Andhra Pradesh State General Information
Languages: Telugu and Urdu
Introduction to Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh is recognized variously for its legendary dynasties, temples, beautiful language - Telugu, lacquer toys and beautiful weaves, rich literature and the vibrant Kuchipudi. Andhra Pradesh has often been called the “food bowl of the south.”
There are ruins, palaces, museums, and ports apart from the sacred Tirupati, where one can leave one’s prayers to be answered.
Andhra Pradesh has a wide variety of wildlife and natural beauty. As one travels in the state, one can find diverse landscapes, from a lush coastal area to a dry deciduous forest to a mangrove belt.
The state is home to India's largest tiger reserve, in the Nallamai forest.
The Godavari river delta is famous for reptiles like the salt-water crocodile, fishing cats and other exotic animals.
India's largest pelican refuge at Kolleru Lake, which is also a haven for migrating birds, is an important tourist site.
Geography of Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh is located in south India, bounded by Tamil Nadu in the south, Maharashtra in the north and northwest, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa in the northeast, Karnataka in the west, and by the Bay of Bengal in the east.
It is situated on the Deccan plateau and is one of the oldest geological formations of the country.
The Godavari and Krishna rivers cut through the state, forming large deltas before joining the Bay of Bengal.
The Tungabhadra, an important tributary of the Krishna, is yet another important river of the state.
The state can be divided into three important regions - the coastal region, comprising of nine districts, generally called Andhra; the interior region, consisting of four districts collectively known as Rayalseema; and the Telengana region, consisting of the capital Hyderabad and nine adjoining districts.
Brief History of Andhra Pradesh
Andra Pradesh’s earliest appearance in history is found in Aitareya Brahmana (800 BC) as Dakshina Padh.
Andhras, Pulindas, Sabaras, and many other sects lived in Dakshina Padh. In the Mauryan age, the Andhras were a political power in the Deccan. Megasthenes, who visited the court of Chandragupta Maurya (322-297 BC), mentioned that the Andhra country had 30 fortified towns and an army of 1,00,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry and 1,000 elephants.
The Buddhist religious books reveal that Andhras established their kingdoms on the Godavari belt at that time. Even Ashoka referred in his 13th rock edict that the Andhras were his subordinates. The flourishing Satvahana Empire, which followed the Mauryas, covered the entire Deccan plateau by the 1st century AD. From the seventh to the 10th centuries, the Chalukyas ruled the state. This was followed by the rule of the Cholas, Kakatiyas, and the powerful Vijayanagar Empire. By the 16th century, the Qutab Shahi dynasty established its firm foothold in and around Hyderabad.
The Nizams, as the rulers of Hyderabad were called, maintained their rule, even during the advent of the French and British.
Andhra Pradesh was constituted as a separate state on October 1, 1953, comprising the 11 districts of the erstwhile Madras state, and made Kurnool the capital. By November 1, 1956, the Nizam’s state of Hyderabad was amalgamated to the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Government of Andhra Pradesh
Dr. Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy, popularly known as Y.S.R., is the current Chief Minister of the Andhra Pradesh.
Dr. Reddy belongs to the Indian National Congress party and was elected to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly from the Pulivendula Assembly Constituency of Cuddapah District. He has been Chief Minister since May 14, 2004. He served as the leader of the Opposition in the House for the previous term during which N. Chandrababu Naidu was the Chief Minister.
Districts of Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh has 23 districts: Adilabad, Ananthapur, Chittoor, Cuddapah, East Godavari, Guntur, Hyderabad, Karimnagar, Khammam, Krishna, Kurnool, Mahaboobnagar, Medak, Nalgonda, Nellore, Prakasam, Nizamabad, Rangareddy, Srikakulam, Vishakapatnam, Vizingaram, Warangal and West Godavari
Economy of Andhra Pradesh
Accounting for more than 98% of the country’s production of barites, Andhra Pradesh has almost a monopoly on chrysotile asbestos.
The important minerals found here include copper ore, manganese, mica, coal, and limestone. The famous Singaneri coalmines are located here.
Hyderabad and Vishakhapatnam are the centers for several important industries like machine tools, fertilizers, ships, drugs and pharmaceuticals, heavy electrical machinery, cement, electrical equipment, aeronautical parts, glass, etc.
The important power projects include Nagarjunasagar, Nizamsagar Hydel power project, Sileru, Vijayawada, etc.
Agriculture is the main occupation for about 70% of the population. Important crops grown here are rice, jowar, bajra, ragi, small millets, cotton, sugarcane, pulses, groundnut, bananas, and tobacco.
The state accounts for about 55% of the country’s production of castor, and about 94% of Virginia tobacco. Nearly 23% of the state’s total land mass is covered by forests.
The major forest products are teak, eucalyptus, cashew, casuarinas, bamboo, soft wood, etc.
