Thoughts on Karnataka

Soothing scents of sandalwood and jasmine waft through the fertile land of Karnataka. It seeps in to cheluva Kannada Nadu’s cultural heritage and architectural splendour. The eighth largest state in the country, Karnataka is an amalgam of natural wealth, strong cultural roots and high quality human potential that enable it to play a leading role in India’s development. Discover here a dazzling array of ancient sculpted temples, modern cities, friendly people, scenic hill ranges, unexplored forests and endless stretches of virgin beaches.

The name Karnataka is derived from Karunadu, literal meaning–lofty land. The name is fully justified as much of Karnataka is high plateau. The earliest references can be found in Mahabharata, Ramayana and Jain legends. The capital of Vali and Sugreeva, the “monkey kings” of the Ramayana, is said to have been Hampi in Bellary district. Irrefutable historical evidence regarding Karnataka, however, is available only from the third century BC and is in the form of Emperor Ashoka’s minor edicts.

Three hundreds years before the birth of Jesus Christ, Karnataka formed the southern hem of the Mauryan empire. Satavahanas, Kadambas, Gangas, Chalukyas and Hoysalas ruled this beautiful, rich land. The Vijayanagar Empire brought glory and the Deccan Moghuls, attracted by the riches, plundered the kingdom.

The vast ruins at Hampi, remain today as sombre remainders of Vijayanagar glory. In the south, the Wodeyar dynasty ruled for centuries till Hyder Ali, the valiant Muslim general of Mysore and later his son Tipu Sultan took over the reigns. With the defeat of Tipu by the British, whom he resisted for long, the Wodeyars were restored to power as a feudatory of the British.

During British rule, the Karnataka area was distributed among the princely states of Mysore, Hyderabad and the British provinces of Bombay, Madras and a small principality. The formation of the present state represented the fulfillment of age-old aspirations of Kannada-speaking people to come together in a single state. Thus, on November 1, 1973, Karnataka was formed under the Mysore State (Alteration of Name) Act 1973, the old kingdom of Mysore forming the nucleus of the new state.

Karnataka’s architectural heritage–a living testament of human endeavor–has endured the passage of time and is as strong as the stone it is carved from. Karnataka has a range of architectural gems to entice the visitor.

To the north, one can find impressive relics of the Muslim past: the architectural wonder–the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur and the massive fortress at Bidar. Further to the south, with their huge temples and monolithic sculptures, are the ruins of the ancient city of Vijayanagar. Superbly crafted Hoysala and Chalukya temples date from the 6th century onwards, while the 10th century Bahubali at Sravanabelagola is one of the most famous monuments in the country.

But, there is much more to Karnataka than the magnificent monumental architecture it is so famous for. The state is a home to a number of nature reserves where trekking, fishing, bird watching are just a few of the possibilities. The Ranganthittu bird sanctuary, the Bhadra wildlife sanctuary, the Biligiri Rangana hills, Bandipur, Nagarhole National Park, Kabini are some of the more famous ones.

That Karnataka houses some of the most picturesque hill-stations in South India is a little known fact. And it is this little fact that adds to the charm of these hill-stations. Uncrowded, undiscovered, unpolluted, where one can take long lazy walks, breathe clean, fresh air. Jog, trek, camp, climb mountains, star gaze, laugh, sing and dance without any inhibition. Lastly, with 300 km of pristine coast-line, hairpin bends with breathtaking views, temple towns echoing with evening prayers, the Karavali is a treat.

Nature has indeed been partial to coastal Karnataka–sheltered by the Western Ghats in the east, embraced by the blue waters of the Arabian sea in the west, blessed with fertile soil and an annual rainfall of 2500 mm, Karavali is a tropical paradise.

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