From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|States||Andra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu|
|Union Territories||Lakshadweep and Pondicherry (including Yanam, Mahe and Karaikal)|
|Main languages||Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Konkani and Tulu|
|Major cities||Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Kochi|
|Largest metropolitan area||Chennai|
|Main religions||Hinduism, Jainism, Islam and Christianity|
|Death rate (2001)||7.7|
|Infant mortality rate (2001)||48.4|
South India is a linguistic-cultural region of India that comprises the four Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Pondicherry, whose inhabitants are collectively referred to as South Indians.
This region includes the entire Indian Peninsula, south of the Vindhya Range. The Narmada and Mahanadi rivers form the northern boundaries of the region, while the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal surround the peninsula in the west, south and east respectively.
The southernmost point of the region (and of mainland India), is Kanyakumari. The geography of South India is diverse, encompassing two mountain ranges — the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats and a plateau heartland. The Tungabhadra, Kaveri, Krishna and Godavari rivers are important non-perennial sources of water.
South Indians primarily speak Dravidian languages, although some communities such as the Konkani retain distinct identities. During its history, a number of dynasties including the Satavahanas, Ikshvakus, Cholas, Pandyas, Cheras, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagara ruled over different parts of South India prior to the British occupation of India. South Indian dynasties conquered Sri Lanka and Srivijaya and had great cultural influences which can still be seen today.
Agriculture is the single largest contributor to the regional net domestic product. Information technology (IT) is a rapidly growing industry in South India, whose main cities constitute some of India’s major IT hubs. South India has higher literacy and per-capita income than the rest of India. South India has a unique and diverse culture and traditions that are distinct from that of rest of India. Literary and architectural styles evolved over two thousand years are unique to this region. Politics in South India is dominated by smaller regional political parties rather than by India's national political parties.
Apart from the English language terms South India and Peninsular India, South India has been known by several other historic names. The region has been referred to as the Deccan (from the Sanskrit word Dakshina meaning south). This term currently refers only to the area covered by the Deccan Plateau, a major geographic feature of the region. The Carnatic is an English term derived from "Karnād" or "Karunād", meaning black country. The terms Karnād and Carnatic have long overgrown particular association with the plateau and refer to all of South India, including the coasts, the eastern of which is named the Carnatic coast. The name Karnātaka is derived from the same root. Drāvida Nādu (from Drāvida and Nādu; meaning land of the Dravidian people) is another name for the region; often shortened to Dravida, a term later added in the Indian national anthem. During the British rule, much of South India was organised into the Madras Presidency. Mostly, these states are referred to by their individual names and/or by the languages. ex: People from Kerala speak Malayalam and are referred to as Malayalees.
Carbon dating on ash mounds associated with neolithic cultures in South 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 was the most important trading shore in the Indian subcontinent resulting in intermingling between locals and traders. The South Indian coast of Malabar and the Tamil people of the Sangam age traded with the Graeco-Roman world. They were in contact with the Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Syrians, Jews, and the Chinese.
There were several significant rulers and dynasties in South Indian history. The ancient history of the region comprises dynasties such as the Satavahanas of Amaravati, Kadambas of Banavasi, Western Ganga Dynasty, Chalukya dynasty of Badami, Western Chalukyas, Eastern Chalukya, Cheras, Cholas, Hoysalas, Kakatiya dynasty, Pallavas, Pandyas, and Rashtrakutas of Manyaketha. The early 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. 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 and Hyderabad, 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.
After independence, most of South India was included in Madras state, which included the former Madras Presidency and the princely states of Banganapalle, Pudukkottai, and Sandur. In 1953, the government yielded to pressure from the northern Telugu-speaking districts of Madras State, and allowed them to create India's first linguistic state - Andhra State on October 1, 1953. The States Reorganisation Act (1956) created several new states along linguistic lines. Andhra State was renamed Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala was created from the Malayalam-speaking region. Madras State, which after 1956 included the Tamil-majority regions, changed its name to Tamil Nadu in 1968, and Mysore State was renamed Karnataka in 1972. Portuguese India, which included Goa, was annexed by India in 1961, and Goa became a state in 1987. The enclaves of French India were ceded to India in the 1950’s, and the southern four were organised 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 line created by the Narmada River and Mahanadi river is the traditional boundary between northern and southern India.
