Visakhapatnam (Telugu: విశాఖపట్టణం) (also Visakhapattanamu, shortened and anglicized: Visakha/Vizag or Vizagapatnam) is a coastal, port city in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, located on the eastern shore of India, nestled among the hills of the Eastern Ghats and facing the Bay of Bengal to the east. It is the administrative headquarters of Visakhapatnam District and is also home of the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy.
Alternatively, it sometimes goes by its now mostly defunct colonial British name, Waltair. During the colonial era, the city had at its hub the Waltair railway station, and that part of the city still goes by the name of Waltair. It is sometimes also referred to as the "City of Destiny".
The city is home to several state owned heavy industries, one of the most advanced steel plants and has one of the country's largest ports and its oldest shipyard. It has the only natural harbour on the eastern coast of India.
Andhra University, a prominent seat of education in Andhra Pradesh is located here.
Visakhapatnam, which is the second largest city of AndhraPradesh with area of 550 sq kms is primarily an industrial city, apart from being a tourist destination. Tourists are attracted by its unspoilt beaches, nearby scenic Araku Valley and Borra caves, the 11th-century Simhachalam temple and ancient Buddhist sites like Totlakonda & Bavikonda spread across the area.
The city hoasts a submarine museum, the first of its kind in South Asia, at Rama Krishna Beach.
The city is said to have derived its name Visakhapatnam from the deity 'Visakha' (the God of Valour).
Visakhapatnam or the place of Visakha, is named after the deity of valor, the second son of Lord Shiva. The other story is the beauty of the place was compared to the beauty of Sakhi Visakha. The legend is that Radha and Visakha were born on the same day and equally beautiful. The city people believe that an Andhra King impressed by the beauty built a temple to pay obeisance to his family deity, Visakha. The stories be numerous but the fact remains; the unparalleled natural splendor of Visakhapatnam.
The Epic City The city has been mentioned in the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The forests of the Eastern Ghats; where the two brothers Rama and Laxman wandered in search of Sita, wife of Lord Rama. Rama formed his army of monkey men in the region with the help of Hanuman and Jambavan. The monkey army of Rama later defeated the demon King Ravana to claim back his wife Sita. An episode of Mahabharata when Bheema killed the demon Bakasura, was believed to have happened in the village Uppalam, just 25 miles from the city.
Buddhist Influence. The religious Hindu texts mention that the region of Visakhapatnam in the 5th century BC was part of the vast Kalinga territory which extended up to River Godavari. The relics found in the area also prove the existence of a Buddhist empire in the region. Kalinga later lost the territory to King Ashoka in the bloodiest battle of the time which prompted him to embrace Buddhism.
The territory of Viskahapatnam then came under the Andhra Rulers of Vengi. Then Chalukyas, Pallavas, the Reddy Kings ruled over the placid land. The Chola Kings built the temples in the city in 11-12 century AD as established by Archeological findings. The Mughals ruled this area under the Hyderabad Nizam in the late 15th and early 16th century. The merchants from Europe, the French, the Dutch and the East India Company used this natural port to export tobacco, ivory, muslin and other textile products.
Local legend states that an Andhra king (9-11th century) while on his way to Benares, rested there and was so enchanted with the sheer beauty of the place, that he ordered a temple to be built in honor of his family deity, Visakha. Archaeological sources however reveal that the temple was possibly built between the 11th and 12th centuries by the Cholas. A shipping merchant, Sankarayya Chetty, built one of the mandapams (pillared halls) of the temple. Although it no longer exists (it may have been washed away about a hundred years ago by a cyclonic storm), elderly residents of Vizag talk of visits to the ancient shrine by their grandparents. Noted author Ganapatiraju Atchuta Rama Raju contradicted this
In the 18th century, Visakhapatnam was part of the Northern Circars, a region comprising Coastal Andhra and southern costal Orissa that was initially under French control and later the British. Visakhapatnam became a district in the Madras Presidency of British India. After India's independence it was the biggest district in the country and was subsequently divided into the three districts of Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram and Visakhapatnam.
