Andhra Pradesh lies in the south eastern part of India, with its coastline stretching for over a distance of 1200 kilometers, from Orissa to Tamil Nadu. The state of Andhra Pradesh was formed on 1st November 1956, by combining the old princely state of Hyderabad, with the Andhra state. The state of Andhra had been formed in 1953, when the Telugu speaking areas were separated from the composite Madras state.
Andhra Pradesh, India's fifth largest state is a massive spread of 27,068 sq. km. History, here, unfolds its vital links with the past, and manifests itself triumphantly in the many edifices, monuments and architectural ruins left behind by dynasties as old as 300 B.C. Traces of the diverse and variegated facets of the culture of the Mauryas, Satavahanas, Pallavas, Cholas, Chalukyas, and Vijayanagar afford imposing vistas that create tourist interest.
The State experiences tropical climate with slight variations depending on the elevation and maritime influence. The Eastern Ghats separate the Deccan plateau from the coastal belt. The plateau slopes from the interior towards the east, from elevations of less than one kilometer and is drained by two major river systems of the Godavari and Krishna which scoop out the vast low lying areas. In the south, in Chittoor, Cuddapah and Anantapur districts, the Eastern Ghats break into various ranges, namely, the Veligondas, the Nallamalas and the Palakondas; form a general plateau with elevations rising to one kilometer.
In the north, in Visakhapatnam district, the Eastern Ghats are more cohesive and have higher elevations of about two kilometers. The low lying coastal belt extends to about 100 kilometers in the south and narrows to 40 kilometers in the north. The wide deltaic region of the Godavari and the Krishna forms the central part of the coastal belt. These aerographic features influence, to some extent, the climate of the State, with the plateau regions experiencing more temperate climate than the low lying valleys and the coastal belt.
Agriculture is the main occupation of about 70 percent of the people in Andhra Pradesh. The main crops are rice, maize, millets, pulses, castor, tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, groundnut and banana. The covered forest area in the state is about 23 percent, and important forest products include teak, eucalyptus, cashew, bamboo and soft wood. Some of the major industries in the state are machine tools, synthetic drugs, pharmaceuticals, heavy electrical machinery, ships, fertilizers, electronic equipment, aeronautical parts, cement and cement products, chemicals, asbestos, glass and watches. Important minerals found in the state are copper ore, manganese, mica, coal and limestone.
Language and Literature:
Telugu, the official language of Andhra Pradesh, is described by C.P. Brown as the “Italian of the East ". It has been influenced by Sanskrit. The prominent poets of Telugu include Nannaya, Tikkana, Sri Krishna Devarayulu and a host of others.Urdu came to the Deccan, late in the 15th century. It flourished during the reign of the Qutubshahi Dynasty. The 17th century was the golden age of Urdu, with poets like Mohammed Quli, Mulla Wajhi, and Sheikh Ahmed contributing their literary pieces.
Folk dance and drama:
The dance styles in the State are based on the standard treatises, viz. Abhinaya Darpana and Bharatarnava of Nandikeshwara, which is sub-divided into Nattuva Mala and Natya Mala.Nattuva Mala is of two types - the Puja dance performed on the Balipitha in the temple and the Kalika dance performed in a Kalyana mandapam.Nattuva Mala is of three kinds, viz. Ritual dance for gods, Kalika dance for intellectuals and Bhagvatem for common place.The Natya Mala is a dance-drama performed by a troupe, consisting only of men, who play feminine roles.
Fairs and Festivals:
Hindu festivals such as Dasara, Deepavali, Sri Ramanavami, Krishna Janmastami, Vinayaka Chavithi (Ganesh Chaturthi) and Maha Sivarathri are celebrated in the State. Similarly, Muslim festivals such as Bakrid and Id-ul-Fitr and Christian festivals like Christmas, Easter and New Year's Day are also celebrated with gaiety. But the celebrations of Ugadi (Telugu New Year's day), Sankranti, Dasara, and Vinayaka Chavithi in the state are unique.
A widely known festival in Telengana area that falls on Asviyuja Shuddha Dasami (Sep/Oct) is the Batakamma Panduga. It is celebrated for nine days by married women in memory of a Vaisya married woman, who was killed by her own brother on the instigation of his wife. The murdered woman is believed to have manifested herself in her grave as a flowering tree. The Mahankali Jathara in the twin cities is celebrated at the onset of summer to propitiate the local village deities so that pestilence does not strike.These festivals are celebrated with gaiety with night-long bouts of dancing, singing, and feasting.
