Jog Falls are the highest plunge waterfalls in India.
South India is the area encompassing India's states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as the union territories of Lakshadweep and Pondicherry, occupying 19.31% of India's area (635780 km or 245476.030 mi ). The region is also known as Dravida as is used in the National anthem.
South India lies in 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 and Kaveri rivers are important non-perennial sources of water.
A majority of Indians from the southern region speak one of the Dravidian languages: Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Tulu, and Kodava. 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 colonised by Britain and gradually incorporated into the British Empire.
After experiencing fluctuations in the decades immediately after Indian independence, the economies of South Indian states have registered higher than national average growth over the past three decades. While South Indian states have improved in some socio-economic metrices, economic disparity, illiteracy and poverty continue to affect the region much like the rest of the country. Agriculture is the single largest contributor to the regional net domestic product, while Information technology is a rapidly growing industry. Literary and architectural styles, evolved over two thousand years, differ from other parts of the country. Politics in South India is dominated by smaller regional political parties rather than by national political parties.
South India ranks the highest in terms of social and economic development in areas such as fertility rate and infrastructure; the fertility rate of South India is 1.9, the lowest of all regions in India.
Apart from the English language terms South India and Peninsular India, southern India has been known by several other historic names. Adi Shankara coined the name Dravida in the 8th century as he called himself Dravida Shishu, meaning a child from South India (see etymology of Dravida). The term Deccan, an Anglicized form of the word "Dakhhin" which is a derived from the word dakshina meaning south, refers only to the area covered by the Deccan Plateau, a volcanic plateau that covers most of peninsular India excluding the coastal areas. The Carnatic is an English term derived from "Karn d" or "Karun d", meaning high country. The terms Karn d and Carnatic have long overgrown particular association with the plateau and refer to all of South India, including the coasts, the western of which is named the Carnatic coast. The name Karn taka is derived from the same root.
Stone carved Lord Ganapati at Dharalingeshwara temple near Atchutapuram of Visakhapatnam Dist in Andhra Pradesh The Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur, in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Carbon dating on ash mounds associated with neolithic cultures in Southern India date back to 8000 BCE. Artefacts such as ground stone axes, and minor copper objects have been found in the region. Towards the beginning of 1000 BCE, iron technology spread through the region; however, there does not appear to be a fully developed Bronze Age preceding the Iron Age in South India. South India was a crossroads of the ancient world, linking the Mediterranean and the Far East. The southern coastline from Karwar to Kodungallur near Kochi was the most important trading shore in the Indian subcontinent resulting in intermingling between locals and traders. The South Indian Malabar Coast and the people of the Sangam age traded with the Graeco-Roman world. They were in contact with the Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Syrians, Jews, and Chinese. Traditionally the South Indian coastline along the Arabian Sea was described as a part of Sapta Konkan referring to the diverse regions along coastal south west India.
There were several significant rulers and dynasties in southern Indian history. Dynasties such as Cheras, Cholas, Pallavas, Pandyas, the Satavahanas of Amaravati, Kadambas of Banavasi, Western Ganga Dynasty, Chalukya dynasty of Badami, Western Chalukyas, Eastern Chalukya, Hoysalas, Kakatiya dynasty, and Rashtrakutas of Manyaketha have ruled over South India.
The late medieval period saw the rise of Muslim power in South India. The defeat of the Kakatiya dynasty of Warangal by Tughlaq forces of the Delhi Sultanate in 1323 CE heralded a new chapter in South Indian history. The struggle of the period was between the Bahmani Sultanate based in Gulbarga (and later, Bidar) and the Vijayanagara Empire with its capital in Vijayanagara in modern Hampi.
With the fall of Vijayanagara and the break-up of the Bahmani sultanate, the Qutb Shahi dynasty of Golconda and Hyderabad became the dominant power in the region. Qutb Shahi dominance of the region continued until the middle of the seventeenth century, when the Mughals under Aurangzeb made determined inroads into the Deccan. Following Aurangzeb s death, Mughal power weakened, and South Indian rulers gained autonomy from Delhi. The Wodeyar kingdom of Mysore, the Asaf Jahis of Hyderabad, and Marathas all gained power.