The Narmada flows westwards in the depression between the Vindhya and Satpura ranges. The Satpura ranges define the northern spur of the Deccan plateau, one of the main geographic features of South India. 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 term encompasses the area south of the Narmada as far as Goa.
The Western Ghats continue south, forming the Malnad (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 Deccan plateau, covering the major portion of the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, 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.
The river Kaveri rises in the Western Ghats, in the Kodagu district of Karnataka and flows briefly through the Deccan plateau before entering Tamil Nadu, where it forms an extensive and fertile delta on the east coast. The three major river deltas of South India, the Kaveri, the Godavari and the Krishna, are located along the Bay of Bengal. These areas constitute the rice bowls of South India. Rivers that flow westward, from the mountains to the Arabian Sea, include the Periyar, Netravati River, Mandovi and Tapti River (or Tapi) rivers, and the Narmada at the northern edge of the region.
The four states of South India generally follow linguistic boundaries. In addition to these linguistic regions, South India has a number of overlapping traditional geographic regions. Some of these regions are:
- Bayaluseemae- The plain or maidan area of deccan plateau in Karnataka state.
- Carnatic - etymologically related to the Deccan, refers to all of South India
- Canara or Karaavali - the Karnataka coast
- Chera Nadu or Vanchi Nadu - most of modern Kerala
- Chettinadu - area around Sivagangai, Tamil Nadu
- Chola Nadu - most of Tamil Nadu and southern Andhra Pradesh, including certain other "Nadus" mentioned here
- Coromandel Coast - south coastal Andhra Pradesh, north coastal Tamil Nadu and the Pondicherry Union Territory
- Deccan - plateau region covering interior Maharashtra, interior Andhra Pradesh and interior Karnataka. Includes the Marathwada, Vidarbha, Telangana, Rayalaseema, North Karnataka and Mysore regions.
- Kammanadu - Region south of Krishna river upto Nellore district (A.P.,) where Buddhism flourished.
- Kongu Nadu - districts around Coimbatore, Salem, Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu
- Konkan - coastal region comprising coastal Maharashtra, Goa and part of coastal Karnataka
- Kosta or Coastal Andhra - The coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh
- Malabar region - northern Kerala; the Malabar Coast is often counted separately
- Malnad - the Sahyadri hills between the coast and the plateau in Karnataka
- Mulakanadu - the region to the north of the Godavari river, areas now called Khandesh and Aurangabad surrounding areas.
- Mysore - often called "south interior Karnataka"
- North Karnataka - often called "north interior Karnataka" or simply the "Dharawad region"
- Northern Circars - Muslim administrative units in Madras state in British India, namely Chicacole, Rajahmundry, Ellore, Kondapalli and Guntur.
- Palnadu - or Pallavanadu (Guntur and Prakasam districts of Andhra Pradesh), the original seat of Pallavas.
- Pandya Nadu - area around Madurai, Tamil Nadu
- Raichur Doab - mostly northern Karnataka, between the Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers
- Rayalaseema - southern interior Andhra Pradesh consisting of Kurnoo, Chittor, Cuddapah and Anantapuram districts.
- Tondai Nadu - area around Pudukkotai, Tamil Nadu
- Thiruvithaamkoor or Travancore - southern Kerala
- Tulu Nadu - certain areas in the coastal districts of Udipi and South Canara in Karnataka
- Telangana - northern interior Andhra Pradesh
- Velanadu - Places on the banks of Krishna River, from Guntur to Srisailam. A subkingdom during Cholas and Chalukyas periods
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.
