linguistic region of the Deccan Plateau, south-central India, generally corresponding to Karnataka (formerly Mysore) state. Of irregular shape, and defined as the area in which Kannada (Kanarese) is spoken, Karnataka was unified during the Vijayanagar kingdom (c. 1300-1600) until successive conquests by the Muslim kings of the Deccan, the Mughals, and the states of Maratha and Hyderabad greatly reduced its size. (The term has also been applied to the southern Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal because the Vijayanagars retired there in defeat.) The remaining kingdom continued as the independent Hindu state of Mysore until British conquest in 1799. The Kannada-speaking people were leaders in the successful movement for the linguistic reorganization of India (1953 and 1956), which resulted in the addition of territories from Bombay, Hyderabad, and Madras (Tamil Nadu) to form Mysore state. The state was renamed Karnataka in 1973.
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