From being a small fishing village in the twentieth century, Vizag has grown into an industrial hub. Its saga began with the quest of British to find a suitable port that could serve the hinterland possessing rich mineral wealth. Unlike the western coast of India, the east coast has few undulations to form a natural harbor. Britishers quest for finding out a harbor ended with Vizag. Vizag is the most protected natural harbour in Asia. They started building the harbor in 1927 and in 1933 it was opened to traffic. One more important milestone is setting up of Scindia Steam Navigation Co., later known as Hindustan Shipyard Ltd in 1940. With the construction of the K.K. line connecting the iron ore mines of Bailadila in M.P. (Present day Chattisgarh), its importance grew. In 1950s and 1960s Government and private sector setting up some largescale Basic industries like Bharat Heavy plates and vessels (B.H.P.V.), Hindustan Zinc Ltd., Caltex oil refinery (Later acquired by government as H.P.C.L.), Coramandel fertilizers, Andhra Polymers (Now L.G. Polymers), etc. 1980s saw a major development with the development of Vizag Steel and other major industries. Economic liberalization in the 1990s brought a modest growth to the city but not as much as it did to Hyderabad. However, some industries sprang up like Rain calclining Ltd., expansion of H.P.C.L., setting up of Vizag Export Processing zone, Simhadri Thermal Power plant of N.T.P.C., etc. Vizag is now declared as one of ten fastest growing cities of the world a recent study conducted by the United Nations.
Due to the presence of the Eastern Naval Command, Steel Plant, H.P.C.L., the city has been the home to people from different parts of the country and due to this the city has a cosmopolitan texture to it.
The city's main commercial and shopping centres are located in the Dwaraka Nagar-R.T.C. complex area and Jagadamda Junction area. Since 2000, the Dwaraka Nagar-R.T.C. complex area has transformed into a commercial hub with new shopping malls and complexes spring up within a radius of 2-3 kilometers. The city is home to many five star hotels such as Taj group, I.T.C. Welcome Group & Park Hotels.
There has been a rise in the real estate prices attributed to the Telangana movement for a separate Telangana state, fueling speculation on Vizag becoming the next capital. Recently various large and small software and BPO companies have announced plans for starting development and outsourcing centers in Vizag, which has also contributed to the rise in real estate prices. Inflows from N.R.I.'s (Non Resident Indians) from Vizag has further added to this rise.
Indira Gandhi Zoological Park was setup in 1972 in the city outskirts. The Zoo Park features some of the rarest species in India.
Ever since the battle of Kalinga during emperor Ashoka's reign, the city found itself as a hotbed of military activity in almost every battle witnessed in the country. Right from the battle of Kalinga, World War II, India-Pakistan war of 1971 and Bangladesh Liberation War. It was only the second region in south Asia to be attacked by Japanese fighter planes during world war II. Recognising the strategic importance of the city and the role it played during the Bangladesh Liberation War, Pakistan sent its submarine, PNS Ghazi to destroy India's only aircraft carrier. The submarine sank off the coast (Pakistan claims, accidentally hitting one of the mines it laid; India claims, from depth-charge dropped by destroyer INS Rajput). The remnants of the submarine are on display on the beach road.
The city was so important during times of war that the Indian government decided to set up the Eastern Naval Command, overlooking the more populous Madras and Calcutta and developed Vizag during that period. The establishment of the E.N.C. soon after the construction of the ship building yard firmly secured Vizag's place in the annals of the Indian Navy. More defence related establishments would later come up including the N.S.T.L. (Naval Science and Technology Laboratories), which is responsible for the development and testing of warship technology, equipment and weapons. The Navy is also constructing a second base as the current base is overpopulated and not sufficient to meet the needs of the E.N.C. Despite its importance, the Naval establishment has become a hindrance for the development of Vizag. The most beautiful harbour is not made open for the general public citing the reasons of security, while in Bombay and Cochin, entire port along with Naval docks are opened for boating and of course the tourism in those locations are linked to it. The same is true when they are blocking the Road on Dolphin's nose mountain to Scindia.