Andhra Pradesh Travel Information
The state capital, Hyderabad, has several tourist places in and around it. It has a number of monuments of historical importance such as Char Minar, Golconda, Salar Jung Museum, Mecca Masjid, Osman Sagar and Osmania University, which depicts a Hindu-Muslim culture.
The capital is in reality a twin city – Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad are linked together by the Hussain Sagar Lake.
The other sites of historical importance include Warangal, Palampet, Vemulavada, Bhadrachalam, and Lepakshi.
Andhra Pradesh is known for pilgrimages, not only for Hindus, but also for Muslims, Christians and Buddhists. The state has a rich heritage of temples, mosques, churches and viharas.
The state is known for the famous Sri Venkateswara temple at Tirupati, Birla Mandir at Hyderabad and Bhadra Kali temple at Warangal, Mecca Masjid at Hyderabad, the Buddhist viharas at Nagarjunasagar, and the Sai Baba Ashram at Puttaparthi.
The Hindu pilgrimage sites include Tirupati, Srisailam, Basara, and Srikalahasti.
The state was once the site of a flowering Buddhist culture. The Salivahanas, who were Buddhists by religion, followed the Satvahana dynasty. Several Buddhist stupas and viharas were built during their reign, and Buddhist centers flourished at Nagarjunakonda, Amravati, Sankara, Bhattiprolu, Guntupalli, Gantasala, Salihunda, Panigiri, Nelakondapalli, and Bahvikonda.
There are waterfalls at Ettipothala, Kuntala, and Gandipet. The caves at Undavalli and Borra are also major tourist attractions.
Two large and world famous dams are located at Nagarjunasagar and Nizamsagar.
Many wildlife sanctuaries can be found in the state, namely, Kawal, Sivaram, Pakhal, Pranahita, Eturnagaram, Kinnerasani, Papikonda, Nagarjunasagar, Srisailam, Pocharam, Gundlabrahmeshwaram, Shri Venkateshwara, Srilanka Malleswara, and Kaundinya.
There are four bird sanctuaries in the state at Kolleru, Rollapadu, Nelapattu, and Manjira.
The state has nearly 1,000 km of coastline, with eight of its 23 districts having direct access to the sea, which accounts for the presence of so many beaches.
Starting from Bheemunipattnam near Vishakhapatnam down to Mypad in Nellore district, the coastline of Andhra Pradesh offers unalloyed joy to the sun worshippers and sea bathers. Apart from the Ramakrishna beach, Lawson’s bay and Rishikonda beach at Vishakhapatnam and Bheemunipattnam beaches there are other famous beaches such as Manginapudi, near Machilipattnam, Kakinada, Chirala, Kalingapatnam and Mypad.
Rivers of Andhra Pradesh
The state has two great rivers, Godavari and Krishna, which spring from the Western Ghats in Maharashtra and flow eastward and joins the Bay of Bengal.
The Godavari enters the state of Andhra Pradesh direct from Maharashtra, but the Krishna first goes to Karnataka where it flows for a considerable distance before entering Andhra Pradesh. Besides these two big rivers, there are many small rivers such as Tungabhadra and Pennar. Pennar originates in the Karnataka plateau.
Like all the peninsular rivers all these are rain fed rivers as there is no snow below the Himalayas. Andhra Pradesh has considerable topographical variations with dense forest in the north east, flat paddy lands in the coastal plains, several noteworthy beaches along the Bay of Bengal and the stark boulder-strewn region around Hyderabad.
Education in Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh is served by more than 20 leading institutes of excellence in higher education. All major art, humanities, science, engineering, law, medicine, business and veterinary science courses are offered at graduate and postgraduate level. Advanced research is conducted in all major areas.
Andhra Pradesh has 1330 Arts, Science and Commerce colleges, 238 Engineering colleges and 53 Medical colleges.
The student to teacher ratio is 19:1 in the higher education. According to census taken in 2001, Andhra Pradesh has an overall literacy rate of 60.5%. While male literacy rate is at 70.3%, the female literacy rate however is only at 50.4%, a cause for concern.
The state has recently made strides in setting up several institutes of high quality. International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) and Indian School of Business (ISB) are gaining international attention for their standards. National Institute of Fashion Technology, Hyderabad (NIFT) is well reputed among those interested in a career in fashion.
Food of Andhra Pradesh
Pulihara (or tamarind rice) is the main coarse in Andhra Pradesh, and green chilies add spice to the cuisine.
The Andhra pickle, sharp and extremely hot, is a favorite all over the country.
Papads, roasted or fried, are another popular condiment. Due to the rule of the Nawabs and Nizams, there is also a strong Muslim influence on the cuisine in the form of rich, spicy local dishes, especially in the area around the capital.
The world famous Hyderabadi Biryani, a blend of rice and meat cooked over hot coals, the Nahari, the Kulcha and the Kebabs have a lot in common with the northern Mughlai cuisine.
Other very famous dishes include Bagara Baingan, or seasoned eggplant, and Haleem (spiced pounded wheat with mutton).