In the middle of the eighteenth century, the French and the British initiated a protracted struggle for military control of South India. Shifting alliances between the two European powers and the local powers marked the period with mercenary armies being employed by all sides causing general anarchy in South India. As the British consolidated power over much of India in the late 1850s, they allowed the French to retain their possessions over Pondicherry. The four Anglo-Mysore wars and the three Anglo-Maratha Wars saw Mysore, Pune and Hyderabad allying themselves with the British or the French. South India during the British colonial rule was divided into the Madras Presidency, Hyderabad state, Mysore, Thiruvithamcoore (also known as Travancore), Kochi (also known as Cochin or Perumpadapu Swaroopam), Vizianagaram and a number of other minor princely states. British Residents were stationed in the capitals of the important states to supervise and report on the activities of the rulers.
The States Reorganisation Act (1956) created new states (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu) by reorganising parts of British-era Madras State along linguistic lines. Additionally, the enclaves of French India, which were ceded to India in the 1950s, were constituted into the union territory of Pondicherry.
South India is a peninsula in the shape of a vast inverted triangle, bounded on the west by the Arabian Sea, on the east by the Bay of Bengal and on the north by the Vindhya and Satpura ranges. The Narmada flows westwards in the depression between the Vindhya and Satpura ranges. The Satpura ranges define the northern spur of the Deccan plateau. The Western Ghats, along the western coast, mark another boundary of the plateau. The narrow strip of verdant land between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea is the Konkan region. The Western Ghats continue south, forming the Malenadu (Canara) region along the Karnataka coast, and terminate at the Nilgiri mountains, an inward (easterly) extension of the Western Ghats. The Nilgiris run in a crescent approximately along the borders of Tamil Nadu with northern Kerala and Karnataka, encompassing the Palakkad and Wayanad hills, and the Satyamangalam ranges, and extending on to the relatively low-lying hills of the Eastern Ghats, on the western portion of the Tamil Nadu Andhra Pradesh border. The Tirupati and Annamalai hills form part of this range. The low lying coral islands of Lakshadweep are off the south-western coast of India. Sri Lanka lies off the south-eastern coast, separated from India by the Palk Strait and the chain of low sandbars and islands known as Rama's Bridge. The Andaman and Nicobar islands lie far off the eastern coast of India, near the Tenasserim coast of Burma. The southernmost tip of mainland India is at Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin) on the Indian Ocean.
The Deccan plateau is the vast elevated region bound by the C-shape defined by all these mountain ranges. No major elevations border the plateau to the east, and it slopes gently from the Western Ghats to the eastern coast. The plateau is watered by the east flowing Godavari and Krishna rivers. The other major rivers of the Deccan plateau are the Pennar and the Tungabhadra, a major tributary of the Krishna. Vaigai and Thamirabarani River are major rivers which emerge from the southern part of the Western ghats, flow eastward and empty into the Bay of Bengal. The three major river deltas of South India, the Kaveri, the Godavari and the Krishna, are located along the Bay of Bengal. These major rivers provided irrigation to much of the land which provided food grain to Southern India. In particular the coastal detla regions traditionally constituted the rice bowls of South India.
The region has a very tropical climate with the monsoons playing a major part. The South West Monsoon accounts for most of the rainfall in the region and much of it falls from about June to October. The south-west monsoon starts from Kerala during June and moves up towards the northern parts of India. Tamil Nadu and southeast Andhra Pradesh receive rains from the North East Monsoon from about November to February. Much of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka has a distinct dry season from about October May when there is not much rainfall. This region also experiences cooler nights from October to March while the days are pleasantly warm. In the northern parts of the region temperatures can fall below 10 degrees Celsius on occasions at night during this time. Days are very hot from March to June when temps can go over 40 degrees. The southern coastal region has an average minimum temperature of 20 degrees and maximum of 35 degrees.
Flora and fauna
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-Srisailam Tiger Reserve. 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.
Other protected ecological sites include the backwaters like the Pulicat Lake in Andhra Pradesh, Pitchavarum in Tamil Nadu and the famed backwaters of Kerala formed by the Vembanad Lake, the Ashtamudi 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..
