In accordance with the usual practice Tumakuru district too has been named after its headquarter town. Tumakuru is the angliciscd form of Tumakuru which is itself a derivative of Tummeguru, the original name of the place. The present town has a history of just a couple of centuries and is said to owe its origin to Kante Arasu, a member of the Mysore royal family. The town does not have any historical relics to boast of, for even the traces of the fort, said to have been erected at the time of its founding, have already vanished completely. The area comprised in the district consists of a few places of great antiquarian interest and several places of historical importance. Sage Kadamba is believed to have had his hermitage near Kadaba in Gubbi taluk. On his way to Ayodhya after the conquest of Lanka, Shri Rama is said to have called on this sage at his hermitage for a brief sojourn, during which, at the request of his spouse Sita, he ordered the river Shimsha to be dammed so as to form a large lake here. Sampige in Turuvekcre taluk is identified with the ancient Champakanagara, the capital of Sudhanva of the Mahabharata period. The Paleolithic artifacts discovered near Biligere and Kibbanahalli reveal that certain places of the district were inhabited by the pre-historic man. The district has a megalithic site also and this is located on a crest of the low ridge near Keralakatte village.
The district has not yielded any historical records belonging to the early dynasties of the South India. such as the Banas, Satavahanas, Kadambas,Badami Chalukyas, etc. The earliest record discovered here, consisting of 5 copper plate grants ascribed to 400 A.D., belongs to the Gangas. The Gangas ruled over the southern and eastern districts of the State from the early years of the Christian era upto 1025 A.D., and obviously Tumakuru district formed part of their. kingdom. The district has yielded numerous inscriptions belonging to the period of Sri Purusha (725-758 A.D.) and several hero stones testifying to the battles that were fought between the forces of the Gangas and the Rashtrakutas. The last Ganga inscription found here is dated in 972 AD., - the period when Satyavakya Nolamba Kulantaka, that is Marasirnha-Ill, was on the throne. Of the Rashtrakutas there are three inscriptions and one of these refers to Vimaladitya as the Adhiraja of the entire Ganga-mandala while another confirms the date and mode of death of Indra-raja, the last of the Rashtrakutas who passed away on 20th March 982 at Shravanabelagola. There are numerous inscriptions which apparently belong to the Chalukyas of Kalyana and these range from 1040 to 1200 A.D. However, these merely acknowledge the supremacy of the Chalukyas and are actually those of the Cholas and Hoysalas. During this period it may. Be noted, the Nolambas were the principal local rulers and their kingdom was known as Nolambavadi 32000. They had their capital at Henjeru which is identified with the Hernavati village on the northern border of Sira taluk. Nidugal of Pavagada taluk was one of their strongholds. The district has yielded several records relating to the Nolarnba rulers such as Mahendra who is stated to have uprooted the Cholas, his son Nanniga and grandson Anniga or Bira Nolamba and Ahavamalla Nolamba. In about 974 AD., the Nolambas were overrun by the Ganga king Marasirnha-Il who earned the title Nolamba-Kulantaka, The Cholas who appear to have wielded supreme power in this region from 1000 AD., to 1070 AD., were over-fun by the Hoysalas.
The earliest Hoysala inscription found in the district is dated in 1078 AD. Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana is stated to have been in possession of both Gangavadi-96000 and Nolambavadi-32000. During the Hoysala supremacy also different tracts of this district were being administered by different local chiefs. For instance, an inscription dated in 1151 AD., states that a chief named Guli Bachi was ruling Marugerenad in Kaidala near Tumakuru. He built the temples of Gangcshvara, Narayana and Chalavarishvara at Kaidala. The Vijayanagara empire gradually absorbed the Hoysala dominions including this district. The earliest of the Vijayanagara inscriptions found in Tumakuru district refers to the reign of Bukka Raya (1344-77 AD.). and is dated III 1354 AD.
During the 15th and 16th centuries, the Vijayanagara kings granted various tracts of lands to their vassal chiefs bearing different titles, in recognition of the services rendered. Some of the petty principalities already in existence were allowed to continue to administer their traditionally acquired territories. Among such feudatory principalities that arose in this district a mention may be made of those with their headquarters at Nidugal, Holavanahalli, Madhugiri and Hagalavadi.
The Nidugal chiefs were the descendants of Harati Tippa Nayaka whose possessions were in the north-east of the Chitradurga district. One of the inscriptions found in Pavagada taluk describes him as ruling from Nidugal hill fort. He divided his territory among his seven sons. But on invasion of their share of the country by the Bijapur army, the descendants of the family retired to Nidugal fort under the leadership of Thimmanna Nayaka who had lost Dodderi. This family remained at Nidugal for a long time paying tributes to the Subedar of Sira. In 1761 A.D., when Sira was captured by Haidar Ali, the Nidugal chief also submitted himself to the conquerer and agreed to abide by the conditions imposed on him. This chief, Thimmanna Nayaka, was later compelled by Tipu Sultan to relinquish his rights over the territory. His sons were taken prisoners and lodged at Shrirangapattana where they were ultimately put to death by the British.