Art and Craft:
Each region of India abounds in handicrafts reflecting the genius of its local craftsmen. Andhra Pradesh in the south has the distinction of having all important categories of handicrafts practised in their traditional locations spread over different parts of the state.
Karimnagar is well known for silver Filigree of superior quality created by master craftsmen.
Bidri is another prized product of Andhra Pradesh popular in different parts of the world.
The skills of artisans can be seen in caskets, vases and trays. While places like Nagarjunakonda and Amaravathi have influenced the growth of stone-carving in places like Durgi, wood-carving received its impetus from the temple sculptures. This has made possible the creation of a variety of products in the shape of both figurines and panels that depict them from temple chariots and Gopuram (typical Hindu temple domes).
Metal ware has found a new expression in the context of Andhra Pradesh with exquisite pieces of sheet-metal art deriving its motifs from the historic monuments of the Kakatiya sculpture. At the same time, the art has successfully adapted itself to imbibing the use of Persian and other motifs. This has resulted in the evolution of a whole range of utility-***-decorative items like plant pots, vases, wall decorations and stationery items. Cast art metal ware, including icons and temple sculptures depicting various themes, is also produced in certain parts of the state.Nirmal painting, unique for reproducing motifs from the well-known art schools, has greatly expanded its market by evolving a number of household items which include large-size furniture for drawing, dining and bedrooms.
In the centre of Vijayawada is a unique monument dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. A fifty-two feet column of red marble was built and various figures representing the cottage industries were carved on it. Below this column, a Gandhi Memorial Library and a Seminar Hall were constructed. On the slopes of the hill, replicas of Mahatma Gandhi's house at Porbandar in Gujarat, his Phoenix Ashram in South Africa, his Sabarmati Ashram at Ahmedabad and his Sevagram Ashram near Wardha were built. A medium size planetarium was installed in an attractive building near the main entrance to the Gandhi Hill. A telescope and a camera were in the observatory set up on the Gandhi Memorial Library. It provides an opportunity to the visitors to have the thrill of seeing the distant stars in the universe and the grand scenery around the Hill.
Vijayawada is surrounded by picturesque hills, important of which are the Sitanagaram (on the southern bank of the river Krishna), and Indrakiladri. The city is a pilgrim centre for the Hindus on account of its location on the bank of the Krishna, and three important temples, namely, Kanakadurga, Bhramaramba Malleswara and Vijayeswara. The Krishna Pushkaram, celebrated once in twelve years, attracts Hindu devotees from all over the country. Prakasam Barrage, constructed on the river Krishna, is a scenic attraction.
Amaravati: It is an important tourist centre at a distance of 32 km north-west of Guntur owing to its world famous Buddhist stupa and antiquities of the 2nd century B.C. The Stupa here is the biggest with its dome measuring 49 metres and it rises to a height of 29 metres. Amaravati is a byword for sculpture among the plastic arts of the world as the Buddhist sculptures found here are perfect specimens of what is called the Andhra or Amaravati style of sculptures.Amaravati and its neighbouring village Dharanikota were the seats of the rule of the Satavahanas and these places are full of antiquities of great archaeological values depicting scenes from the life of Buddha, embodying various Buddhist emblems and symbols, and also inscriptions in Pali character. The lofty temple of Amareswara stands on the southern bank of the river Krishna, and is considered sacred and holy. It attracts a large number of pilgrims, especially on the Sivaratri day.
Ettipothala Water falls located six km northwest of Macherla in Guntur district is one of the many beautiful scenic spots in the State. The rivulet Chandravanka joins the Krishna falling from a height of 21 metres and the waterfalls offer a delightful view.
Nagarjunakonda is at a distance of 24 km both from Macherla and Nagarjunasagar Project. It is of significance on account of its ancient Buddhist culture. The museum, located on a hilltop on the right side of the NagarjunasagarCanal, is housed with excavated antiquities.
Undavalli (Guntur district) lies on the south bank of the river Krishna about two kilometres from Prakasam Barrage at Vijayawada. There are the famous UndavalliCaves associated with the Vishnukundin kings of A. D. 420--620. These caves were dedicated to Anantapadmanabha and Narisimhaswami. From the point of sculptural and architectural excellence, these caves compare very well with those of Ajanta.
