Gracing the southeastern part of the Indian subcontinent and jutting out into the Bay of Bengal, Andhra Pradesh is all about representing the combination of natural scenic beauty and spirituality. Bordered by Telangana, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and the Bay of Bengal, Andhra Pradesh is a melting point of vibrant cultures, age-old historical accounts, and centuries-old traditions that have been preserved beautifully till the present day.
Temples are the defining feature of Andhra Pradesh with scores of devotees and pilgrims making their way to the state not just from India but from different parts of the world as well. You may be surprised to learn that Andhra Pradesh is also one of the peak destinations for Buddhist pilgrimages which are marked with the abundance of Buddhist places of worship like monasteries and Stupas. Did you know that the world-famous Koh-I-Noor diamond was found here? Such is the charm and mystery of this wonderful state.
Geography of Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh is home to a very varied topography consisting of the hills of Eastern Ghats and the Nallamala Hills up to the scenic shores of the Bay of Bengal. This is the reason why Andhra is blessed with a variety of flora and fauna that has been thriving here for centuries. The ecosystem of the state is a rich biodiversity of animals, plants, trees, insects, and flowers.
The life-giving rivers of the state are Krishna and Godavari that majestically make their way through the entire state. The coastal shoreline of the state is discontinuous which has individual sections and goes by local names, especially in the eastern part of the state that forms very distinct deltas from each other. These deltas form mineral-rich areas and most of these plains are used for agricultural purposes as well. Did you know that Andhra Pradesh is known as the ‘rice bowl of India’?
Early and Medieval History of Andhra Pradesh
Sanskrit writings show the reference of Andhras living in the southern hill region from central India that dates back to as early as 1,000 BCE. However, the definitive history of Andhra dates back to the Mauryan Empire which had ruled northern India from the 4th to 2nd century BCE. During his reign, emperor Ashok had sent Buddhist missionaries to Andhra which is clear through the presence of Buddhist remnants like sculptures, statues, monasteries, and Stupas that dot the entire region.
After Ashok, the prominent south Indian dynasty rose to power, the Satavahanas. The dynasty kings ruled over most of the Deccan plateau for a very long time and continued to establish overseas trading relations with Rome. They welcomed diverse religions and cultures in their lives over time along with being great builders and architects. They worked towards strengthening the infrastructure of their empire. The Andhras continued to prosper over time and even universities and educational institutions like the Mahayana school flourished around this time.
By the 11th century, the Chalukyas rose to power and replaced the Satavahanas. Under the rule of the Chalukyas, Hinduism became the dominant religion which was marked by the kings making translations to the epic Hindu literature and writings like Mahabharata into Telugu. As the 12th and 13th centuries rolled in, the Kakatiyas of Warangal extended the military and cultural strength of the state. Around this time, when Andhra was accepting of other faiths and religions Islam began establishing itself as another emerging power in the northern side of the state.
However, eventually, this Islamic growth was arrested for some time when the Vijayanagar dynasty was brought to power, the greatest dynasty to ever rule in Andhra. They became synonymous with glory, an era of artistic splendor, good administration, and economic prosperity. This was the golden period of Vijaynagar.
Modern history of Andhra Pradesh
The onset and establishment of the Vijayanagar by the treasurers of Kakatiyas in Warangal, Harihar, and Bukka marks the period of modern history in Andhra. They, later on, started forming alliances with the nearby Muslim kingdoms to maintain and balance peace. However, by the 15th century, these Muslim powers became too prominent and overthrew the powerful Vijaynagar Empire. As the overseas foreign trading began European traders began to pour in Andhra and not just for trading matters, they started getting involved in the political issues and institutions.
By the 17th century, the Nizam of Hyderabad started seeking to consolidate their kingdom against the rival powers with the help of British and French supporters. The British asked for complete control of the coastal districts of Andhra, currently Chennai in exchange for their support. As a result of this, a major chunk of Andhra came under British rule that went by the name of Madras presidency. The Telangana region, which was the majority Telugu-speaking population of Andhra remained under the rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad while the French ended up acquiring a couple of other towns.
Independence movement in Andhra Pradesh
As the 19th century inched closer, Indian nationalism grew exponentially throughout the country with Andhra being at the forefront of the freedom movement. During the struggle against British rule, the Andhra leaders and social reformers like Kandukuri Veeresalingam became pioneers in this movement. Since Andhra people were very proud of their rich legacy and heritage they demanded a separate state province for themselves. At the same time, a movement was organized in an attempt to unite the Telugu-speaking population under British rule with the Andhras under the Nizam’s administration.
Andhra Pradesh after Independence
After India gained complete independence from British rule in 1947, the region continued to be divided administratively and linguistically. In 1950, the southern and eastern end of Andhra were incorporated into the state of Madras while the Telangana region became a part of the state of Hyderabad. The Andhra’s demand for a separate continued leading to a protestor dying of hunger fast to make the central government accept the whims. However, following the outrage, in 1952, the government finally gave in to the continuous wishes and on October 1st, 1952, the separate state of Andhra Pradesh was formed consisting entirely of Telugu speaking districts of the former Madras state in the south.