The name ‘Karnataka’ derives from ‘karunadu’ – literally the ‘lofty land’, referring to the Deccan plateau on which much of the State lies. The language of the people is Kannada.
Karnataka is endowed with great natural beauty – a 260 km coastline in the West from Karwar to Bangalore with numerous silver beaches waiting to be explored, and running more or less parallel to the coast after a narrow plain, the Sahyadri ranges of the Western Ghats. These hilly tracts have dense teak and sandalwood forests, rivers cascading down in stunning waterfalls (among them Jog Falls, 292m, the highest in india), national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, coffee and tea plantations set in rolling hills, and peaceful hill stations like Madikere and Kudremukh. Karnataka has all the ingredients for a lovely holiday.
During its 2000 year history Karnataka has come under predominantly Hindu influence, having been ruled successively by the Satavahanas, Kadambas, Gangas, Chalukyas and Hoysalas, and culminating in the great Vijayanagar empire in the 14th century AD. The Hindu heritage is seen to this day in the magnificent architectural monuments dotted across the State. In the North there are splendid stone temples at Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal built during the 3rd to 8th century by the Chalukyas, some of which are prototypes for the later architectural styles of North and South India.
The temples at Belur, Halebid and Somnathpur in the South, built by the Hoysalas, are unmatched anywhere in India for their ornateness and intricate carvings. And near the heart of Karnataka lie the vast 400-year old ruins at Hampi, believed by many to be one of the most evocative and beautiful architectural and archaeological sites anywhere in the world. Now a World Heritage Centre Hampi is a sombre reminder of the glory of Vijayanagar.
The 17th century Islamic influence in the State is seen in the Gol Gumbaz, the mausoleum of Mohammed Adil Shah, at Bijapur, whose 44m diameter dome is the second-largest unsupported dome in the world (only St. Peter’s in Rome is bigger).
Karnataka has its own folk theatre, Takshagana (similar to the Kathakali of Kerala), and traditional dance form, Yakshagana. The fragrant sandalwood oil and beauty soap indigenous to the State are well known in world markets. Sandalwood and rosewood carvings from here are much sought after. So also are the beautiful silk fabrics and sarees.
The Bandipur and Nagarhole National Parks are 220 and 240 kms southwest of Bangalore and offer perfect get-aways for nature lovers. Together with the Mudumalai Sanctuary and Wyanad Sanctuaries in neighbouring Tamilnadu and Kerala they form one of India’s largest wild life reserves. The Kabini River Lodge, spread out on the banks of the Kabini river near the fringes of the Nagarhole National Park, is a unique wild life resort. Once the hunting lodge of a maharaja, the camp offers all the comforts, adventure and excitement of seeing wild life in its natural habitat.
India’s Silicon Valley Anyone with even a passing acquaintance with India would not be surprised that some of the world’s top computer whizzes are from the subcontinent; Indians have a long history of talent in the scientific and mathematical fields. Nevertheless, it comes as a surprise that this land of antiquity is also the world’s second largest exporter of computer software (after the United States). The epicenter is Bangalore’s Electronic City Industrial Park, “Silicon Valley”.
Computer companies located here initially because it was a lower cost alternative to the big cities. But Bangalore, the Garden City, has always had a reputation as a quality lifestyle city, and more and more computer firms began moving their operations here during the boom 1980s.
The result is a city of surprising sophistication – lattes at pavement cafes are not uncommon – and burgeoning growth, an interesting insight into the India of the future.