Karnataka, called 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.
Karnataka, with its capital at Bangalore, is home to a fascinating legacy of richly carved temples, imposing mosques and trappings of a royal past. It is a state of strong contrasts, with the modern industrialised city of Bangalore at one extreme and expanses of rural farming areas at the other.