South India consists of the four southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as the union territories of Pondicherry and the Lakshadweep archipelago. Together with Pondicherry, each South Indian state has an elected state government, while the Lakshadweep islands are centrally administered by the President of India. The modern states of South India were created as a result of the States Reorganisation Act (1956), which established states and union territories based on linguistic boundaries. As a result of this act:
Map of South Indian states prior to the States Reorganisation Act (1956).
Each subregion is further divided into districts; the region of South India has over 100 districts. Each state is headed by a Governor, who is a direct appointee of the President of India, while the Chief Minister is the elected head of the state government and represents the states ruling party or coalition (the role of the Governor is largely ceremonial).
The estimated population of South India is 233 million. The largest linguistic groups in South India include the Telugus, Tamils, Kannadigas, Malayalis, Tuluvas and Kodavas. About 83% of South Indians follow Hinduism. Islam has the second-highest number of followers in the region, with 11%, while 5% follow Christianity.
The average literacy rate of South India is approximately 73%, considerably higher than the Indian national average of 60%. Kerala leads the nation with a literacy rate of 92%. The sex ratio in South India is fairly equable at 997; Kerala is the only state in India with a favourable sex ratio. The population density of the region is approximately 463. Scheduled Castes and Tribes form 18% of the population of the region. Agriculture is the major employer in the region 47.5% of the population is involved in agrarian activities. About 60% of the population lives in permanent housing structures. 67.8% of South India has access to tap water. Wells and springs are other major forms of water supply.
The languages of South India are the Dravidian represented by Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu, besides Gondi and other minor dialects, and the Austro-Asiatic by the Munda languages. South India's predominant language family is Dravidian, a family of approximately seventy-three languages spoken in South Asia. The States Reorganisation Act of 1956 divided states in India along linguistic lines and led to the creation of separate states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in areas where Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil respectively were dominant.
Tamil was the first language to be accorded the status of classical language by the Government of India in 2002 and has about 60 million native speakersin India and over 10 million in other countries. In the 2001 Census, Telugu had the third largest base of native speakers in India (74 million), after Hindi and Bengali and was awarded the status of classical language in 2008. Kannada with 38 million speakers was also awarded the status of classical language in 2008, while Malayalam has 33 million native speakers. Each of these languages is listed as an official language of India, per the Official Languages Act (1963).
Urdu is spoken by over half of the 25 million Muslims in southern India. South Indian Muslims in some regions of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka speak a dialect of Urdu called Dakhni, while some in the Dakshina Kannada region of Karnataka and regions in Kerala speak Beary bashe. Both Dakhni and Beary bashe are influenced by other South Indian languages. Tulu, a Dravidian language prevalent in coastal Kerala and Karnataka, is spoken by about 1.5 million people in the region, while Konkani, an Indo-Aryan language, is spoken by over half a million people in the region. English is also widely spoken in urban areas of South India.
India's economy after independence in 1947 conformed to a socialist framework, with strict governmental control over private sector participation, foreign trade and foreign direct investment (FDI). Through 1960 1990, South Indian economies experienced mixed economic growth. In the 1960s, Kerala achieved above average economic growth, while Andhra Pradesh's economy declined during this period. Similarly, Kerala experienced economic decline in the 1970s while the economies of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka consistently exceeded national average growth rates after 1970. Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka were noted by some to be more reform-oriented in terms of economic policy when compared to other Indian states.
|Economic and demographic indicators
|Per capita net state domestic product (SDP)
|Percentage share in total FDI approved (1993 2003)
|Average annual growth of SDP
|Percentage of population below poverty line
|Percentage of urban population
|Percentage of households with electricity
Over 48% of South India's population is engaged in agriculture, which is largely dependent on seasonal monsoons Some of the main crops cultivated in South India include paddy, sorghum, pearl millet, pulses, sugarcane, cotton, chilli, and ragi. Areca, coffee, tea, vanilla, rubber, pepper, tapioca, and cardamom are cultivated on the hills, while coconut grows in abundance in coastal areas. Andhra Pradesh is the largest producer of rice in India, while Karnataka produces 70% of India's coffee. Frequent droughts in northern Karnataka, Rayalaseema and Telangana have left farmers debt-ridden, forcing them to sell their livestock and sometimes even to commit suicide. The region also suffers from water scarcity, especially during summer. Since the liberalisation of the Indian economy, South India has seen a decrease in revenue from agriculture and agriculture related services.
