Telugu people

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Telugu people
Telugu vāru
తెలుగు వారు
Telugu talli bomma.JPG
Telugu Thalli, the personification of Telugu language
Total population
c. 83 million[1][2]
(native speakers)
Regions with significant populations
Andhra Pradesh
 India81,127,740 (2011)[2]
 United States446,000[1][3]
 Saudi Arabia377,000[4]
 United Kingdom33,000[10]
 New Zealand5,754[13]
 South Africa5,000[14]
OtherSee Telugu diaspora
Om.svg Hinduism
, Star and Crescent.svg Islam, Dharma Wheel.svg Buddhism
Related ethnic groups
Other Dravidian peoples:

Telugu people (Telugu: తెలుగువారు, romanizedTeluguvāru), also called Telugus, are an ethnolinguistic group who speak the Telugu language and are native to the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Yanam district of Puducherry. They are the most populous of the four major Dravidian groups. Telugu is the fourth most spoken language in India[15] and the 14th most spoken native language in the world.[16] A significant number of Telugus also reside in the Indian states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Maharashtra. Members of the Telugu diaspora are spread across countries like United States, Australia, Malaysia, Mauritius, UAE, and others.[17][18] Telugu is the fastest-growing language in the United States.[19] It is also a protected language in South Africa.[20]

Andhra is an ethnonym used for Telugu people since antiquity.[21] The earliest mention of the Andhras occurs in Aitareya Brahmana (c. 800 BCE) of the Rigveda.[22][23] They were also mentioned in the Mahabharata and Buddhist Jataka tales.[24] Andhras were mentioned by Megasthenes in his Indica (c. 300 BCE) as being second only to Mauryans in military strength in the entire Indian subcontinent.[25] The first major Andhra polity was the Satavahana dynasty (2nd century BCE–3rd century CE) which ruled over the entire Deccan plateau and established trade relations with the Roman Empire.[26][27][28] In the 13th century, Kakatiyas unified various Telugu-speaking areas under one realm.[29] Later, Telugu culture and literature flourished and reached its zenith during the Vijayanagara Empire. After the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire, various Telugu rulers called Nayakas established independent kingdoms across South India. Kandyan Nayaks, the last monarchy to rule Sri Lanka were of Telugu descent.[30][31] In this era, Telugu became the language of high culture across South India.[32][33][34] Vijaya Ramaswamy compared it to the overwhelming dominance of French as the cultural language of modern Europe during roughly the same era.[34]

The architecture developed by Andhras in Krishna river valley in early first centuries CE, called the Amaravati School of Art, is regarded as one of the three major styles of ancient Indian art and had a great influence on art in South India, Sri Lanka and South-East Asia.[35][36][37] Mahayana Buddhism, which would later go on to become the largest Buddhist tradition in the world, developed among Telugus in Andhra.[38][39][40] Telingana, a term referring to the land inhabited by Telugus, was first used during the 14th century CE.[41][42]

Telugu is one of six languages designated as a classical language by the Government of India. It has an inscriptional history dating back to c. 400 BCE.[43][44] It has an unbroken and diverse literary tradition of over a thousand years.[45][46]


Andhra (Telugu: ఆంధ్ర) was a kingdom mentioned in the epic Mahabharata. It was a southern kingdom, currently identified as Indian state of Andhra Pradesh where it got its name from. Andhra communities are also mentioned in the Vayu and Matsya Purana. In the Mahabharata the infantry of Satyaki was composed by a tribe called Andhras, known for their long hair, tall stature, sweet language, and mighty prowess. They lived along the banks of the Godavari river. Andhras and Kalingas supported the Kauravas during the Mahabharata war. Sahadeva defeated the kingdoms of Pandya, Andhra, Kalinga, Dravida, Odra and Chera while performing the Rajasuya yajna. Buddhist references to Andhras are also found.[47][48][49]

