Complete History of Karnataka (focussing on Vedic age to Gupta Period) 3

The Marathas :

The Marathas, who were encroaching upon the Bijapur dominion came to have control over parts of Karnataka to the North of the Tungabhadra. Shivaji built forts at Ramadurg, Nargund, Parasgad, Gajendragad, Katkol etc., in North Karnataka. In the South they had their Bangalore jahgir administered first by Shahji (1637-63) and later by his son Ekoji. Mysore royal family secured Bangalore and its surroundings from the Mughals in 1689 on lease. The Mughals had conquered these areas in 1686 from Maratha ruler Ekoji, a feudatory of Bijapur. Later the Marathas had secured the right of collecting chauth and sardesmukhi, a part of the dues to the Mughals from the southern feudatories in the days of Chatrapati Shahu (Shivaji’s grandson) from the Mughal Emperor in 1719. In fact. Peshwa Balaji Rao had conquered Dharwad in 1753. Later Haidar and Tipu wrested Dharwad area from the Marathas. Although the Dharwad area was restored to the Marathas in 1791, they finally lost it after the fall of the Peshwa in 1818 to British.

Mysore Rulers

The Mysore royal family, which was also a feudatory house under Vijayanagara, took advantage of the weakening of the Empire and became free. Raja Odeyar (1578-1617), secured Srirangapattana (in 1610), the seat of the Vijayanagara Viceroy.

Kantirava Narasaraja (1638-59), the first sovereign ruler, successfully resisted the efforts of Bijapur to subdue him, and Complete History of Karnataka (focussing on Vedic age to Gupta Period) 3extended his territory. He built the Narasimha temple at Srirangapattan. He issued his own coins called ‘Kanthirayi panams’. Chikkadevaraya (1673-1704) not only resisted the Marathas at Bangalore and Jinji successfully, but also extended his dominions in Tamilnadu. He secured Bangalore and its surroundings (which the Mughals had conquered from Ekoji) from the Mughals on lease and accepted Mughal suzerainty. He made Mysore a rich principality by his able revenue policies. Himself a great scholar and writer, he patronized many Kannada writers like Tirumalarya, Chikkupadhyaya and Sanchi Honnamma. All these were Shrivaishnavas. Weak rulers succeeded him and this finally led to the usurpation of power by Haider Ali in 1761. During this period places like Chikkanayakanahalli, Madhugiri, Nidugal, Anekal, Chickballapur, Gummanayakanahalli, Tarikere, Ranibennur, Belur, Harapanahalli etc., were ruled by local Chieftains of Karnataka.

Hydar Ali

The defeat of the Marathas at Panipat in 1761 helped Hydar to follow an aggressive policy. He merged the Keladi Kingdom with Mysore and extended Mysore in all directions. He successfully used cavalry on a large scale. Mysore

Complete History of Karnataka (focussing on Vedic age to Gupta Period) 3

came to have 80,000 square miles of territory under him. Hydar built the palace at Bangalore, strengthened its fort and began the Lalbagh Garden. He built the Dariya Daulat palace at Srirangapattana and laid a fine park all-round it. He challenged the British in Tamilnadu and defeated them. But he was humiliated by Maratha Peshwa Madhavarao more than once. Hydar allied himself with the French against the British and successfully opposed them in the first AngloMysore war. In the meantime Hydar Ali captured and annexed the Chitradurga Principality from the Madakari family of Chitradurga in 1779. But he died at Narasingarayapet, near Arcot, while fighting against the British in 1782 amidst the second Anglo-Mysore war. He had a strong Naval force stationed at Sultan Bateri near Mangalore.


