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Visakhapatnam

Visakhapatnam () (also known as Vizag) is a port city on the southeast coast of India. With a population of 1,435,099,[1] it is the second-largest city in the state of Andhra Pradesh and the third-largest city on the east coast (after Kolkata and Chennai). Visakhapatnam is located east of the state capital, Hyderabad. The city is home to several state-owned heavy industries and a steel plant; it is one of India's largest seaports and has the country's oldest shipyard. Visakhapatnam has the only natural harbour on the east coast of India.

The city was named after Visakha, the Hindu god of valor. It is nestled among the hills of the Eastern Ghats and faces the Bay of Bengal on the east. Visakhapatnam is the administrative headquarters of Visakhapatnam district and headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy. It is nicknamed The City of Destiny[2] and, more recently, the Goa of the East Coast. Like its west-coast counterpart it offers attractive beaches, laterite hillocks and a pleasing landscape. It is also a focus of urban and tourist development.

Contents


Overview

alt=Cloudy sunrise at a rocky beach alt=Aerial view of seaport In addition to being an east-coast seaport, Visakhapatnam is an industrial city. Part of the city is known by its colonial British name, Waltair; during the colonial era, the city's hub was the Waltair railway station and the surrounding part of the city is still called Waltair.

Etymology and history

alt=Corner of light-colored, angular stone ruins
alt=Corner of light-colored, angular stone ruins
Visakhapatnam was ruled by King Visakha Varma before the time of Christ, according to Hindu Puranams. It was a part of the Kalinga Kingdom under Ashoka's rule in 260 BC, and until the 16th century AD it was part of the Utkala Kingdom. The city passed later to the Andhra Kings of Vengi and after that to the Pallavas. Another story is it was named after Subrahmanyeswara, the deity of valour and second son of Lord Shiva. Its beauty was compared to that of Sakhi Visakha. Legend has it that Radha and Visakha were born on the same day, and were equally beautiful. Local residents believe that an Andhra king, impressed by their beauty, built a temple to pay homage to his family deity Visakha.

Epic city

Visakhapatnam was mentioned in the Indian epics R m yana and Mah bh rata in 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. His monkey army later defeated King Ravan to regain his wife, Sita. A scene in Mah bh rata (where Bheema killed the demon Bakasura) is believed to have occurred in the village of Karmanvati, from the city.

Well-known people who hail from this region include poet Sri Sri, Devika Rani and Sandeep Royal Bhaktula. alt=Stone statue of seated Buddha surrounded by trees and shrubs

Buddhist influence

Hindu texts state that during the the fifth century BC, the Visakhapatnam region was part of Kalinga territory, which extended to the Godavari River. 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 its time, which prompted Ashoka to embrace Buddhism. Visakhapatnam is surrounded by ancient Buddhist sites, most of which have been excavated recently and illustrate the legacy of Buddhism in the area.

Pavuralakonda ("pigeon hill") is a hillock west of Bhimli, about from Visakhapatnam. The Buddhist settlement found here is estimated to date back from the first century BC to the second century AD. On the hillock (which overlooks the coastline) are 16 rock-cut cisterns for collecting rainwater. Gopalapatnam, on the Tandava River, is a village surrounded by brick stupas, viharas, pottery and other Buddhist artifacts.

Sankaram

alt=Buddhist shrine, with rock carvings of the Buddha
alt=Buddhist shrine, with rock carvings of the Buddha
In 1907 British archaeologist Alexander Rea unearthed Sankaram, a 2,000-year-old Buddhist site. The name "Sankaram" derives from the Sangharama (temple or monastery). Located south of Visakhapatnam, it is known locally as Bojjannakonda and is a significant Buddhist site in Andhra Pradesh. The three major schools of Buddhism (Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana) flourished here. The complex is known for its monolithic stupas, rock-cut caves and brick structures. The primary stupa was initially carved out of rock and covered with bricks. Excavations yielded historic pottery and Satavahana coins from the first century AD. At Lingalakonda, there are also rock-cut monolithic stupas in rows spread over the hill. The vihara was active for about 1,000 years.

Nearby is another Buddhist site, Bojjannakonda, with 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 across the hill. Among other Buddhist attractions are a relic casket, three chiatya halls, votive platforms, stupas and Vajrayana sculptures. Stone seated Buddha, surrounded by other stone figures

Bavikonda

Bavikonda is an important Buddhist heritage site located on a hill about 15 km, northeast from Visakhapatnam city. Here the Buddhist habitation is noticed on a 16 ha flat terraced area. The Hinayana school of Buddhism was practiced at the monastery between the 3rd century B.C. and the 3rd century A.D. Bavikonda has remains of an entire Buddhist complex, comprising 26 structures belonging to three phases. A piece of bone stored in an urn recovered here is believed to belong to the mortal remains of the Budda. The word Bavikonda in Telugu means "a hill of wells". Fitting its name, Bavikonda is a hill with wells for the collection of rainwater. It is located from Visakhapatnam and is a significant Buddhist site. Excavation carried out from 1982 1987 revealed a Buddhist establishment including a mahachaitya embedded with relic caskets, a large vihara complex, numerous votive stupas, a stone-pillared congregation and rectangular halls and a refectory. Artifacts recovered from the site include Roman and Satavahana coins and pottery dating from the third century BC to the second century AD. A significant finding was a piece of bone (with a large quantity of ash) in an urn, which is believed to be the remains of the Buddha. The Bavikonda site is considered one of the oldest Buddhist sites in Asia. It is a reminder of the Buddhist civilisation which once existed in southern India, and also reminiscent of Borobudur in Indonesia.

