Rayalaseema (రాయలసీమ)is a geographic region in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. It includes the districts of Kurnool, Kadapa (formerly known as 'Cuddapah'), Anantapur, Chittoor, parts of Prakasam and Nellore districts. Bellary district of the present day Karnataka was part of Rayalaseema till the states were reorganized. The usage of the word and identification to a geographic area is relatively recent (early 20th century).
The word "Rayalaseema" means the land ruled by Sri Krishnadevaraya. Rayalaseema was the original home of Eastern Chalukyas. They gradually extended their sway over Karnata country because of the pressure from Cholas kings. Although Rayalaseema is a relatively small region compared to the rest of Telugu speaking regions, its contribution to Telugu, Urdu, arts, culture and literature is immense.
Amongst the Trilingas, Srisailam is the foremost amongst them is in Rayalaseema. The first settlement of Telugus is said to be in Rayalaseema Region. The oldest written inscription ShilaShaasanam bearing the word Andhra Pathamu has been found in Bellary region (present day Karnataka).
Telugu culture reached its zenith during the Vijayanagara rule under Sri Krishnadevaraya. Amongst Ashta Diggajas, Allasani Peddana, Dhoorajati, Nandi Timmana, Maadayyagari Mallana and Ayyalaraju RamaBhadrudu are from this region.
Recent notable scholar from the region is Saraswati Putra Puttaparthi Narayanacharyulu.
Ghadiyaram Ramakrishna Sharma, a prolific author, historian and social reformer has settled in Alampuram near Kurnool. Sri Ramakrishna Sharma is responsible for restoration of the ancient Jogulamba temple. He is also treated as a bridge between Rayalaseema and Telangana.
Kuntimaddi Sesha Sarma from Anathapuram area was a prolific author in Vishisthadwaita related subjects.
Notable Urdu Literary personalities from this region, Qaisi Qamarnagari, Kareem Roomani, Barq Kadapavi, Ahmadnisar Madanapalle, Qamar Ameeni, Abdul Azeem, Saghar Jayyadi, Sathar Faizi, N.M.Jalib Saaqui Kadapa.
Annamayyaacharaya - Apart from the all too famous songs on Sri Venkateswara, an interesting mention of the lullaby Chandamama Raave, jaabilli raave, which every Telugu mother sings.
Tyagaraja - Belongs to Kakarla family of Rayalaseema region.
SriPada Pinakapani - Settled in Kurnool (21st Century). He is guru of other Telugu stalwarts like Oleti Venkateswarlu, Nedunuri Krishnamurti, Nookala Chinna Satya Narayana, Malladi Brothers and others.
Rallapalli Ananthakrishna Sharma - Sangitha Kalanidhi, a great musicologist and scholar from Ananthapuram area.
Rayalaseema has many important places of pilgrimage for Telugu people, Kannadigas and Tamils.
Thimmama Marrimanu :- World's largest occupied banyan tree, it covers . Age of the tree 550 years. It holds a Guinness Book record. Near KADIRI, from Anantapur 120 kilometres, from Kadiri 20 kilometres.
Rayalaseema is underdeveloped compared to the Coastal Andhra region of the state. The growing movement in Telangana to secede from Andhra Pradesh, as well as southern India's long droughts have caused several movements to coalesce around Rayalaseema's grievances. All of these movements are calling for greater official attention for the region, especially in the form of new water projects to harness the Krishna and Godavari rivers to the aid of the region's beleaguered farmers. Congress MP Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy of Kurnool, who hopes to unite the Rayalaseema movements, advocates the inclusion of Nellore and Prakasam districts of Coastal Andhra and even the Kannada-speaking district of Bellary in Karnataka into a separate Rayalaseema state.
Various organizations like Rayalaseema Hakkula Ikya Vedika are demanding the establishment of second capital in Kurnool. Kurnool is an important city in the Rayalaseema region. It was the Capital of Andhra State from 1 October 1953 to 1 November 1956 and at present is the headquarters of Kurnool District.
Rayalaseema was named so in 1928 by Gadicherla Hari Sarvottama Rao, a famous freedom fighter. Before 1928, the area was variously called as Guttha Seema and Ceded Districts.Though the area comprises 4 to 5 districts, several chief ministers came from this region. They include current Chief Minster Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, Nara Chandrababu Naidu the ex Chief Minister, Kotla Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy (the former Chief Minister), Damodaram Sanjeevaiah and Neelam Sanjivareddy the former President of India.
The peculiar phenomenon of factionism in Rayalaseema goes back to the times of Vijayanagara Empire. Village chieftains known as "Poligars" / 'Paalegarlu' were crucial for the survival of the kingdom. Vijayanagara Rulers depended upon these chieftains for military support in times of crisis and granted a fair degree of autonomy. The British tried to eliminate factionism in the region by hanging a couple of the Chieftains publicly, but failed to eradicate it. Land Reforms to distribute land and wealth usurped by Palegars have met limited success, which resulted in another violent phenomenon known as Naxalism. Factionism has political patronage and is a flourishing activity today.
Factionism has been hindering the progress of Rayalaseema. Many politicians and families are associated with factionism, spending their valuable time to protect themselves from their opponents and planning how to attack or even kill their opponents. For surviving and managing their gangs, they indulge in rowdyism and asking commissions (or percentages) from the government projects. Because of this, some government projects (such as new broadgauage railway line, irrigation related work etc.) were stopped or postponed. If any government servant does not listen these factionists, they are threatened.