 Flora and fauna
A dominant feature of South India is the tropical climate. Lush evergreen vegetation, the South Western Ghats moist deciduous forests are found along the Western Ghats. Tropical Dry Forests, the South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous 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 the most famous wildlife sanctuaries are found in South India. These include Project Tiger reserves such as Periyar National Park, Silent Valley National Park, Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve, among many others. Important bird sanctuaries including Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Neelapattu and Pulicat Sanctuary are home to numerous migratory and local birds.
Important protected ecological sites include the Annamalai Hills and Nilgiri Hills of the Western Ghats and backwaters like the Pulicut 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. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, located at the conjunction of the borders of Karnataka, Kerela and Tamilnadu, consists of the neighbouring Mudumalai National Park, Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole National Park and Waynad wildlife sanctuary is an important ecological feature in this region.
The estimated population of the political region of South India, comprising Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu is over 233 million. South India is home to diverse ethnic, linguistic and religious groups. The largest ethnic groups in South India include the Telugus, Kannadigas, Malayalis, Tamils and the Konkanis. Numerically Telugu speaking population is the largest entity. Around 83% of South Indians follow Hinduism. Of the rest, around 11% follow Islam while Christians constitute around 5% of the population. South India has one of the largest Christian populations in India. They consists of those who follow the Latin rite, the Indian Orthodox Church, Syrian Jacobite Church, Protestant churches and those belonging to the Syro-Malabar Church and the Marthoma Church. Jains, Buddhists and Jews together form less than 1% of the population of South India.
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 91%. The sex ratio in South India is fairly equable at 997; Kerala is the only state in India with a sex ratio higher than 1000. 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. 47.8% of South India has access to tap water. Wells and springs are other major forms of water supply. The predominant form of transport is the bicycle, which constitutes 31% of the various modes of transport in South India. Television access in the region is 36.7% with the state-run Doordarshan and its various regional stations freely available.
South India's predominant language family is Dravidian, a family of approximately seventy-three languages spoken in South Asia. A relationship of the Dravidian language family to other linguistic families has not been established, though various theories have been proposed. Dravidian as an independent language family was first established by Francis W. Ellis, a British civil servant in 1816.
The languages of the Dravidian family Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu have been influenced by Sanskrit to varying degrees and the converse is true as well. Almost all Dravidian languages spoken in South India belong either to the South Dravidian (or South Dravidian I) or South-Central Dravidian (sometimes also known as South Dravidian II) subfamilies. Tamil, Malayalam, Tulu and Kannada are South Dravidian languages, while Telugu and Gondi are South-Central Dravidian. 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.
In the 2001 Census of India, Telugu, with approximately 80 million native speakers, was the second largest language in India, after Hindi. Tamil was accorded the status of classical language by the Government of India in 2002 and had about 74 million speakers (native and non-native speakers). Kannada had 50 million speakers while Malayalam has 35.7 million. All four languages are designated as national languages of India. Konkani, an Indo-Aryan language, is widely spoken in Goa and coastal Karnataka, Kerala, and Maharashtra, where it has drawn heavy influences from Kannada and Malayalam. Most of Maharashtra, which includes the northern Deccan and Konkan regions of South India, is predominantly Marathi-speaking. Marathi and Konkani are part of the southern zone of the Indo-Aryan languages. Some inscriptions in the Tulu language are found in and around Barkur.
|North India||South India|
|Per capita income (Rs.)||8433||13629|
|Literacy rate (%)||59||74|
|Per capita expenditure on public health (Rs.)||92||127|
|Proportion of households with electricity (%)||49||74|
|Source: Business Today, January 2005|
Over 48% of South India's population is engaged in agriculture. The populace is largely agrarian, dependent on monsoons, as is the populace in most of India. Some of the main crops cultivated in South India include paddy, sorghum, 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.
