Historically, Dharwad is like a resting place between the Malenadu region and the plains. The name is derived from the Sanskrit word 'dwarawata', 'dwara' meaning "door" and 'wata' or 'wada' meaning “town”. As per the second theory, during the Vijayanagara rule of Dharwad there was a ruler called “Dharav” (1403) and it is believe that the place is named after him. On the other hand there are some inscriptions that refer to Dharwad as Kampana Sthana. These inscriptions found near Durga Devi temple in Narendra (a nearby village) and RLS High School date back to the 12th century, also have references to Dharwad. In 12th century, the Chalukyas ruled over the Dharwad. In the 14th century, the Bahmani Sultanate flourished here. It took a great attention of numerous rulers including Aurangzeb, Shivaji, Aurangzeb's son Mu Azam, Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao, Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan and finally the British colonizers. In 1685, the fort of this region was captured by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and Dharwad, on the break-up of the Mughal empire, fell under the sway of the Maratha Peshwa of Pune. In 1764, the province was ruled by Hyder Ali of the Mysore, who in the year 1778 seized the fort of Dharwad. The fort was again went into the hands of the Marathas in 1791. After the final defeat of the Peshwa by the British in 1818, Dharwar was included into the territory of the British East India Company's Bombay Presidency.
The district has numerous famous personalities from different fields. Gururaja Shyamacharya Amur was born on 8th May, 1925. He is a professor of literature, contemporary writer and critic in the Kannada and English languages. He has received many prestigious awards including the Central Sahitya Akademi Award, Masti Award in 2010, Pampa Award in 2006, Rajyotsava Award in 2000, etc. Mallikarjun Bheemarayappa Mansur was born on 1st January, 1911 and died on 12th September, 1992. He was an Indian classical singer of the khyal style. He belonged to the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana of Hindustani classical music. He was awarded with almost all the National awards such as the Padma Shri in 1970, Padma Bhushan in 1976, and Padma Vibhushan in 1992.
Geographically, the district has total 4,260 sq. km. area and occupies the ranks 23rd in State and 275th in India. It lies at 15°47' N latitude, 75°00' E longitude and 750 m altitude. In the year 2019, it covered 8.79% forest area of total geographical area. It is bounded by the District of Belgaum on the North, by the district of Gadag on the East, Haveri on the South and by Uttara Kannada district on the West. It has a moderate and healthy climate, moderate to heavy rainfall and dense vegetation. The district has 3 natural regions namely Malnad, Semi-Malnad and Maidan. The region has black soil, suitable for cotton, wheat, oil seeds, etc and red soil is suitable for paddy. The actual rainfall in the district was 790.9 mm in the year of 2018-19.
Administrative wise, the district is divided into 5 sub-districts. Moreover, it has 6 towns and 361 villages. Kannada is its official language. The district of Dharwad came into existence on 1st November, 1956 in the state of Karnataka with an allotted district code of 562. Dharwad is its district Headquarters which is located at a distance of 431 Km. from the State Capital.
Demographically, according to 2011 census, the district has a total number of 3,72,054 households with a total population of 18,47,023 of which 9,37,206 are males and 9,09,817 are females. The density of population of the district is 434 persons per sq km. The sex ratio is pegged at 971 (females per 1000 males) while the child ratio stands at 944 (females per 1000 males). As per 2011 census the percentage of major religions practiced by the people of this region is Hindu at 75.26% and Muslim at 20.94%. According to the 2011 census, the percentage of the principal languages spoken in the region is Kannada at 70.08% and Urdu at 18.40%. The population growth rate during the period 2001 to 2011 was 15.13% out of which 13.85% were males and 16.49% were females. In the year 2017 the number of live births in the district was 40,594 out of which 21,051 were males and 19,543 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 17,578 out of which 10,364 were males and 7,214 were females.
Economically, the district is mainly dependent on agriculture. Hubli in Dharwad is an important trading centre for agriculture produce as well as main industrial centre. It has already more than 1000 allied small and medium industries such as machine tools industries, electrical, steel furniture, food products, rubber and leather industries and tanning industries by Tata Motors Ltd., Tata Marcopolo Motors Ltd, Telco Construction Equipment Company Limited (Telcon), Kirloskar Electrical Co Ltd. Etc. Subsidiary agricultural industries such as the production of puffed rice, beaten rice, and edible oils are also available. There are several cotton spinning and ginning mills. The Gross District Domestic Product during the period 2016-17 was Rs. 27,91,141 lakhs at current Price and Rs. 22,05,230 lakhs at constant prices in the year 2011-2012. The Net District Domestic Product during the period 2016-17 was Rs. 25,58,558 lakh at current price and Rs. 20,03,529 lakh at constant prices in the year 2011-2012. The Per Capita Income or NDDP, at factor cost during the period 2016-17 was Rs. 1,30,403 at current price and Rs. 1,02,114 at constant prices in the year 2011-2012.
Education wise, according to 2011 census, the literacy rate in the district is 80% out of which 86.37% are males and 73.46% are females. The total literate population of the district is 13,01,664 out of which 7,11,776 are males and 5,89,888 are females. Dharwad has many famous high schools, colleges and universities. In 19th century Marathi and English were used in Govt. offices and court of law. But now Kannada language has dominance. Dharwad has Kannada, English, and Urdu medium schools. It has many primary, higher, secondary schools and graduation and post graduation colleges such as JSS Banashankari Arts, Commerce & S.K.Gubbi Science College, Karnatak College, Karnatak Science College, Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences, Karnataka State Law University, Kendriya Vidyalaya No. 1 and Pavan English Medium High School, etc.
The district has many historical and religious places to visit. These places are Hubli, Someshwara Temple, Chandramouleshwara Temple, Dattatreya Temple, Bhavanishankar Temple, Mailarlinga Temple, Durga Devi Temple and Hanuman Temple. During the year 2016, there were 134 foreign tourists from abroad and 19,12,387 domestic tourists who visited the district. Bhavanishankar Temple belongs to Lord Sri Narayana. It was constructed in the Chalukyan period.