A wide variety of fruit, like custard apples, grapes like the Anab-e-shahi, and apricots like the Khobani provide a neutralizing affect over the spicy food.
Arts & Culture of Andhra Pradesh
The Andhras were originally believed to be Dravidians. However, some theories suggest that they were Aryans by origin who moved south of the Vindhyas, and eventually mixed with the non-Aryans.
The Banjaras (or gypsies), the Gonds, the Sarvas, the Bagatas, the Mandulas, the Yenadis, the Chenchus, the Gadabas and the Mathuris are the well-known tribes of the state. Professionally they are food-gatherers, hunters, small farmers and nomads.
One can find people of different faiths here - Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians. The principal language is Telugu, although Urdu is also spoken in and around Hyderabad.
Due to its diversified socio-cultural and religious influences, the handicrafts of Andhra Pradesh prospered around the temples, courts, villages and tribal communities.
Bidri is a metal craft of Andhra Pradesh. It derives its name from Bidar, the hometown of this exquisite craft and the basic material used is alloy of zinc, oxidized and intricately inlaid with silver.
Nirmal is a famous art that can be traced back to the Kakatiyas. Decorative, beautifully painted wooden articles like furniture, bowls, lamps, ashtrays, and boxes are typical items of Nirmalware.
Himroo is a distinctive, luxurious fabric, once used as dress material by the nobles, with a cotton base and silk or art silk weave, made into stoles, gowns and furnishings.
The colorful leather puppets or Tholubommalu, made from buffalo hide, bleached and tinted with local paints are famous in Andhra Pradesh.
The most popular figures are the heroes and villains from mythology.
The artisans of Hyderabad have perfected the art of creating articles of jewelry from the days of the Golconda kingdom.
Hyderabad today is the largest pearl center of India.
Andhra Pradesh has an age-old tradition of hand-woven fabrics.
Silk and cotton saris from Pochampalli, Venkatagiri, Siddipet, Gadwal, Uppada, Narayanpet and Dharmavaram are household names throughout India.
Other interesting crafts are the silver filigree work in Karimnagar, gold covering work on alloy or copper, silver, brass and gold from Machilipattnam, beads and bangles from Kalahasti, in the Chittor district, and silver snake chains from Hyderabad.
The Chari woodwork is also famous, especially in the Warangal district.
Dance & Music of Andhra Pradesh
Kuchipudi is Andhra Pradesh’s most outstanding contribution towards the enrichment of the Indian culture. It began in the dance-drama form dating back to the 15th century. Its birthplace was Kuchipudi village near the Krishna River. A fine combination of Natya, Nritta, and Nritya, Kuchipudi was never a solo affair and required a number of actors. Men and boys who received vigorous training in abhinaya, music, dancing, and singing, presented it in the open air on a stage. Kuchipudi has also recently evolved into a solo dance style. The solo dances are characterized by a rich expression, fast rhythms, swinging knee movements and circular movement of the arms.
Inhabited by many large tribes, Andhra Pradesh presents a rich wealth of traditional folk and tribal dances. Bathakamma, Gobbi, Mathuri, Dhamal, Dandaria, Dappu, and Vadhyam are a few famous tribal dances. The dances of the Banjaras and the Siddi tribes are also famous.
Other dance forms of Andhra Pradesh include Veeranatyam, Butta Bommalu, Chindu Bhagawatam, Tappeta Gullu, Lambadi, Bonalu, and Dhimsa. 'Tholubommalata', a shadow puppetry theatre is a fascinating folk art.
Festivals of Andhra Pradesh
Hindu festivals such as Dussehra, Deepavali, Sri Ram Navami, Krishna Janmashtami, Vinayaka Chavithi or Ganesh Chaturthi and Maha Shivratri are celebrated in the state. Similarly, Muslim festivals such as Bakr-Id and Id-ul-Fitr and Christian festivals like Christmas, Easter and New Year Day are also celebrated with gaiety. However, the celebrations of Ugadi (Telugu New Year's day in March-April) and Sankranti (in January) are unique in the state.
Bathakamma is special to the Telengana region. In the month-long festival, Goddess Bathakamma’s idol is worshipped and is made to float on the rivers and lakes.
The annual tourism events include the Visaka Utsav (from the third Friday to Sunday of January), Deccan Festival (on the 25th of February, of which the Pearls and Bangles Fair is a part), Rayalseema Food and Dance Festival (in October, at Tirupati) and Lumbini Festival (from the second Friday to Sunday of December, at Nagarjunasagar and Hyderabad).
Costumes of Andhra Pradesh
The attire of people from Andhra Pradesh shows impact of North and South Indian culture. Sari, salwar kameej, and churidaar are the clothes that women of this state generally wear.
Men generally wear a kurta with lungi (a piece of cloth worn around the waist).
Western influence has increased the popularity of trousers, shirts, and jeans in recent years.