ANDHRA PRADESH – THE KOHINOOR OF INDIA Andhra Pradesh is India’s fifth largest state in terms of total geographical area

spanning about 2,76,754 sq. km and the fifth most populous state in the country. Incidentally, the state also ranks fifth in the list of IT exporting states of the country. The history of the state unfolds its vital links with the past and manifests itself triumphantly in many edifices, monuments and architectural ruins left behind by dynasties as old as 300 B.C. The various dynasties that ruled the State of Andhra Pradesh from the Ikshvakus, Pallavas, Chalukyas, Kakatiyas, Vijayanagaram kings, Qutub Shahis, Mughals, to the Asaf Jahis, all have contributed significantly to the State’s rich cultural tapestry and have left behind a heritage studded with spectacular monuments, temples, mosques, palaces all vibrant with arts, crafts, dance and literature. During the Mauryan reign, the state was a political power in the south-eastern region. During this period the language ‘Telugu’ (official language of the state) emerged as a literary medium for the people. Telugu has greatly been influenced by Sanskrit. The great composers of Carnatic music Annamacharya, Tyagaraja and many others chose Telugu as their language of composition, thus enriching the language. Kuchipudi, a blend of music and abhinaya, is the state’s classical dance form and the state’s unique contribution to the rich Indian culture. The coastline of the state stretches for over a distance of 1200 kilometers, from Orissa to Tamilnadu. Owing to its proximity to the sea, the State enjoys a moderate climate throughout the year. For administrative purpose, the state has been divided into 23 districts. Summer season starts from April and continues till mid-July; the rainy season starts thereafter. Major rivers of the state include Krishna, Godavari and Tungabhadra which provide the much-needed water for irrigation. The main mineral deposits of the state include Mica (second largest producer), Barites, Bauxite, Limestone, Dolomite, Coal and Iron ore. Andhra is largely dependent on agriculture and is one of India’s main rice-producing states. About 70% of total population of the state depend on farming for their livelihood. The major crops include paddy, sugarcane, oilseeds, beans, and pulses. Andhra Pradesh is a treasure trove of rich art and crafts that are in great demand in international markets. The handicrafts occupy a special place and possess timeless charm. ‘Nirmal’ is well known in the state for its wooden toy industry. The craftsmen use locally found light wood to carve soft toys namely, the replicas of vegetables, fruits, animals, dolls, etc. AP has an old tradition of making hand oven clothes. The State is very much famous for its handlooms and textiles; its silk sarees are among the best in the country. Kalamkari, a special art of dyeing clothes with vegetable oils still exist in the state. The culture and tradition of Andhra Pradesh is also reflected in the culinary skills of its people. Each of the three regions namely, Coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telengana, (divided on the

basis of geographical position), has their distinctive style of cooking. Chillies and spices are used abundantly in every preparation. Some of the main festivals celebrated in the state are Ram Navami, Sankranti, Vinayaka Chaturdhi, Deepavali, Dussehra, Idu’l Fitr, Buddha Purnima, and Christmas. Architecturally rich, there are Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Jain places of worship, extravagant palaces, impressive forts, tombs, wildlife reserves, beautiful beaches and exotic hill stations. There is something for everyone. A visit to the state of Andhra Pradesh will be a delight for art lovers, naturalists, tourists, pilgrims…. owing to its varied tourist spots. Some of the major tourist destinations are Hyderabad, Tirupati, Visakhapatnam, Nagarjunasagar, Puttaparthy, etc.