Karnataka, formerly (until 1973) Mysore, state of India, located on the western coast of the subcontinent. It is bounded by the states of Goa and Maharashtra to the north, Telangana to the east, Tamil Nadu to the southeast, and Kerala to the south and by the Arabian Sea to the west. The state extends for about 420 miles (675 km) from north to south and for about 300 miles (480 km) from east to west. Its coastline stretches for some 200 miles (320 km). The capital is Bengaluru (Bangalore), near the southeastern border.
Before the independence of India in 1947, Mysore was a prosperous and progressive but landlocked princely state, with an area of less than 30,000 square miles (78,000 square km), located on the Karnataka Plateau. The transfer of additional territories to the state in 1953 and 1956 united the Kannada-speaking peoples, gave the state an outlet to the sea, and greatly extended its boundaries. The state took its present name, a Kannada word meaning “lofty land,” in 1973. Area 74,051 square miles (191,791 square km). Pop. (2011) 61,130,704.
Relief, drainage, and soils
Physiographically, Karnataka is divided into four distinct regions—the coastal plain, the hill ranges (the Western Ghats), the Karnataka Plateau to the east, and the black-soil tract to the northwest. The coastal plain represents a northward continuation of the Malabar Coast, with sand dunes giving place inland to small alluvial plains and lagoons. The coast itself is difficult to access, except by sea.
To the east of the coastal plain, the Western Ghats rise sharply to reach an average elevation of 2,500 to 3,000 feet (750 to 900 metres). The upland terrain of the Ghats is known as Malnad. The region is a watershed, and from its crest numerous swift streams flow to the plains, including the Sharavati River, which is the source of the tremendous Jog (Gersoppa) Falls (830 feet [253 metres] high).
Other rivers—including the Kaveri (Cauvery) to the south and the Tungabhadra, a tributary of the great Krishna River, to the north—flow over the undulating, eastward-sloping plains of the Karnataka Plateau. These plains are known as the Maidan. The plateau region has an average elevation of about 1,500 feet (450 metres).
The northwestern part of the state is characterized more by its soil than by its relief. In this region, underlying volcanic rock produces a soil known as regur, the humus-rich, cotton-growing black soil of India. By contrast, the soils of the adjacent Karnataka Plateau are generally porous and infertile, except in the river basins, where they are loamy and somewhat fertile. Soils in the coastal plain include iron-rich clays in the inland areas and sandy alluvial deposits toward the coast itself.