Welcome to Karnataka
Etymology says Karnataka means the “Lofty land” from Karu and Nadu. On the western edge of the Deccan plateau, Karnataka’s rich history and frenetic pace as a state suggests that the land and its people have kept elevating their offerings for the wanderlust over time. A bewitching land where legend meets reality, it has preserved its dynastic legacies from the ancient and medieval eras, cocooned the Raj era hangover in places, persevered with impeccable traditions and an abundance of folk arts, housed stunning natural environments like world heritage designated biospheres, natural coves, generous rivers and waterfalls, coffee plantations. misty hill stations, adventure capitals, and at the same time revving up a modern world of technology, entrepreneurship, and soft capital. Ranging from urban cool craft breweries to ancient ruins that keep you equally awake, from a buzzing silicon capital to hammocked holidays and off-road treks, Karnataka is a massive ensemble cast of experiences that just fills up your “to do” task manager. So, let’s correct ourselves here. It has not been elevating itself to new levels. It has simply been the one setting the benchmarks.
Empires of the Nandas and the Mauryas, dating back to the 4th century BC made way for the Pallavas and Satavahanas, and then the Kadambas and Gangas who usurped the lands of the Pallava dynasty. An era of expansion and growth soon gave way to the Chalukyas who were in turn succeeded by the Hoysalas and the Vijaynagar empires known for their command of culture and who laid the foundations for great city-states. The Sultanate followed by the reign of the Mysore Wodeyars of course being a proxy for the British empire completed the lineage tree of Karnataka’s history. The state has always blossomed with its sheer cultural diversities. Apart from Kannadigas, Karnataka is home to Tuluvas, Kodavas and Konkanis who share an address with smaller populations of Tibetan Buddhists and several tribes like the Soligas, Yeravas, Todas and Siddhis.
Its rich repertoire of stories that blend dance, drama and music are best narrated by the traditional folk art Yakshagana from the Malnad region and coastal Karntaka and which over time has led to the one of the most vibrant contemporary theatre credentials polished by institutions like Ninasam, Ranga Shankara or nurtured by eminent practitioners. Music continues to hold a special place with both the Carnatic and Hindustani styles flourishing here both owing to legacy as also stalwarts who have honed it. The 16th century Haridasa movement contributed significantly to Karnataka (Carnatic) music as a performing art form. The pantheon of Hindustani music stalwarts like Gangubai Hangal, Mallikarjun Mansur, Bhimsen Joshi, Basavaraja Rajaguru, Sawai Gandharva are all children of the soil.Speaking of the sons of the soil, the Mysore Peta is the distinct traditional headgear of southern Karnataka, while the Pagadi or Pataga which is akin to the turbans of Rajasthan, holds the pride of head in the northern areas of the state. And proud they ought to be. With an extremely diverse range of cuisine, a foodie has miles to devour.
Every region either has its distinct take on staple, or the ingredients or the manner of cooking. The Dosas, Ragi balls, Canara cuisine, Maddur Vade, the Mysore Pak, Karadantu of Gokak, and a bewildering variations of flavoured rice hold court. All fed by a productive soil, numerous rivers and a 300 kms. coastline.
So that’s Karnataka in as we must admit a really straining nutshell. Threatening to spill over some more magical revelations. Always setting the pace.