Andhra was mentioned in the Sanskrit sources such as Aitareya Brahmana (c. 800 BCE). According to Aitareya Brahmana of the Rigveda, the Andhras left North India from the banks of river Yamuna and migrated to South India.[50][51] They were also mentioned in the Mahabharata and Buddhist Jataka tales.[24] Andhras were mentioned by Megasthenes in his Indica (c. 300 BCE) as being second only to Mauryans in military strength in the entire Indian subcontinent.[25] They are mentioned at the time of the death of the great Mauryan King Ashoka in 232 BCE.[52][53][54] Various dynasties have ruled the area, including the Andhra (or Satavahana), Andhra Ikshvakus, Eastern Chalukyas, the Kakatiyas, the Vijayanagara Empire.[52]

Telugu is a South-Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, India, where it is the official language. The oldest inscriptions with Telugu words date to 400 BCE found at Bhattiprolu in Guntur district.[55] Other early inscriptions with more refined language were found in Kantamanenivarigudem, Guntupalli in West Godavari district and Gummadidurru and Ghantasala in Krishna district. The earliest inscription completely written in Telugu dates to 575 CE were found at Kalamalla village in Kadapa district.[55] The earliest Telugu literature dates to 11th century CE with Nannaya's Andhra Mahabharatam.

Approximate extent of the Satavahana Empire, in the early 1st century CE.[56]

In the sixth century BCE, Assaka was one of the Sixteen Mahajanapadas. After the Mauryas, parts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana were variously ruled by dynasties either ethnically Telugus. It was succeeded by the Satavahana dynasty (230 BCE-220 CE), who built the city of Amaravati. The kingdom reached its zenith under Gautamiputra Satakarni. At the end of the period, the Telugu region was divided into Kingdoms ruled by lords. In the late second century CE, the Andhra Ikshvakus ruled the eastern region along the Krishna River. The Vishnukundina Dynasty, Eastern Chalukyas, Kakatiya Dynasty and Reddy dynasty were some of the many Major Telugu Kingdoms and Dynasties Ruling the Region.

During the fourth century, the Pallava dynasty extended their rule from southern Andhra Pradesh to Tamilakam and established their capital at Kanchipuram. Their power increased during the reigns of Mahendravarman I (571–630) and Narasimhavarman I (630–668). The Pallavas dominated the southern Telugu-speaking region and northern Tamilakam until the end of the ninth century.

Between 1163 and 1323 the Kakatiya dynasty emerged, bringing the Telugu region under unified rule. During this period, the Telugu language emerged as a literary medium with the writings of Tikkana, Eranna, Nannaya, Pothana etc. are the converters of the great Hindu epics like Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Bhagavatha etc.

In 1323 the sultan of Delhi, Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq, sent a large army commanded by Ulugh Khan (later, as Muhammad bin Tughluq, the Delhi sultan) to conquer the Telugu region and lay siege to Warangal. The fall of the Kakatiya dynasty led to an era with competing influences from the Turkic kingdoms of Delhi, the Chalukya Chola dynasty (1070–1279) in the south and the Persio-Tajik sultanate of central India. The struggle for Andhra ended with the victory of the Musunuri Nayaks over the Turkic Delhi Sultanate.

The Telugus achieved independence under Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire (1336–1646). The Qutb Shahi dynasty of the Bahmani Sultanate succeeded that empire. The Qutub Shahis were tolerant of Telugu culture from the early 16th to the end of the 17th centuries.

The arrival of Europeans (the French under the Marquis de Bussy-Castelnau and the English under Robert Clive) altered polity of the region . In 1765, Clive and the chief and council at Visakhapatnam obtained the Northern Circars from Mughal emperor Shah Alam. The British achieved supremacy when they defeated Maharaja Vijaya Rama Gajapati Raju of Vizianagaram in 1792.

Andhra's modern foundation was laid in the struggle for Indian independence under Mohandas Gandhi. Potti Sreeramulu's campaign for a state independent of the Madras Presidency and Tanguturi Prakasam Panthulu and Kandukuri Veeresalingam's social-reform movements led to the formation of Andhra State, with Kurnool its capital and freedom-fighter Pantullu its first chief minister. A democratic society, with two stable political parties and a modern economy, emerged under the Chief Ministership of N. T. Rama Rao.