Tipu Sultan

Tipu Sultan (1782-99) who continued his father’s anti-British policy by fighting the third and fourth Anglo-Mysore wars, dreamt of driving the British out of India. He sought the assistance of Napoleon, the French ruler and also the rulers of Turkey and Afghanistan. Tipu was a scholar and a bold general. He introduced sericulture in Mysore Kingdom; and took firm steps to establish industrial centres producing quality paper; steel wires for musical instruments, sugar and sugar candy. He was very keen on promoting overseas trade and initiated State trading and founded stores not only in different centres ofComplete History of Karnataka (focussing on Vedic age to Gupta Period) 3 his kingdom but also at Kutch, Karachi and Basrah in the Middle East. He had a curious mind and was keen on introducing novel things in every walk of life. But his ambition of driving the British failed and he died in 1799, fighting against the British during the fourth Anglo-Mysore war at Srirangapatna. Mysore fell into the hands of the British who handed over parts of it to the Marathas and the Nizams, their allies in this venture, and crowned the Hindu prince, Krishnaraja Odeyar III, as the ruler over Mysore Kingdom, whose territories considerably reduced. Later, under the instructions of the Madras Presidency, Francis Buchanan visited the area ruled formerly by Hydar and Tippu, during 1800-01 immediately after the demise of Tippu, (1799). He has left a vivid account in his Travelogue worth to be noticed. British also secured the territory to the north of the Tungabhadra by defeating the Peshwa in 1818, and became masters of Karnataka. Kodagu (Coorg) a small princely tributary state, was also annexed by them in 1834 by dethroning its ruler Chikkavirarajendra of Haleri family. In 1834, the feudatory monarchy in Kodagu (Coorg) was ended and the State was handed over to a commissioner under the supervision of the Madras Governor. Sullya region belonging to Kodagu was transferred to Kanara.

British Rule

The advent of British rule brought about many changes in Karnataka, as elsewhere in India. The districts of Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri, Bijapur, Bagalkot and Belgaum taken from the Peshwa, were merged into Bombay Presidency in 1818. The Kanara District, now the districts of Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi; and Bellary taken from Tipu, were added on to the Madras Presidency. In 1862, the Kanara District was divided into two, while North Kanara (Uttara Kannada} was tagged on to Bombay Presidency. South Kanara remained in Madras Presidency. Mysore was retained as a separate principality; the prince of the Odeyar dynasty, Krishnaraja III, was yet a boy when he became the ruler in 1799. The areas in the modern districts of Gulbarga, Raichur, Koppal and Bidar were handed over to the Nizam of Hyderabad. In addition to the Nawab of Savanur, there were over 15 other princes, ruling over small Kannada principalities. Most of them were Maratha rulers, they included the princes of Jamkhandi, Aundh, Ramdurg, Mudhol, Sandur, Hire Kurundawad, Jath, Sangli, Kolhapur, Meeraj, Kiriya Kurundawada, Akkalkote, etc.

Mysore, as the nucleus of Karnataka, grew to be a progressive State. It nurtured Kannada culture and encouraged Kannada literature and scholarship. But for the Mysore State, Karnataka would have lost its identity. Purnayya was made the Chief Administrator (Diwan) during the minority of Krishnaraja III, and later in 1810, Krishnaraja himself assumed administration. But the Nagar Uprising of 1831, resulted in the East India Company assuming the Mysore administration in 1831, and Mysore came to be ruled by the British Commissioners for 50 years. The prince, who was a great scholar and lover of literature, spent the rest of his life in literary and artistic pursuits. The Mysore court became a major centre of Rennaisance in Karnataka. He founded the Raja School for teaching English in 1833, which became the nucleus of the Maharaja’s high school and later upgraded as Maharaja’s College (1879). He also started a lithographic press called Ambavilasa (1841) and started printing books in Kannada.

Commissioners Regime

Of the Commissioners that ruled Mysore between 1831 and 1881, two are the most notable viz., Mark Cubbon (1834-61) and Lewin Bowring (1862-70). To these two goes the credit of making Mysore a modern State by organizing the administration on European lines and bringing it on par with other districts in the British Presidencies. They also encouraged education by increasing the number of schools. By building roads and railways, and by introducing the telegraph, an infrastructure was provided for industrial progress, which they had not anticipated.


The year 1881 saw the Rendition, when Chamarajendra Odeyar, the adopted son of Krishnaraja III, secured the throne. He was assisted by able Diwans like Rangacharlu and Sheshadri Iyer. Rangacharlu, the first Diwan, founded the Representative Assembly in Mysore in 1881, with 144 nominated members thus prepared the ground for responsible government. In 1891, the members were elected from among the revenue paying landlords and rich merchants and graduates annually. Subsequently their office of tenure was made three years in 1894. He encouraged Kannada scholarship. The prince was also a great lover of literature and fine arts. The prince died in 1894, and young Krishnaraja Odeyar IV was crowned the king, and the Queen-Mother Vanivilas became the Regent. Sheshadri Iyer continued as Diwan till 1901.

