – Saluva – Tulu and Aravidu dynasties of Vijayanagara kingdom, Nayakas of Haleri, Bedas of Halagali, Nawabs Palegars, Desais and Inamdars and also small provincial inheritants of Biligi and Haduvalli have ruled different parts of Karnataka.

Kannadigas have inherited a great culture in their day to day life. They have always aspired for happiness & tranquility, tolerance, affluence, cooperation and coexistence. Their veritable contribution to art, literature, culture and religion have enriched the values of life. They have offered shelter and extended generosity to many scholars who hailed from neighbouring areas of Karnataka and to mention a few Sri Ramanujacharya from Tamil Nadu, Srinatha, Jakkanna and Janmamanthri from Andhra Pradesh.

Art and architecture flourished well in Karnataka. Many temples, palaces, forts and fortresses have attracted the tourists in a magnetic scale. The temple mainly belonged to the Northern and Southern styles and also an amalgamation of the two called vesara.

Pattadakal, Aihole and Badami Chalukyan temples were the abode of many experiments carried out on mega stones. Many cave temples and monuments were carved out of these big rocks. A unique technical expertise, a water supply system was observed meeting the needs of the people. Cave temples can also be made out situated outside Karnataka as seen in Ellora and Elephanta caves. Hoysala and Chalukyan temples are known for their filigree work depicting the episodes of Ramayana and Mahabharatha. The Shilabalikas, the dancers decorating walls are outstanding sculptors unique to Hoysala and Chalukyan styles. The palaces and administrative buildings which were evolved during the Christian and Muslim rule are known for their architectural beauty and gaiety.

The different religions lived in great harmony and understanding. The great giants of various religions have propagated humanity through their compositions, the vachana and dasa literary forms are identified as the contributions of high order enriching the glory of the land. The great luminaries such as Sarvagna, Simhanandi, Pujyapada, Kundakunda, Samantha badhra, Elacharya, Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Kanakadasa, Purandaradasa, Jagannathadasa, Mahipatidasa and Shishunala Sherif and others are also virtuous personalities who have made a great dent in Kannada literature and Bakthi movement. Sringeri Sharadamba, Hombuja Padmavathi, Sirsi Marikamba, Badami Banashankari, Saudatthi Yellamma, Mysore Chamundeshwari and many other deities are worshipped as goddesses of power.

The women folk have rendered surmountable contribution to Kannada art, literature, religion, culture and political administration. Mylaladevi of Kundur (Narendra), the daughter of king Vikramaditya; Nijagallina Rani; the Kalyani Chalukya arasi Vijaya Bhattarike; Chalukya Kuvari Akkadevi of Kusugadu; Rani Abbakkadevi; Hariyaladevi; Kitturrani Chennamma; Belavadi Mallamma; Keladi Chennamma; Chitradurga’s Onake Obavva; Natyarani Shanthala; poetess Kanti; Danachintamani Attimabbe; Helavanakatte Giriyamma; Sanchi Honnamma; Kumara Mallamma; Gamaki Tirumalamba; Kodagina Gowaramma and Jayadevathayi Ligade and many others have enriched Karnataka’s heritage.

Kannadigas have always stood strongly to fight against the invasive attitude of the enemies and proved their valour in the war field. To mention a few among them, the loyal Echhama Nayaka (Lakshmana Nayaka), Naragunda Babasaheb, Mundaragi Bheemaraya, Bidanoor’s Shivappa Nayaka, Dhondogi Wagh, Surapura’s Venkatappa Nayaka, Sangolli Rayanna, Yelahanka’s Kempegowda, Chickaveerarajendra of Coorg, Nayakas and Palegars of Chitradurga and Jagadevaraya of Channapattana are the warriors who showed bravery.