History of Hassan

The present day Hassan district was founded in the 11th Century by Chieftain Channa Krishnappa Naik. The city is named after the Goddess "Hassanamba" or “Hassan-Amma”, meaning the smiling mother or goddess. As per Sthalapurana, the name 'Hassan' is an abridged form of 'Simhasanapura', a place associated with Janamejaya, the great grandson of the Pandava hero Arjuna. The history of this place dates back to 300BCE. This district of Karnataka reached its epitome of glory during the rule of the Hoysalas.

Ancient History of Hassan

Hassan district’s history dates back to 300 BCE (Before the Common Era), when it was a part of the Mauryan Empire. During 3rd century BCE, sage Bhadrabahu resided here along with his followers, thus bringing Jainism into Karnataka. According to some historians, king Chandragupta Maurya (322 – 298 BCE) was Bhadrabahu’s disciple and came along with him to Shravanabelagola, eventually dying over there. The Chandragupta basadi or monument still exists today.

Medieval History, the rule of the Hoysalas

The medieval history of Hassan district started with the rule of Ganga dynasty of Talkad. The Gangas initially ruled as a sovereign power from 350-550 CE, before breaking their territory into two feudal systems namely Chalukyas and Rashtrakutyas. Shravanabelagola gained its importance as a religious centre at this era. This town’s name was formed from the word “Shravana or Shramana”, meaning a Jain solitary, and “Belagola or Biliya Kola” in Kannada meaning white pond. Historians had discovered over eight hundred inscriptions including eighty from the Hoysala period, covering a period of 600 - 1830 CE. This has helped in understanding the ruling history of all the kingdoms over Karnataka. Inscriptions found are in varied languages like Marathi, Sanskrit, Kannada, Marwari, Tamil and Mahajani. These inscriptions depict a picture of Jain patronage during medieval history.

History of Hassan
During 1000-1334CE, the Hoysalas came to rule the district of Hassan after defeating the Ganga dynasty. The Hoysalas were a clan of hill people originating from Angadi in Chikmagalur District. They built a robust empire which reached its pinnacle during this period. Today also one can embark in the glory of the extinct era by viewing the fifty or more Hoysala temples and inscriptions which speak of the administration of the Hoysalas, their land reforms, taxation and culture.

Vishnuvardhana is considered by historians as the true architect of the Hoysala empire. During his reign, coins were minted in memory of the victory against the Cholas, Keerthi Narayana temple and Chennakeshava temple at Belur were built. The Hoysalas were defeated by the Vijaynagar Empire in 1336 CE. During 1173-1220 CE, Hassan became the heart of Kannada literary and cultural activities.

The Vijaynagar, Mysore and British Raj

In 1346 CE, the administration of the Hoysala empire was taken over by the able King Harihara. During his reign, he firmly administered the Vijaynagar empire, thus preventing the Muslim invasion in South India for the next 200 years. With the decline of the Vijaynagar kingdom, Hassan came under the rule of the Wodeyars of Mysore. The Wodeyars expanded their kingdom and consolidated different districts to form the current southern Karnataka.

Hassan during its rule under the Mysore Kingdom reached its epitome at the time of Tipu Sultan’s reign. Following Tipu's death at 1799, the British Raj came into existence. They took over Hassan’s rule along with the Mysore Kingdom transforming them into a Princely state. The Wodeyars continued to rule, until India got its independence in 1947, thus making Hassan a free district of Karnataka.
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