Buddhism in Karnataka

The ancient Buddhist movement in Karnataka left behind some of its finest archeological remains here though the movement itself was short-lived in comparison with that of the rest of South India. Buddhism reached Karnataka in its very early phase itself, as most of Karnataka was under the direct rule of Emperor Ashoka. Two stupas built by Ashoka with the relics of the Buddha and many Ashokan rock edicts adorned this land. Many of the early dynasties in Karnataka such as Satavahanas, Chutus, Badami Chalukyas, Western Gangas, Pallavas, Kadamabas and Rashtrakutas were supportive of the Buddhist movement. Remains of some Mahayana monasteries from the Ganga period were discovered in South Karnataka recently. Chalukyas were also supportive at least during their initial period, and the structure of an ancient monastery stands even now in Aihole, North Karnataka. Alupas of coastal Karnataka also patronized Buddhism.

The main schools of Buddhism in Karnataka were Mahiśāsaka (a Sanskrit-school of Hinayana, a sub-school of Sarvastivadin), Mahayana and Vajrayana. Buddhism declined in Karnataka by 7th Century CE during the later part of Chalukya rule. However, Vajrayana Buddhism continued in pockets till the 12th Century, as is evident from the inscriptions and some fine sculptures obtained from the Coastal and Central Karnataka.


Kalya Caves – Remains of Buddhism in Bangalore

Kalya in Magadi near Bangalore has a few caves where Buddhist, Jain and Shaivite Yogis…

Buddhism in Banavasi, an Archeological Treasure Trove

There was strong presence of Buddhism in Banavasi right from the time of Emperor Ashoka.…

Buddhism in Balligavi, a Medieval Center of Learning in Karnataka

There was a strong presence of Mahayana / Vajrayana Buddhism in Balligavi, Shimoga Dist, Karnataka…

Buddhism in Dharwad, Gadag and Koppal

History of Vajrayana Buddhism in Dharwad, Gadag and Koppal districts – the Central Karnataka region…

The Hidden Buddhist Treasures of the Badami Caves

The history of Buddhism in Badami Caves is revealed by the buddhist carvings in the…

Buddhism in Aihole – The Chalukya Period in Karnataka

Buddhism in Aihole, North Karnataka, flourished during the early period of Chalukya rule. Remains of…

Buddhism in Coastal Karnataka

Buddhism was widespread in coastal Karnataka in ancient times. Buddhist statues are found in various…

Precious than Gold – The Maski Rock Edict of Ashoka

The southern state of Karnataka has about ten edicts of Ashoka. Among those, Maski edict…

Rajaghatta – The Remains of a Mahayana Buddhist Monastery in Bangalore

Rajaghatta in the outskirts of Bangalore,South India was a Buddhist settlement from 2nd century to…

Soon to come

  • Sannati Stupa
  • Ashokan sites of Karnataka