While the diverse region of South India doesn’t have any borders as such, most people consider it to begin from the great city of Hyderabad. This region, which covers five states and boasts four distinct languages, is one of India’s most fascinating and diverse. This vibrant and mesmerising region is characterised by four distinct physical features. The vast Deccan Plateau occupies its north and central parts and is bound in the west by the Western Ghats, a range of hills that follows the western coast from Mumbai to the southern tip of the continent. The two vast river valleys that channel water from the Western Ghats dominate the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The coastal areas that fringe the Arabian Sea in the west and the Bay of Bengal in the east make up the fourth distinct physical feature.
One of the state’s most notable cities, Hyderabad is not only one of India’s great technological centres but also boasts a long and rich history, as well as a distinct culture. It was the former capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh, which stretches along the coastal region and includes the great deltas of the Krishna and the Godavari rivers. A new state capital is being built near the great Buddhist centre of Amravati. Another of the region’s notable cities is Chennai, formerly known as Madras. Now India’s fourth largest city, it was originally developed as an East India Company port. Further inland lie the great temple towns, including Chidanbarum, Tanjore, Trichy, Kanchipuram and Madurai. Halfway down the Tamil coast is the old French enclave of Pondicherry. The capital of the southern state of Karnataka, Bangalore is India’s fastest growing city. It is also the gateway to Mysore, the great heritage sites of Hampi, Halibed and Belur, as well as the prominent Islamic centres of Bijapur, Gulbarga and Bidar. The smallest of the southern states is Kerala, which incorporates a narrow coastal plain on the south-western coast of India, as well as the western escarpment of the Ghat Mountains. Popular for its remote beaches and backwaters, Kerala has its own distinct architecture, cuisine and language.