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Vizianagaram - The Historical District

Vizia-nagaram, sometimes spelt as Vijaya-nagaram is the main city of the Vizianagaram District of North Eastern Andhra Pradesh in Southern India. Vizianagaram district was formed on 1 June 1979, with some parts carved from the neighbouring districts of Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam. It is located about 18 km inland from the Bay of Bengal, and 40 km northwest of Visakha-patnam. While the literal meaning of Vizianagaram is the City of Victory, it is also sometimes referred to as the city of education in these parts as there are many colleges and schools here. It is an important business and educational center for north coastal Andhra and the adjoining state of Orissa.

Vizianagaram district is predominantly an agricultural district as 68.4 % of the workers are engaged in Agriculture and about 82 % of the population is living in rural areas and depend on Agriculture for their livelihood. Rainfed farming is the characteristic of Agriculture, as about 80 % of the cultivation is purely under rain fed conditions. Even the irrigated area is mostly depend on the rainfall. Hence majority of crops grown are dry crops. Paddy crop is cultivated mainly during Kharif season with 80 % of the area is under Tanks which in turn depend on the rainfall. The major crops grown are Paddy, Mesta, Groundnut, Ragi, Bajra, Cotton, Sugarcane and Pulses. The average crop yields are low.

This area was ruled by different Hindu Emperors of Kalinga (Ancient Orissa) up to the mediaeval period. After the fall of centralized Gajapati empire of Orissa this region was governed by the Golkonda rulers. The ancestors of zamindars of Vizianagaram belong to Orissa. Rulers of this Zamindari belong to the Pusapati family. The village Pooshpadu in Nandigama Taluq was built by Amala Raju. The village later came to be known as Pusapadu. Therefore, the Kshatriyas living there came to be known as Pusapati.

In 1754, Pusapati Vijaya Rama Gajapathi Raju, of the ruling family of Vizianagaram, made an alliance with the French, but a few years later the territory was ceded to the British. It remained under their control until independence in 1947. Gajapati means Lord of elephants.

Vizianagaram Fort was constructed in the year 1712-1714 A.D. Traditionally five Vijayas or signs of victory were present at the inception of this fortress. It was   named Vizia-nagaram (place of victory) after its founder Vijaya Rama Raju and the foundations were laid on Tuesday (Jayavaram in Telugu), the tenth day (Vijaya Dasami) of the Dasara Festival in the year Vijaya of the Hindu calendar.

In modern times, the upper part of Kalinga was gradually merged into Orissa state and the lower part into Andhra Pradesh. The Kalinga empire extended from Cuttack in Orissa to Pithapuram in East Godavari district as far back as the 4th century B.C. The Nandas ruled the area between 467 B.C. and 336 B.C. They were followed by the Mauryas, the Chedis, the Satavahanas, the Pitribhaktas, the

Matharas, the Vasishthas, the Vishnukundinas, the early Eastern Gangas, the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi, the late Eastern Gangas, the Reddis of Rajahmundry and the Velanati Cholas till the Kakatiyas appeared by 1210 A.D. Recorded evidence show that some local dynasties like the Rapatri Chiefs and the Gangas of Narayanapura (situated near Balijipeta), the Gangas of Jantarunadu (the track now known as Srungavarapukota), ruled over parts of the district from the 12th to 15th century.

The Kakatiya rulers under Ganapatideva defeated the Velanati Chola Chief, Prithvisvara who was ruling over the territory in 1210 A.D. The territory was recovered by the Eastern Gangas during the reign of Ananga Bhima III. The Gajapatis of Orissa then came to rule the territory after overthrowing the Eastern Gangas in 1443 A.D. The rule of the Gajapatis lasted for about 140 years till the Qutb Shahis conquered the territory around 1574 A.D. Consequent on the occupation of Golconda by the Mughals in 1687 A.D., the area came under the control of Mughals. When the Viceroy of the Mughals in Deccan, Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah declared independence in 1724 A.D., the area came under the rule of the Asaf Jahis.

In the war of succession after Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah died, Salabat Jung who came to power with the backing of the French General Marquis de Bussy, rewarded the French by ceding four Circars including the Chicacole Circar in 1753. An important event in the history of the district which occurred by about this time is the war between the Rajas of Vizianagaram and Bobbili, popularly known as Bobbili Yuddam. The war was fought between the Rajah of Vizianagaram aided by the French General Bussy and the Rajah of Bobbili on the 24th January 1757.