Chennai, houses the manufacturing units of many automobile and electronic manufacturers. Bangalore is headquarters to several public manufacturing heavy industries A notable improvement in the economy of South India recently has been due to the growth of information technology (IT). Bangalore, the "Silicon Valley of India", is India's IT hub, and is home to over 200 software companies. Between 1992-2002, Karnataka attracted the fourth highest total Foreign Direct Investment approvals in India, approximately Rs 21,566 million. Software exports from South India grossed over Rs 64000 crore in fiscal 2005-06. The net state domestic product of Tamil Nadu ranks higher than the net state domestic products of most Indian states. In terms of industrialisation, Kerala lags behind many of the Indian states, but in terms of the people’s quality of life, Kerala is ahead of most other states in India. Around 20% of the state GDP is from overseas remittances. This paradox is often termed as the Kerala Phenomenon or Kerala model of development.
There is also a large amount of economic and income disparity in South India. As IT companies have entered the economic arena, their high level of pay has raised the economic standing of young and educated professionals, while the poor has become less and less able to afford basic necessities. It is not uncommon to see the shacks of homeless people propped up against the buildings of large multinationals. The poor, unable to afford sending their children to school, remain in a cycle of life completed separated from that of this more affluent upper class.
Politics in South India is dominated typically by a mix of regional parties and larger national political parties like the 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 INC. Periyar Ramasami who started the Periyar movement was elected leader of the Justice party in 1938 and in 1944 renamed it to Dravidar Kazhagam. The initial aim of the Dravidar Kazhagam was 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), lead by M. G. Ramachandran. Together, the AIADMK and the DMK currently command a 60% share in Tamil Nadu state elections.
In the 1980s, the establishment of the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh by former Telugu actor Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (NTR) broke the dominance of the Congress 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 is regarded as a visionary who promoted the growth of information technology in the state. There has been a recent growth in popularity of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in Andhra Pradesh's northwestern Telangana region. The party's main mandate is the separation of Telangana from the rest of Andhra Pradesh. The Congress, in spite of being plagued by factionalism through the 1990s, has managed to remain in prominence in the state and has, under the leadership of Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, and with a strategic alliance with TRS, managed to oust the TDP from power in the last state assembly elections by an overwhelming majority.
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. Ramakrishna Hegde played an integral part in the ascent of the Janata Dal into the national foray in the late 1980s. However, it was his political rival H. D. Deve Gowda, then the Chief Minister of Karnataka, who later went on to become the Prime Minister of India.
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
South Indians are linguistically and culturally different from the rest of India, although mutual interaction and the impress of similar external influences have made much cultural impact. 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 chira (in Telugu) while the men wear a type of sarong, which could be either a white pancha or a colourful lungi with typical batik patterns. The chira is an unstitched drape and only partially covers the midriff. In Indian philosophy, the navel of the Supreme Being is considered as the source of life and creativity , . Hence by tradition, the stomach and the navel is to be left unconcealed, though the philosophy behind the costume has largely been forgotten. As opined in the ancient Natyashastra, this makes the realization where in Angikam bhuvanam yasya (the concept of the human body as the world) unites with the sharira-mandala (the whole universe). These principles of the chira, also hold for other forms of drapes, like the lungi or mundu worn by men.
The music of South India is known as Carnatic music, which includes rhythmic and structured music by composers like Purandara Dasa, Kanaka Dasa, Tyagaraja, Annamacharya, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Shyama Shastri, Subbaraya Shastri, Mysore Vasudevachar and Swathi Thirunal. The contemporary singer Dr. K. J. Yesudas is a cultural ambassador of Carnatic music.
The movie industry has emerged as an important platform in South India, over the years portraying the cultural changes, trends, aspirations and developments experienced by the 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 for their masterful depiction of the worldview of the South Indian people.
South India is home to several distinct dance forms — the Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Yakshagana, Theyyam, Ottamthullal, Oppana, Kerala Natanam and Mohiniaattam (which literally translates as Dance of the Enchantress) The Bharatanatyam expresses the celebration of beauty and the universe, through its tenets of having a perfectly erect posture, a straight and pout curving stomach, a well rounded and proportionate body mass - to the body structure, very long hair and curvaceous hips. These tenets bring to life the philosophy of the Natyashastra. This is elaborated in the araimandi posture, wherein the performer assumes a half sitting position with the knees turned sideways, with a very erect posture. In this fundamental posture of the Bharatanatyam dance, the distance between the head and the navel becomes equal to that between the earth and the navel. In a similar way the distance between the outstretched right arm to the outstretched left arm becomes equal to the distance between the head and the feet, thus representing the "Natyapurusha", the embodiment of life and creation.