Visakhapatnam is surrounded on three sides by the overlapping mountain ranges, and the south eastern city is safeguarded by the Bay of Bengal. Vizag is far away from any international border, both land and sea, making it the choice for strategic placement of the headquarters of the eastern naval command.
Vizag is a cosmopolitan mix of people from various parts of the country. From a population of a few thousand locals during the 18th century and early 19th century the population grew steadily every decade. The city doubled its population from 1990–2000 owing to a large migrant population from surrounding areas and other parts of the country coming to the city to work in its heavy industries.
As of 2001 India census, Visakhapatnam had a population of 2,845,938. After the state government approved the formation of Greater Visakhapatnam with the merger of Gajuwaka municipality and 32 villages in the vicinity in the Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation, the population of the city and the metro area swelled to 3.1 Million. Males constitute 50% of the population and females 50%. Average literacy rate of 69%, higher than the national average of 59.5%. Male literacy is 74% and female literacy is 63%. 10% of the population is younger than six. Visakhapatnam is listed as one of the Ten Fastest Growing Cities of the World.
Hinduism is practised by the majority of vizagites followed by Islam and Christianity. The city patronised Buddhism for 2 millennia as evident from the presence of many Buddhist sangharamas in the outskirts. The Buddhist population has however waned since. All the religions co-exist peacefully, Vizag never witnessed communal riots during its entire history.
Visakhapatnam is home to a small proportion of Oriya, Bengali and Malayalee community, their migration is of recent origin. Visakhapatnam due to the Naval presence and high concentration of public sector industries has a significant Hindi speaking population. It is also home to a large section of Muslims; most of them date back many generations which makes Hindi the second most spoken language.
Visakhapatnam also has a sizeable Tamil speaking population.
The average annual rainfall for the city and its surrounding area is of the order of 95 centimeters with the bulk of the rain coming from north-east monsoon. Between September and November, storms and depressions originating in the Bay of Bengal cross the east coast in the neighbourhood causing heavy rains and gales. As per Thornthwaite’s classification, Visakhapatnam and its environs come under the semi–arid (D) category. All the elements of climate viz. temperature, pressure, wind, rainfall, relative humidity and other weather phenomena hardly exist and exhibit a well marked variation while January is the coolest month of the year with average temperatures of 30 °C and 22.5 °C respectively. The present airport is getting flooded frequently due to severe rains.This is due to the location of the airport. it was made for small operations, surrounded by marshy lands, the river flood water discharging into sea. The present government has taken steps to modernize the airport with night landing facilities. in this process, the area has been strengthened with flood relieving canal and raising the runway .
Visakhapatnam is well connected with daily flights from Hyderabad, Madras, Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore, Tirupati and Calcutta. Visakhapatnam Airport has recently received permission to operate night flights. A new 10,000 feet long runway became operational to accommodate international flights and larger aircraft. The airport was one of the few chosen by the center for modernization including facilities like aerobridges and immigration booths.
Visakhapatnam International Airport is coming up at S.Rayavaram, 50 km from the city. This will serve as the gateway and hub for international flights connecting South East Asia to the Indian subcontinent.
Visakhapatnam is one of the cities on the east coast of india connected by NH5, a major national highway and a part of the Golden Quadrilateral system of Indian highways connecting Madras and Calcutta. The highway is an important route for transportation of cargo and people from these cities to and from Vizag. Visakhapatnam has a good network of roads. There are frequent buses to Vizianagaram, Srikakulam, Araku and Rajahmundry. There are even bus services to Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Tirupati, Bangalore, Madras, Calcutta and few other parts of Orissa and Karnataka.
Vizagites make use of extensive public transportation provided by the APSRTC, which runs metro buses across various routes across the city and its suburbs. The APSRTC complex at Asilametta is the hub and the origin point of most of these buses causing major traffic jams during rush hours on the heavily populated, congested Asilametta Junction. The city corporation is planning to dig subways, construct pedestrian overpasses and flyovers to address the traffic woes.
