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Karnataka (; ISO: , ) is a state in the south western region of . It was formed on 1 November 1956, with the passage of the States Reorganisation Act. Originally known as the , it was renamed Karnataka in 1973. The state corresponds to the . Its capital and largest city is .

Karnataka is bordered by the to the west, to the northwest, to the north, to the northeast, to the east, to the southeast, and to the southwest. It is the only southern state to have land borders with all of the other 4 southern Indian sister states. The state covers an area of , or 5.83 percent of the total geographical area of India. It is the sixth largest Indian state by area. With 61,130,704 inhabitants at the 2011 census, Karnataka is the eighth largest state by population, comprising 31 districts. , one of the classical languages of India, is the most widely spoken and official language of the state. Other minority languages spoken include , , , , , , , and . Karnataka also contains some of the only villages in India where Sanskrit is primarily spoken.

Though several etymologies have been suggested for the name Karnataka, the generally accepted one is that Karnataka is derived from the Kannada words karu and nādu, meaning "elevated land". Karu Nadu may also be read as karu, meaning "black" and nadu, meaning "region", as a reference to the found in the region of the state. The used the word , sometimes Karnatak, to describe both sides of peninsular India, south of the Krishna.See 's life of Clive and James Talboys Wheeler: Early History of British India, London (1878) p.98. The principal meaning is the western half of this area, but the rulers there controlled the as well.

With an antiquity that dates to the , Karnataka has been home to some of the most powerful empires of ancient and medieval India. The philosophers and musical bards patronised by these empires launched socio-religious and literary movements which have endured to the present day. Karnataka has contributed significantly to both forms of Indian classical music, the and traditions.

The economy of Karnataka is the sixth-largest of any Indian state with in gross domestic product and a per capita GDP of . Karnataka has the nineteenth highest ranking among Indian states in Human Development Index.

Karnataka's pre-history goes back to a hand-axe culture evidenced by discoveries of, among other things, and cleavers in the region. Evidence of and cultures have also been found in the state. Gold discovered in was found to be imported from mines in Karnataka, prompting scholars to hypothesise about contacts between ancient Karnataka and the Indus Valley Civilisation ca. 3300 BCE.

Prior to the third century BCE, most of Karnataka formed part of the before coming under the of . Four centuries of Satavahana rule followed, allowing them to control large areas of Karnataka. The decline of Satavahana power led to the rise of the earliest native kingdoms, the and the , marking the region's emergence as an independent political entity. The , founded by , had its capital at ;From the inscription (Dr. B. L. Rice in Kamath (2001), p. 30.)Moares (1931), p. 10. the Western Ganga Dynasty was formed with as its capital.Adiga and Sheik Ali in Adiga (2006), p. 89.Ramesh (1984), pp. 1–2.

These were also the first kingdoms to use in administration, as evidenced by the Halmidi inscription and a fifth-century copper coin discovered at Banavasi.From the Halmidi inscription (Ramesh 1984, pp. 10–11.)Kamath (2001), p. 10. These dynasties were followed by imperial Kannada empires such as the ,The Chalukyas hailed from present-day Karnataka (Keay (2000), p. 168.)The Chalukyas were native (N. Laxminarayana Rao and Dr. S. C. Nandinath in Kamath (2001), p. 57.) the Rashtrakuta Empire of ManyakhetaAltekar (1934), pp. 21–24.Masica (1991), pp. 45–46. and the Western Chalukya Empire,Balagamve in Mysore territory was an early power centre (Cousens (1926), pp. 10, 105.)Tailapa II, the founder king was the governor of Tardavadi in modern Bijapur district, under the Rashtrakutas (Kamath (2001), p. 101.). which ruled over large parts of the and had their capitals in what is now Karnataka. The Western Chalukyas patronised a unique style of architecture and Kannada literature which became a precursor to the art of the 12th century.Kamath (2001), p. 115.Foekema (2003), p. 9. Parts of modern-day Southern Karnataka (Gangavadi) were occupied by the at the turn of the 11th century.Sastri (1955), p.164 The Cholas and the Hoysalas fought over the region in the early 12th century before it eventually came under Hoysala rule.

