South India is the area encompassing India’s states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala as well as the union territories of Lakshadweep and Puducherry, occupying 19.31% of India’s area (635,780 km2 or 245,480 sq mi).
South India includes the southern part of the peninsular Deccan Plateau and is bounded by the Arabian Sea in the west, the Indian Ocean in the south and the Bay of Bengal in the east. The geography of the region is diverse, encompassing two mountain ranges, the Western and Eastern Ghats, and a plateau heartland. The Godavari, Krishna, Tungabhadra, Kaveri, and Vaigai rivers are important non-perennial sources of water. Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Coimbatore, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram are the largest and most industrialized cities in the region.
A majority of Indians from the southern region speak one of the following languages: Telugu,Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, and Tulu . During its history, a number of dynastic kingdoms ruled over parts of South India whose invasions across southern and southeastern Asia impacted the history and cultures of modern sovereign states such as Sri Lanka, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. The region was colonized by Britain and gradually incorporated into the British Empire. South India, particularly Kerala, has been a major entry point of the religions of Christianity and later Islam to the Indian Subcontinent.
Flora and Fauna
Pelican at Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
There is a wide diversity of plants and animals in South India, resulting from its varied climates and geography. Deciduous forests are found along the Western Ghats while tropical dry forests and scrub lands Deccan thorn scrub forests are common in the interior Deccan plateau. The southern Western Ghats have high altitude rain forests called the South Western Ghats montane rain forests. The Malabar Coast moist forests are found on the coastal plains. The Western Ghats itself is a biodiversity hotspot.
Some of India’s famous protected areas are found in South India. These include Project Tiger reserves Periyar National Park, Kalakad – Mundanthurai and Nagarjunsagar Wildlife Sanctuary. Important ecological regions of South India are the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, located at the conjunction of the borders of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the Nilgiri Hills including Mudumalai National Park, Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole National Park Silent Valley National Park, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and Nugu Wildlife Sanctuary and the Anamalai Hills including the Eravikulam National Park, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary and the adjacentThe Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park of the Western Ghats. Important bird sanctuaries including Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Neelapattu Sanctuary and Pulicat Sanctuary are home to numerous migratory and local birds.
Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus) in Telangana
Other protected ecological sites include the backwaters like the Pulicat Lake in Andhra Pradesh, Pichavaram in Tamil Nadu and the famed backwaters of Kerala formed by the Vembanad Lake, the Ashtamudi Lake, the Paravur Lake and the Kayamkulam Lake.
Banana, Musaparadisiaca and Moringa oleifera are found extensively in Lakshadweep while coconut plantations provide economic support to the islands. Lashadweep has been declared a bird sanctuary by the Wildlife Institute of India.Crabs, chiefly hermit crabs, parrot fish and butterfly fish are also found on the islands.
Utsav Rock Garden is a sculptural Garden located near NH-4 Pune-Bangalore road,Gotagodi Village,Shiggaon Taluk, Haveri District, Karnataka. Utsav Rock Garden is an sculptural garden representing contemporary art and rural culture.
Kanakadurga Varadhi across the river Krishna connecting Vijayawada and Guntur
The State run bus services of South India are among the best in entire India. The combined bus fleet of all the 6 states of South India comes to nearly 73,260 buses.The state wise break up is as follows 1.Karnataka-17310, 2.Andhra Pradesh-22500 (includes Telangana- 9310), 3.Tamil Nadu-22100, 4.Kerala-6145, 5.Goa-415, 6.Pondicherry (now Puducherry)-105. Nearly all the cities have their own local city buses.
Culture and heritage
Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, a famous temple in Thirupathi, Andhra Pradesh
According to some experts, the weltanschauung of South Indians is essentially the celebration of the eternal universe through the celebration of the beauty of the body, and motherhood, which is exemplified through their dance, clothing, and sculptures. South Indian women traditionally wear the Saree while the men wear either a white pancha or a colourful lungi with typical batik patterns.
Mallikarjuna temple and Kashi Vishwanatha temple at Pattadakal, Karnataka, built successively by the kings of the Chalukya Empire and Rashtrakuta Empire
Palaiya Jumma Palli, Keezhakarai, the first mosque in India
Vallarpadam Church, a 17th-century church in Ernakulam
Rice is the staple diet, while fish is an integral component of coastal South Indian meals. Coconut is an important ingredient in Kerala whereas Tamil Nadu is famous for its deep belief that serving food to others is a service to humanity, as it is common in many regions of India. The region has a rich cuisine involving both traditional non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes. It is characterized by the use of rice, legumes and lentils. Its distinct aroma and flavour is achieved by the blending of flavourings and spices including curry leaves, mustard seeds, coriander, ginger, garlic, chili, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom, cumin, nutmeg, coconut and rosewater. Veg Mini Meals in Tamil Nadu served with Sambar rice,Tamarind rice, Curd rice, Sweet Pongal,Chappathi with gravy and chips. Rice and legumes play an significant role in Tamil cuisine. Lentils are also consumed extensively, either accompanying rice preparations, or in the form of independent dishes. Vegetables and dairy products are essential accompaniments, and tamarind rather than amchoor is the favoured souring agent. Rice is the chief staple as with the rest of South India.
