Hassan is a city and the district headquarters of Hassan district. It is named after the Hasanamba temple. Hassan is 183 kilometres from Bengaluru, 119 kilometres from Mysuru, and 171 kilometres from Mangaluru by road.
The district is surrounded by Chikmagalur District to the north west, Chitradurga District to the north, Tumkur District to the east, Mandya District to the south east, Mysore to the south, Kodagu District to the south west and Dakshina Kannada district to the west.
The district has had an eventful and rich history. In the past, it reached the height of its glory during the rule of the Hoysalas who had their capital at Dwarasamudra, the modern Halebeed in Belur Taluk. The district, noted for its enchanting natural scenic beauty is also a veritable treasure-house of Hoysala architecture and sculpture, the best specimens of which are at Belur and Halebeed. Shravanabelagola, in Channarayapatna taluk, which is studded with Jain moduments, is a renowned centre of pilgrimage for the jains.
The popular belief is that the place is called Hassan after the goddess Hassan-amma or Hasanamba, the presiding deity of the local Hasanamba temple situated in the old town area. Hasanamma or Hasanamba means,, a smiling mother or goddess. The history of Hassan district is essentially the history of two of the well-known dynasties that have ruled Karnataka, the Western Ganga Dynasty of Talkad (350 - 999 CE) and the Hoysala Empire (1000 - 1334 CE).
It is also a major business hub in the state after Bengaluru, Mangaluru and Hubbali.
Most of the district lies in the watershed of the Hemavathi River, a tributary of the Kaveri River. The general level of Hassan district slopes with the course of the Hemavati, from the peaks of the Western Ghats downwards to the southeast. The Bisle Ghat, or Bisale Ghat, is a portion of the Western Ghats range in the western part of the district.
Hassan assembly constituency is a JDS stronghold. HS Prakash of JDS has been winning Hassan assembly constituency since 2004. In 2013 Karnataka assembly elections, Prakash defeated H.K. Mahesh of Congress by 4,196 votes.