At the turn of the first millennium, the gained power in the region. Literature flourished during this time, which led to the emergence of distinctive Kannada literary metres, and the construction of temples and sculptures adhering to the style of architecture.Kamath (2001), pp. 132–134.Sastri (1955), pp. 358–359, 361.Foekema (1996), p. 14.Kamath (2001), pp. 122–124. The expansion of the Hoysala Empire brought minor parts of modern and under its rule. In the early 14th century, and established the Vijayanagara empire with its capital, Hosapattana (later named ), on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in the modern Bellary district. Under the rule of , a distinct form of literature and architecture evolved.Prof K.A.N. Sastri, History of South India pp 355-366 The empire rose as a bulwark against Muslim advances into South India, which it completely controlled for over two centuries.Kamath (2001), pp. 157–160.Kulke and Rothermund (2004), p. 188.In 1537, Kempe Gowda I, a chieftain of the Vijayanagara Empire, widely held as the founder of modern Bangalore, built a and established the area around it as .

In 1565, Karnataka and the rest of South India experienced a major geopolitical shift when the Vijayanagara empire fell to a confederation of Islamic sultanates in the Battle of Talikota.Kamath (2001), pp. 190–191. The Bijapur Sultanate, which had risen after the demise of the Bahmani Sultanate of Bidar, soon took control of the Deccan; it was defeated by the in the late 17th century.Kamath (2001), p. 201.Kamath (2001), p. 202. The Bahmani and Bijapur rulers encouraged Urdu and Persian literature and architecture, the being one of the high points of this style.Kamath (2001), p. 207. During the sixteenth century, Hindus migrated to Karnataka, mostly from , ,

(2022). 9780700711307, Routledge. .
while during the seventeenth and eighteenth century, migrated to and , especially from , Goa, as a result of food shortages, epidemics and heavy taxation imposed by the Portuguese.

In the period that followed, parts of northern Karnataka were ruled by the Nizam of Hyderabad, the , the , and other powers.A History of India by p.190 In the south, the , a former of the Vijayanagara Empire, was briefly independent.Kamath (2001), p. 171. With the death of Krishnaraja Wodeyar II, , the commander-in-chief of the Mysore army, gained control of the region. After his death, the kingdom was inherited by his son .Kamath (2001), pp. 171, 173, 174, 204. To contain European expansion in South India, Haidar Ali and later Tipu Sultan fought four significant Anglo-Mysore Wars, the last of which resulted in Tippu Sultan's death and the incorporation of Mysore into the in 1799.Kamath (2001), pp. 231–234. The Kingdom of Mysore was restored to the Wodeyars and Mysore remained a princely state under the British Raj.

As the "doctrine of lapse" gave way to dissent and resistance from princely states across the country, , and others spearheaded rebellions in Karnataka in 1830, nearly three decades before the Indian Rebellion of 1857. However, Kitturu was taken over by the British East India Company even before the doctrine was officially articulated by Lord Dalhousie in 1848. Other uprisings followed, such as the ones at , , , and . These rebellions—which coincided with the Indian Rebellion of 1857—were led by Mundargi Bhimarao, Bhaskar Rao Bhave, the Halagali Bedas, Raja Venkatappa Nayaka and others. By the late 19th century, the independence movement had gained momentum; Karnad Sadashiva Rao, Aluru Venkata Raya, S. Nijalingappa, Kengal Hanumanthaiah, Nittoor Srinivasa Rau and others carried on the struggle into the early 20th century.

After India's independence, the Maharaja, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, allowed his kingdom's accession to India. In 1950, Mysore became an Indian state of the same name; the former Maharaja served as its Rajpramukh (head of state) until 1975. Following the long-standing demand of the Ekikarana Movement, Kodagu- and Kannada-speaking regions from the adjoining states of Madras, Hyderabad and Bombay were incorporated into the Mysore state, under the States Reorganisation Act of 1956. The thus expanded state was renamed Karnataka, seventeen years later, on 1 November 1973. In the early 1900s through the post-independence era, industrial visionaries such as Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvarayya, played an important role in the development of Karnataka's strong manufacturing and industrial base.Gupta, Jyoti Bhusan Das, ed. (2007). Science, Technology, Imperialism and War. History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization. XV(1). Pearson Longman. p. 247.