Another important event in the history of the district is the war between the French and English fought at Chandurthi in 1758, in which the French were defeated and the Northern Circars were made over to the British under a firmana from the Mughal emperor Shah Alam in 1765 which were placed under the then existing Chief and Council at Vizagapatam. In 1794, the Chiefs and Councils were abolished and Vizagapatam was arranged into three divisions each under a collector. Almost the entire area of the present area of Vizianagaram district fell under the second division. However the three divisions were merged and a collectorate for the whole district was established in 1803 after the introduction of the permanent settlement in the area.

The history of the rebellions against the British rule goes back to 1830s when the people of the district particularly the tribals unable to bear the oppression, rose in frequent rebellions (fituris) leading to the establishment of separate administrative system known as "Agency Administration" under the India Act XXIV of 1839. The rebellion of Korra Mallaiah, a tribal chief of the Salur area against the British rule in 1900 is another important event. The district magistrate dispatched Reserve Police to suppress the revolt, which was seriously resisted by the people. In the skirmish that followed many were killed. Korra Mallaiah along with son was arrested and kept in Jail where he died subsequently. Subsequently in the Indian freedom movement, the people hailing from this area enthusiastically took part in various phases like non-cooperative movement, civil disobedience movement, Quit India Movement etc.,

After abolition of the Zamindaris in 1948, Visakhapatnam district was found to be unwieldy for administrative purposes. Consequently, Srikakulam district was carved out in 1950 bifurcating it from Visakhapatnam district.

Vizianagaram district was formed on 1 June 1979, as per G.O.Ms.No.700/Revenue (U) Department, dated 15th May 1979 with some parts carved from the neighbouring districts of Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam. The Taluks of Vizianagaram, Gajapathinagaram, Srungavarapukota and a portion of Bheemunipatnam Taluk were transferred from the Visakhapatnam District. The Salur, Bobbili, Parvathipuram and Cheepurupalli Taluks from Srikakulam district were transferred to the new district.

      Originally of the Pericchedi line that moved from Bezawada (Modern Vijayawada) to Vizianagaram.

      Pusapati Amala Raju (Founder)

      Pusapati Rachi Raju

      Pusapati Tama Bhupaludu (1620-1670)

      Pusapati Peda Vijaya Rama Raju (1670-1756)

      Pusapati Chinna Vijaya Rama Raju (1760-1794)

      Pusapati Vijaya Rama Gajapati Raju (1826-1879)

      Pusapati Ananda Gajapati Raju (1879-1897)

      Pusapati Vijaya Rama Gajapati Raju (1883-1902)

      Pusapati Alaka Narayana Gajapati Raju (1902-1937)

      Pusapati Vijaya Rama Gajapati Raju (1945-1995)

      Pusapati Ananda Gajapati Raju (1950- )

      Pusapati Ashok Gajapati Raju (1951- )

      Pusapati Kartikeya Vijaya Vamsi Rama Raju(1983-)

Places of Interest

       Ghanta Stambham (Clock Tower).

       The Venkateswara Temple.

       Khan Baba Dargah: This is a tomb of famous saint Hazrath Khan Baba Rahmatullah Alai who was an eminent Sufi Saint. It is told that the Saint had spent much of his life in Ajmer at the tomb of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishty popularly called Gharib Nawaz. The Annual Urs celebration is held every year on the 1st of Safar the second Islamic month in Hijri Calendar. Also in the premesis of the Dargah the tombs of Saints Hazrath Munnawar Ali Shah Qadri Rahmatullah alai and Hazrath Malang Baba Rahmatullah Alai. Visitors experience peace and attain spiritual blessings.

       The Hare Krishna Ashram, located about 7 km from Vizianagaram town, near Jonnavalasa village.

       The 5th Andhra Pradesh Special Police Battalion about 8 km from Vizianagaram town,at Chintalavalasa village.

       Pedda Cheruvu, a man-made lake of about 170 acres (0.69 km) located adjacent to the Maharaja's Fort.

       The Maharaja's Fort.

       The Rani's Fort.

       Pydithalli Ammavari Temple: According to the legend, one of the daughters of the Pasupati royal family was the reincarnation of the presing deity, Pydithallamma. The locals believe that with the blessings of the Goddess one can lead a happy and prosperous life. The idol of the Goddess was discovered on Vijayadasimi day way back in the year 1752. To mark the occasion, an annual jatra is held on this day which attracts large crowds.

