Freedom Movement in Karnataka

Freedom Movement in Karnataka

The Karnataka State has contributed a lot for the freedom struggle. Kannadigas are very well-known for bravery and courage. They believed and continue to believe that freedom is more valuable than their life. When one speaks of freedom, one is sure to remember Karnataka rulers namely, Kadambas, Hoyasals, Chalukyas of Badami, Vijayanagar kings for their love and dedication for freedom.

Karnataka has been known for many years as a land of bravemen. When British power slowly spread all over India, the people of Karnataka could not tolerate the Imposition of an alien rule and alien culture. So many decisive battles were waged by bravemen and women of Karnataka like Hyder All, Tippu Sultan of Mysore, Rani Channamma of Kittur, Sangolli Rayanna of Bailhongal, Bheema Rao of Mundaragi and many others.

So Karnataka as a whole has played a vital role during the freedom struggle in India. The Bedas and Kodagas have been the foremost fighting races of Karnataka, and have continuously maintained their high reputation. The Bedas of Halagali fought under the leadership of Balaji Nimbalkar against Britishers. They had the great encouragement from Diwakar Dixit son of Chidambara. Dixit of Murgod, but Nimbalkar died in the struggle. During the struggle Jadiyappa, 3alappa and 19 other people were hanged. The feelings of the Bedas of Halagali, who faced with an order from East India Company to surrender their arms, are recorded in a popular Kannada folksong, which highlights the brave deeds of the Bedas.

Mysore Dynasty

During the second half of the 18th century, the British slowly advanced their power and very shrewdly carried on their operations at first as vassals of the Mughal Emperor and the people accustomed to leave matters of government, could not notice the fact that they were slowly but steadily being succeeded to the position of slaves under a foreigner. The brave resistance put up by Hyder and Tippu to the British had a deep defence of Mysore. Hyder, who had defeated the wadeyars and conquered Mysore, was fed up with the expansion policy of the British, Earlier, he was on friendly terms with the British. But later on, he came to know about the plan of expansion of the British empire in India, in order to curb their desire he tried to become friendly with the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Marathas. But he could not do so, because by that time tactfully the Britishers had taken the support of the Marathas and Nizam. Hyder had a short lived life and died early. Then Tippu, the son of Hyder, continued the fight with the British.

In the year 1792, he fought with the British in order to drive them away. But Tippu was fully defeated and he was put into great trouble. Later on, in the Fourth  Mysore War (1799), Tippu died fighting as a brave man. Thus, the father and the son protested and revolted against the Britishers.

Rani Channamma

Rani Channamma of Kittur was the first Indian woman who rose against the British even before the uprising of 1857. The credit of hoisting the freedom flag goes to this tiny principality. The courageous spirited warriors like Sardar Gurusiddappa, Balappa, Sangolli Rayanna, Bicchugatti Chanabasappa, Gajaveer and others stood by the Rani to fight against the British.

The Indian National Congress

The Indian National Congress came into existence in 1885. The first Bombay Congress Session was represented by Sir Narayan Rao Chandavarkar from Karwar, Kashinath-Rao Telang, Sadashiv Rao Bhate of Belgaum, Kolachalum from Bellary, Venkata Rao, Modallyar and others.

The northern Karnataka comprising the districts of Belgaum, Bijapur, Dharwad and Karwar was part of Bombay province. The paper Kesari published by Tilak contained his speeches and inspired the people of Karnataka.

Later, Tilak started the Home Rule Movement. The foreign goods were publicly burnt down in Belgaum, Navalgund, Hanagal and Dharwad and in other places. Many of the prominent Kannadigas such as Alur Venkat Rao, Mudaveedu Krishna Rao, Sakri Balacharya and others travelled throughout Karnataka and encouraged the people to participate in the Swadeshi Movement. Many of the volunteers of this movement were imprisoned.

