We visited two of the five states of the mainland of Southern India – Kerala, in the south-west and Tamil Nadu in the south-east. Kerala was very interesting with its backwaters of rivers and lagoons. Kerala has 44 rivers that run into the Arabian sea.India is extremely dirty and littered with rubbish everywhere. There seems to be no interest in rubbish collection. The south didn’t have the strong curry smell that I remember from my visit to Rajasthan.
Southern India is mostly located on the Deccan Plateau, bordered on each side by two mountain ranges, the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats, and coastal plains. The Western Ghats is one of the "hottest hotspots" of biological diversity in the world.
Known as ‘God's own country’ Kerala is famous for spices and the long sandy Malabar coast. It’s a narrow strip of coastal territory that slopes down from the lush vegetation of the Western Ghats to reach the Arabian sea. Kerala is also known for its backwaters, mountains, coconuts, spices and art forms like Kathakali and Mohini Attam. It is the most literate state in India, and a land of diverse religions, where you can find Hindu temples, mosques, churches, and even synagogues.Colourful face paints
Known as ‘the land of Tamils’, it is India's fiercely independent southern tip, famous for its temples, architecture, food, movies and classical Indian dance and Carnatic music. The languages spoken are predominantly Tamil (also written as Thamizh) and English in the larger cities and capital Chennai (Madras). It’s the historical home of the famous Chera, Chola, Pandya and Pallava kingdoms that thrived in ancient and medieval India.
The basic culture of the south is essentially Dravidian Buddhist culture, quite different from North India's Sanskrit Hindu culture. The people of the South are down to earth, calm and simple in spite of talents and riches. South Indians respect castes and religious sentiments quite unlike their brash Northern neighbours.As a rule, throughout the South, English is better understood than Hindi. The Tamils, in particular, have resented Delhi's occasional attempts to impose Hindi on them, and many will find it offensive if you try to talk to them in Hindi.
South India has a history of more than 3,000 years. Its ancient history owes a lot to large empires like the Hoysalas, Chalukyas, Gangas, Kadambas, Pallavas, Cholas, Pandyas and Cheras, all from similar roots.Though Hinduism remained as the invisible thread that connected North and South, much of the culture and outlook remained entirely different in the two parts of the country, with the Vindhya mountains preventing Northern cultural dominance into Southern India until the Medieval period.Towards the Medieval period, the large Vijayanagar Empire covered two thirds of South India. After frequent attacks from the Sultans of Delhi and other Northern Muslim states it disintegrated in1565, giving rise to several Muslim states modelled on the Mughal Empire of the North. Portuguese, Dutch and other European colonial powers fought over South India, with the British ultimately emerging victorious. The Mysore kingdom from the early 1400s ruled for the most part by the Wodeyar dynasty, greatly expanded after the fall of the Vijayanagara Kingdom in 1565 and ruled over much of what is now Karnataka. The British started their expansion into India setting up their base in Madras and slowly growing into a major power all over India. Most of South India came under British dominance by the end of the 19th century.After Indian independence in 1947, South India remained one of the major economic powerhouses. South Indian cities are known for industrial growth and overall development. The growth of IT in cities like Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, textiles in Coimbatore, auto manufacturing in Chennai, and tourism in Kerala made South Indian states race ahead of North India in terms of economic prosperity, urbanization, human resources, education and overall social development.