Economic Changes Diwan Purnayya, earlier had raised a dam across the river Cauvery at Sagarakatte to improve irrigation. The laying of first railway line (Broad-gauge) between Bangalore and Jolarpet initiated during the regime of Cubbon, started functioning from 1864, when Bowring was the Cmmissioner. Cubbon was also responsible for the construction of new roads exceeding 2560 kms. in length, with 300 bridges. Coffee plantations, also started by him covered over 1.50 lakh acres. He also founded the Public Works and Forest Departments. District Savings Bank were started in Princely Mysore in 1870. Rangacharlu got the Bangalore-Mysore metre gauge rail line ready by 1882, (which was initiated earlier during commissioners rule in 1877-78) by spending a sum of Rs.55.48 lakhs. The work on the line was started as famine relief during the severe famine of 1876-78, which took the toll of one million lives in Mysore State alone. Sheshadri Iyer who initiated gold mining in Kolar region (K.G.F.) in 1886, created the Departments of Geology (1894), Agriculture (1898), and launched the Vanivilasa Sagara Irrigation Scheme in Chitradurga district. The Shivanasamudra Hydro-Electric Project, which supplied power to Kolar Gold Fields in 1902, later, also provided electricity to Bangalore city in 1905 (first city to obtain electrical facilities in the whole country) and for Mysore in 1907, was the first major project of its kind in India. Although it is interesting to note that in 1887, an Hydro Electric project was started at Gokak in a small scale by Gokak Spinning Mill, which then formed part of Bombay Presidency. The Bangalore Mill was started in 1884 and it was taken over by the Binnys, Bangalore Woolen, Cotton and Silk Mills in 1886. It was about this time that elsewhere in Kamataka too, modern industrialisation started and railway and road transport facilities began to improve. HariharaPune railway line was completed in 1888. Mangalore was connected by rail with Madras in 1907. The Gokak Spinning Mill (1885) had been founded by securing power from the Gokak Falls (1887) and Mangalore had some tile factories, first initiated by the Basel Mission (1865). A spinning and weaving mill was also started at Gulbarga in 1888. Gold mining had started in the Hatti region of Raichur District after priliminary investigations in 1886. Hubli and Gadag had many ginning mills by then. Thus Industrialization gave impetus to urbanisation and modernisation. Agriculture was also receiving great filip because of better irrigation and demand for raw materials. The ‘Cotton Boom’ of the 1860s of the American Civil War days gave impetus to raising cotton crop, and though demand from Manchester fell after the 1860s, new factories founded at Bombay and Sholapur (Sollapur) did purchase cotton from North Kamataka area. But spinning, a domestic industry which provided hither-too jobs to lakhs of women by assuring a wage equal to a farm worker, was totally destroyed after the Industrial Revolution, and so was weaving. Thus pressure on land increased.

Anti-British Uprisings

Karnataka did not tamely submit to the foreign rule of the British. There were anti-British violent uprisings between 1800 and 1858. The earliest of these was of Dhondia Wagh, who after the fall of Tipu, unfurled the flag of revolt against the British in 1800 from the Bidanur-Shikaripur region; many former princes joined him. His revolt spread from Jamalabad to Sode in Coastal Districts and above the Ghats upto Belgaum and Raichur Districts. He was killed at Konagal in September 1800, and his colleague Krishnappa Nayak of Belur (Balam) was killed in February 1802. The Vellore (Tamilnadu) uprising of 1806 is to be recorded in the annuals of Karnataka, because, the rebels invited Fathe Hyder, the son of the deceased Tipusultan to assume the leadership which he refused. Eventually it was quelled within no time by the British. The Koppal Rebellion led by one Virappa in 1819 was also suppressed. The year- 1820 saw the Deshmukh rebellion near Bidar. A strong revolt was witnessed at Sindhagi in Bijapur District in 1824. The revolt of Kittur Channamma in 1824 and of Sangolli Rayanna of the same kingdom in 1829 are also famous. This was followed by the Nagar Uprising of 1830-31 accompanied by similar agrarian revolts in the Kanara District in 1831. Sarja Hanumappa Nayak of Tarikere chieftains also joined the insurgents. Though this revolt failed, it cost Krishnaraja III his throne. There was an uprising in Kodagu during 1835-37, popularly known as ‘Kalyanappana katakayi’ so named because its leader was Kalyana Swamy, (also called Swamy Aparamapara) projected himself as the relative of Kodagu royal family, which was also strong in Dakshina Kannada (Sullya Puttur, Bantawala and Mangalore). Ultimately Kalyanappa, Kumble Subbaraya Hedge, Lakshmappa Banga and Biranna Bhanta of Kasaragod were hanged to death in 1837. One former official of the Peshwa called Narasappa Petkar organized a revolt against the British in 1840-41 popularly known as Badami revolt, Karnataka responded to the 1857-58 uprisings positively. The Chandakavate Deshmukhs joined hands with the Venkatappanayaka of Surapur and revolted against the British. In November 1857, the Halagali Bedas revolted against the Arms Act, They were ruthlessly suppressed by the British army on 29th November midnight and several people died. During the struggle more than 300 persons were arrested and 32 persons were hanged on Dec. 11 and 14 respectively at Mudhol and Halagali. Jamakhandi also witnessed an uprising. The rulers of Naragund and Surapur, joined by Mundargi Bheemarao, a Zamindar, and the Desais of Govanakoppa, Hammige, Soraturu etc, also revolted in 1858. Mundargi Bheemarao was executed and the rebellion was quelled. Infact, 12 copies of Tatya Topi’s Anti-British proclamation chart is being recovered from Mundargi Bheemarao’s family. There was a long revolt in Supa, jointly led by men from Goa and Uttara Kannada, who included some Siddis (Negroes) in 1858-59.

