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History

About visakhapatnam History

Visakhapatnam was ruled by King Visakha Varma during BC's, according to Hindu Puranams. It was a part of the Kalinga Kingdom, under Ashoka's rule in 260 B.C. It passed on later to the Andhra Kings of Vengi and later to Pallavas. Another story of this place is it was named after Subrahmanyeswara, the deity of valour, the second son of Lord Shiva. The beauty of the place was often compared to the beauty of Sakhi Visakha. The legend is that Radha and Visakha were born on the same day and were equally beautiful. Locals believe that an Andhra king, impressed by the beauty, built a temple to pay obeisance to his family deity, Visakha.

The Epic City
The city has been mentioned in the Indian epics Rāmāyana and Mahābhārata, as well as the forests of the Eastern Ghats where the two brothers Rama and Lakshmana wandered in search of Sita, wife of Lord Rama. According to the epics, Rama formed his army of monkey men in the region with the help of Hanuman and Jambavant. The monkey army of Rama later defeated the King Ravan to claim back his wife Sita. An episode of Mahābhārata when Bheema killed the demon Bakasura, was believed to have happened in the village Karmanvati, just 40 km 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 the Godavari River. 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.

Sankaram
One of the most significant Buddhist sites in Andhra Pradesh, Sankaram is located some 41 km away from Visakhapatnam. The name Sankaram derives from the term Sangharama. Sankaram is famous for the whole lot of votive stupas, rock-cut caves, brick-built structural edifices, early historic pottery and Satavahana coins that date back to the 1st century AD. The main stupa here was initially carved out of rock and then covered with bricks. In close proximity lies yet another significant Buddhist sites, Bojjannakonda, where you can see a number of images of the Buddha carved on the rock face of the caves. At Ligalametta, there are hundreds of rock cut monolithic stupas in rows, spread all over the hill. Among other Buddhist attractions here are relic casket, three chiatya halls, votive platforms, stupas and Vajrayana sculptures. The Vihara was functional for around a millennium and saw the development of the not only Theravada form of Buddhism but also Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism.

Bavikonda
The term Bavikonda in Telegu language means a hill of wells. As per its name, Bavikonda is a hill which has wells for the collection of rainwater. Bavikonda is located 15 km from the town of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, India and is an immensely significant Buddhist site. Excavation carried out in 1982-87 revealed an entire Buddhist establishment comprising a Mahachaitya, embedded with relic caskets, large vihara complex, numerous votive stupas, a stone pillared congregation hall, rectangular halls, a refectory etc. Artefacts discovered from the site include Roman and Satavahana coins and pottery dating back to the 3rd century BC to the 2nd century AD. A significant finding here is a piece of bone stored in an urn. This bone is widely supposed to be the mortal remains of the Buddha. In the urn, there is also a large quantity of ash. The Bavikonda site, today, is counted amongst one of the oldest and immensely sacred Buddhist sites in the Asia. The ruins of the site stand reminder to the great Buddhist civilisation that once existed in the southern part of India. The site, in fact, also reminds a number of visitors of the Borobudur in Indonesia.
Thotlakonda
Around 16 km from Visakhapatnam is the Thotlakonda, a Buddhist complex situated on the top of a hill. The site spreads over an area of 120 acres (0.49 km2) and has been declared a protected monument by the government of Andhra Pradesh. Excavations carried out here have brought to surface three kinds of structural remains – religious, secular and civil. To be more precise the structures include a Mahastupa, 16 votive stupas, a stone pillared congregation hall, 11 rock-cut cisterns, well paved stone path ways, an apsidal chaitya-griha, 3 circular chaitgya-grihas, two votive platforms, 10 viharas, a kitchen complex with three halls and a refectory (dining hall). Apart from the structures, the Buddhist treasures excavated from here include nine Satavahana and five roman silver coins, terracotta tiles, stucco decorative pieces, sculptured panels, miniature stupa models in stone, Buddha padas depicted with asthamangal symbols, early historic pottery etc.
Later history
The territory of Visakhapatnam then came under the Andhra rulers of Vengi. Then Chalukyas, Pallavas ruled over the placid land. This region was under Eastern Ganga Kings, Surya Vamsi Gajapati kings of Orissa from 10th century to 16th century AD. This region came under Hyderabad rulers in 16th century. The Chola kings and Eastern Ganga Kings of Orissa 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. European merchants from France, Holland and the East India Company used the natural port to export tobacco, ivory, muslin and other textile products.
Local legend states that an Andhra king, while on his way to Benalres, rested there and was so enchanted with the sheer beauty of the place. 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 Visakhapatnam 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 coastal Orissa that was initially under French control and later the British. Visakhapatnam became a district in the Madras Presidency of British India. In September 1804, British and French squadrons fought the naval Battle of Vizagapatam off the harbour. After India's independence it was the biggest district in the country and was subsequently divided into the three districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam.
The city has the tomb of the Muslim saint Syed Ali Ishak Madina, located atop the dargah-hill near the harbour in old city, which is dated to 18th century, where Hindus make vows at it as often as Muslims. The saint is considered to be all potent over the elements in the Bay of Bengal. Many old residents say that every vessel passing the harbour inwards or outwards used to salute the saint by hoisting and lowering its flag three times, and that many ship-owners offer chadar at the shrine after a successful voyage. It's been said that the name Visakhapatnam is named after him i.e. Syed Ali Ishak Madina, the saint. Initially it was Ishaqapatnam which has been modified into present Visakhapatnam may be because of mispronunciation of an Arabic world by the local people.


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