as Karunadu (elevated land) in ancient times. The course of
Karnataka's history and culture takes us back to pre-historic
times. The earliest find of the stone age period in India was a
hand axe at Lingasugur in Raichur district. The Ashoka's rock
edicts found in the state indicate that major parts of Northern
Karnataka were under the Mauryas. Chandragupta Maurya, the great
Indian emperor abdicated the throne and embraced Jainism at
Shravanabelagola. Adding new dimensions to the cultural and
spiritual ethos of the land, many great dynasties left their
imprint upon the aesthetic development of Karnataka's art forms.
Prominent among them were the Chalukyas, the Hoysalas and the
mighty Vijayanagara Empire. The Chalukyan's built some of the
very early Hindu temples in India. Aihole turned up as an
experimental base for the dynamic creations of architects. The
Hoysala's who ruled from the 11th to the 13th century chiseled
their way into the pages of glory by building more than 150
temples, each one is a master piece in its own way. The amazing
dexterity and fluidity of expressions at Somnathpur, Halebid and
Belur open themselves to the wide eyed wonder in one's eyes.
Vijayanagara, the greatest of all medieval Hindu empires and one
of the greatest the world over, fostered the development of
intellectual pursuits and fine arts. "The eye of the pupil has
never seen a place like it and the ear of intelligence has never
been informed that there existed anything to equal it in the
world" is what Abdur Razaaq the Persian ambassador had to say
about Krishnadevaraya's time.
The Vijayanagara empire with its capital at Hampi fell a victim
to the marauding army of the Deccan Sultan in 1565 A.D. As a
consequence of this, Bijapur became the most important city of
the region. This city is a land of monuments and perhaps no
other city except Delhi has as many monuments as Bijapur. The
Bahmani Shahis and the Adilshahis of Bijapur have played a
notable part in the history of Karnataka by their contribution
to the field of art and architecture and also by their
propagation of Islam in the state.
Hyder Ali and his valiant son Tipu Sultan are notable figures in
the history of the land. They expanded the Mysore kingdom on an
unprecedented scale and by their resistance against the British,
became personages of world fame. Tipu was a great scholar and
lover of literature. His artistic pursuits were also many and he
made rich gifts to the Hindu temples. Tipu Sultan "Tiger of
Karnataka" was killed in 1799 A.D., and the Mysore throne was
handed over to the Wodeyar's. The whole of Karnataka came under
the control of the British in the beginning of the 19th century.
The new state was named as new Mysore and the Maharaja of Mysore
was appointed Governor by Independent India. This unified state
was renamed as Karnataka on November 1, 1973.