The Vangbangh (Partition of Bengal) Movement spread rapidly throughout India due to the division of Bengal in 1905. Then Tilak visited Karnataka and put forth his four principles which were: ‘Swadeshi Prasar’, ‘Videshi Bahiskar’, ‘National Education’ and ‘Demand for Swaraj’. Deshpande Gangadhar Rao of Belgaum, Koujalagi Shrinivas Rao of Bijapur, worked as his trustworthy followers. Gangadhar Rao Deshpande by his roaring lecture became famous throughout Karnataka and was called as ‘Karnataka Shimha’ (Lion of Karnataka). Like him two other leaders were also given such titles and they were Lala Lajpat Rai, lion of Punjab and T.Prakashan of Andhra Pradesh known as ‘Andhra Kesari’.

Revolutionary organisations were also established in Karnataka as in Maharashtra, Bengal and Punjab. Govindrao Yalagi of Belgaum was the main leader. He had the support of Gangadhar Rao Deshpande. The training in arms and the use of ammunitions were taught to the youths in the Mazzini Club which was established by Yalagi. In Belgaum the match factory was situated in the Patil street in the building of Ushathai Gogate Girls High School, where also bomb was being prepared. The revolutionary centre in Goa had the contact with Karnataka with the revolutionaries like Veera Sawarkar, Senapati Bapat of Maharashtra, Barindra Ghosh (the brother of Yogi Aurobindo Ghosh of Bengal) . The supporter of Yalagi, Hanumanthrao Deshpande was imprisoned for many days, in connection with the bombs and pistols.

Impact of Gandhiji in Karnataka

The influence of Gandhiji in the freedom movement of Karnataka totally changed the scene in the Indian National Movement. Gandhiji in the year 1920, travelled throughout Karnataka and he propagated the Non-cooperation movement, and collected money for Tilak’s  Swaraj Fund. The Kannadigas contributed whole heartedly. The women folk gave away their ornaments.  Many Kannadigas resigned their government jobs. The lawyers also boycotted their practice and the students joined the freedom movement.In Karnataka many national schools and colleges were established. Many foreign cloth centers were burnt down and picketing of liquor shops was in great progress. Three people were injured and 23 were punished. Deshpande Gangadhar Rao and Diwakar Rangarao were given punishment for six months and one year respectively, because they had betrayed the Britishers.


In April 1930, Gandhiji started the Dandi March, in protest against on salt. This march included many voluntears from Hubli and Belgaum, where Mylar Mahadevappa of Motebennur also took part. Because of tax on salt, the people at Ankola broke the rule and prepared salt. The leaders, who were involved, were Mylar Mahadevappa, Kamad Sadashivrao, N.S.Hardikar, R.R.Diwakar, Talacherikar, Ramakrishna Kamath and others. Many people died on account of the lathi charge. This movement first started in the northern parts of Karnataka. Then it spread to the southern part also. The leaders of this movement were Gangadhar Rao Deshpande of Belgaum, Kadapa Raghavendra Rao, Shrinivasrao Koujalagi of Bijapur, Hardekar Manjappa, B.shivamurthy Shastri, Kamad Sadashiv Rao, D.P.Karmarkar, R.R.Diwakar, Timmappa and many others.


The people of Karnataka participated in Civil Disobedience Movement which was started by Gandhiji in the year 1930 and thus the Karnataka State was being called by the name ‘Gandhi Province’ . Then, in Bombay the British Governor submitted his report stating that, Karnataka was ahead in its movement than in Gujarat. Deshpande Ganga Dhar Rao was the first person of Dandi Satyagrah (6th April) to be arrested in the whole country.


After the acceptance of Provincial division on the basis of language, the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee came into existence. It first opened its office at Gadag, then at Bangalore, Mysore, Tumkur and Kadur etc. The programmes issued by this Congress Committee were carried on with speed by Venkata Krishnayya of Mysore, Tagadur Ramachandrarao and others.