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 characterized by pickles and spicy curries. Dosa, Idli, Uttapam are popular throughout the region. There are large coffee estates in southern Karnataka and parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
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 Hampi, Badami, Bhattiprolu, Pattadakal, Aihole, Belur, Halebidu, Lakkundi, Shravanabelagola, Mahabalipuram, Tanjore, Madhurai 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. There are several examples of Dravidian mural paintings in the Mattancherry palace and the Shiva kshetram in Ettamanoor. South India is home to 5 of the 26 Indian World Heritage sites.
Sculpture became one of the finest medium of South Indian expression after the human form of dance. In this medium it was possible to etch the three dimensional form in time. The traditional South Indian sculptor starts his sculpture of the divinities from the navel which is always represented unclothed by the sari. A koshta or grid of the sculpture would show the navel to be right at the centre of the sculpture, representing the source of the union of the finite body and the infinite universe. Sculptures adorn many of the temples around the complexes and also inside them. They are also depiction of dance steps of various stylizations and have served to preserve dance forms and revive it.
South India has an independent literary tradition going back over 2000 years. The first known literature of South India are the poetic Sangams, which were written in Tamil from 2000 to 1500 years ago. The 850 CE Kannada classic Kavirajamarga written by King Amoghavarsha I makes references to Kannada literature of King Durvinita in the early sixth century CE. 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. The artistic expressions of the South Indian people shows their admiration of the magnificence of nature and its rhythms, as in the epic Silappadhikaram by Ilango Adigal, also called as the Cilappatikaram. Other works include the "Tholkappiam" written by Tholkappiar, and Thiruvalluvar’s Thirukural. In South Indian literature and philosophy, women are considered very powerful. A married woman is regarded as auspicious, her shakti or mother-feminine power, protects and empowers her husband and their children.
The main spiritual traditions of South India include both Shaivite and Vaishnavite branches of Hinduism, although Buddhism and Jain philosophy had been influential several centuries earlier. The coastal region of Andhra Pradesh was a stronghold of Buddhism as exemplified by the great stupas at Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda. Shravanabelagola in Karnataka is a popular pilgrimage center for Jains. Kodagu, in Karnataka is home to one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in India and provides sanctuary to Tibetan Buddhist monks that fled Tibet fearing persecution from communist China. There is a large Muslim community in South India, particularly in the Malabar coast, which can trace it's roots to the ancient maritime trade between Kerala and Omanis and other Arabs. Similarly, Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu (also known as Nagore) also has a sizeable Muslim community - the famed Nagore Dargah is situated in this old town. The Hyderabad region in Andhra Pradesh has a large Muslim population and is a historic center of South Indian Muslim culture.
Christianity has flourished in coastal South India from the times of St. Thomas the Apostle who is believed to have come to Kerala and established the Syrian Christian tradition today called as Saint Thomas Christians or Nasranis. These Christians are also known as Syrian Christians. They are constituted of various churches including Syrian-rite Christians in communion with the church of Rome, the Syro-Malabar Church and Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. They are also constituted by Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church and the Mar Thoma Church. The two Eastern Catholic Churches have their Holy See in Kerala. The Knanaya Christian-Jewish community exists as part of the Syro-Malabar Church and the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church. In addition, Kerala is also home to a significant number of Roman Catholic Christians of the Latin Rite. The Church of South India is an autonomous Protestant church, formed in 1947 through the merger of several Protestant denominations. 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 oldest surviving Jewish synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations is the Paradesi Synagogue in Kochi, Kerala.
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- ^ Boulanger, Chantal; 1997
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- ^ David de Beth Hillel, 1832; Lord, James Henry, 1977; Thomas Puthiakunnel 1973; Koder S. 1973
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