Thotlakonda

About from Visakhapatnam is Thotlakonda, a Buddhist complex situated on top of a hill. The Buddhist Complex on the Mangamaripeta hilltop, locally known as Thotlakonda, lies about 16 km from Visakhapatnam on Visakhapatnam-Bheemili Beach Road. After its discovery (during an aerial survey), the Government of A.P declared the 48 ha site as a protected monument in 1978. Excavations in 1988 to 1992 exposed structural remains and artifacts, classified as Religious, Secular and Civil. These structures include the Stupa, Chaityagrihas, pillared congregation halls, bhandagaras, refectory (bhojanasala), drainage and stone pathways. The site covers an area of , and has been declared a protected area by the government of Andhra Pradesh. Excavations have revealed three kinds of structural remains: religious, secular and civil. Structures include a mahastupa, sixteen votive stupas, a stone-pillared congregation hall, eleven rock-cut cisterns, well-paved stone pathways, an apsidal chaitya-griha, three round chaitgya-grihas, two votive platforms, ten viharas and a kitchen complex with three halls and a refectory (dining hall). Apart from the structures, Buddhist treasures excavated 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 and early pottery.

Later history

The territory of Visakhapatnam then came under the Andhra rulers of Vengi, and Chalukyas and Pallavas ruled the land. The region was ruled by the Eastern Ganga king Surya Vamsi and the Gajapati kings of Orissa from the 10th century to the 16th centuries AD (when the region came under the Hyderabad rulers). Based on archeological evidence, the Chola kings and the Eastern Ganga Kings of Orissa built temples in the city in the 11th and 12th centuries. The Mughals ruled the area under the Hyderabad Nizam during the late 15th and early 16th centuries. European merchants from France, Holland and the East India Company used the natural port to export tobacco, paddy, coal, iron ore, ivory, muslin and other textile products.

Local legend tells that an Andhra king, on his way to Benares, rested at Visakhapatnam and was so enchanted by its beauty that he ordered a temple to be built in honor of his family deity, Visakha. Archaeological sources, however, reveal that the temple was probably 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 (possibly washed away about 100 years ago by a cyclonic storm), elderly residents of Visakhapatnam remember visits to the ancient shrine by their grandparents (although author Ganapatiraju Atchuta Rama Raju denies this).[3]

During the 18th century Visakhapatnam was part of the Northern Circars, a region comprising coastal Andhra and southern coastal Orissa which was first under French control and later 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 near the harbour. After India's independence it was the largest district in the country, and was subsequently divided into the districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam.

The tomb of the 18th-century Muslim saint Syed Ali Ishak Madina, atop the Dargah Hill near the harbour in the old city, is visited by both Hindus and Muslims. The saint is considered to have power over the elements in the Bay of Bengal. Old residents say that every ship crossing the harbour 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.

Demographics

Visakhapatnam is a cosmopolitan mix of people from various parts of India. From a population of a few thousand during the 18th and early 19th centuries, the population grew steadily. The city doubled its population from 1990 2000, due to a large migrant population from surrounding areas and other parts of the country coming to work in its factories.

According to the 2001 India census,[4] the city of Visakhapatnam had a population of 2,569,608 and the population of its metropolitan area was 3,329,472.[4] After the state government approved the formation of Greater Visakhapatnam (with the merger of the Gajuwaka municipality and 32 villages in the vicinity into the Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation), the population of the city and the metro area swelled; its present population may be between 2.6 and 3.8 million. Men and women each make up 50 percent of the population. The city has an average literacy rate of 70 percent, higher than the national average of 59.5 percent. Male literacy is 74 percent and female literacy 64 percent. 10 percent of the population is under age six. Visakhapatnam is listed as one of the 100 fastest-growing cities in the world.[5]

Hinduism is practised by the majority of its citizens, followed by Islam and Christianity. The area practised Buddhism for two millennia, evidenced from the many Buddhist sangharamas in the outlying areas; currently, however, the population of Buddhists has waned. There is little or no religious tension.

Language

Visakhapatnam is predominantly Telugu-speaking. The Telugu spoken by the middle class is the standard dialect, while a significant population who have settled down in the city from the adjoining villages and neighbouring districts of East Godavari, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam speak the Uttarandhra (north coastal) Mandalikam dialects.

Historians theorise that centuries ago (when Uttarandhra was part of the Kalinga Empire), Buddhist missionaries and merchants may have taken Telugu script (derived from Brahmi script) to Southeast Asia from the shores of Uttarandhra, where it evolved into the scripts of Mon, Burmese, Thai, Khmer, Javanese, Balinese and possibly Sinhala (spoken in Sri Lanka). Their similarities to Telugu script can be discerned even today.

Visakhapatnam is home to small Punjabi, Gujarati, Oriya, Bengali, Nepali and Malayalee communities; their arrival is recent, due to the naval presence and high concentration of public-sector employers. There is also an Anglo-Indian community. Many residents also speak English and Hindi, which facilitates communication between tourists and local people.

Climate

alt=Satellite image of extensive cloud cover
alt=Satellite image of extensive cloud cover
Visakhapatnam has a tropical savanna climate (K ppen climate classification Aw), with little change in temperature throughout the year. May is the hottest month with an average temperature about , and January is the coolest month with an average temperature near .

With the city's location on the Bay of Bengal, the humidity is high throughout the year. Total annual rainfall is about , most of which falls during the southwest monsoon. October is the wettest month, with about of rainfall. November through February is the best time to visit Visakhapatnam weather-wise, since temperatures are moderate.

