In regions of water scarcity, mapping individual crops, cropping intensities and irrigation can contribute signifi- cantly to understanding agricultural water use. But such mapping is challenging in landscapes dominated by small-scale traditional agricultural land holdings with high spatial and temporal heterogeneity. Here, we assessed the benefit of using multi-temporal 24 m resolution LISS-III imagery to characterize cropping systems in the Malaprabha basin of southern India. We used hierarchical stacked supervised classification to create three increasingly detailed maps showing: (a) single rainfed paddy rice versus continuously irrigated sugarcane, (b) irrigated versus rainfed areas, and (c) multiple cropping. Although increasing detail was accompanied by decreasing overall accuracies (89 percent, 74.6 percent and 60.1 percent respectively), using multi-temporal imagery out-performed single imagery alone in all cases. Results also led to higher estimates of total (69.8 percent) and irrigated (34.7 percent) cropland than previous single-imagery studies and census data, revealing the high uncertainty in crop estimates in this region.