Movement in Hyderabad and Karnataka

In 1920, Pandit Taranath of Hamdard National School at Raichur in the Hyderabad Karnataka area was banished by the Nizam, who was on the side of the Britishers. Hyderabad Karnataka Parishad was formed under the leadership of Shrinivas in 1934 and it started the Satyagrah. Later in 1938, this Parishad joined the Hyderabad Congress party and it continued its satyagrah under the leadership of Janardhan Desai.

Under his Presidentship itself, the Bidar Congress session was held and it gave a new dimension to the freedom struggle. In 1942-43, the struggle continued in North Karnataka and nearly 7000 volunteers were arrested. Among them were Swami Ramanand, Vishwanath Mudnal and others. In the year 1939 when World War-II broke out the British wanted Indians to support them in the war efforts. But, the Provincial Congress Governments established under the Government of India Act, 1935, resigned aid many people revolted and were imprisoned.


In 1942, Gandhiji was arrested because of the Quit India Movement. At the same time, this movement in Bombay Karnataka area was started under the leadership of Chanabasappa Ambli of Bijapur, Ranganath Diwakar, D.P.Karmarkar and others. This movement was very violent in Bijapur, Dharwad, Belgaum, Bangalore and Mysore Districts. The students boycotted the classes and started movements like, cutting the telephone wires, removing the fish plates of railway lines, burning of public and government buildings. Thousands of people were arrested and imprisoned and hundreds were gunned down by the British. Mylar Mahadevappa was also one among them.

In Quit India Movement the fighters snatched away two revolvers from the police officers and 85 rifles from the police. They burnt 19 railway stations, 34 government inspection Bungalows, 250 village chavadis, 201 village daftars (documents), 62 arrack shops and police station was completely burnt to ashes.

Kodagu  movement

The Kodagu Zamindar Association leaders were P.T.Kushalappa, Nidte Subbannayya, I.P.Belliyappa, C.N.Venkatayya, K.C.Kururribayya. This Association also joined the National Movement. The national leaders of Karnataka, like Gangadharrao Deshpande, Hanumanthrao Koujalagi, Karnad Sadashivarao, R.R.Diwakar, Dr.N.S.Hardikar had contacts with leaders of this Zamindar Association. These joined the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930. In 1932, students and farmers participated in this movement and were jailed.

The National paper called ‘Kodagu’, weekly, was prohibited. Due to this prohibition another cyclostyled hand bill called ‘Veera Bharathi’  had been started. The main motto of this paper was to educate the people socially and economically. The articles published in this paper by Rohini about the Jallianwalabaug tragedy annoyed the British Chief Commissioner. Editor Belliyappa was forced to apologize. Out he refused. The British Chief Commissioner threatened the Board of Directors of the paper. The Board upheld the view of the editor and so the British Chief Commissioner had to keep quiet.

The  Issur tragedy in Shimoga District

The incident, that took place in Issur, in the Mysore princely state, was a significant one during the Quit India Movement. This movement was more rigorous in Issur in Shimoga district, than compared to the other parts of Mysore State. The people of Issur joined the Movement and responded to the call  Do or Die given by Mahatma Gandhi.

The youths who had wore the Gandhi caps hoisted the tricolour flag on the Veerabhadreshwar temple. The daftars’ (Government records) from Patel and from Shanabhagas were snatched by the youths and they were made to stand on one leg. They also displayed placards, warning irresponsible officers of the government not to enter the village. Such placards were hung at the entrance of the village.

There was a severe fight between the people and the officers. Unarmed people were punished brutally by the police. Many of them were hanged in the Central Jail in Bangalore. Among them were Gurappa, Mailappa, Halappa, Suryanarayanacharya, Shankrappa and others. Thus, the people of Issur were humiliated by the British. Even the British tortured those who had taken part in the national movement.

On 9th August 1944, the underground leaders namely, Diwakar Rangarao, Bidari Vamanrao suddenly appeared on the scene, by the advice of Gandhiji and they were also arrested. The movement continued for further two years although it had stopped in other parts of India. After 3 years, India got her Independence. The dream was fulfilled at last by our freedom fighters. The contribution of Karnataka was great to the freedom struggle of India.

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