Strategic importance

alt=Open-air military exhibit
alt=Open-air military exhibit
Many battles have been fought in Visakhapatnam during conflicts such as World War II, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and the Bangladesh Liberation War. The region was only the second 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 sink India's only aircraft carrier. The submarine sank off the coast; Pakistan claimed it accidentally hit one of the mines it laid, but India claimed it was hit by a depth charge dropped by the destroyer INS Rajput. The remnants of the submarine (which have become a tourist attraction) are on display on Beach Road.

alt=Large submarine museum, with visitors dwarfed by submarine
alt=Large submarine museum, with visitors dwarfed by submarine
Visakhapatnam was so important during wartime that the Indian government established the Eastern Naval Command there, rather than Chennai or Kolkata. It is surrounded on three sides by overlapping mountain ranges, and the southeastern part of the city is guarded by the Bay of Bengal. Visakhapatnam is far from an international border (by land or sea), making it a strategic choice for ENC headquarters. The establishment of the ENC soon after the construction of the shipbuilding yard secured Visakhapatnam's place in the plans of the Indian Navy. Some defence-related establishments are Naval Science and Technology Laboratories (NSTL, which is responsible for development and testing of warship technology, equipment and weapons) and Bharat Dynamics (manufacturer of heavy- and lightweight torpedoes). Since 1949 the navy has a dockyard in the city, from which India's first nuclear submarine was launched. It has plans to establish a second submarine base at the alternate ENC base in Rambilli (near Visakhapatnam); the current base is overpopulated and insufficient to meet ENC needs.

Indian Navy

Visakhapatnam has an Eastern Naval Command [ENC] office, the Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (DRDO Lab), a CQAE [Chief Quality Assurance Establishment], an EFS office, a naval dockyard (established in 1949) and naval bases including INS Kalinga, INS Samudrika, INS Satavahana, ENC Base and INS Dega. A new base (INS Rambilli) is being built on with an investment of , the first dedicated submarine base in India. India's first nuclear submarine (the INS Arihant) was launched in the naval dockyard, and Bharat Dynamics has begun manufacturing torpedoes. Visakhapatnam also has Indian Coast Guard offices. Despite its importance, the naval establishment has become a hindrance to the development of Visakhapatnam. The harbour is not open to the general public for security reasons, while in Mumbai and Kochi the entire port (and naval docks) are open for boating and tourism.

Transport

Air

alt=Long, low building with cars parked in front
alt=Long, low building with cars parked in front
Visakhapatnam Airport is the busiest international airport in Coastal Andhra. It is connected by daily flights with Hyderabad, Chennai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Vijayawada, Tirupati, Kolkata, Pune, Kochi, Patna, Raipur and Indore. Visakhapatnam Airport recently received permission to operate night flights, and the airport is open until 22:00. A new 10,000-foot (3 km) runway is operational to accommodate international flights and larger aircraft. The airport was recently modernized (including jet bridges and immigration booths), and the new terminal was opened on 21 March 2009. Visakhapatnam became an international airport when Air India began flights to Dubai (via Hyderabad) on 25 March 2012. Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines have agreed to begin international flights from Visakhapatnam.

Road

alt=Aerial view of harbor and highway interchanges
alt=Aerial view of harbor and highway interchanges
Visakhapatnam is one of the major cities on the east coast of India connected by NH5, a major highway and a part of the Golden Quadrilateral system of Indian highways connecting Chennai and Kolkata. The section of NH5 from Kolkata to Chennai connects Visakhapatnam on the northeast and the south. The highway is an important route for transporting cargo and people from these cities via Visakhapatnam. The city has a broad network of roads. There are frequent buses to Kakinada, Vizianagaram, Srikakulam, Araku, Guntur and Rajahmundry, and bus service to Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntur, Ongole Tirupati, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Koraput, Rayagada and elsewhere in Karnataka.

Residents of Visakhapatnam use a public-transport network provided by the APSRTC, which runs buses along a number of routes across the city and its suburbs. The APSRTC complex at Asilametta is the hub for most of these buses, and there are traffic jams during rush hours in the heavily-populated, congested Asilametta Junction. The city corporation plans subways, pedestrian overpasses and flyovers to address traffic problems.

A Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) was approved for the city under the JNNURM.[6] This will make use of dedicated lanes for buses, allowing for an efficient, high-speed mode of transport for the public, reducing traffic congestion and improving safety. The project is planned for completion by the end of 2015.

Rail

alt=Outdoor train station, with long passenger train
alt=Outdoor train station, with long passenger train
The railway station at Visakhapatnam is administered by the East Coast Railway of Indian Railways. It is on the Chennai Central-Howrah Station route, although the main line bypasses the Central Station. A suburban station on the main line (near the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant at Duvvada) is being developed into a satellite hub to improve service into the city.

There are direct rail links to Machilipatnam, Vijayawada Junction, Secunderabad Railway Station, Tirupati, Vellore katpadi Junction, Bhubaneswar, Nagpur, Bangalore Bhopal Junction, Mumbai, Surat, Porbandar, Okha, Mangalore, Tiruchchirapalli, Puri, Raipur, Bilaspur, Korba, Nasik, Amritsar, Patna, Ernakulam, Trivandrum,Malda, Kanniyakumari, Shirdi, Aurangabad, Varanasi, Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad, Gaya, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Jammu Tawi, Bhilai, Gwalior, Chennai Central, Howrah Station, New Delhi Railway Station etc., and also has direct services to Indore, Ujjain, Coimbatore, Jaipur and other major cities.