The Holavanahalli family was founded by Baire Gowda, said to be one of those that settled at Avati during the l5th century. This chiefdom was soon taken over by the chief of Magadi who gave it away to his own brother Ankana Gowda. The dispossessed chief joined the Sira court where he was well received and invested with an important command. His younger son however sought the help of the chief of Doddaballapur who captured Holavanahalli and placed the administration in the hands of the Sanna Baiche Gowda. But within the next couple of years a Sira army attacked and captured Doddaballapur, The former chief, Baire Gowda, who had gone over to Sira court fell in the Siege and his eldest son Dodda Baiche Gowda was invested with the government of Holavanahalli with an increase of territory. Subsequent members of this family fortified Koratagere and extended their territories until they were finally dispossessed by Haidar Ali of Mysore.
The Madhugiri family or the Maddagiri line of chiefs arose in a similar manner and extended its territory over the northern parts of the district by fortifying Madhugiri, Channarayanadurga and such other strategic points. In 1678 A.D., Madhugiri was captured by Dalavai Devaraja and the joint rulers named Rama Gowda and Timma Gowda were taken prisoners and conveyed to Shrirangapattana. However, they were later released and granted Midigeshi as an estate.
Founded by Erimada Nayaka, the Hagalavadi line of chiefs exercised power over a large portion of the present Tumakuru district for nearly 300 years from 1478 A.D. The credit for expanding their territories goes to Sali Nayaka, the second ruler who captured Kandikere, Settikere, Honnavalli, Turuvekere and such other places of strategic importance and also founded Chiknayakanhalli. His grandson Mudiyappa Nayaka-I was also equally successful in extending his territories. The ninth ruler of this line, namely Mudiyappa Nayaka-II was a benign ruler who later gave up his throne to pursue his spiritual pursuits. His son, Mudduveerappa Nayaka, earned the title Jung Bahadur for having successfully resisted the onslaughts of Salabat Jung and Dilawar Khan. The twelfth ruler Channabasappa Nayaka was captured and imprisoned by Haidar Ali at Shrirangapallana. Soon after his death in the prison the Hagalavadi Chiefdom was totally annexed to Mysore.
In 1638 A.D., under the command of Ranadulla Khan, the Bijapur army invaded the northern portions of this district. Along with the southern principalities of Doddaballapur, Bangalore, Kolar and Hoskote, Sira was placed under the charge of Shahji and for quite some time Malik Rihan was the governor of Sira. With the capture of Bijapur in 1686 A.D., Aurangazeb established tlie Moghul supremacy in this region. Sira was made the capital of a new province consisting of the seven paraganas of Sira, Basavapattana, Budihal, Doddaballapur, Hoskote, Kolar and Penukonda and was placed under the charge of a Subedar or Faujdar. Kashim Khan was the first Subedar and Dilawar Khan (1724-56) the last. During this period Sira and its neighbourhood assumed considerable importance as a seat of administration and received royal patronage. Sheikh Farid for instance built a big mosque. Rustum Jung, who earned for himself the title of Bahadur built a fort and a petta.
During the same period parts of this district came to be annexed by the Wodeyars of Mysore in a phased manner as it were. In 1650 A.D., Kanthirava Narasaraja Wodeyar (1638-59) made a beginning by acquiring Hebbur in Tumakuru taluk from immadi Kempe Gowda. By 1673 A.D., the kingdom of Mysore had been extended as far as Chiknayakanhalli in the north. This was followed by the conquests of Chikka-Devaraja Wodear (1673-17). He is said to have captured Jadakanadurga (which he named after himself as Chikka Devarayana Durga), Maddagiri, Midigeshi, Bijjavara, Channarayadurga and several other places, "By the end of his reign except for Sira and its immediate surroundings, rest of the Tumakuru district formed part of Mysore. These areas too were taken during the period of Haidar Ali on his conquest of Sira in 1761 and the annexation of Hagalavadi in 1776. With the fall of Tipu Sultan in 1799, this territory too passed into the hands of the British who restored it to the Wodeyars of Mysore, from which date the history of the district coincides with the history of the erstwhile Mysore State. During the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar-III (1811-31), the State consisted of six Faujdaris and the present Tumakuru district stood included in the Maddagiri i.e., Madhugiri, ,,'Faujdari.: In 1834, these were reconstituted into four divisions and Tumakuru became the headquarters of Chitradurga division which encompassed the areas now included in these two districts ..