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South India Region

Warn and sunny South India, geographically separated by the east-west Vindhya ranges, is distinctly different from North India. Southerners pride themselves on being the orinigal Indians, the indigenous people of this vast country. Their stock has remained pure - unsoiled by the Aryan influences of the invaders who thundered in to India through the mountainpasses in the North.

South India RegionPhysically as well as culturally, the south Indians are different from the people of the Hindi heartland - Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. Most of them are darker and smaller built and they have ebony-black hair and large, lustrous eyes that probably come from their diet of fish, coconut, tamarind and spices.

The women wear the most gorgeous silks and love to flaunt diamonds in their ears and flowers in their hair. The men wear pride their starched 'dhotis' or 'veshtis' - seven metres of cloth worn around their lower torso like a sarong. Dhotis are worn formally at weddings, in State Assemblies as well as informally for lounging around.

The South India is the home of Classical Indian Dance and Carnatic music. Every child is taught music or dance. However, despite their traditional cultural moorings, film songs and Western pop music are altering the taste of the modern youth. South Indian love movies, and real-life heroes and heroines are often transformed into real- life politicians and Chief Minister.

In South India natural beauty and a rich cultural heritage provide a stimulating experience. While in Karnataka and Tamilnadu India's ancient heritage co-exists with the present, Kerala is a kaleidoscope of swaying palm trees, alluring backwaters, emerald paddy fields and golden beaches. In Andhra Pradesh, the Muslim culture of the Nawabs and Sultans has blended with the dominant Hindu culture and is reflected in the cuisines that is sharp and yet different.

Karnataka, India's eighth largest State, is a land of delightful contrasts, a harmonious mix of the modern and traditional. Though predominantly rural and agrarian, producing 85% of India's raw silk and more than half of its coffee, the State is also the largest producer of electronics goods and telecommunications equipment in the country. The nerve centre of India's space programme is located at Hassan in southern Karnataka, and just 50 kms away to the Southeast is the important Jain pilgrims centre Shravanabelagola, the site of the 1000-year old monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali (Goomateswara), towering to a height of 18 metres. Bangalore, the capital city, is famous both as the 'Garden City' as well as the 'Silicon Valley' of India.

Jain Temple, Jain Pilgrims Temple and worship are the dominant characteristics of Tamilnadu. Even the small towns around Chennai, as the capital Madras is called today, are replete with temples- each more famous than the other, and all of them adorned with the finest carvings. The temple complexes are surrounded by high boundary walls, with entrances through lofty 'Gopurams'. Usually embellished with sculptures, these rectangular or pyramid-shaped temple towers could be several stories higth thus dominating the skyline.

According to legend, Pondicherry was the abode of the great Hindu sage Agastya, a seat of Vedic culture and once called Vedapuri. Lying on the South-East coast of India, 162 km South of Chennai, today it is an idyllic land of Yoga and spirituality.

This is the largest of the four States of southern India with an area of over 275,000 sq. k.m. even bigger than the United Kingdom or New Zealand! It is the land of the warm and friendly Andhras, an ancient race whose history goes back to the Mauryan era (circa 200 BC).

Most of the state lies on the ariod Deccan plateau and the land slopes eastwards to meet the Bay of Bengal in a 1000 km coastline. Physically rich in contrasts, like Karnataka its western neighbour, the State has ancient pre- historic rocks in the Southeast, lush green paddy fields in the deltas of the Godavari and Krishna rivers, lakes, waterfalls, low forested hills teeming with wild life, and many pretty beaches.

According to popular legend, Lord Vishnu, the Protector, in his sixth incarnation as Parashuram, was looking for a secluded place to perform penance and threw his axe into the ocean. Thereupon a crescent shaped land rose from the sea - and Kerala, 'God's own country', was born.

Indian States:

» North India - Jammu and Kashmir - Himachal Pradesh - Punjab - Uttaranchal - More...
» West India - Rajasthan - Gujarat - Goa - Maharashtra - Madhya Pradesh - More...
» East India - Sikkim - Assam - West Bengal - Arunachal Pradesh - Orissa - More...
» South India - Karnataka - Andhra Pradesh - Kerala - Tamilnadu - Pondicherry - More...