Sea

alt=Aerial view of port with ships
alt=Aerial view of port with ships
On the east coast of India, Visakhapatnam serves as the gateway waterway for Andhra Pradesh. It has one of the country's largest ports, and the oldest shipyard on the east coast. It is a land-locked harbour,[7] as connected to the sea by a channel cut through rock and sand. Visakhapatnam is one of the busiest ports in India. Vizag Seaport owns two berths in the inner harbour; berth EQ-8 is fully mechanized and berth EQ-9 berth is not. Both berths are capable of handling Panamax vessels. The shipyard at Visakhapatnam is the largest in India. On the Chennai Kolkota corridor, the city is also a hub for ground traffic. The Gangavaram Port is India's deepest seaport. In December 2010, Coal India agreed to enable an additional berth to be built at the port.[8]

Economy

alt=Two fishermen, carrying a large fish
alt=Two fishermen, carrying a large fish
From a hamlet of local fishing communities during the early days of the Indian independence struggle and a few decades later, Visakhapatnam grew economically; the rise has been so quick that the city was identified as one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, economically and demographically.[9][10] Several factors contributed to the city's economic growth, including the natural harbor, its location between Madras and Calcutta, access to NH5 and a developed network of railways which changed the hamlet into an industrial city.[11] The city has developed into a hub for heavy industry. The Visakhapatnam Port (the largest in the country) was a gateway contributing to the development of the petroleum, steel and fertilizer industries. The Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (recently expanded from 3.1 to 6.3 MT) and Hindustan Petroleum were the two multi-billion-dollar investments which put Visakhapatnam on the industrial map. The city has two N.T.P.C. power plants to fill its power needs. Visakhapatnam also hosts the headquarters of the Dredging Corporation of India.

alt=Shipping canal, with trees on both sides
alt=Shipping canal, with trees on both sides
It is a hub for iron ore and other mineral exports; ore from Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh is transported to Visakhapatnam by rail and road transport. From the port, minerals are exported by ship to China and other countries. Visakhapatnam district and its surrounding area have bauxite reserves of 1,000 MT, manganese ore and titanium reserves in its beach sand.

Visakhapatnam also owes its economic growth to the availability of an educated English-speaking workforce; English is the first language in many institutions of higher education in the city. The availability of an educated workforce allowed ITES companies such as HSBC, IBM Daksh, Sutherland and Acclaris to flourish. The city has 102 small and medium software and call-centre companies, of which about 10 began their operations from 2005 2007. Software exports from Visakhapatnam in 2007 were worth and in 2008, in 2011 an increase of nearly 90 percent each year.

National and international IT and banking firms (such as IBM, Mahindra Satyam, Kenexa, Infotech, Softsol, and Miracle Software) have opened offices in the city. The Andhra Pradesh government provided infrastructure and land for these companies to set up their development centers in the city's outskirts. The government has also established an IT special economic zone in the Rushikonda Hills in Visakhapatnam. The growing population and economy have resulted in rising real estate prices, with prices at some locations in the city quadrupling in a short time. Real-estate companies are building housing projects in the city's outskirts.

alt=Navy vessel sailing through canal The fishing industry is also growing, with domestic and exported tuna doubling in a decade. The city has two ports: Visakhapatnam Port (opened in 1933) and Gangavaram Port (opened in 2008, from Visakhapatnam Port). Gangavaram Port began with an investment of US$2 billion; it is the deepest port in the country, with the ability to handle large international vessels. Visakhapatnam Port is also expanding and plans to open a satellite port at Bhimili, away.

Visakhapatnam has the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) special economic zone (covering and occupied by WS Industries, Pokarna Limited, Uniparts, Confidence Petroleum, Southern Online Bio, Nagarjuna AgriChem, Anjaney Alloys, Maithon Alloys and Abhijit Ferro Alloys) at Autonagar, Atchutapuram. A railway line is under construction connecting the industrial zone with the Gangavaram Port. The Visakhapatnam Special Economic Zone began in 1989; exports from the VSEZ totaled approximately in 2011.[12]

alt=Aerial view of harbor, with buildings and trees in foreground Brandix Apparel City is in operation in Atchutapuram. This is a textile-based SEZ covering . The aim of this project is to provide 60,000 local jobs. It is expected that exports will reach when fully operational.[13] The SEZ also has foreign textile manufacturers, including Pioneer Elastic Fiber, Ocean India, Quantum Clothing, Fountain Set Group and Limited Brands.

Pilkington (an automotive-glass manufacturer) and Jawaharlal Nehru Pharma City (JNPC) are also in Visakhapatnam. JNPC is the only pharmaceutical SEZ in India, with 38 pharmaceutical companies including PharmaZell of Germany and Eisai Pharma of Japan. U.S.-based Hospira Chemicals has purchased land for a plant in the city.

alt=Front of large round building, with street and trees in front
alt=Front of large round building, with street and trees in front
Companies such as Reliance, Brandix and HPCL have purchased areas in SEZs for their industries. Aluminium refineries (such as Anrak Aluminium and Jindal Aluminium) are developing in Visakhapatnam because of the bauxite reserves around the city. Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) plans its second research facility in the country (after Trombay) in the area. Visakhapatnam was one of five sites in the country selected to hold strategic crude-oil reserves in case of a national emergency.

