Murthy, who was admitted to a private hospital last week for treatment of infection and fever, was put on multi-support system, as his condition turned critical earlier in the day, hospital sources said.
“As his condition worsened, we had to put him on life-support systems, including dialysis, but he could not recover due to renal failure,” a Manipal Hospital spokesman told reporters later.
Ananthamurthy leaves behind his wife Esther and a son (Sharat) and a daughter (Anuradha).
The state government declared a three-day mourning and declared holiday for schools and colleges Saturday across the state as a mark of respect to Murthy.
Born Dec 22, 1932 near Thirthahalli in Shimoga district of Malnad region, about 300km from Bangalore, Ananthamurthy was the sixth recipient of the country’s highest literary honour – Jnanpith award – in Kannada, the state’s native language, in 1994.
In recognition of his outstanding literary contributions, the Indian government also honoured him with Padma Bhushan in 1998.
The bearded Ananthamurthy was also one of the finalists for the British Man Booker International Prize in 2013.
Ananthamurthy’s works were translated into several Indian and European languages. His main works include “Samskara”,”Bhava”, “Bharathi Pura”, and “Avasthe”.
He also wrote several short stories besides a number of novels, some of which were made into Kannada movies.
Beginning his illustrious career as a English professor at Mysore University in the state’s cultural capital, during the early 1970s, he went on to become vice-chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University at Kottayam in Kerala from 1987 to 1991.
Ananthamurthy also taught at many Indian and overseas universities, including Jawaharlal Nehru University and University of Iowa in the US.
The novelist was elected president of Sahitya Academy in 1993 and served as chairman of National Book Trust in 1992. He was also twice chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India at Pune.
Ananthamurthy also tried to enter Parliament through Lok Sabha in the 2004 general elections and Rajya Sabha in the 2006 biennial elections from the state though he was unlucky both time as he was defeated.
In his last official post, Murthy was the first chancellor of Central University of Karnataka at Gulbarga in the state’s northern region.
Controversies dogged Murthy till recently, as he had threatened to go to Pakistan if Narendra Modi became the country’s prime minister though he denied it later, saying he was misquoted by the media.
Condoling the death, Prime Minister Modi said: “U.R Ananthamurthy’s demise is a loss to Kannada literature. My condolences to his family. May his soul rest in peace.”
Chief Minister Siddaramahaiah mourned Ananthamurthy’s death.
The state government will decide Saturday, in consultation with the family, the place and time for the last rites with full state honours.
The national flag on all government buildings across the state will be flown half mast during the mourning period till Sunday.
“There will be no celebrations and entertainment programmes during the mourning period,” the state government said in a statement.