The state has three principal geographical zones:, formed by Sharavathi River, are the second-highest plunge waterfalls in India.|left]]

  1. The coastal region of and
  2. The hilly region comprising the
  3. The region comprising the plains of the

The bulk of the state is in the region, the northern part of which is the second-largest region in India. The highest point in Karnataka is the hills in Chikmagalur district which has an altitude of . The two main river systems of the state are the and its tributaries, the , Ghataprabha, , and Tungabhadra in North Karnataka, and the and its tributaries, the , , , and , in South Karnataka. Most of these rivers flow out of Karnataka eastward, reaching the sea at the Bay of Bengal. Other prominent rivers such as the in and in flow westward, reaching the sea at the Arabian Sea. A large number of dams and reservoirs are constructed across these rivers which richly add to the and power generation capacities of the state.

Karnataka consists of four main types of geological formations – the complex made up of and granitic , the non-fossiliferous sedimentary formations of the Kaladgi and Bhima series, the Deccan trappean and intertrappean deposits and the tertiary and recent and alluvial deposits.

(1997). 9788185867083, Geological Society of India. .
Laterite cappings that are found in many districts over the were formed after the cessation of volcanic activity in the early tertiary period. Eleven groups of soil orders are found in Karnataka, viz. , , , , , , , , , and .National Informatics Centre. "Traditional Soil Groups of Karnataka and their Geographic Distribution". Official Website of the Department of Agriculture, Govt. of Karnataka. Govt. of Karnataka. Retrieved 25 March 2007. Depending on the agricultural capability of the soil, the soil types are divided into six types, viz. red, , , alluvio-colluvial, forest and coastal soils.National Informatics Centre. "Traditional Soil Groups of Karnataka and their Geographic Distribution". Official Website of the Department of Agriculture, Govt. of Karnataka. Govt. of Karnataka. Retrieved 25 March 2007.

About of Karnataka (i.e. 16% of the state's geographic area) is covered by forests.

(2022). 9780199459650 .
The forests are classified as reserved, protected, unclosed, village and private forests. The percentage of forested area is slightly less than the all-India average of about 23%, and significantly less than the 33% prescribed in the National Forest Policy.

Karnataka experiences four seasons. The winter in January and February is followed by summer between March and May, the season between June and September and the post-monsoon season from October till December. , Karnataka is divided into three zones – coastal, north interior and south interior. Of these, the coastal zone receives the heaviest rainfall with an average rainfall of about per annum, far in excess of the state average of . in of received of rainfall in 2010. In 2014 Kokalli in Sirsi taluka of Uttara Kannada district received of rainfall. in and of in were the rainiest cities in Karnataka, situated in one of the wettest regions in the world.Agumbe's receiving the second highest rainfall in India is mentioned by

The state is projected to warm about by 2030. The monsoon is set to provide less rainfall. Agriculture in Karnataka is mostly rainfed as opposed to irrigated, making it highly vulnerable to expected changes in the monsoon. The highest recorded temperature was in . The lowest recorded temperature was at .

There are 31 districts in Karnataka. Each district ( zila) is governed by a district commissioner ( ziladar). The districts are further divided into sub-districts ( ), which are governed by sub-commissioners ( talukdars); sub-divisions comprise blocks ( / hobli), which are governed by block development officers ( tehsildars), which contain village councils ( ), town municipal councils ( purasabhe), city municipal councils ( nagarasabhe), and city municipal corporations ( mahanagara palike).

1Kitturu Karnataka1Bagalkote
2Bangalore8Bangalore Urban
9Bangalore Rural
3Kalyana Karnataka17


According to the 2011 census of India, the total population of Karnataka was 61,095,297 of which 30,966,657 (50.7%) were male and 30,128,640 (49.3%) were female, or 1000 males for every 973 females. This represents a 15.60% increase over the population in 2001. The population density was 319 per km2 and 38.67% of the people lived in urban areas. The literacy rate was 75.36% with 82.47% of males and 68.08% of females being literate.


84% of the population are , 12.92% were , 1.87% were , 0.72% were , 0.16% were , 0.05% were and 0.02% were belonging to other religions and 0.27% of the population did not state their religion, as per the last census.

In 2007 the state had a birth rate of 2.2%, a death rate of 0.7%, an infant mortality rate of 5.5% and a maternal mortality rate of 0.2%. The total fertility rate was 2.2.