Other industries include Hindustan Zinc, GAIL, IOC Bottling Unit, BPCL Bottling Unit, Synergies Castings, Rain Calcining Limited, Coromandel Fertilizers, Hindustan Ship Yard, Bharat Heavy Plate and Vessels Limited (BHPV), Visakha Dairy, Vizag Profiles, Essar Pellet Plant, Andhra Polymers (now LG Polymers), Andhra Cement, Andhra Petrochemicals and Andhra Ferroalloys. The prevalence of ferroalloy plants is due to the availability of manganese ore near Visakhapatnam. The city is the headquarters for the Waltair division of the East Coast Railway. The division generated in revenue in 2009 2010, one of the highest-grossing industries in the country.[14]

alt=Hazy photo of chemical factory
alt=Hazy photo of chemical factory
Visakhapatnam's traditional importance in shipbuilding is demonstrated by the fact that India's first ship (the Jala Usha) was launched there. It is one of India's largest fishing ports, has a dedicated harbour for the fishing industry and handles a large percentage of India's seafood exports.

The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (the second centre in India, after Mumbai) is completing a permanent facility in Autonagar which will include a school dedicated to nuclear-power technology. Visakhapatnam also has offices of National Institute of Oceanography and the Indian Meteorological Department.

APIIC has authorized Unitech Limited to construct a Knowledge City on an area of , with an investment of .

Business climate

alt=Aerial view of highways and multi-story buildings
alt=Aerial view of highways and multi-story buildings
From a small fishing village in the 20th century, Visakhapatnam has grown into an industrial hub. The British needed a suitable port to move mineral wealth from central India. Unlike the western coast, the east coast is devoid of natural harbours. However, Visakhapatnam is protected from the sea on the south by Dolphin's Nose Hill; the Meghadri River estuary formed a channel which made it suitable for a port. Construction on the harbour began in 1927, and in 1933 it was opened to traffic.

alt=statue of standing man alt=Child sitting atop playground apparatus A milestone was the establishment of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company (later known as Hindustan Shipyard Limited) in 1940. With the construction of the Kottavalasa-Kirandul (K.K.)line connecting the iron-ore mines in Bailadila, Madhya Pradesh (present-day Chattisgarh), its importance grew. During the 1950s and 1960s the government and the private sector set up large-scale industries such as Bharat Heavy Plates and Vessels, Hindustan Zinc, Dredging Corporation of India, the Caltex oil refinery (later acquired by the government as Hindustan Petroleum), Coromandel fertilizers and Andhra Polymers (now LG Polymers). The 1980s saw development of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant and other industries. Economic liberalization during the 1990s brought modest growth to the city but not as much as it did to Hyderabad. However, industries such as Rain Calcining and the Simhadri Thermal Power plant of NTPC Limited were established, Hindustan Petroleum expanded and the Visakhapatnam Export Processing Zone was established. Visakhapatnam was called one of the ten fastest-growing cities of the world in a recent United Nations study.

Due to the presence of the Eastern Naval Command, the steel plant and Hindustan Petroleum, the city is home to people from different parts of the country and is cosmopolitan in nature. Visakhapatnam's main commercial and shopping centres are in the Dwarakanagar, R.T.C. complex and Jagadamba Junction areas. It has two multiplexes: Varun Beach and CMR Central. Since 2000, the Dwarakanagar-R.T.C. complex area has become a commercial hub with shopping centres within a 2 3 kilometer radius. The city is home to five-star hotels, such as the Taj group, ITC-WelcomGroup, Four Points by Sheraton and Park Hotels.

alt=Light-colored building behind a low wall
alt=Light-colored building behind a low wall

Software and business process outsourcing (BPO) companies have announced plans for development and outsourcing centers in Visakhapatnam, which has contributed to a rise in real-estate prices. An influx of Non-resident Indians (NRIs) to Visakhapatnam have further added to this rise. The city also owes its economic growth to the availability of an educated, English-speaking workforce; English is the first language in many institutions of higher education in the city. Its skilled workforce allowed the entry of many BPO companies (such as HSBC). Visakhapatnam is experiencing growth in the IT sector, contributing to the local economy. The city has 102 small and medium-sized software and BPO companies, of which about 10 began operation between 2005 2007. Software exports from Visakhapatnam in 2007 were valued at , an increase of over 100 percent over the previous year. St Aloysius Anglo Indian High School (SAS) was established in the year 1847 in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.

National and international IT and banking firms have established offices in the city, including Mahindra Satyam, Wipro, iSOFT, HSBC Sankhya Technologies, iFlex, Sutherland Global Services, Kenexa, E Centric Solutions and OpenWindow Technologies. The Andhra Pradesh government provided infrastructure and land for these companies to open development centers on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam, with special economic zones to improve employment and increase economic growth.

City-based small and medium enterprises (SMEs) (such as Gaian Solutions, Acclaris, Manuh Solutions, NuNet Technologies, Patra Corp, Prospecta Technologies, Quant Systems, Sankhya Technologies, Samudra Software, Symbiosys Technologies and Xinthe Technologies) provide IT and BPO services. Some of these companies have formed an association called Vizag Information Technology Association (VITA) to promote IT in Visakhapatnam and bridge the industry-school gap. To help companies in and around Visakhapatnam fill their workforces, companies such as IndiGenius and Mafoi provide human-resource services such as recruitment, temporary staffing and training.

Indira Gandhi Zoological Park, featuring some of the rarest species in India, opened in 1972 on the coastal hills north of the city.

Ukkunagaram planned community

Jagannath temple in Ukkunagaram
Jagannath temple in Ukkunagaram
Visakhapatnam has a steel plant known as VSP or RINL. The capacity of the plant has been upgraded to 6.3MT, and it covers an area of . It is planned to become a 20MT plant in the future, the largest plant in a single location. The plant had revenues of for 2011 2012, and has about 17,800 employees.