India became independent from the United Kingdom in 1947. Although the Muslim Nizam of Hyderabad wanted to retain independence from India, he was forced to cede his kingdom to the Dominion of India in 1948 to form Hyderabad State. Andhra, the first Indian state formed primarily on a linguistic basis, was carved from the Madras Presidency in 1953. In 1956, Andhra State was merged with the Telugu-speaking portion of Hyderabad State to create the state of Andhra Pradesh. The Lok Sabha approved the formation of Telangana from ten districts of Andhra Pradesh on 18 February 2014.[57]


Two Kuchipudi dancers from Andhra Pradesh, 2011



Kuchipudi is a famous Classical Indian dance from Andhra Pradesh.


  • Masculine
  1. Uttareeyam (Uttariya) or Pai Pancha (Angvastram or veil)
  2. Pancha (Dhoti)
  3. Jubba (Kurta) The top portion
  4. Lungi (Casual dress)
  • Feminine
  1. Langa voni (Half sari)
  2. Pattu pavada
  3. Cheera (sari)


Important festivals celebrated by Telugu people include:



Telugu is the fourth most spoken language after Hindi, Bengali and Marathi in India.[15] Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are the principal resident states for Telugu people.

Telugu people form the majority speakers in South India with over 75 million speakers in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. This is followed by 3.7 million in Karnataka and 4.2 million in Tamil Nadu making them the second largest language groups in those neighbouring states.[58]

In Tamil Nadu, Telugu people who migrated during the Vijayanagara period have spread across several northern districts and constitute a significant percentage of the population in Chennai city. In Karnataka, Telugu people are predominantly found in the border districts with majority in Bengaluru city.

In Maharashtra, the Telugu population is over 1.4 million, followed by 0.7 million in Orissa. Other states with significant populations include West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat with 200,000, 150,000 and 100,000 respectively.[58]

The overseas Telugu diaspora numbers more than 400,000 in the United States, with the highest concentration in Central New Jersey, Texas, and California.[citation needed]

There are around 300,000 Telugu people in Malaysia.[59] Telugu people in Myanmar number over 200,000.[60]

Notable Telugu people[edit]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ a b "Scheduled Languages in descending order of speaker's strength - 2011" (PDF). Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India.
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  4. ^ "Telugu-speaking South Asian in Saudi Arabia". Joshua Project. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
  5. ^ "Telugu-speaking South Asian in Myanmar (Burma)". Joshua Project. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
  6. ^ "Telugu-speaking South Asian in Malaysia". Joshua Project. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
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  8. ^ "Knowledge of languages by age and gender: Canada, provinces and territories, census divisions and census subdivisions". Census Profile, 2021 Census. Statistics Canada Statistique Canada. 7 May 2021. Retrieved 3 January 2023.
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  10. ^ "Language, England and Wales: Census 2021". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 10 March 2023.
  11. ^ "Telugu-speaking South Asian in Fiji". Joshua Project. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
  12. ^ "Telugu-speaking South Asian in Mauritius". Joshua Project. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
  13. ^ "2018 Census totals by topic – national highlights (updated)". Statistics New Zealand. 30 April 2020. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
  14. ^ "Telugu-speaking South Asian in South Africa". Joshua Project. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
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  33. ^ Miller, Barbara Stoler (1992). The Powers of Art: Patronage in Indian Culture. Oxford University Press. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-19-562842-5. In Tyagaraja's time, Telugu was the language of high culture even in Tanjore, the heartland of the Tamil linguistic area.
  34. ^ a b Ramaswamy, Vijaya (25 August 2017). Historical Dictionary of the Tamils. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 88. ISBN 978-1-5381-0686-0. In precolonial or early-modern South India, Telugu became the cultural language of the south, including the Tamil country, somewhat similar to the overwhelming dominance of French as the cultural language of modern Europe during roughly the same era. Therefore, Telugu predominates in the evolution of Carnatic music, and it is the practice to teach Telugu language in music colleges to those aspiring to become singers.
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  39. ^ Guang Xing. The Evolution of the Concept of the Buddha from Early Buddhism to the Formulation of the Trikaya Theory. 2002. p. 104. "Several scholars have suggested that the Prajñāpāramitā probably developed among the Mahasamghikas in Southern India, in the Andhra country, on the Krishna River."
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External links[edit]