Andhra Pradesh

The thin red soil of the hot and desolate interior of Andhra Pradesh was once the stage for some of the world's wealthiest men. The Deccani sultans - whose fetish for jewels was sated with the diamonds quarried from rich local seams and whose ears dripped with pearls - left a landscape dotted with their courtly pleasure gardens and palaces. India's largest Muslim-ruled princely state was integrated into the Indian union when the army quashed its claims for independence, but much of the splendour of their architecture remains, particularly in Hyderabad and its nearby fortress city of Golconda. And the city's fortunes have revived along with the success of the software industries who have their headquarters at the glass-and-chrome satellite town of 'Cyberabad'.

The watersheds of Andhra Pradesh's rivers, the Krishna and Godaveri, are second only to the Ganga and are vital in supporting the meagre agricultural subsistence of the bullock-and-cart paddy economy. Rural Andhra holds the ancient Buddhist centres of Nagarjunakonda and Amaravati and one of India's most important modern Hindu pilgrimage centres, Tirumala. Large areas of the northwest also hide the secretive Maoist Naxalite movement, a rebel army whose often violent opposition to aid and development has lead to the blocking of road-building efforts and several attempts on the state's former chief minister's life.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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