In the old Pāḷi literature the name Dakkhiṇāpatha 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 Dakkhiṇāpatha territory, midway between the kingdoms of Assaka and Alaka. Snp.976 Elsewhere the name is coupled with Avanti as Avantidakkhiṇāpatha and seems to refer, but more vaguely, to the same limited district. Vin.i.195 Vin.i.196 Vin.ii.298
In J.v.133, however, Avanti is spoken of as a part of Dakkhinapatha (Dakkhinupathe Avantirattha), but see J.iii.463, where Avantidakkhinapatha is spoken of.
The Sutta Nipata Commentary ii.580 seems to explain Dakkhinapatha as the road leading to the Dakkhinajanapada, while the Sumangala Vilasini DA.i.265 takes Dakkhinapatha to be synonymous with Dakkhinajanapada and says that it was the district (janapada) south of the Ganges (Gangaya dakkhinato pakatajanapadam).
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 Dakkhinapatha was originally the name of the road which led southwards - the Aryan settlement at the end of the road, on the banks of the Godavari 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 Dakkhinapatha.
The Dakkhinapatha 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.