Though the uprisings were suppressed, their lessons were not totally forgotten. It was the Nagar Uprising (1830) which ultimately resulted in the founding of Mysore Representative Assembly in 1881. The British learnt to respond to the grievances of the people quickly. Local self governing bodies were founded in towns during 1850’s and 1860’s. People also learnt that without proper organisation, it is not possible to free the country from the British. The British also felt the need to improve the means of transport and communication to enable them to meet situations of breach of peace. The communication facilities initiated by them mainly served their colonial economic purposes.

Beginning of Renaissance

This new administration, everywhere helped the spread of modern education. Christian Missionaries also started education on Western lines. There were over 2000 primary schools in Mysore State by 1881. Bombay- Karnataka area had over 650 primary schools by that time. Though there were only Marathi schools in Bombay-Karnataka, men like Elliot and Deputy Channabasappa strove to introduce Kannada medium. A college was started at Bellary in 1869. A Government college was founded at Bangalore in 1870 (named Central College in 1875) and later Bangalore saw a second institution, the St.Joseph’s College, in 1882. The Maharaja’s College of Mysore was started in 1879. The Government College of Mangalore was founded in 1869, followed by the St.Aloysius College in 1879. Christian Missionaries started printing in Kannada as early as 1817 (first from Serampore near Calcutta) and the first newspaper named ‘Mangaluru Samachara’ was started by the Basel Mission in 1843. Many old Kannada classics were printed. All these developments helped literary activity on new lines. Prose became popular and secular themes appeared in literature. Many newspapers and journals were published in Kannada. They include ‘Kannada Samachara’ (Bellary 1844), ‘Chandrodaya’ (Dharwad 1877), ‘Karnataka Prakashika’ (Mysore 1865) and ‘Arunodaya’ (Bangalore 1862). These are a few of the many such efforts. Hitachi, a Urdu paper started its circulation since 1870 from Kaladgi, another named Karnataka vritha, weekly from Bijapur (1892) was very popular. Lyrical poetry in Kannada also came to be composed, beginning with the prayer songs composed by the Missionaries. Mysore royal court also encouraged many writers. Mudramanjusha (1823) by Kempunarayana was the first important prose work. Many English and Sanskrit plays were translated. The first original Kannada social play was Iggappa Heggadeya Prahasana (1887) by Venkatarama Shastry. The first original Kannada social novel was Suryakanta (1892) by Gadagkar, though social novels had been translated from English, Marathi and Bengali too by then. The stage art and music also were influenced by these changes. New drama troupes came into existence at Gadag (1874) and Halasangi and there was a troupe at Mysore too. The visit of Marathi troupe from Sangli in 1876-77 and the Victoria Parsi Company in 1878 to Karnataka, revolutionized stagecraft here. Veena Venkatasubbayya, Sambayya and Chikkaramappa were some of the great veena masteroes in the Mysore court at this time. A distinct Mysore school of Karnatak music was evolved during this period.

