In the old Pāli literature the name Dakkhināpatha would seem to indicate only a remote settlement or colony on the banks of the upper Godāvarī. Thus, we are told that Bāvarī had his hermitage in Dakkhināpatha territory, midway between the kingdoms of Assaka and Alaka (SN., vs.976). Elsewhere the name is coupled with Avanti as Avantidakkhināpatha and seems to refer, but more vaguely, to the same limited district. Vin.i.195, 196; ii.298. In J.v.133, however, Avanti is spoken of as a part of Dakkhināpatha (Dakkhinūpathe Avantirattha), but see J.iii.463, where Avantidakkhināpatha is spoken of.
The Sutta Nipāta Commentary (ii.580) seems to explain Dakkhināpatha as the road leading to the Dakkhinajanapada, while the Sumangala-Vilāsinī (DA.i.265) takes Dakkhināpatha to be synonymous with Dakkhinajanapada and says that it was the district (janapada) south of the Ganges (Gangāya dakkhinato pākatajanapadam).
It is clear that, in the earlier literature at any rate, the word did not mean the whole country comprised in the modern word Dekkhan. It is possible that Dakkhināpatha was originally the name of the road which led southwards - the Aryan settlement at the end of the road, on the banks of the Godāvarī being also called by the same name - and that later the road lent its name to the whole region through which it passed. (For a detailed description see Law: Geog. of Early Buddhism, pp.60ff). In the Petavatthu Commentary (PvA., p.133) the Damila country (Damilavisaya) is included in the Dakkhināpatha.
The Dakkhināpatha is famous in literature as the birthplace of strong bullocks (DhSA.141; NidA.16; DhA.iii.248, etc.). It held also a large number of ascetics (DA.i.265), and in the "southern districts" (Dakkhinesu janapadesu) people celebrated a feast called Dharana (A.v.216). See Dharana Sutta (?).