In the place of Bellary, there are several legends associated with how the place got its name ‘Bellary’. The first one is that a few devout travelling merchants halting here, could not find a Shiva Linga for their worship. They then installed a balla (a measuring cup or seru used to measure grain) upside down as a Shiva Linga and started to worship it. Consequently, the place was automatically turned into a temple devoted to Balleshwara or Shiva, which became distorted to Malleshwara and therefore, Bellary derives its name from this notable temple. Whereas the second story presents that the area is named after Indra, the king of Gods, who slew a Rakshasa (demon) named Balla who lived nearby it. The name Balla-ari means 'enemy of Balla' i.e. ari-enemy in Sanskrit. In October, 2014 the Union Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India approved a proposal to rename the place and the earlier Bellary was renamed to "Ballari" on 1st November, 2014. Historically, Bellary was once a part of Kuntala Desha or Kuntala Vishaya. Ballari is named after Goddess Duruga maa. Bellary is known by names such as Kuntala Desha, Sindavadi-nadu and Nolambavadi-nadu. It was ruled over by the Mauryas, Satavahanas, Pallavas, Kadambas, Badami Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Kalyani Chalukyas, Southern Kala Churyas, Sevuna Yadavas, Hoysalas and Cholas. Earlier Ballari District was part of Rayalseema which is now in the state of Andhra Pradesh. During the British period, it was part of Madras Presidency. The Bellary Municipal Council was created in 1867 AD. On 1st October, 1953 AD, the Bellary became the part of Karnataka on the linguistic basis.
The district has several other famous personalities from various fields. Kandalla Balagopal was born on 10th June, 1952 and died on 8th October, 2009. He was known for his uncompromising human rights activities. He was also a mathematician and lawyer. Nagarur Gopinath was the first Indian successful performer of open heart surgery in 1962. He was awarded with Dr. B. C. Roy Award in 1978 and Padam Shri in 1974. Jayanthi (an Indian actress), Subiksha (actress) and Bhargavi Rao (poet, author ) are other examples.
Geographically, the district has total 8,461 sq. km. area and occupies ranks 7th in State and 86th in India on the basis of this size. It lies at 15°14'N latitude, 76°92'E longitude and 495 m altitude. In the year 2021, there was a total 8.72% forest area of total geographical area. It is bounded by Raichur District on the North, Koppal District on the West, Chitradurga District and Davanagere District on the South, and Anantapur District and Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh on the East. The climate of the district remains pleasant throughout the year. Most of its rainfall occurs in the monsoon season. The actual rainfall in the district was 804.0 mm in the year of 2021-22.
Administrative wise, the district is divided into 7 sub-districts, 13 towns and 522 villages. Kannada is its official language. The district of Bellary came into existence on the 1st November, 1956 in the state of Karnataka with an allotted district code of 565. Bellary is its district headquarters which is located at a distance of 306 km. from the state capital.
Demographically, according to 2011 census, the district has a total number of 4,81,704 households with a total population of 24,52,595 out of which 12,36,954 are males and 12,15,641 are females. The density of population of the district is 290 (persons per sq km.). The sex ratio is pegged at 983 (females per 1000 males) while the child ratio stands at 960 (females per 1000 males). As per 2011 census the percentage of major religions practiced by the people of this region is Hindu and Muslim with 85.77% and 13.08%. According to the 2011 census, the percentage of other principal languages spoken in the region are Kannada at 71.95%, Telugu at 9.68% and Urdu at 11.33%. The population growth rate during the period 2001 to 2011 was 20.99% out of which 20.13% were males, and 21.88% were females. In the year 2020 the number of live births in the district was 50,428 including 25,968 were males and 24,460 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 25,520 including 15,082 were males and 10,438 were females.
Economically, the district is primarily dependent on agriculture. The main source of water drain is Tungabhadra Dam. Tungabhadra, Hagari and Chikkahagari rivers pass through the district and help for agriculture. The district has both metallic and non-metallic minerals such as iron ore, manganese ore, red oxide, gold, copper, lead, asbestos, corundum, clay, dolomite, limestone, limestone, sand stone, quartz, soap stone, granite and red ochre. The district has many private and government mining companies. The district has 25% of India's iron ore reserves. But due to all this, this district is considered to be an industrially backward district. The Gross Domestic Product in the district during the period 2019-20 was Rs. 52,28,290 lakh at current price and Rs. 38,17,399 lakh at constant prices in the year 2011-2012. The Net Domestic Product in the district during the period 2019-20 was Rs. 46,04,875 lakh at current price and Rs. 33,12,080 lakh at constant prices in the year 2011-2012. The Per Capita Income or NDDP, at factor cost during the period 2019-20 was Rs. 1,73,529 at current price and Rs. 1,24,812 at constant prices in the year 2011-2012.
Education wise, according to 2011 census, the literacy rate is 67.43% including 76.64% are males and 58.09% are females. The total number of literates in the district is 14,21,621 including 8,13,440 are males and 6,08,181 are females. Bellary Medical College is situated in Bellary. Now, it is renamed ‘Vijayanagara Institute of Medical Sciences’. In 1929, the Government Wellesly TB & Chest Diseases Hospital was started and in 1999, the Urban Health Center was constructed. The medical college provides the undergraduate and MBBS course. The district also has a private university namely Vijayanagara Sri Krishnadevaraya University after the former emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire Krishna Deva Raya. It was established in 2010 under State Universities Act 2000. It has two post graduate campuses. The main campus is Jnana Sagara at Vinayaka Nagar, Bellary. And, the second campus is at Nandihalli in Sandur taluk of Bellary district. Kannada University or Hampi Kannada University is a research oriented Public University. It was founded in 1991 under Kannada University Act, 1991. It offers B.A., MA and PHD in the field of literature, traditions, culture, and folklore of Karnataka. The district also has numerous educational institutes such as Taranath Ayurveda College in Anathpur Road, Government Polytechnic in Fort, Sanjay Gandhi Polytechnic in Infantry Road, Teacher’s Training Institute in Radio Park, Shree Medha Degree College, St. Joseph's High School in Radio Park, St. John's High School & Junior College in Fort, etc.
Various famous political personalities also belong to the district. K. S. Eshwarappa was born on 10th July, 1948. He belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party. He represents the Kuruba Gowda community in politics. K.C. Kondaiah was born on 10th July, 1950, is an Indian politician. He is a present member of the Karnataka Legislative Council from Bellary and a former member of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha from Karnataka. Arcot Ranganatha Mudaliar was an Indian politician and theosophist from Bellary. He was born on 29th June, 1879. He was the Minister of Public Health and Excise from 1926 to 1928 in Madras Presidency.
The district has various famous historical and religious places to visit. These places are Bear Sanctuary, Bommagatta, Daroji Tank, Donimalai Hill Range, Ramanadurga Hill Station, Kumaraswamy Temple Complex and Hampi. During the year 2016, there were 42,647 foreign tourists and 33,28,648 domestic tourists visited above places.