Karnataka's private sector speciality health care competes with the best in the world. Karnataka has also established a modicum of public health services having a better record of health care and child care than most other states of India. In spite of these advances, some parts of the state still suffer from the lack of primary health care.

6Dakshina Kannada484,785

Government and administration
Karnataka has a system of government with two democratically elected houses, the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council. The Legislative Assembly consists of 224 members who are elected for five-year terms. The Legislative Council is a permanent body of 75 members with one-third (25 members) retiring every two years.

The government of Karnataka is headed by the Chief Minister who is chosen by the ruling party members of the Legislative Assembly. The Chief Minister, along with the council of ministers, executes the legislative agenda and exercises most of the executive powers.Pylee, M. V. 2003. Constitutional government in India. New Delhi: S. Chand & Co, p. 365. However, the constitutional and formal head of the state is the Governor who is appointed for a five-year term by the President of India on the advice of the Union government."The Head of the State is called the Governor who is the constitutional head of the state as the President is for the whole of India", Pylee, M. V. 2003. Constitutional government in India. New Delhi: S. Chand & Co, p. 357. The people of Karnataka also elect 28 members to the , the lower house of the Indian Parliament. The members of the state Legislative Assembly elect 12 members to the , the upper house of the Indian Parliament. administrative purposes, Karnataka has been divided into four revenue divisions, 49 sub-divisions, 31 districts, 175 and 745 hoblies / revenue circles. The administration in each district is headed by a Deputy Commissioner who belongs to the Indian Administrative Service and is assisted by a number of officers belonging to Karnataka state services. The Deputy Commissioner of Police, an officer belonging to the Indian Police Service and assisted by the officers of the Karnataka Police Service, is entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining law and order and related issues in each district. The Deputy Conservator of Forests, an officer belonging to the Indian Forest Service, is entrusted with the responsibility of managing forests, environment and wildlife of the district, he will be assisted by the officers belonging to Karnataka Forest Service and officers belonging to Karnataka Forest Subordinate Service. Sectoral development in the districts is looked after by the district head of each development department such as Public Works Department, Health, Education, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, etc. The judiciary in the state consists of the Karnataka High Court ( Attara Kacheri) in Bangalore, Hubballi-Dharwad, and Kalaburagi, district and session courts in each district and lower courts and judges at the taluk level.

Politics in Karnataka has been dominated by three political parties, the Indian National Congress, the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Politicians from Karnataka have played prominent roles in federal government of India with some of them having held the high positions of Prime Minister and Vice-President. Border disputes involving Karnataka's claim on the Kasaragod and districts and 's claim on Belagavi are ongoing since the states reorganisation. The official has a in the centre. Surmounting this are four lions facing the four directions, taken from the Lion Capital of Ashoka at . The emblem also carries two with the head of an and the body of a .

Karnataka had an estimated GSDP (Gross State Domestic Product) of about US$115.86 billion in the 2014–15 fiscal year. The state registered a GSDP growth rate of 7% for the year 2014–2015. Karnataka's contribution to India's GDP in the year 2014–15 was 7.54%. With GDP growth of 17.59% and per capita GDP growth of 16.04%, Karnataka is on the 6th position among all states and union territories. In an employment survey conducted for the year 2013–2014, the unemployment rate in Karnataka was 1.8% compared to the national rate of 4.9%. In 2011–2012, Karnataka had an estimated poverty ratio of 20.91% compared to the national ratio of 21.92%.

Nearly 56% of the workforce in Karnataka is engaged in agriculture and related activities. A total of 12.31 million hectares of land, or 64.6% of the state's total area, is cultivated. Much of the agricultural output is dependent on the southwest monsoon as only 26.5% of the sown area is irrigated.

Karnataka is the manufacturing hub for some of the largest industries in India, including Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, National Aerospace Laboratories, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Bharat Earth Movers Limited and HMT (formerly Hindustan Machine Tools), which are based in Bangalore. Many of India's premier science and technology research centres, such as Indian Space Research Organisation, Central Power Research Institute, Bharat Electronics Limited and the Central Food Technological Research Institute, are also headquartered in Karnataka. is an , located in Mangalore.

