Tucked in the Peninsular Deccan Plateau and bordered by the Arabian Sea in the East, Bay of Bengal in the West and Indian Ocean to the south, South India takes up nearly 19% area of the country comprising of the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and the verdant green union territories of Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Andaman & Nicobar Island. Dotted with pristine rivers, tinsel towns, enchanting backwaters, palm fringed beaches, historical ruins and glossy meadows, the region also houses the Eastern and the Western Ghats. Sprawling over a whopping 635,780 sq km area, the region is diverse in geography, wildlife, culture, cuisines, trade and traditions. With an expansive miscellany of exotic flora adn fauna, the region has several national parks, sanctuaries and protected areas to conserve the rich wildlife.
With a multihued culture, brimming with diversity and vibrancy, each state of South India has managed to retain its individuality and stands apart from the rest of the country. It has got Bangalore which is the IT hub of the country at the same time it also has Ooty, the most loved hill station by one and all. To explore the history and heritage, you can head to Hampi or Badami in Karnataka and to chill on the charming beaches of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Kerala is also known to be the state designed by God’s own hands for its alluring beauty, ravishing backwaters and houseboat cruises. Puducherry still remains the French colony of India with its dainty houses, winding roads, and an essential French flavor. Tamil Nadu, on the other hand has a plethora of temples, shrines and places of pilgrimage frequented by thousands of devotees every year. The region also enjoys a distinctive delicious cuisine of dosas, idlis and sambar. Coconut is a special ingredient in almost all its dishes. It is also known for its delicious chutneys, sweet dishes and mutton delicacies. Not to forget, the region also has the three popular dance forms- Bharatnatyam, Kuchpudi and Kathakali to add to its list of diverse culture. A symphony of paddy fields, plantations, evergreen forests and heritage zones, the area can lure any one and every one with its artistic charm, vantage points and the sprinkled cosmopolitan culture.
South India- History at a Glance
South India boasts of a rich history being ruled by several prominent dynasties like the Cheras of Karuvur, the Chalukyas of Badami, the Cholas of Thanjavur, Kakatiyas of Orugallu. the Satavahanas of Amaravati, the Pallavas of Kanchi, the Pandyas of Madurai, the Western Gangas of Kolar, the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta, the Hoysalas of Belur and the the Kadambas of Banavasi from the 6th century BC to the 14th century AD. The region was an important trade route between the Mediterranean and East Asia, which extended from Muziris to Arikamedu. A lot of trade and commerce was carried on between India and Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Jews, Syrians, Greeks and Chinese. Towards the beginning of 1000 BCE, the region was flourishing in iron technology; artefacts relating to the same have been discovered which include ground stone objects and minor copper articles. Carbon dating on ash mounds have also been detected from the Neolithic cultures of 8000 BCE.
South India- Diverse Geography and Climate
The peninsular region in the shape of an inverted triangle is bounded by the Arabian Sea on the West, Bay of Bengal on the East and Indian Ocean in the south. In the north it is guarded by the Vindhayas and the Satpura ranges. Eastern and Western Ghats run parallel to the two coasts and almost converge at the bottom at the Nilgiri Ranges in the form of a crescent moon in the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The area between Western Ghats and Arabian Sea is called the Konkan region and its counterpart between the Eastern Ghats and Bay of Bengal is called the Coromandel region. The famous Palk Strait separates the country from Sri lanka. It also boasts of Lakshadweep- the coral islands. The Deccan Plateau is the elevated triangle in the centre of the region in the shape of a downward pointing triangle. The peninsula is fed and watered by several fresh water river- Godavari, Kaveri, Krishna, Vaigai etc.
The region also receives a variety of climates. South-western areas of Malabar coast, southern Western Ghats, Lakshadweep Islands, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands experience tropical climate and depends on monsoon. It has a moderate to high temperature round the year with heavy downpour rainfall showers. The inland peninsular regions is predominated by a wet and dry tropical climate which is drier than the tropical climate. Summers are extremely hot in the lower areas and both summer season and early winters are exceedingly dry with very little rainfall. The eastern Western Ghats and Cardamom Hills experience a hot semi-arid climate with hot summer and dry winters. The region received very little rains.
South India- Flora and Fauna
Resulting from the diverse topography and varied climatic conditions, South India is home to a plenteous wildlife, flora fauna and avifauna species. Besides, it has a miscellany of forest types- deciduous forests along Western Ghats, tropical dry forests and scrub lands in the internal Deccan Plateau, South Western Ghats montane rain forests and the Malabar Coast moist forests in the Coastal Plains. The zone is home to a vast variety of exotoc plants, animals and birds. Western Ghats is the one of the eight hottest biodiversity spot and a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lakshadweep has also been declared as a bird sanctuary zone by the Wildlife Institute of India. It boasts of housing the one-third tiger population and half the elephant population of the country. For the same reason, it is home to 14 Project Tiger reserves and 11 Project Elephant reserves besides the several bird sanctuaries, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.
South India - Culture and Heritage
Known for its elaborate festivals, mouth-watering cuisine, colourful distinctive costumes and detailed art forms and handicrafts, South India takes pride in being a land of a vibrant and rich cultural heritage. The richness of the region is encapsulated in its sheer gorgeousness, beguiling locales, ravishing beaches, pristine waterfalls, and enchanting heritage monuments. The traditional costumes of the place are sarees for women and dhoti for men. The opulent culture is also reflected in the sumptuous motley of cuisines that the place offers. Rice is the staple food of the diet along with coastal and seafood. Coconut is an important inclusion to most of the dishes. The cuisines have an essential addition of mustard seeds, curry leaves, coriander, ginger, garlic, cloves, cumin, nutmeg and rosewater. The traditional method of eating involves eating on a banana leaf with bare hands which has been followed for at least a thousand years now.
Boasting of rich art forms, the region takes pride in introducing three incredible dance forms to the world- Kuchipudi, Kathakali and Bharatanatyam, besides several other distinct dancing forms. People are generally very fond of Carnatic music, which is also played in the temples. The region has produced several eminent musicians including Purandaradasa, Kanaka Dasa, Tyagayya, Annamacharya, Bhakta Ramadasu, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Shyama Shastri etc. In addition to that, the region even has distinctive regional cinemas including Kannada Cinema, Tamil Cinema, Telugu Cinema, and Malayalam Cinema. It also boasts of prominent works on poetry and prose. Besides, the tall towering monuments reflect striking architecture and alluring patterns. South India has individualistic rock architecture type- Dravidian Style of Tamil Nadu and Vesara style of Karnataka. The temples are generally guarded by a gopuram and the central dome is topped by kalasam. All in all, the region is delight to visit and explore.