The land of sandalwood & Sahyadris, land of river Kaveri & Rashtrakavi Kuvempu, pompous Dasara Naada Habba & Mysore Pak with fragrance of jasmine around, Dr. Rajkumar’s evergreen Kannada songs & his film Gandhada Gudi (Temple of Sandalwood) – are few of the many beautiful memories that Karnataka has created for us. I am sure India’s IT hub, Karnataka will not fail to make an impression on you. An impression to cherish all your life.
Rajyotsava, a compound word in Kannada language (Rajya+Utsava) translates into “Festival of the state”. Karnataka Rajyotsava signifies the State Unification Day, and hence a celebration of the essence of Karnataka & its existence. As we celebrate 61st Karnataka Rajyotsava this year, let’s take a moment to look back at the state’s journey into the making of what is today’s Karnataka – one of the developed states of India.
Karnataka is approximately the size of the countries Senegal or Kyrgyzstan with an area of 192,000 Sq.km. (Length 760Kms & Breadth 420Kms) with a population of 61.13 million with 84% Hindus. State’s literacy rate is 75.36% and state’s GDP was 6.9% for 2016-17 (2011 Census & Economic Survey of India).
Karnataka has contributed to India’s development in numerous fields & ways. The state’s capital, Bengaluru, previously Bangalore, is the 2nd largest IT cluster in the world after Silicon Valley of US, Biotech capital of India, Start-up capital of India, a distinguished Knowledge Hub of Asia, among top 4 Innovation Hubs in the world (WEF), preferred aerospace investment destination among other things. Bengaluru international airport is named after its founder Kempegowda, KIAL.
Karnataka is also the Silk Hub of India (Mysore Silk) & one of the biggest coffee exporters from India. This Gandhada Gudi is also blessed with rich wildlife notably elephants & highest tiger density in India with a count of 406 and half of them in two of Karnatak’s Tiger Reserves of Nagarahole & Bandipur (India being home to world’s 70% tigers : 2226 tigers) and the list just goes on & on….. Karnataka in a nutshell is truly “One State, Many Worlds”.
Interesting facts: The only unit authorised to manufacture & supply India’s flag is situated in Karnataka (Hubli). And the only unit authorised to produce ink used for marking in elections to prevent duplicate voting is also based in Karnataka (Mysuru).
As also described by few of my fellow Indians, Karnataka is and always has been a futurist state. For example, in 1905, Bengaluru became the first Asian city to get electricity. Karnataka is also arguably most cosmopolitan state after Maharashtra. As mentioned already, Bengaluru is the place of new age technology & innovation and an important educational hub where everyone wants to be.
Formation of the state: 1st of November 1956, the state of Mysore (today Karnataka), the largest state in the Southern part of India was carved out mainly on the lines of linguistic re-organization with merging of Mysore State with other Kannada-speaking regions of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Madras. Mysore was later rechristened Karnataka in 1973. The state anthem is a beautiful poem by Kuvempu, Jaya Bharata Jananiya Tanujate.
The State’s Unification Day is therefore celebrated every year on 1st of November with equal joy, patriotism and fervor as is Independence Day (15th of August) and Republic Day (26th of January) celebrated. Not only in Karnataka but also abroad where there are sizeable communities of Kannadigas.
Let’s begin the journey of discovering the essence of Karnataka with the Kannadigas of whom we are very proud of… This land of visionaries has seen legends like Sir M Visvesvaraya, in whose honour India celebrates Engineer’s Day on his birthday September 15th. Shakuntala Devi, aka “human computer” was a Mathematician from Bengaluru. Field Marshal K. M. Kariappa, the first Commander-in-Chief of India’s Armed Forces was from Madikeri in Karnataka, who was known for his courage. Miss World 1994, Aishwarya Rai, is a Kannadiga with French connection, famous for her stunning Red Carpet appearances at Cannes Film Festival.
In the world of business & IT, philanthropy & social development: Narayan Murthy & Sudha Murthy of Infosys, Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India which created AADHAR, arguably the world’s largest biometric identification system) – are all the flag bearers of true spirit of our state. Gururaj Deshpande, a true entrepreneur and philantrophist from Hubli was appointed by Barrack Obama as a co-chairman of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (US).