The state has also begun to invest heavily in centred on the Pavagada Solar Park. As of December 2017, the state has installed an estimated 2.2 gigawatts of block solar panelling and in January 2018 announced a tender to generate a further 1.2 gigawatts in the coming years: Karnataka Renewable Energy Development suggests that this will be based on 24 separate systems (or 'blocks') generating 50 megawatts each., KREDL tenders 1.2GW of solar PV" Juwi baut 40-Megawatt-Park in Indien". Energie-Allee, issue of 2017, september. Retrieved 4 February 2019. (german) (pdf)

Since the 1980s, Karnataka has emerged as the pan-Indian leader in the field of IT (information technology). In 2007, there were nearly 2,000 firms operating in Karnataka. Many of them, including two of India's biggest software firms, and , are also headquartered in the state. Exports from these firms exceeded in 2006–07, accounting for nearly 38% of all IT exports from India. The Nandi Hills area in the outskirts of is the site of the upcoming $22 billion, 50 km2 BIAL IT Investment Region, one of the largest infrastructure projects in the history of Karnataka. All this has earned the state capital, Bangalore, the sobriquet Silicon Valley of India.

Karnataka also leads the nation in . It is home to India's largest biocluster, with 60% of the country's biotechnology firms being based here. The state has 18,000 hectares of land under , an upcoming industry which supplies flowers and ornamental plants worldwide.

Seven of India's banks, , , , , , ING Vysya Bank and the State Bank of Mysore originated in this state. The coastal districts of and have a branch for every 500 persons—the best distribution of banks in India. In March 2002, Karnataka had 4767 branches of different banks with each branch serving 11,000 persons, which is lower than the national average of 16,000.

A majority of the silk industry in India is headquartered in Karnataka, much of it in in Bangalore Rural district and the state government intends to invest in a "Silk City" at in Chikkaballapura district.

Air transport in Karnataka, as in the rest of the country, is still a fledgling but fast expanding sector. Karnataka has airports at Bangalore, Mangalore, , , , , Gulbarga, and with international operations from Bangalore and Mangalore airports. and airports are being built under the .

Karnataka has a railway network with a total length of approximately . Until the creation of the South-Western Railway Zone headquartered at in 2003, the railway network in the state was in the Southern Railway zone, South-Central Railway Zone and Western Railway zone. Several parts of the state now come under the South Western Railway zone with 3 Railway Divisions at , , Hubli, with the remainder under the Southern Railway zone and , which is considered one of India's biggest railway projects of the century due to the difficult terrain. Bangalore and other cities in the state are well-connected with intrastate and inter-state destinations.

Karnataka has 11 ports, including the New Mangalore Port, a major port and ten minor ports, of which three were operational in 2012. The New Mangalore port was incorporated as the ninth major port in India on 4 May 1974. This port handled 32.04 million tonnes of traffic in the fiscal year 2006–07 with 17.92 million tonnes of imports and 14.12 million tonnes of exports. The port also handled 1015 vessels including 18 cruise vessels during the year 2006–07. Foreigners can enter Mangalore through the New Mangalore Port with the help of Electronic visa (e-visa). from Europe, North America and arrive at New Mangalore Port to visit the tourist places across Coastal Karnataka. The port of Mangalore is among the 4 major ports of India that receive over 25 international cruise ships every year.

The total lengths of National Highways and State Highways in Karnataka are , respectively.

The state transport corporations, transports an average of 2.2 million passengers daily and employs about 25,000 people. The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) headquartered in Bangalore, The Kalyana Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (KKRTC) headquartered in Gulbarga, and The North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC) headquartered in Hubballi are the 4 state-owned transport corporations.

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 , and . Minor populations of and tribes like the , Yeravas, and Siddhis also live in Karnataka. The traditional folk arts cover the entire gamut of music, dance, drama, storytelling by itinerant troupes, etc. Yakshagana of Malnad and coastal Karnataka, a classical dance drama, is one of the major theatrical forms of Karnataka. Contemporary theatre culture in Karnataka remains vibrant with organisations like , , and Prabhat Kalavidaru continuing to build on the foundations laid by , T. P. Kailasam, B. V. Karanth, K V Subbanna, Prasanna and others.Chief Editor:H Chittaranjan. 2005. Handbook of Karnataka, Gazetteer Department of the Government of Karnataka, Chapter XIII, pp. 332–337. , , and are popular dance forms. The Mysore style of , nurtured and popularised by the likes of the legendary Jatti Tayamma, continues to hold sway in Karnataka, and Bangalore also enjoys an eminent place as one of the foremost centres of Bharatanatya.H Chittaranjan (chief editor). 2005. Handbook of Karnataka, Gazetteer Department of the Government of Karnataka, Chapter XIII, pp. 350–352.

