Origin of Telangana, Andhra, and Rayalaseema Names

This article examines how the areas of Telangana, Andhra, and Rayalaseema got their names.

Telangana name origin
The Telangana region has been derived from two names: Trilinga Desam and Trilinga Pradesh. Trilinga is common in both and only in the second part, there is a difference. The term “Trilinga” when translated conveys that that is the area situated between three major Bhagwan Shiva temples. These three temples are Kaleshwaram, Srisailam, and Draksharamam.

It is opined that over time the term ‘Trilinga’ became “Telinga” and further to “Telangana” are also the terms from which the name of Telangana originated. The last part of the name i.e. ‘ana’ seems to be shortened form of ‘agana’. During medieval times, foreign invaders occupied Telugu lands by force and included them in their kingdom. The Telugu-speaking areas of Telangana were called “Telugu Angana”. So gradually over time, the term ‘Telangana’ became commonly being used for the current areas of the Telangana state. This area was the Telugu land area conquered by the Deccan sultanate, Bahmani Kingdom, Golconda Sultanate, and later Nizam or Asif Jahi rulers. Starting from 1309 till 1948 this was under Islamic rule directly or indirectly. After the Kakatiya Kingdom lost to Tughlak in 1309, it declared independence in 1320 but lost war again in 1323. Also for a period from 1330 to 1361 Telangana was independent under the rule of Musunuri Nayakas. Further info: detailed explanation of origin of Telangana.

Andhra name origin
The name “Andhra” is of the Sanskrit language and carries the meaning “south.” History shows that the officials related to the Satavahanas and the Mauryas were addressed “Andhra – Bhrutya” meaning “the officers or ministers of the south.” “Andhras” was another name that was used to refer to the Satavahanas, who were a major empire in the past.

The ancient text, Aitareya Brahmana of Rig Veda speaks about people living in Andhra. The text says that the Andhras originally hailed from North India and it was later that they all migrated to the southern part of the country. So technically, Andhra refers to people living south of the Vindhya mountains. Coastal Andhra is used to refer to the coastal regions of current Andhra Pradesh.

Rayalaseema name origin
After the battle of Talikota in 1565, which lead to the fall of the glorious Vijayanagara Empire. Tirumala Raya, the brother of the last Emporer Rama Raya, established his smaller kingdom which is called the Aravidu dynasty.  This kingdom continued till 1646, when it became part of the Golconda kingdom.

Later Golconda was conquered by the Moghuls under Aurangazeb.  After death of Aurangazeb in 1707, the moghul empire crumbled quickly. Then, Nizam’s declared independence from Moghuls in Delhi.  However, Nizam initially sought help of French and later British East India company.  During British colonial rule, the Nizam was subordinate to the British East India company and took their help for protecting his kingdom, especially from Marathas. In the past, Rayalaseema was called the ceded districts – there was a specific reason for that. Hyderabad’s Nizam kingdom, could not pay for the upkeep of the British forces, so has to cede the Rayalaseema region in lieu of money due to the British. For many decades, this area was called ceded districts in the Madras Presidency of the British Empire.

A respected leader and learned man of those times, Sri Chilukuri Narayana Rao, considered that the word “ceded” as disrespectful. Thus, he introduced the term “Rayalaseema.” The boundaries of Rayalaseema roughly match with the territorial extent of the Aravidu dynasty. The name “Rayalaseema” has a connection to the kings of the Vijayanagara empire. All the rulers of this empire suffixed their names with either “Rayulu” or “Raya.” The Rayalaseema is denoted as being the most important territory of the Vijayanagara kings.

The current organization of Telangana, Andhra, and Rayalaseema
From 1956 to 2014, the regions of Telangana, Andhra, and Rayalaseema belonged to the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh. In the year 2014, Andhra Pradesh got bifurcated into two states: Andhra Pradesh and Telangana State. Following the bifurcation, the region of Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra are included in Andhra Pradesh.