Nagarjunasagar Dam, the highest masonry dam in the world, is at a distance of about 150-km from Hyderabad. It is constructed on the river Krishna, bordering on Nalgonda and Guntur districts. The first Prime Minister of the country Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation stone of this dam. It is one of the biggest multipurpose projects in India.
Srisailam: This is known as a sacred place of pilgrimage in India, located at an altitude of over 1,500 feet above the sea level in a most picturesque natural surroundings in the northernmost plateau of the Nallamala Hill range. Atop the hill, there is the temple of Siva known as Mallikharjunaswami temple, which is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas in the country. Another temple at this place is that of the goddess Bhramaramba, the consort of Mallikharjuna. The temple abounds in sculpture and there are many inscriptions in and around it. Apart from the religious importance, Srisailam is also a place of scenic beauty and one of the most important tourist spots in the country.
Mantralayam situated on the southern bank of the river Tungabhadra in Kurnool district is about 15 km. from Mantralayam Road Railway station on the Chennai-Mumbai line. It is also well connected by road from Hyderabad, Kurnool and other important centres. It is famous for Raghavendraswami Matt or Brindavan. It is here that Raghavendraswami, a great follower of Madhvacharya, entered samadhi after preaching the Madhva cult or Dvaita philosophy. There is no idol of Raghavendraswami but his Brindavan (samadhi) is worshipped.
Lepakshi lies at about 14 km east of Hindupur in Anantapur district. It is of great historical and archaeological importance in the State. This place is a repository of the best mural paintings of the Vijayanagara Kings. The best specimens of the Vijayanagara style of sculpture and mural paintings are found in the temples here. There is a colossal stone Nandi, reputed to be the largest of its kind in the country.
Tirupati and Tirumala in Chittoor district are two sacred places not only for Andhra Pradesh but also for India. The presiding deity here is Lord Venkateswara, who is also worshipped as `Balaji' by the north Indians. Tirumala lies in the midst of the Seshachalam hills, which are 2,000 feet above the sea level. It has also worldwide importance as a major tourist centre.
Srikalahasti (Chittoor district) is also a famous pilgrim centre and the temple here is dedicated to Lord Siva known as Vayulingam and considered as Dakshina Kasi.
Horsley Hills, about 16 km from Madanapalle in Chittoor district, lies at a height of 1,265.53 metres above the sea level and forms the most elevated table land in the south of Andhra Pradesh. This is the coolest place and is a summer resort.
Rajahmundry: It is situated on the left bank of the river Godavari in East Godavari district. It has a hoary past and is said to have been constructed by the Eastern Chalukya ruler Rajaraja Narendra in A.D. 1022. The town has some traces of fine palaces, fort walls, etc., of the 11th century A.D. Nannaya, the poet laureate, who was called `Adi Kavi belonged to this place. The Asia's largest rail-***-road bridge on the river Godavari linking Kovvur and Rajahmundry is considered to be an engineering feat.There are a number of temples here and the Kotilingala temple on the bank of the Godavari is one of the most important temples. The Godavari Pushkaram, celebrated once in twelve years, attracts a large number of pilgrims from all over the country. At a distance of seven kilometres south of Rajahmundry, there is the Dowlaiswaram anicut across the Godavari.
Ryali lies at a distance of 25 km from Rajahmundry. It is famous for the temple of Jaganmohini-Kesavaswami. The idol of the deity is beautifully carved on black stone and it is worth seeing for its sculptural beauty and grand appearance.
Visakhapatnam: This coast-city is on the Chennai-Howrah broad-gauge line of SouthEastern Railway and is a big railhead. The city has grown in importance educationally, commercially and industrially. It is the seat of the AndhraUniversity. The places of interest in the city include harbour, Dolphin's Nose, a light-house, Hindustan Ship Building Yard, Caltex Oil Refinery, Coromandal Fertilisers Factory, Steel Plant, Circuit House on the Hill, a beautiful beach and an airport. Visakhapatnam harbour is considered to be one of the best natural harbours in the world, and the ShipBuilding Yard has a nation-wide importance. The city is worth visiting for both the internal and foreign tourists. Bheemunipatnam beach, nearer to the city, is a place for a short holiday.
Simhachalam, 16 km from Visakhapatnam, is an important pilgrim centre owing to the existence of the Varaha Lakshmi Narasimhaswami temple on a hill, which is 800 feet above the sea level.