Karnataka also has a special place in the world of Indian classical music, with both Karnataka Karnataka Music as Aesthetic Form/R. Sathyanarayana. New Delhi, Centre for Studies in Civilizations, 2004, xiii, 185 p., . () and styles finding place in the state, and Karnataka has produced a number of stalwarts in both styles. The movement of the sixteenth century contributed significantly to the development of Karnataka (Carnatic) music as a performing art form. , one of the most revered , is known as the Karnataka Sangeeta Pitamaha ('Father of Karnataka a.k.a. Carnatic music'). Celebrated Hindustani musicians like , Mallikarjun Mansur, , Basavaraja Rajaguru, and several others hail from Karnataka, and some of them have been recipients of the , and awards. Noted Carnatic musicians include Violin T. Chowdiah, Veena Sheshanna, Mysore Vasudevachar, Doreswamy Iyengar and Thitte Krishna Iyengar.

Gamaka is another classical music based on Carnatic music that is practised in Karnataka. Kannada Bhavageete is a genre of popular music that draws inspiration from the expressionist poetry of modern poets. The Mysore school of painting has produced painters like Sundarayya, Tanjavur Kondayya, B. Venkatappa and Keshavayya.Kamath (2001), p. 283. Chitrakala Parishat is an organisation in Karnataka dedicated to promoting painting, mainly in the style.

is the traditional dress of women in Karnataka. Women in Kodagu have a distinct style of wearing the saree, different from the rest of Karnataka. , known as Panche in Karnataka, is the traditional attire of men. , and are widely worn in Urban areas. is the traditional headgear of southern Karnataka, while the pagadi or pataga (similar to the Rajasthani turban) is preferred in the northern areas of the state.

and form the staple food in South Karnataka, whereas , is staple to North Karnataka. Bisi bele bath, , , , , and are some of the popular food items in Karnataka. Among sweets, , of and , Belgaavi Kunda and are popular. Apart from this, coastal Karnataka and Kodagu have distinctive cuisines of their own. of coastal Karnataka is popular all over India.

Adi Shankaracharya (788–820) chose in Karnataka to establish the first of his four (monastery). (1238–1317) was the chief proponent of (Philosophy of Reality), popularly known as or Dualistic school of Hindu philosophy – one of the three most influential philosophies. Madhvacharya was one of the important philosophers during the . He was a pioneer in many ways, going against standard conventions and norms. According to tradition, Madhvacharya is believed to be the third incarnation of (Mukhyaprana), after and . The devotional movement is considered one of the turning points in the cultural history of India. Over a span of nearly six centuries, several saints and mystics helped shape the culture, philosophy, and art of South India and Karnataka in particular by exerting considerable spiritual influence over the masses and kingdoms that ruled South India.

This movement was ushered in by the Haridasas (literally "servants of Lord Hari") and took shape in the 13th century – 14th century CE, period, prior to and during the early rule of the Vijayanagara empire. The main objective of this movement was to propagate the Dvaita philosophy of Madhvacharya (Madhva Siddhanta) to the masses through a literary medium known as literature of the servants of the Lord. is widely recognised as the "Pithamaha" of for his immense contribution. , the leading expounder of , spent many years in . He came to Karnataka in 1098 CE and lived here until 1122 CE. He first lived in Tondanur and then moved to Melkote where the Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple and a well-organised matha were built. He was patronised by the Hoysala king, .Kamath (2001), pp. 150–152

In the twelfth century, emerged in northern Karnataka as a protest against the rigidity of the prevailing social and caste system. Leading figures of this movement were , and , who established the which was the centre of all religious and philosophical thoughts and discussions pertaining to Lingayats. These three social reformers did so by the literary means of "Vachana Sahitya" which is very famous for its simple, straight forward and easily understandable Kannada language. Lingayatism preached women equality by letting women wear Ishtalinga i.e. Symbol of god around their neck. shunned the sharp hierarchical divisions that existed and sought to remove all distinctions between the hierarchically superior master class and the subordinate, servile class. He also supported inter-caste marriages and Kaayaka Tatva of Basavanna. This was the basis of the faith which today counts millions among its followers.Kamath (2001), pp. 152–154.