The township for plant employees is Ukkunagaram (ukku is Telugu for steel and nagaram is Telugu for town). The designers of the township followed a Roman circular design for the layout of homes and roads to keep distances equal between any two points within the township. There are 12 sectors in the township; the oldest are sectors 1, 2 and 3, and sector 7 is the domain of the directors and chairman. The newest sector is sector 12, which is available for senior officers. Other sectors were built as the plant's staff increased. Each sector consists of about 300 housing units, varying from three-floor apartment houses to single-family homes. There are also bungalows for plant directors. There are five types of housing units: types A through D and the bungalows. Sector one housed Russian workers who built the first blast furnace (Godavari), the RMHP, Sinter and coke-oven batteries one and two. The township is located in a forest belt, running from the Valleys of Araku through Elamanchili to Narsipatnam. Forestry by management has resulted in a green environment. The township has roads, markets, parks, clubs and sports facilities for employees and their families. The Kanithi Reservoir (located between the town and the NH5) provides water for the plant and the town. It draws its water from a canal running from the Yeleru River, a tributary of the Godavari River.

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 Elamanchili and Tuni, cutting almost 30 km on the road route from Visakhapatnam to Vijayawada.

Projects

Hindujas has begun construction of a 1,070-MW thermal power plant in Visakhapatnam district at a cost of , and HPCL is expanding the Visakh Refinery from 7.5 to 15 MT with an investment of . NTPC-Simhadri is expanding from 1,000 to 2,000 MW at a cost of , and the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant has completed its expansion from 3.1 to 6.3 MT with an investment of . The Visakhapatnam Port is expanding (at a cost of ) to increase its capacity to 80 MT per year.

Visakhapatnam is a part of the PCPIR [Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Region] proposed between Visakhapatnam and Kakinada. This PCPIR region is expected to generate 1.2 million jobs and a projected investment of 34,30,000 million.

There is an additional Project that is currently going on in Atchutapuram. This will be India's first Rare Earths ( Minerals) extraction plant. The company basically owned by Toyotsu Rare Earth India Ltd. ( Partners of Toyota)

Tourism

alt=Path leading to a gazebo, with water in background
alt=Path leading to a gazebo, with water in background
alt=Aerial view of two-lane highway, surrounded by forest and beach alt=Outdoor statues of male and female gods Visakhapatnam has a range of tourist attractions including beaches, cliffs, hilltop parks facing the sea, a beach road, a zoological park and wildlife sanctuary, a submarine museum, hill stations, limestone caves, mountain ranges and valleys within a radius of the city. There are two five-star hotels (the Taj and the Park) and a range of other accommodations.[15]

Kailasagiri is a hilltop park adjacent to the sea which offers views of the Bay of Bengal, Visakhapatnam and the Eastern Ghats. An aerial tramway accesses the park from the bottom of the hill.[16] Beach Road, from the East Point colony to the coastal battery, is dotted with parks and statues and is an evening gathering point. On the road is India's only submarine museum (the INS Kursura), the Visakha Museum and Matsyadarsini (an aquarium). VUDA park, at the beginning of Beach Road, has a musical fountain, entertainment for children and a roller rink which has hosted national[17] and international skating competitions.

Rushikonda Beach, from the city, is a popular evening spot. The Bhimili-Visakhapatnam Beach Road offers views of sea, sand, hills and greenery. Many parks are located on this road. Tenneti Beach Park is on the cliff of Kailasagiri; there are several points from which the rocky beach beneath can be seen, and a number of Telugu, Tamil and Hindi movies were filmed here.[18][19][20] Rama Naidu Film Studios is located in Visakhapatnam.[21]

alt=Ornate, light-colored buildings with forest in background
alt=Ornate, light-colored buildings with forest in background

Simhachalam is a hill shrine of Lord Narasimha north of the city. The carved 16-pillared Natya mandapa and the 96-pillared Kalyana mandapa are highlights of the temple. It was constructed by the Gajapathi kings of Orissa before 1500 AD. Pusapati Ananda Gajapati Raju was a descendant of Maharaja Vijayrama Gajapati Raju, bahadur of the former Vizianagaram princely state.

Indira Gandhi Zoological Park, between National Highway 5 and Beach Road, covers an area of ; it has about 700 animals from about 90 species.

alt=Terraced, treed valley with mountains in background
alt=Terraced, treed valley with mountains in background
The Araku Valley, from Visakhapatnam, is a tourist destination.[22] The Araku hill station is at an elevation of over and known for its gardens, valleys, waterfalls and streams.[16][23][24] On the way to the Araku hill station are the Borra Caves,[25] which were discovered by British geologist William King in 1807. The Marriage Bureau For Rich People series of novels, written by Farahad Zama and published internationally in 13 languages, are set in Visakhapatnam and feature landmarks of the city and its surroundings.[26][27]

ISKCON temple

An ISKCON Temple for Universal Peace is planned in Visakhapatnam, with a budget of . The temple will feature Kalyan mandapams, a multimedia theatre and museum, a Vedic planetarium and an underwater meditation hall, a school and a naturopathic hospital. Construction on the first phase began April 24, 2012.

Retail and entertainment

alt=White, hexagonal multi-story building with many windoes
alt=White, hexagonal multi-story building with many windoes
Visakhapatnam has seen growth in the retail and entertainment sectors during the past decade. The city has a number of shopping malls, including Visakhapatnam Central, CMR Central, CMR Shopping Mall, V-Square Shopping Mall, Kalanjali, Kalaniketan and M&M Malls. Novotel has opened a hotel in Visakhapatnam, joining the Taj Gateway.

