Yakshagana is a kind of literature which in the course of history has assumed the theatrical form where the Yakshagna literature is played as a dance drama. Primarily, this is a semi-classical theatrical art form nurtured and developed by rural intellectuals in Uttara Kannada and Dakshina Kannada Districts of Karnataka State. For more than four centuries Yakshagana has entertained and instructed the rural audience of almost the entire Karnataka and beyond. Though Yakshagana is prevailing in different forms in different parts of Karnataka, due to gross neglect by the cultural mainstream some forms of it are almost extinct in some parts whereas it is still prevailing in some other parts of the state with its everlasting glory. Now Yakshagana of Karnataka is considered to be the Yakshagana of costal Karnataka and of some parts of Malenad Region.
Yakshagana of Costal Karnataka is academically recognized as Paduvalapaya Yakshagana. This Paduvalapaya Yakshagana - Yakshagana of the Western Karnataka, can be divided mainly into two parts: Badagu Tittu and Tenku Tittu. These Badagu and Tenku Tittu Yakshaganas are the offshoots of the same Yakshagana with some superficious differences in music, costume and total presentation only. Territorially Badagu Tittu Yakshagana is popular in Uttara Kannada, Udupi and Shivmoga District which lie on the Northern Part of the costal belt of Karnataka. On the other hand, Tenku Tittu is predominantly popular in Dakshina Kannada District and in the northern part of Kasargodu District of Kerala State.
Though in olden days, before the advent of professional drama theatres in South India, the major traditional theatre of Kannada Heritage was Yakshagana in as much as it is in Yakshagana alone that the musical, literary, artistic tradition of Karnataka bloomed out of Kannada Culture is even today represented on the stage vibrantly. History has also acknowledged this fact indirectly as it is true that historians of Marathi Theatre have admitted that it is the influence of stage performance of Yakshagana rendered by one Karki Troupe of Yakshagana some two hundred years ago which inspired the Maharastrians to create and develop their own epic dramas on the same footings of Yakshagana of Karnataka. One Vishnu Panth Bhave, then Divan of Sangli is said to have invited this Karki troupe to Sangli for performing Yakshagana before the then Maharaja of Sangli. The Yakshagana performance in the crowded court of the Maharaja was so impressive that Vishnu Panth Bhave then and there decided to set up a similar theatre in Maharastra which ultimately developed into Marathi Theatre. Thus long ago, Yakshagana was a most popular traditional theatre of Karnataka having culturally representative status even outside Karnataka.
Despite its cultural importance, right from the ancient days Yakshagana is being supported mainly by the laymen and temple administrations in some parts. There is little evidence to prove the fact that Yakshagana was supported by the local Kings of olden days unlike other classical music and dance forms. This fact itself may answer the question as to why the laymen even today love this art form from the bottom of their hart.