The philosophy and literature have contributed immensely to the religious and cultural landscape of Karnataka.

, which had an early presence on the west coast of India as early as the tenth century, gained a foothold in Karnataka with the rise of the Bahamani and Bijapur sultanates that ruled parts of Karnataka.Sastri (1955), p. 396. reached Karnataka in the sixteenth century with the arrival of the Portuguese and St. Francis Xavier in 1545.Sastri (1955), p. 398.

was popular in Karnataka during the first millennium in places such as and . A chance discovery of edicts and several relics at in Kalaburagi district in 1986 has proven that the basin was once home to both and Buddhism. There are Tibetan refugee camps in Karnataka.

is celebrated as the Nada habba (state festival) and this is marked by major festivities at Mysore. , celebrated in the heart of Bangalore, is the second most important festival celebrated in Karnataka. (Kannada New Year), (the harvest festival), , , , , , , and are the other major festivals of Karnataka.

is the official language of the state of Karnataka, as the native language of 66.46% of its population as of 2011 and is one of the classical languages of India. is the second largest language, spoken by 10.83% of the population, and is the language of Muslims outside the coastal region. (5.84%) is a major language in areas bordering Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka as well as Bangalore, while (3.45%) is a major language of Bangalore and in the Kolar district. (3.29%) is concentrated in areas of Uttara Kannada, Belgaum and Bidar districts bordering Maharashtra. is spoken by the scattered throughout North Karnataka, while is spoken in Bangalore. (2.61%), (1.29%), and (1.27%) are all found in linguistically diverse Coastal Karnataka, where a number of mixed and distinct dialects such as Are Bhashe, , and Nawayathi are found. is the language of Kodagu.

played a crucial role in the creation of Karnataka: linguistic demographics played a major role in defining the new state in 1956. , and are other minor native languages that share a long history in the state. is spoken widely by the population. Less widely spoken languages include and certain languages such as Sankethi. Some of the regional languages in Karnataka are , , and .

Kannada features a rich and ancient body of literature including religious and secular genre, covering topics as diverse as (such as ), (such as ), (such as ) and modern literature. Evidence from edicts during the time of (reigned 274–232 BCE) suggest that Buddhist literature influenced the and its literature. The Halmidi inscription, the earliest attested full-length inscription in the Kannada language and script, dates from 450 CE, while the earliest available literary work, the , has been dated to 850 CE. References made in the Kavirajamarga, however, prove that Kannada literature flourished in the native composition metres such as Chattana, Beddande and Melvadu during earlier centuries. The classic refers to several earlier greats ( purvacharyar) of Kannada poetry and prose.Narasimhacharya (1988), pp. 12, 17.

, the renowned Kannada poet and writer who wrote Jaya Bharata Jananiya Tanujate, the state anthem of Karnataka was the first recipient of the , the highest civilian award bestowed by the Government of Karnataka. Contemporary Kannada literature has received considerable acknowledgement in the arena of Indian literature, with eight Kannada writers winning India's highest literary honour, the .

is the majority language in the of and is the second most spoken in the . This region is also known as . Tulu Mahabharato, written by Arunabja in the Tigalari script, is the oldest surviving Tulu text. Tigalari script was used by Brahmins to write language. The use of the for writing Tulu and non-availability of print in Tigalari script contributed to the marginalisation of Tigalari script.

In Karnataka is mostly spoken in the and districts and in parts of , Konkani use the Devanagari Script (which is official)/( Optional ) for writing as identified by government of Karnataka. The who mainly reside in the , speak Kodava Takk. Two regional variations of the language exist, the northern Mendale Takka and the southern Kiggaati Takka. Kodava Takk use the Kannada script for writing. English is the medium of education in many schools and widely used for business communication in most private companies.

All of the state's languages are patronised and promoted by governmental and quasi-governmental bodies. The Kannada Sahitya Parishat and the Kannada Sahitya Akademi are responsible for the promotion of Kannada while the Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Akademi, the Tulu Sahitya Akademi and the Kodava Sahitya Akademi promote their respective languages.

As per the 2011 census, Karnataka had a of 75.60%, with 82.85% of males and 68.13% of females in the state being literate.

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