BRTS-Bus Rapid Transit System was approved for the city under the J.N.N.U.R.M. This will make use of dedicated lanes for buses allowing for an efficient, high speed mode of transportation for the public and significantly reduce traffic congestion, improving safety, this project is under implementation and will be completed by mid 2009. Once completed it will make Vizag the first city in the country to implement the B.R.T.S.
Being an important port along the east coast, passenger ships run between Visakhapatnam, Madras and the Andaman Islands. Although ships are not a main method of transportation, there is a potential for tourism development as holiday cruises are being planned along these routes by the tourism industry.
Visakhapatnam is considered as a centre for education in the state of Andhra Pradesh. A.V.N. College is one of the oldest and premier educational institutions established in 1878. It is the home of the renowned Andhra University (Established in 1926). Prof S. Radha Krishnan, before he became the President of India, worked as the Vice Chancellor of this University between 1931 to 1936. The University and its affiliated colleges provide high quality, affordable education to thousands of students from the entire state. Post Graduate and Graduate courses are offered in various branches like Arts, Commerce, Science & Technology, Engineering, IT, Business Management, Law and Pharmacy. AU college of Pharmacy is the second oldest pharmacology institute in India. Very soon the university will be getting IIEST status and there is also a proposal for setting up an IIM here at Visakhapatnam.
Another important landmark in the education map of Visakhapatnam is the Andhra Medical College (Established 1902). The college has ushered in an era of Medical Education in Visakhapatnam and continues to uphold the prestigious tradition of engendering the finest doctors from its aisles.
There are several good primary, High School and College level institutions. Apart from state run schools for the poor, there are many private institutions, missionary schools and colleges all of which provide quality education.
St.Aloysius Anglo Indian High School is the oldest school in the district and one of the oldest schools in the country. It was established in 1847. Since its inception it has been providing quality education for over 160 years. It is located in the old town region. Kendriya Vidyalaya,S.F.S, Siva Sivani, Timpany and Visakha valley are other schools with good reputation. The city has around 10 Kendriya Vidyalaya's List of Kendriya Vidyalaya with total student strength of 18000.
Gandhi Institite of Technology And Management (GITAM) recently attained the status of an autonomous university, is among the top educational `varsities in the state. GIFT administrated by GITAM is a premiere institute for foreign trade and also rated among the best in the country in its field.
Visakhapatnam has now become a preferred destination for students, after Hyderabad. I.S.C. (International Science Congress) was hosted in the Andhra University in 1976 and then in 2008. It is the biggest congregation of scientists of different disciplines in the world. Over 8000 people participated in the I.S.C. in 2008 which included prominent Nobel Prize winners across the globe.
From being a tiny hamlet of local fishing communities during the early days of the Indian Independence Struggle and for a few decades later, the city exploded enonomically, in fact the rise has been so dramatic that the city was identified as one of the ten fastest growing cities in the world economically and demographically. Various factors contributed to the city's growth economically:
The city has developed into a hub for many heavy industries. The Vizag Port, largest in the country, was the ideal gateway contributing to the development of petroleum, steel and fertilizer industries. The Vizag Steel Plant, The Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. were the two multi billion dollar investments which put Vizag in the country's industrial map. The city also has two N.T.P.C. power plants to satisfy the huge power needs of the industries.
Other heavy industries include Hindustan Zinc Limited, Rain Calcines Limited, Coromandel Fertilizers, Hindustan Ship Yard and Bharat Heavy Plate and Vessels Limited (B.H.P.V.). These industries provide employment to hundreds of thousands of people and pump billions of dollars into the state's economy.
The city also owes its economic growth to the availability of highly educated and skilled English-speaking manpower. English is the first language of many places of higher education in the city. This availability of a highly educated workforce allowed the entry of many B.P.O. companies such as HSBC, of course HSBC has started its operations in India from vizag after seeing the location and potential in the city, thus providing the roots for the exploding I.T. industry in the city. The city registered over 100% growth in the I.T. sector over the last year contributing millions of dollars to the economy. Various national and international I.T. and banking giants have set up or will be setting up offices in the city. These include Satyam, TCS, HSBC, Cognizant, Oracle Corporation, IBM, ABN AMRO, Patni, Verizon, Hexaware Solutions, iSOFT, Accenture, Sankhya Technologies, Infosys, iFlex, HCL, EDS, Kanbay etc. The proactive AP government provided infrastructure and land for these companies to set up their development centers in the city outskirts.