On special occasions, traditional Tamil dishes are prepared in almost the same way as they were centuries ago—preparations that call for elaborate and leisurely cooking, and served in traditional style and ambience. The traditional way of eating a meal involves being seated on the floor, having the food served on a banana leaf, and using clean fingers of the right hand to transfer the food to the mouth. After the meal, the fingers are washed, and the banana leaf becomes food for cows. A typical Tamilian would eat Idly/Dosai/uthappam etc. for breakfast and rice accompanied by lentil preparations Sambar, Rasam and curd for lunch. Andhra Pradesh cuisine is characterised by pickles and spicy curries. Hyderabadi cuisine a legacy of the past, is popular for its Biryani.
The traditional music of South India is known as Carnatic music, which includes rhythmic and structured music by composers like Purandara Dasa, Kanaka Dasa, Tyagayya, Annamacharya, Bhakta Ramadasu, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Shyama Shastri, Kshetrayya, Subbaraya Shastri, Mysore Vasudevachar and Swathi Thirunal. The contemporary singer Dr. K. J. Yesudas is a cultural ambassador of Carnatic music.Thiruvarur Bakthavathsalam is a cultural ambassador of carnatic instrumentals. The motion picture industry has emerged as an important platform in South India, over the years portraying the cultural changes, trends, aspirations and developments experienced by its people. Some movie classics like Nammukku paarkkaan munthiri thoppukal (1986) by Padmarajan, Adi Shankara (1984) by director G V Iyer, and Perumthachan (1990) by Ajayan have gained worldwide acclaim. When it comes to cinema, due to the difference in languages compared to northern India, Bollywood does not have much of an audience in the region. Rather films in the language native to each state are dominant, this includes Tamil cinema, Telugu cinema, Kannada cinema and Malayalam cinema. South India is home to several distinct dance forms – the Koodiyattam, Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Vilasini Natyam, Kathakali, Yakshagana, Theyyam, Ottamthullal, Margamkali, Oppana, Kerala Natanam and Mohiniaattam.
The earliest epigraphic record of the Telugu language dates to the late 6th century CE. However, there have been proposals of traces of Telugu recorded before that date. Some Telugu words appear in the Maharashtri Prakrit anthology of poems (the Gatha Saptashati) collected by the 1st century BCE Satavahana King Hāla.
South India has an independent literary tradition going back over 2500 years. The first known literature of South India are the poetic Sangams, which were written in Tamil between 2500 to 2100 years ago. These include the oldest South Indian epics of Silappatikaram and Manimekalai written in Tamil. Tamil Buddhist commentators of the tenth century CE Nemrinatham make references to Kannada literature of the fourth century CE. Distinct Malayalam and Telugu literary traditions developed in the following centuries.
South India has two distinct styles of rock architecture, the pure dravida (Tamil) style of Tamil Nadu and the Vesara style (also called Karnata dravida style) present in Karnataka. The inspirational temple sculptures of Srirangam, Chidambaram, Kanchipuram, Mahabalipuram, Thiruvannamalai, Tanjore, Madurai, Rameswaram, Sri Kalahasti, Tirupati, Hampi, Badami, Bhattiprolu, Simhachalam, Pattadakal, Aihole, Belur, Halebidu, Lakkundi, Shravanabelagola, and the mural paintings of Travancore and Lepakshi temples, also stand as a testament to South Indian culture. The paintings of Raja Ravi Varma are considered classic renditions of many a scenes of South Indian life and mythology. The temple at Srirangam is the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world, while Rameswaram is considered as one of the holiest temple in India.
The main spiritual traditions of South India include both Shaivite and Vaishnavite branches of Hinduism, although Buddhist and Jain philosophies had been influential several centuries earlier. Shravanabelagola in Karnataka is a popular pilgrimage center for Jains. Ayyavazhi is spread significantly across the southern parts of South India. Its followers are more densely populated in South Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
There is a large Muslim community in South India, particularly in the Malabar Coast, which can trace its roots to the ancient maritime trade between Kerala and Omanis and other Arabs. The Muslims in Kerala of Arab descent are called Jonaka Mappila.
Christianity has flourished in coastal South India from the times of St. Thomas the Apostle who came to Kerala in 52 and established the Syrian Christian tradition today called as Saint Thomas Christians or Nasrani Mappila. Kerala is also home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. They are supposed to have arrived in the Malabar coast during the time of King Solomon. The Jews from Kerala are called Yuda Mappila or Cochin Jews. The oldest surviving Jewish synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations is the Paradesi Synagogue in Kochi, Kerala. The cities of South India are home to the Anglo-Indian community, the Eurasian descendants of the Europeans – Portuguese, Dutch, British, Danish and French – who had acquired territory in peninsular India.