KARNATAKA YESTERDAY & TODAY…
History etched in our memories… Among various kingdoms that ruled Karnataka, Vijayanagara kingdom, the Forgotten Empire of Robert Sewell needs a special mention. It is in this era of history where diamonds were traded in open markets of Hampi. Later its forerunner Mysore Kingdom under Wodeyars wrote a golden era in our state’s history with overall development of the state. Not to forget cultural development was at its peak during their rule with the tradition of Dasara Naada Habba in Mysuru palace (the 2nd most visited tourist destination in India after Taj Mahal) carving a special place for itself in the hearts of its people. It is a feast not only to our eyes, ears & taste buds but also to the soul. Such truly immersive experience of cultural heritage can be experienced only in the city of Mysuru.
During India’s struggle for independence, notable resistance to British came from Kittur Rani Chennama, Queen of Kittur who led armed rebellion against British and Tippu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore. With the help of French Army, Tippu built warfare rocketry, whose testimony can also be seen in a painting where Tippu’s army fighting the British launching rockets at Wallops Flight Facility of NASA as mentioned by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam in his Wings of Fire.
Apart from the scientific & technological advances, quintessence of Karnataka lies in its linguistic & cultural richness, natural diversity, Kannada literature, music & not to forget why we all love Karnataka the most –for its love-at-first-taste cuisine.
Kannada language: It is the third oldest language in India after Sanskrit and Tamil, with history of over 2000 years. 8 Kannada writers have been awarded Jnanapeeta Prashasti (India’s highest literary award) till date, second only to Hindi (which has received 10 awards so far). Few notable names in Kannada literature are Rashtrakavi Kuvempu (Poet of the Nation), D. R. Bendre, Girish Karnad, Beechi.
Theatre: Rangashankara – A commitment to the art of theatre by actor-artists Shankarnag & Jayashree, today serves as a world-class theatre facility in Bengaluru for all the theatre artists both Indian and international. As a Bengalurian, this is always one of the must-visit places on your agenda.
Tourism in Karnataka: UNESCO world heritage sites, rich wildlife, huge coastline with prominent beaches & ports, medical tourism destination, eco-tourism sites, strong horticulture tradition. Hogennakkal falls, Jog falls, Kemmanagundi, Charmudi Ghats, Agumbe, Gokak falls to name a few of mother nature’s jewels you will come across in Karnataka.
Architectural marvels in Karnataka: From Mysore Palace, Vidhana Soudha – seat of State Legislature in Bengaluru, the ruins of Vijayanagara in Hampi, the temples of Halebidu & Beluru by Hoysalas, to Gol Gumbaz & Ibrahim Roza in Bijapur, Karnataka never stops mesmerising you with its architectural treasure.
UNESCO World Heritage sites in Karnataka: Out of India’s 36 sites, Karnataka has 5 sites – 2 cultural (Hampi & Pattadkal) & 1 natural (Western Ghats) with 3 more in UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative List.
Land of Music & Dance: Land of Carnatic music & Hindustani music (Gangubai Hangal, Bhimsen Joshi among others), Haridasa movement that reinforced Carnatic music, Yakshagana & Bharatanatyam dance forms and the list goes on… Here is a glimpse of Carnatic music : a devotional song on Lord Krishna written by Sri Purandara Dasa, the father of Carnatic music – Jagadodharana adisidale Yashodhe
FOOD: Food is the soul of any culture. And Karnataka cuisine is no different. Food for thought : If you are in search of a reason for your life & existence, let me make life simpler for you. Find a delicious reason that will make your soul happy, life will automatically come on the right track. I am serious. Food is a soul-satisfying experience. Let me take you on a food-drive through Karnataka.
Let’s start with breakfast. You will be surprised to know that Rava Idli was an invention driven by need during World War II by MTR. In fact MTR, CTR, GTR are the most famous line of South Indian breakfast places in Southern part of Karnataka known for their varieties of Dosas and Idlis. Davangere’s Benne Dosa is unforgettably delicious too. While in the Northern Karnataka, it is rather variants of Uppit and Avallaki.
The emblematic dish of Karnataka cuisine is Bisi Bele Bath. In Northern part, it is rather Jolada Rotti (a kind-of-Indian-bread from Uttara (North) Karnataka), Junaka among others. Rice & sambar holds the staple food title along with Ragi mudde.
I hope to have inspired you enough that whenever you are in Karnataka or Bengaluru, you will find a reason to cherish & connect with Karnataka. Lastly before saying au revoir to you all, I would like to mention the presence of France Kannada Balaga association in Paris which gives over 200 Kannadigas in France a reason to come together for all the good reasons. Nothing is more beautiful & satisfying than being able to stay in touch with your roots no matter where life takes you. And France Kannada Balaga does a great job in bringing us together through various cultural events organized all through the year. Indians, Kannadigas, French, everyone else – you are always welcome to discover & share the cultural diversity of Karnataka with us.
Until next time then !