Karnataka is a state in the South India. It was created on November 1, 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act. Originally known as the State of Mysore, it was renamed Karnataka in 1973.
Karnataka is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, Goa to the north-west, Maharashtra to the north, Andhra Pradesh to the east, Tamil Nadu to the south-east, and Kerala to the south-west. The state covers an area of 191,791 km² (74,051 sq mi) or 5.83% of the total geographical area of India. It is the eighth largest Indian state by area, the nineth largest by population and comprises 29 districts. Kannada is the official and most widely spoken language.
Bengaluru formerly Bangalore is the capital city of the state and is at the forefront of the rapid economic and technological development that India is experiencing.
The state has three principal geographical zones: the coastal region of Karavali, the hilly Malnad region comprising the Western Ghats and the Bayaluseeme region comprising the plains of the Deccan plateau. The bulk of the state is in the Bayaluseeme region, the northern part of which is the second largest arid region in India. The highest point in Karnataka is the Mullayanagiri hills in Chikkamagaluru district which has an altitude of 1,929 metres (6,329 ft). Some of the important rivers in Karnataka are the Kaveri, the Tungabhadra, the Krishna and the Sharavathi.
The diverse linguistic and religious ethnicities that are native to Karnataka combined with their long histories have contributed immensely to the varied cultural heritage of the state. Apart from Kannadigas, Karnataka is home to Tuluvas, Kodavas and Konkanis. Minor populations of Tibetan Buddhists and also tribes like the Soligas, Yeravas, Todas and Siddhis live in Karnataka. The traditional folk arts cover the entire gamut of music, dance, drama, storytelling by itinerant troupes, etc. Yakshagana of coastal Karnataka, a classical folk play, is one of the major theatrical forms of Karnataka.
Karnataka also has a special place in the world of Indian classical music with both Karnataka (Carnatic) and Hindustani styles finding place in the state and Karnataka has produced a number of stalwarts in both styles.
Many regions of Karnataka are as yet unexplored, so new species of flora and fauna are found periodically. The Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot, includes the western region of Karnataka. Two sub-clusters in the Western Ghats, viz. Talacauvery and Kudremukh, both in Karnataka, are on the tentative list of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO. The Bandipur and Nagarhole National Parks, which fall outside these subclusters, were included in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve in 1986, a UNESCO designation. The Indian roller and the Indian elephant are recognized as the state bird and animal while sandalwood and the lotus are recognized as the state tree and flower respectively. Karnataka has five national parks: Anshi, Bandipur, Bannerghatta, Kudremukh and Nagarhole. It also has 25 wildlife sanctuaries of which seven are bird sanctuaries.
The districts of the Western ghats and the southern districts of the state have popular eco-tourism locations including Kudremukh, Madikeri and Agumbe. The ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire at Hampi and the monuments of Pattadakal are on the list of UNESCO's World Heritage sites. The cave temples at Badami and the rock-cut temples at Aihole representing the Badami Chalukyan style of architecture are also popular tourist destinations. The Hoysala temples at Belur and Halebidu, which were built with Chloritic schist (soap stone) are proposed UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Gol Gumbaz and Ibrahim Rauza are famous examples of the Deccan Sultanate style of architecture. The monolith of Gomateshwara at Shravanabelagola is the tallest sculpted monolith in the world, attracting tens of thousands of pilgrims during the Mahamastakabhisheka festival.
The waterfalls of Karnataka and Kudremukh National Park are listed as must-see places and among the "1001 Natural Wonders of the World." Jog Falls is India's tallest single-tiered waterfall with Unchalli Falls, Magod Falls, Abbey Falls and Shivanasamudra Falls among the other popular waterfalls. Several popular beaches dot the coastline including Murudeshwara, Gokarna and Karwar. In addition, Karnataka is home to several places of religious importance. Several Hindu temples including the famous Udupi Krishna Temple, the Marikamba Temple at Sirsi, the Sri Manjunatha Temple at Dharmasthala, Sri Subramanya Temple at Kukke, Sri Mookambika temple at Kolloor near Mangalore and Sharadamba Temple at Sringeri attract pilgrims from all over India. Most of the holy sites of Lingayats, like Kudalasangama and Basavana Bagewadi, are found in northern parts of the state. Shravanabelagola, Mudabidri and Karkala are famous for Jain history and monuments. The Jain faith had a stronghold in Karnataka in the early medieval period with Shravanabelagola as its most important center.
Facts at a glance
Time zone – IST (UTC+5:30). Area – 191,791 km² (74,051 sq mi). Capital – Bangalore. Largest city – Bangalore. District(s) – 29. Population – 52,850,562 (9th). Density – 275.6 /km² (714 /sq mi). Language(s) – Kannada. Established – 1956-11-01. Legislature (seats) Bicameral (224 + 75). ISO abbreviation IN-KA. Website: http://karunadu.gov.in