The growing population, economy have resulted in the revamping of the real estate prices with prices at some prime locations in the city quadrupling over the past couple of years. Various real estate companies are setting up housing projects in the outskirts of the city which is being touted as the future I.T. destination of the country. Multiple S.E.Z.'s have been sanctioned for the city. Reliance and Brandix HPCL have purchased huge areas in the S.E.Z. for setting up their industries. Bhaba Atomic Research Center has proposed to set up their second research facility in the country after Trombay in this region. The city was one of the five in the country selected to hold strategic crude reserves for the nation in times of national emergency.
The fishing industry is also on the rise with the exports of tuna doubling over the past decade. Tuna is exported to the eastern countries and also sold for domestic consumption. A second port is being constructed at Gangavaram with an investment of 2 billion dollars which when completed will be the deepest port in the country with the ability to handle the largest international vessels.
Its traditional importance in shipbuilding is confirmed by the fact that India's first ship, the "Jala Usha", was launched in Visakhapatnam. Visakhapatnam is also one of India's main fishing ports, has a dedicated harbour for the fishing industry and handles a large percentage of India's seafood exports.
The Vizag Special Economic Zone plays a vital role in the industrial growth of the city. The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre has also expressed interest in setting up a nuclear power plant here.
Vizag city has about 50 small and medium software and call centre units, of which about 10 units started their operations during the year 2005-07. Software exports from the Visakhapatnam in 2007 were worth Rs 245 Crores - an increase of over 100% over the previous year.
Cricket is the most popular game followed by tennis and football. The city is home to a number of local cricket teams participating in various district and zonal events. Gully cricket - a form of cricket played in empty streets or maidans is a popular pastime for local school/college going kids in the evenings. Vizag also co-hosted the 32nd National Games along with the state capital. Vishakapatnam has 7 cricket stadiums which are used for Ranji Trophy matches. However only 2 of these stadiums have been used for One Day International ("ODI") matches.
The city of Vizag has never hosted a Test Match. The ACA-VDCA Stadium was recently awarded Test status. This makes the ACA stadium the ninth stadium to have a Test status in the country and the second in Andhra Pradesh.
The design of the Township itself is state-of-the-art. The designers followed the Roman Circular design for the layout of homes and roads to keep the distances equal between any two points within the township.
There are 11 sectors in the Township, oldest of them being sectors 1, 2 and 3, and Sector 7 which is the exclusive domain of the directors and the chairman's homes. Other sectors came into being as the plant's staffing matured. On the average, each sectore consists of about 300 housing units, which vary from multi-storied quarters (3 floors) to single family homes. There are also bungalows exclusively for the directors of the plant.There are 5 types of housing units viz. A Type,B,C,D & director's bangalow
Sector 1 used to house the Russians who came to erect and commission the first blast furnace "Godavari", The RMHP, Sinter, and Coke Oven Batteries I & II.
The beauty of the Township is that it sits in the cradle of the unspoilt forest belt starting at the Valleys of Aracu through Yelamanchili to Narsipatnam. The township comes under the mandate of the Town Administration. The continued afforestation efforts of the management has ensured a green and pollution-free environment and thereby creating a unique ecosystem in itself. The township has well kept roads, regulated traffic. The township also has all market places, parks, clubs, sports facilities exclusively for the employees and their dependents.
Last but not the least is the vistas that the Big Kanithi Balancing reservoir offers. This large mass of water reservoir is for the captive consumption of the plant and the township alike and sits between the Township and the NH5. It draws its water from a special canal built exclusively for it from the River Yeleru, a tributary of the great river Godavari.
The road that leads from the plant plaza main gate into the township actually travels ahead as a bypass to the busy NH5 and skips Anakapalli directly to Yelamanchili and Tuni, cutting almost 20 miles (30 km) on the road route from Visakhapatnam to Vijayawada.