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Andhra Pradesh

Population:    66 million
Languages:   Telugu, Urdu,Hindi
Capitol:             Hyderabad

Most of the area of this large state stands on the high Deccan Plateau.  In the east it slopes down to the fertile deltas of the Krishna and Godavari Rivers, which empty into the Bay of Bengal.  Andhra lies north of Tamil Nadu and south of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh.  It has 1200 kilometers of coastline though few palm-treed beaches.  Its tourist potential is still largely undeveloped and the state promotes few obvious natural or historic points of interest outside of the capitol city of Hyderabad.

History

Andhra PradeshFrom the second century BC to the second century AD the Satavahana dynasty (also known as the Andhras) controlled much of central and southern India.  They traded extensively with eastern Asia and Europe, and were strongly Buddhist.  Subsequently the Pallavas from Tamil Nadu held sway, though by the 7th century the Chalukyas from Karnataka controlled the area.  Around the 10th century it fell to the Chola kingdom from the south.  By the 13th century the area, now under the control of the Kakatiyas, was under constant threat as Muslim incursions extended rapidly southward.  Hindu-Muslim power struggles continued over the next three centuries during which the great city of Hampi, seat of power and wealth of the Hindu Vijayanagars, fell to the invaders and the defeated empire transferred its operations to Chandragiri near Tirupati. The mid-1500's saw the rise of the Qutb Shahi dynasty and in 1687 the son of the Mogul emperor, Aurangzeb, seized Golconda Fort, 11 kilometers west of what is now Hyderabad.  From there the Qutb Shahi kings ruled until, five years after Aurangzeb's death in 1707, the Viceroy of Hyderabad declared independence from the Mogul Empire and established the Asaf Jahi dynasty of Nizams.  They ruled until Independence though were forced by the British to relinquish most of their power after the French, with whom the Nizams initially allied themselves, lost to the British in the struggle of the two European powers to control India.  Further weakened by Marathi raids, the Nizams allied themselves with the British against Tipu Sultan of Mysore and in exchange were granted a degree of autonomy by the British.  After Independence the Nizams were in favour of joining other Muslim-controlled areas of India to become part of the soon-to-be-created state of Pakistan, but by 1949 the capitol dissolved into Hindu-Muslim rioting, the Indian army was brought in and Hyderabad state became part of the new India.  The present Andhra Pradesh state was formed in 1956 in a consolidation of Telugu-speaking areas which included part of the Madras Presidency on the east coast and the Nizam's state of Hyderabad to the west.  Modern day Andhra Pradesh is approximately 90 per cent Hindu with (Urdu-speaking) Muslims living mostly in the capitol city of Hyderabad.

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Hyderabad / Secunderabad

Andhra PradeshWith a population of around 8 million, the twin cities' charms are somewhat hidden amongst the usual chaos and congestion of a modern day Indian urban centre.  Some progress has been made in recent years, however, towards a 'clean and green' city and fairly successful efforts are being made to promote Hyderabad/Secunderabad as a focal point for India's entry into the information industry. The state's current Chief Minister, Chandra babu Naidu, has attracted global attention for his attempts at introducing progressive administration into the bureaucratic lethargy that dominates most political administrations in India.  He has initiated extensive infrastructure development in the state, and has successfully promoted Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh as attractive destinations for info-technology companies.  Most recently, he was able to arrange a visit by U.S. President Bill Clinton to Hyderabad that enhanced his reputation further.   All this has barely touched the Old City, however, and it is still possible to wander the narrow alleys and bazaars near the Charminar and come upon the tiny shops where the bangle-makers, silver-beaters, jewelers, cloth merchants, bakers, pearl dealers and shoemakers carry on their trades.  The colourful hustle and bustle and energetic commerce seem to straddle centuries as loaded oxcarts trundle placidly past cyber cafes.  Golconda Fort, built on a hill overlooking the city is fascinating testimony to this area's conflicted past with it's constant struggles for dominance.  Near the Fort are the beautiful gardens and domes of the Qutb Shahi tombs, exquisite examples of Mogul architecture and further proof of the dominant role of this dynasty in India's past.

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