Carnatic

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This article has been extracted from

THE IMPERIAL GAZETTEER OF INDIA , 1908.

OXFORD, AT THE CLARENDON PRESS.

Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts. Some units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.

Carnatic

{Kannada, Karndta, Karndtaka-desa). — Properly, as the name implies, 'the Kanarese country.' The name has, however, been erroneously applied by modern European writers to the Tamil country of Madras, including the Telugu District of Nellore. The boundaries of the true Carnatic, or Karnataka-desa, are given by Wilks as 'Commencing near the town of Bidar, 18° 45' N., about 60 miles north-west from Hyderabad (Ueccan). Following the course of the Kanarese language to the south-east, it is found to be limited by a waving line which nearly touches Adoni, winds to the west of Gooty, skirts the town of Anantapur, and passing through Nandidroog, touches the range of the Eastern Ghats ; thence pursuing their southern course to the mountainous pass of Gazzalhati, it continues to follow the abrupt turn caused by the great chasm of the western hills between the towns of Coimbatore, PoUachi, and Palghat ; and, sweeping to the north-west, skirts the edges of the precipitous Western Ghats, nearly as far north as the sources of the Kistna ; whence following first an eastern and afterwards a north-eastern course, it terminates in rather an acute angle near Bidar, already described as its northern limit.'

This country has been ruled wholly or in part by many dynasties, of whom the Andhras or Satavahanas, the Kadambas, the Pallavas, the Gangas, the Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas, the Cholas, the later Chalukyas, the Hoysalas, and the house of Vijayanagar are the most prominent. The Vijayanagar kings, who came into power about the year 1336, conquered the whole of the peninsula south of the Tunga- bhadra river. They were completely overthrown by the Muhammadans in 1565, and retired first to Penukonda, and then to Chandragiri, one branch of the family remaining at Anagundi opposite to their old capital. It was these conquests that probably led to the extension of the term ' Carnatic ' to the southern plain country ; and this latter region came to be called Karnata Payanghat, or ' lowlands,' to dis tinguish it from Karnata Balaghat, or the ' hill country.' When the Muhammadan kings of the Deccan ousted the Vijayanagar dynasty, they divided the north of the Vijayanagar country between them into Carnatic Hyderabad (or Golconda) and Carnatic Bijapur, each being further subdivided into Payanghat and Balaghat. At this time, accord- ing to Wilks, the northern boundary of Karnata (Carnatic) was the Tungabhadra.

Speaking of this period and the modern misapplication of the name. Bishop Caldwell says {^Grammar of the Dravidian Languages,

PP- 34-5):—

' The term Karnata or Karndtaka is said to have been a generic term, including both the Telugu and Kanarese peoples and their languages, though it is admitted that it usually denoted the latter alone, and though it is to the latter that the abbreviated form Kannadam has been appropriated. Karnataka (that which belongs to Karnata) is regarded as a Sanskrit word by native Pandits ; but I agree with Dr. Gundert in preferring to derive it from the Dravidian words kar, " black," 7iddu (the adjective form of which in Telugu is ndti), " country," that is, "the black country," a term very suitable to designate the " black cotton soil," tis it is called, of the plateau of the Southern Deccan. The use of the term is of considerable antiquity, as we find it in the Vara ha- Mi hir a at the beginning of the fifth ^ century a.d. Taranatha also mentions Karnata. The word Karnata or Karnataka, though at first a generic term, became in process of time the appellation of the Kanarese people and of their language alone, to the entire exclusion of the Telugu. Karnataka has now got into the hands of foreigners, who have given it a new and entirely erroneous application. ^\'hen the Muhammadans arrived in Southern India, they found that part of it with which they first became acquainted — the country above the Ghats, including Mysore and part of Telingana — called the Karna- taka country. In course of time, by a misapplication of terms, they applied the same name Karnatak, or Carnatic, to designate the country below the Ghats, as well as that which was above.

The English have carried the misapplication a step farther, and restricted the name to the country below the Ghats, which never had any right to it whatever. Hence the Mysore country, which is probably the true Carnatic, is no longer called by that name ; and what is now geographically termed "the Carnatic" is exclusively the country below the Ghats on the Coromandel coast.'

It is this latter country which formed the dominions of the Nawabs of the Carnatic, who played such an important part in the struggle for supremacy between the English and the French in the eighteenth century, and which now forms the greater portion of the present Madras Presidency. This connotation still survives in the designation of Madras regiments as Carnatic infantry. Administratively, however, the term Carnatic (or Karnatak as it is there used) is now restricted to the Bombay portion of the original Karnata : namely, the Districts of Belgaum, Dharwar, and Bijapur, and part of North Kanara, with the Native States of the Southern Maratha Agency and Kolhapur. See Southern Maratha Country.

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