In the entertainment sector, INOX (an Indian multiplex chain) has set up 10 screens. There are six screens at Varun Beach, four at the CMR Central Mall and a Vmax multiplex has recently opened. Visakhapatnam has outlet stores for brand-name merchandise from Fabindia, Lee, Levis, H&A, United Colours Of Benetton and Pepe Jeans in the Waltair uplands and Siripuram. Baskin-Robbins has opened recently in the city at the CMR Central Mall and Varun Beach INOX Mall multiplexes. There are about 35 movie theaters in the city.[28]

Sports

alt=Cricket pitch, photographed from the stands
alt=Cricket pitch, photographed from the stands
Cricket is the most popular sport, followed by tennis and football. Visakhapatnam is home to a number of local cricket teams participating in district and zone matches. Gully cricket (a form of cricket played in streets or parks) is a popular pastime for local youth. Visakhapatnam co-hosted the 32nd National Games with the state capital, Hyderabad. The city has seven cricket stadiums, which are used for Ranji Trophy matches; two of these stadiums have been used for one day international matches. Some of these stadiums are:

  • Indira Priyadarshini Stadium (five ODI matches): Also known as the Municipal Corporation Stadium, it hosted the first ODI match on 9 December 1988 and the last of the five on 3 April 2001. The stadium has discontinued hosting ODI matches in favor of the newer ACA-VDCA Stadium in Madhurawada. The stadium is in the hills, and provides a scenic view.
  • YSR ACA-VDCA Stadium (four ODI matches): The ACA-VDCA Stadium has hosted four ODIs, with India winning against Pakistan in the first, Sri Lanka in the second, Australia in the third and the West Indies in the fourth. The stadium has been upgraded for night matches. It has the most advanced floodlights in India, after Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. The stadium was recently named the YS Rajasekhara Reddy Stadium.
  • Port Trust Golden Jubilee Stadium: Second-largest stadium in Visakhapatnam, which has hosted Under-19 Youth Internationals

Visakhapatnam has not hosted a test match; however, the ACA-VDCA Stadium was recently awarded test status the ninth stadium with test status in the country, and the second in Andhra Pradesh.

Education

Visakhapatnam is considered a centre for education in Andhra Pradesh and there are a number of primary and high schools and colleges in the city. In addition to state-run schools there are private institutions, missionary schools and colleges.

The Indian Maritime University (IMU) was established as a central university by the government of India by an act of Parliament (the Indian Maritime University Act 2008). IMU is poised to play a role in the development of human resources for the maritime sector. The first of its kind in the country, IMU will fill the educational requirements of the maritime fraternity. It is a teaching and collegiate university which will offer degree, postgraduate degree and research programmes in all disciplines of the maritime sector. Visakhapatnam also has the National Institute of Oceanography.

Established in 1878, A.V.N. College is one of the city's oldest educational institutions.[29] Visakhapatnam is also home to Andhra University (AU), established in 1926. Before he became president of India, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was vice chancellor of the university between 1931 and 1936. AU and its affiliated colleges provide education to thousands of students from the state. Postgraduate and graduate courses are offered in the arts, commerce, science and technology, engineering, IT, business management, law and pharmacy. The AU College of Pharmacy is the second-oldest pharmacy college in India. The university is in the process of obtaining IIEST status, and there are plans to set up an IIM at Visakhapatnam.

Andhra Medical College, established in 1902, is the home of several teaching hospitals. The GITAM University (the first private university in Andhra Pradesh) and the GVP College of Engineering are other technical-education institutions in the city.

Engineering colleges in Visakhapatnam include Chaitanya Engineering College, Raghu Engineering College, Vignans Institute of Information Technology, Sanketika Vidya Parishad College of Engineering, Pothinamallayapalem, Pydah College of Engineering and Technology, Vignans Institute of Engineering for Women, Al Ameer College of Engineering and Technology, Avanthi Institute of Engineering and Technology, Anil Neerukonda Institute of Technology and Sciences and the Vitam College of Engineering. Graduate schools include VIPS, Pydah, Gayatri, AVN and Dr. V. S. Krishna.

St. Aloysius Anglo-Indian High School is the oldest high school in the district and one of the oldest schools in the country. It was established in 1847, and is in the old town. St. Joseph's Girls' High School was established in 1893 in Waltair and is an ICSE school. Other notable schools are Visvodaya High School, Naval Children's School, Kotak Salesian School, D.A.V Central Public School, Delhi Public School, S.F.S. School, St. Anthony's High School, Bethany School, Visakha Valley School and Timpany School. Other schools include the public school at MVP Colony, Pollocks School, St. Joseph's Secondary School, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Sri Krishna Vidya Mandir, Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vihar, Siva Sivani, Saraswathi Vidya Vihar, Little Angels, Little Flowers and Pavani School. The city has about 10 Kendriya Vidyalayas with a total enrollment of 18,000. Timpany School has three branches: one affiliated with ICSE and the other two with the Central Board of Secondary Education. Vikas Vidyaniketan is the largest CBSE residential school. Vijnana Vihara (Gudilova), Visakha Valley School and Sri Krishna Vidya Mandir are also affiliated with CBSE. De Paul School is affiliated with SSC and ICSE.

The International Science Congress (I.S.C.) was hosted by Andhra University in 1976 and 2008. It is the largest congregation of scientists from different disciplines in the world. Over 8,000 people participated in the I.S.C. in 2008, including prominent Nobel Prize winners from around the world.

