Vijayawada or the "City of Victory" if literally translated gets its name from the legend, which says it was here on the Indrakiladri Hill, that Arjuna, the Pandava Prince, won the blessings of Lord Shiva for his penance. During the British rule the city experienced significant growth. Vijayawada is a must-visit if one wants to go temple hopping in Andhra. The abode of Kanaka Durga, goddess of power, riches and benevolence, is the presiding deity of the city. The city is also a base for visiting the Buddhist sites located around Vijayawada like Amaravati, Gudivada, Ghantasala and so on. From Vijayawada are the towns of Kuchipudi, Mangalagiri and Kondapalli, which are famous for dance, temple and handicrafts respectively. Another important feature of the place is the Krishna Pushkaram an all-India festival that is held once in twelve years.
Vijayawada is known as the political as well as publishing capital of Andhra Pradesh. Vijayawada is a vital rail and road link between North and the South and is now known as 'the city that never sleeps'. A major business centre, it is the hub of commercial activity in the coastal area. The Prakasam barrage, the Kanakadurga temple, the St. Mary's church and the Moghalrajapuram caves are some of the attractions in the city, known for its cinema theatres and typically Andhra food.
Prakasam Barrage :
Completed in 1957, the Prakasam Barrage is an impressive 1223.5m long, modern regulator and road bridge that stretches across the river Krishna. Its panoramic lake and the three canals that run through the city give Vijayawada a Venetian appearance. The idea of constructing a barrage across Krishna dates back to 1798. But it took shape in the hands of Captain Buckle and was revised in 1839 and 1841 by Captain Best and Captain Lake. After the endorsement of Major Cotton, the board of Directors of East India Company approved it on 5th January 1850. The barrage was started in 1852 and completed in 1855. Later the State Government constructed a new regulator cum-round bridge, which was named after Sri Tanguturi Prakasam, the first chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. It provides a panoramic site of the river Krishna flowing besides the city, which travels around 720-km in Andhra Pradesh. An evening walk here is sure to reinvigorate the stress filled minds of the locals. The cool breeze coming from the sacred waters of Krishna refreshes both tourists and evening strollers drifting their minds to serenity. One can hop onto private ferries that ply on these waterways and have an extremely pleasurable trip.
Kanaka Durga Temple :
Kanaka Durga, goddess of power, riches and benevolence is considered the presiding deity of Vijayawada. The temple is set on the Indrakiladri hill. The deity in the Kanaka Durga temple is regarded as 'Swayambhu' or self-manifested, hence is considered very powerful. It is said that 'Adi Shankara' visited this temple and installed the 'Sri Chakra' here. About the origin of the temple, there are several versions. Legends are many, but claims are contradictory. Mata Kanaka Durga, according to one Purana emerged into this world by the power of penance of 'Sailasakthui', a manifestation of Indrakila hill itself to relieve the people from 'Asura' menace.
And another version affirms that this holy shrine is one among the eighteen 'Shakthipeethas' and she is one of the forms of Sakthi. 'Padma Purana' proclaims that Kanaka Durga is a manifestation of Parvati. Such accounts are countless, all eulogizing her glory through several legends. The most popular legend is about the triumph of Goddess Kanaka Durga over the demon king 'Mahishasura'. It is said that once upon a time, the growing menace of demons became unendurable for the natives living in this region. The sage 'Indrakila', did severe penance to appease Goddess Kanaka Durga. Pleased, She asked him to spell out his desire. The sage begged Her to reside on his head and keep a vigil on the wicked demons and punish them for robbing the peace of the innocent people. His wish was granted and after killing the demons, Goddess Durga made Indrakila her permanent abode. She later slayed the demon king Mahishasura, freeing the people of Vijayawada from the clutches of evil.
On the way to the Kanakadurga Temple are the rock-cut caves dedicated to Akkana and Madanna, who were ministers in the court of Abdul Hasan Tanashah in the 17th century. A short distance away is another cave that dates back to the 2nd century BC, which hosts the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. Kanaka Durga and Vijayawada are synonymous with each other. Every visitor to Vijayawada, however, busy he may be, never goes back without offering prayers to this goddess. Her devotees believe that when the level of the Krishna River rises and touches the nose ring of the goddess that would be the end of the world.