In architecture, Western impact was seen. The Central College building (1860) in Gothic style, the Athara Kachery (1867) with ionic pillars and the Bangalore Museum Building (1877) in Coranthian style were built during this period. The Basel Missionary, introducing light tiles from Mangalore revolutionised architectural patterns. Churches too introduced the Western style. Our Lady of Sorrow Church (Mangalore 1857), St.Mary’s Church (Shivajinagar, Bangalore, 1882), St. Joseph’s Seminary Church (Mangalore 1890) and St.Mary’s Church (Belgaum, 1896) are some such early examples. Many social movements stirred Hindu society and social changes received an impetus. The propoganda of the Christian missions was also responsible for this, especially of the newly founded Protestant missions, though in a negative way. The Theosophical Society started its work in Mysore State in 1886, Brahma Samaj started its activities at Bangalore in 1866 and also at Mangalore in 1870. This was followed by the Depressed Classes Mission, founded by Kudmul Ranga Rao at Mangalore in 1897, which started many schools for the depressed classes. Bangalore had the Indian Progressive Union in 1894. Mysore State banned the marriage of girls below eight. Sheshadri Iyer started separate schools for the untouchables as they were hesitating to attend other regular schools. The Maharani’s school for girls founded in 1881 at Mysore by Palace Bakshi Ambale Narasimha lyengar became a high school in 1891 and later into College in 1901. The Ramakrishna Mission was founded in Bangalore in 1904. These developments mainly helped emancipation of women and attempted eradication of untouchability. It was in this atmosphere that the history of the State also came to be written. B.L.Rice’s Mysore and Coorg; Fleet’s Dynasties of Canarese Districts (1882), Bhandarkar’s Early History of Dakhan (1884), Rice’s Epigraphia Carnatica volumes (beginning from 1886), Indian Antiquary volumes from 1872 and Sewell’s A Forgotten Empire (1901) helped the recovery of Karnataka’s history, and made the people of Karnataka, feel proud of their hoary past. This paved the way for the high renaissance and the national awakening in the 20th century. In the Princely State, amidst all these developments, the first ever Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition was organised at Mysore in 1888. The Karnataka Vidyavardhaka Sangha of Dharwad (1890), the Mythic Society of Bangalore (1909), the Karnataka Ithihasa Samshodhana Mandala of Dharwad (1914) further helped the Renaissance. An all-Karnataka literary and cultural forum was founded in 1915, and this was the Karnataka Sahitya Parishat, with its headquarters in Bangalore. It had the active support of the Mysore Government and its president, H.V. Nanjundaiah also became the Vice-Chancellor of the newly founded Mysore University (1916). Aluru Venkatarao wrote ‘Karnataka Gata Vaibhava’ in 1917, introducing to the Kannadigas in Kannada, the history and cultural achievements of Karnataka. Written in a tone, highly charged with emotion, the work played an important role in inculcating national feelings. He was the Father of the Karnataka Unification Movement also.

Fight for Freedom The Freedom Movement and the demand for Unification of Karnataka became very strong in Karnataka after 1920. They are the climax of the trends witnessed in remnascent Karnataka. The freedom movement influenced literature, journalism, arts, industries and even society. It sponsored with great zeal, the programme of eradication of untouchability and emancipation of women. The achievement of social unity and undoing on an large scale of caste prejudices was also the work of the movement. The Veerashaiva Mahasabha (1904), the Okkaligara Sangha (1906) and other such organisations helped to spread education and the creation of a consciouness of their rights among the backward classes. In 1917 was founded the Praja Mitra Mandali in Mysore and in 1920 Brahmanetara Parishat at Hubli with similar goals was started. Though these movements were against Congress which spearheaded freedom struggle, but in the long run, they whole-heartedly joined Congress in its struggle for freedom. Prior to it, Four persons (one from Belgaum and three from Bellary) from Karnataka went to attend the first session of Congress at Bombay in 1885. The impact of Bala Gangadhara Tilak and his journal ‘Kesari’ on Karnataka was great. The Bombay State Political Conferences were held at Dharwad (1903), Belgaum (1916) and Bijapur (1918) in North Karnataka area, which were then under the Bombay Presidency. There was picketing of liquor shops in Belgaum in 1907 (during the Swadeshi movement, following ‘Vangabhanga’ or Partition of Bengal) and 15 people were imprisoned. National Schools were founded at Belgaum, Dharwad, Hubli, and Bijapur. Theosophists earlier had founded the National High School at Bangalore in 1917.

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