Schools in Visakhapatnam

Universities
Medical school
  • Andhra Medical College (King George Hospital)
Engineering colleges
  • Gayatri Vidya Parishad College of Engineering Rushikonda and Madhuravada
  • Anil Neerukonda Institute of Technology and Sciences Sangivalasa
  • Sanketika Vidhya Parishad College of Engineering (SAVE) - Pothinamallayya Palem
  • Chaitanya Engineering College(CEC) - Kommadi, Madhuravada
  • Vignan Vidyalam - Duvvada
  • Viswanadha Institute of Technology and Management(VITAM) - Sontyam
  • Avanthi Institute of Engineering and Technology
  • Al-Ameer College of Engineering - Gudilova Anandapuram
  • Al-Aman College of Engineering - Gudilova Anandapuram
  • Pydah College of Engineering and Technology - Anandapuram
  • Dadi Institute of Engineering and Technology - Anakapalle
  • Vignan Institute of Information Technology - Gajuwaka
  • Raghu Engineering College - Dakamarri
  • Raghu Institute of Technology - Dakamarri
  • Baba Institute of Technology and Sciences (BITS) - pm.palem
  • Vizag Institute of Technology - Dakamarri
  • Visakha Institute of Engineering and Technology - Narava
  • Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swami Educational Group - Narava
  • Dr. Lankapalli Bullayya College of Engineering for Women
Colleges
  • Gayatri Vidya Parishad Degree College (A)
  • Aditya Degree College
  • Mrs. AVN College
  • BVK College
  • Dr. VS Krishna Govt. College
  • Dr. Lankapalli Bullayya College
  • Sreepaada Degree College, Madhavadhara
Polytechnic schools

Government Polytechnic

Schools
  • St.Anthony's School
  • Andhra University High School, AU Staff Quarters
  • Divine Touch School - Siripuram
  • Sri Sarada Vidya Nilayam - Seethammadhara
  • Nalanda Talent School - Seethammadhara
  • St. Joseph's Secondary School - Malkapuram
  • Stella Maris School - Marripalem (Karasa)
  • Visakha Tutorial College (School) - Rajendra Nagar
  • St Francis High School - Seethammadhara
  • St Aloysius School
  • ETASI Timpany School - Asilametta and Steel Plant
  • Pollocks - Diamond Park
  • Visakha Valley School
  • Fort Catholic Girls' School
  • Kotak Salesian School
  • Kendriya Vidyalaya
  • St. Anthony's High School, Ganjipeta
  • KDPM High School, Chinna Waltair
  • St. Ann's School, NAD
  • Vignan Vidyalayam Timmapuram
  • St. Joseph's Girls' High School
  • St. John's Parish School
  • Siva Sivani Public School - Kirlampudi Layout and Steel Plant
  • DAV Public School - Steel Plant
  • Delhi Public School - Steel Plant
  • Kendriya Vidhyalaya - Steel Plant
  • DePaul School - Steel Plant
  • Adarsh Public School - Gajuwaka
  • Little Angels High School - MVP Colony
  • MVP Public School - MVP Colony
  • Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vihar- MVP Colony
  • St Peter's High School - Gnanapuram
  • St.Marys School - Seethammadhara
  • Seventh-Day Adventist High School - Jagadamba Junction
  • Balaji Public School - Gopalapatnam
  • Nehru Municipal Corporation High School - Maddilapalem
  • Belmont High School- Narashimanagar
  • MSM Public School - NGGO'S Colony
  • Sri Chaitanya Technology School - Madhurawada
  • BT College
  • Saraswathi Vidya Vihar- Jawaharnagar, Sriharipuram

Hospitals

  • King George Hospital
  • Queens NRI
  • Seven Hills Hospital
  • Samudra Hospital
  • Manipal Hospital
  • Simhadri Hospital
  • Apollo Hospital
  • CDR
  • Care Hospitals
  • New Care Hospitals
  • Indus Hospitals
  • Kala Hospital
  • Lazarus hospital
  • Apoorva Hospital - Rajendra Nagar

Places of worship

  • ISKCON Temple Sri Sri Radha Damodar Sagarnagar
  • Simhachala Kshetram Lord Naramisha - near Gopalapatnam
  • Kanaka Mahaalakshmi Gudi Goddess Lakshmi - near Old Town
  • Trinity Lutheran Church Jagadamba Junction
  • United Christ Church NAD Junction
  • Infant Jesus Church Seethammadhara
  • Rose Hill (Old Post Office)
  • Madhava Dhaara Lord Madhaaveshwara - near Muralinagar
  • Sagara Durga Gudi Goddess Durga - Dolphin's Nose Mountain
  • Shankara Matam Saint Shankaracharya - near Dwaraka Nagar
  • Lalitha Gudi Goddess Lalitha - near Lalitha Nagar
  • SampathVinayaka Gudi Lord Ganesha - near Asilametta
  • Worldwide Faith Missions - Bananapalem Village
  • Dayal Nagar - Radha Soami

Government

Members of Parliament
  • Daggubati Purandeshwari (INC) Visakhapatnam
  • Sabbam Hari (INC) Anakapalli
  • V Kishore Chandra Deo (INC) Araku
Members of Legislative Assembly
  • Paderu(ST): Pasupuleti Balaraju (INC)
  • Visakhapatnam South: Dronamraju Srinivas (INC)
  • Visakhapatnam East: Rama Krishna Babu (TDP)
  • Visakhapatnam North: Thynala Vijaya Kumar (INC)
  • Visakhapatnam West: Malla Vijaya Prasad (INC)
  • Pendurthi: Panchakarla Ramesh (INC)
  • Gajuwaka: Chintalapudi Venkataramayya (INC)

References

External links

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