Traditionally, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been home to large, public sector industries (referred to as Public Sector Undertakings, or PSUs), with both states posting above average growth rates in this sector following economic liberalisation. Chennai, the Detroit of South Asia, accounts for about 35% of India's overall automotive components while the registered headquarters of 39% of all Central PSUs in South India are located in Karnataka and 25% each in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Additionally, the growth of information technology (IT) hubs in the region have spurred economic growth and attracted foreign investments and job seekers from other parts of the country. Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, the IT hubs of India are home to software giants. In fiscal 2006 2007, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka attracted the third and fourth highest total FDI approvals in India, respectively, totalling to over  Software exports from South India grossed over in fiscal 2005 06.
Politics in South India is dominated by a mix of regional parties and larger national political parties like the Indian National Congress (INC), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)). With the exclusion of Karnataka, each state has at least two parties dominating politics in that state.
Pre-independence politics in the Madras Presidency was dominated by the Justice Party and the Indian National Congress. Periyar Ramasami who started the Dravidian movement was elected leader of the Justice Party in 1938 and in 1944 renamed it to Dravidar Kazhagam, with its initial aim being the secession of Dravida Nadu from the rest of India on independence. Following independence, Periyar strongly believed that the party should not participate in elections in the newly created India, something his closest followers disagreed with. In 1948, C. N. Annadurai, a follower of Periyar and a Joint Secretary of Dravidar Kazhagam parted ways with Periyar to form the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam political party. INC's political influence over Tamil Nadu gave way to the rise of the DMK which formed its first government in 1968 and again in 1978. The following year, a split in the DMK resulted in the formation of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), led by M. G. Ramachandran. Together, the AIADMK and the DMK currently command a 60% share in Tamil Nadu state elections.
The main facets of state politics in Tamil Nadu included language the distinction between Tamil and non-Tamil speakers was an important tool used by the DMK in the 1960s and caste such as the Self-Respect Movement. The imposition of Hindi on non-Hindi speaking areas of India has often been a contentious issue in Tamil Nadu. In January February 1965, large scale anti-Hindi agitations, a cause championed by the DMK, occurred in Tamil Nadu.
In 1982, the establishment of the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh by former Telugu actor Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (NTR) broke the dominance of the INC in Andhra Pradesh politics. NTR successfully challenged the INC's supremacy in the state and his party was voted into power a total of four times. In 1996, a year after winning the state assembly election by a landslide, a dispute between NTR, his wife Lakshmi Parvati and his immediate family resulted in a split in the TDP. Concerned over undue influence over NTR and his policies, the bulk of the party favoured the family under the leadership of NTR's son-in-law, N Chandrababu Naidu, who later became Chief Minister of the state. Naidu was regarded as a visionary who promoted the growth of information technology in the state. At present, INC and TDP are the major political contenders in the state.
The Janata Dal has been far more successful in Karnataka than it has been in national politics. National political parties such as the BJP and INC have experienced more comparative success in Karnataka than they have in other states of South India. Karnataka's political environment is dominated by two rival caste groups the Vokkaligas and the Lingayats.
Kerala hosts two major political alliances: the United Democratic Front (UDF, led by the Indian National Congress) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist)). Kerala numbers among India's most left-wing states. An interesting phenomenon of Kerala politics is the alternate election of Congress and the Communists to power.
Culture and heritage
Rock-cut Lord --Buddha-- Statue at Bojjanakonda near Anakapalle of Visakhapatnam, 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.
couple c. 1945
; the wife is wearing a madisaru sari
Rice is the staple diet, while fish is an integral component of coastal South Indian meals. Coconut is an important ingredient in Kerala whereas Andhra Pradesh cuisine is characterised by pickles and spicy curries. Hyderabadi cuisine a legacy of the past, is popular for its Biryani. Dosa, Idli, Uttapam are popular throughout the region. There are large coffee estates in southern Karnataka and parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
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, Malayalam cinema and Kannada cinema. South India is home to several distinct dance forms the Koodiyattam, Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Vilasini Natyam, Kathakali, Yakshagana, Theyyam, Ottamthullal, Oppana, Kerala Natanam and Mohiniaattam.
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 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 who 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.
References and bibliography
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