Bobbili

The founder of House of Bobbili, Pedda Rayudu was the 15th descendant of the Rajas of Venkatagiri. He came to the area as part of the contingent Golconda Fauzdar Sher (Tiger) Mohammad Khan. He founded the town, built a fort and named it Pedda Puli ( Great Tiger) after the name of his patron. With the passage of time, the name was corrupted to pebbuli, Bebbuli and finally Bobbili. The town was almost wiped out during the war against Vizianagaram, which ended in the traggic massacre. Because of the valour of the natives of the war, the name Bobbili conjures up an image of valour, self respect and sacrifice in the telugu world even today. Interestingly, in the parlance of railways and telegraphs department Bobbili is still referred to as "Veera Bobbili" ( Brave Bobbili).

It is the residence of a raja of old family, whose estate covers an area of 227 sq. m.; estimated income, 40,000; permanent land revenue, 9000. The attack on the fort at Bobbili made by General Bussy in 1756 is one of the most memorable episodes in Indian history. There was a constant feud between the chief of Bobbili and the raja of Vizianagram; and when Bussy marched to restore order the raja persuaded him that the fault lay with the chief of Bobbili and joined the French with 11,000 men against his rival. In spite of the fact that the French field-pieces at once made practicable breaches in the mud walls of the fort, the defenders held out with desperate valour. Two assaults were repulsed after hours of hand-to-hand fighting; and when, after a fresh

bombardment, the garrison saw that their case was hopeless, they killed their women and children, and only succumbed at last to a third assault because every man of them was either killed or mortally wounded. An old man, however, crept out of a hut with a child, whom he presented to Bussy as the son of the dead chief. Three nights later four followers of the chief of Bobbili crept into the tent of the raja of Vizianagram and stabbed him to death. The child, Chinna Ranga Rao, was invested by Bussy with his father's estate, but during his minority it was seized by his uncle. After a temporary arrangement of terms with the raja of Vizianagram the old feud broke out again, and the Bobbili chief was forced to take refuge in the nizam's country. In 1794, however, on

the break-up of the Vizianagram estate, Chinna Ranga Rao was restored by the British, and in 1801 a permanent settlement was made with his son. The title of raja was recognized as hereditary in the family; that of maharaja was conferred as a personal distinction on Sir Venkataswetachalapati Ranga Rao, K.C.I.E., the adopted great-great-grandson of Chinna Ranga Rao

Bobbili is 55 Kilometres from Vizianagaram and is accessible both by rail and road. It is an important railway junction on the Raipur- Vizianagaram line.  The bridge over river Vegavati was designed and constructed by Gannon Drunkerly & Co. Ltd. of Bombay in 1934, to facilitate trade within the region. Though no remnants exist of the original Bobbili fort, there are numerous places which serve as residence as residence of the royal family.

The Durbar Mahal was built in 1893 as a meeting hall where Raja held his court and recieved royal emissaries. Two stone elephants stand guard on either side of the steps leading to the "Durbar". Today, the first floor houses a museum of various artifacts pertaining to the Bobbili of yore, while the lower floor is used as a office of the political party. The Rajas of Bobbili laid special emphasis on education of the masses and upliftment of the poorer sections of the society.

The temple of the family deity, Venugopala Swamy  had been in existence since Bobbili was founded, but the present temple was built by Chinna Ranga Rao, When he tool over the reins of Bobbili after the ill fated war. It is located close to the royal residence and is the most revered temple in Bobbili. The Gopuram ( Entrance) was built by Swetha Chalapati Rao in 1851. It is the only temple in the region where the Gopuram is higher than the main temple. 

The Vasant Mandapam  stands aloof in the placid waters of a lake. The idol from the temple of Lord Venu Gopal Swamy is brought to the lake annually to celebrate the onset of spring. Legend has it that the Lord enjoys a day of solitude with his wife here. Post Sojourn the idol is installed in Dola Yatra Mandapam on the banks of the lake for a day and then carried to the main temple. The mandapams were constructed by Maharaja Krishna Das Ranaga Rao, in 1825. 

One of the palaces, Pooja Mahal, situated inside Bobbili Fort, was bulit by erstwhile Rani of Bobbili and is in use by the royalty even today.  Prangmahal is one of the best kept heritage buildings in the region. It is situated within the fort compound opposite Pooja Mahal. This residence of the Raja of Bobbili is a visual treat with tapestry, paintings and porcelain collected form different parts of the world.  The Raj Mahal, also known as the Chikkavram Guest house and Bobbili guest house are one of the mahals built by Bobbili Rajas. 

Apart from Rajas of Bobbili, their Kith and kin were also prominent personalities, who built opulent homes which survive even today. The Manohar Vilas Palace was built in 1925 by the Rajas brother , the Zamindar of Kirlampudi, as a guest house and a summer resort. It is a two storied structure surrounded by a splendid garden which has a fountain with a marble statue of a beautiful maiden.

More details of Veera Bobbili;

More details of Bobbili Zamindar