Known as Karunadu (elevated land) in ancient times, the history of Karnataka can be traced to the pre-historic ages. The Maurya dynasty of North India was the first kingdom to hold sway over vast swathes of the state. Chandragupta Maurya, the greatest of the Maurya rulers, relinquished his throne and converted to Jainism in Shravanabelagola. Since then, a great many dynasties have ruled Karnataka enriching the land’s heritage with their distinctive culture and values.
The Sathavahanas, the Kadambas and the Gangas were the first indigenous dynasties to rule Karnataka. The Kadambas usurped the throne of the Pallavas of Kanchi and built their capital in Banavasi. The Gangas of Kolar held their reign till 999 AD when they fell to the Badami Chalukyas. The Chalukyas emerged as a great power of that time and brought the whole of Karnataka under their rule. They were prolific temple builders and built some majestic temples in Aihole and Pattadakal.
The baton then passed to the Rastrakutas and the Kalyana Chalukyas. The Hoysalas, who succeeded the Chalukyas, were also great patrons of art and they built some exquisite temples in Belur and Halebid. The successive invasions by the Delhi Sultanate at that time led to the formation of the Vijayanagara Empire. The Vijayanagara rulers ushered in an epoch of glory in the history of Karnataka. The might of the empire spread to distant shores and indigenous art and culture flourished to a great extent.
After the collapse of the Vijayanagara Empire, the Adil Shahi and Bahmani dynasties emerged stronger and they created in Bijapur some of the earliest Islamic architecture of Karnataka. Karnataka became a part of the British rule when Tipu Sultan was defeated after a brief period of valiant resistance. The British constituted the state of Mysore with the Wodeyar kings as their governors. The state was renamed as Karnataka on November 1, 1973.