When the British took Karnataka in 1799, they knew they had India. The state of Mysore, as Karnataka was known in ancient times, has always been of high strategic importance in the subcontinent, and since the 3rd Century b.C. it had been coveted for its immense natural resources – among which the rich gold mines and dense teak forests – and ruled by dynasties of every color, confession and provenance, from the Chola and Ganga to the Hoysala, builders in the 11th-14th Centuries of some of the most spectacular temples in India, to the Deccan sultans, the Wodeyar and finally Tippu Sultan. It was from his hands – and from the French’s – that the British took Karnataka. And only then did the actual expansion of the Indian Empire begin.