Kondapalli Fort :
The fort is located 16 km away towards West from Vijayawada City and is built on a hill. Prolaya Vema Reddy constructed this fort during 14th Century. Later came under the rule of the Qutubshahis who strengthened and eloborated by adding new structures. Near the fort, there is a Dargah of a Persian Saint, Gareeb Saheeb. A legend goes that the palace women and the saint were always at loggerheads. Unable to bear the trouble, the queen of the palace ordered the beheading of the Saint. Even after he was beheaded the Saint fought valiantly and dragged the fort soldiers to a distance of 20 km without his head.
The Gandhi Stupa:
The first Gandhi Memorial with 7 Stupas in the country was constructed on this hill at a height of 500 ft. The 52 ft. Stupa was unveiled on 6th October 1968 by Dr. Zakir Hussain, the then President of India. The Gandhi Stupa, was formally known as "Orr Hill". It has the teachings of Gandhi inscribed on stone slabs. Gandhi Memorial Library, the Sound and Light Show on Mahatma Gandhi's life and a planetarium are the other attractions.
Rajiv Gandhi Park:
Developed by the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation with great care and interest, this park welcomes the tourists at the entrance of the city with its impressive horticultural network. A mini zoo and a musical water fountain are added to it. This is at a walk able distance from the new Vijayawada bus stand; this is an educative park containing built-up structures of dinosaurs and pre-historic animals, with a playing area where one can spend time relaxing and learning.
Victoria Jubilee Regional Museum:
The Museum of the Archaeological Department situated on Bandar Road contains beautiful sculptures and attractive paintings worth seeing. 'Buddha' Alluru inscriptions of first and second centuries, and Mahishasura Mardhani are some of the important exhibits.
Located upstream the river Krishna, close to Prakasam Barrage, is Bhavani Island. Make sure you visit this picturesque island that is a fantastic picnic spot for holiday-lovers. Located at a distance of 4 km. from Vijayawada, the Bhavani Island is situated upstream of River Krishna close to Prakasam Barrage. It is a good picnic spot for nature lovers. Boat riding facility is available.
Adjacent to the Kanakadurga temple is the shrine of Malleswara Swamy on the Indrakiladri hill. Mallikarjuna or the Malleswara as he is known in the Puranas is installed by Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Panch Pandavas, as a token of their victory of the South.
Vijayeswara Swami Temple:
The Vijayeswara temple is set on the Indrakiladri hill in Vijayawada. The installation of Vijayeswara is done by Arjuna, to commemorate his victory with Lord Shiva in the form of 'Kirata' (hunter).
VMC - Sibar Disneyland:
The VMC - SIBAR Disneyland is located at a distance of 8 km. from Vijayawada. It is a major attraction of the city for kids and adults alike. There is also a stimulated volcano in the park. Here the major attraction is the water park with wave pool, slides and kiddies pool for the children along with a village park with traditional dance, Bullock cart rides, Parrot fortuneteller, Puppet shows and a good South Indian restaurant. It also includes an amusement park - Brindavanam with a temple, cottages, traditional shops depicting arts and culture.
Just 5-km from Vijayawada are the Mogalarajapuram caves having three cave temples, dating back to the 5th century AD. Out of the 3 cave temples constructed here only one is still in good condition with the idols of Lord Nataraja, Vinayaka and others. The Ardhanareeshwara Murthy found here is considered the only one of its kind in south India. These caves are datable to 5th Century AD. The idols of Lord Nataraja, Vinayaka and Arthanareeswara are carved here.
The Undavalli caves, in the village of Undavalli, are at a distance of 8-km from Vijayawada and nearly 280-km from Hyderabad. The high hill overlooking the Krishna River hosts fine specimens of cut-in architectural and sculptural models.
How to reach Vijayawada
Vijayawada is an important link in connecting the three regions of Andhra Pradesh and is a major transit point. Two National Highways, the National Highway 5 from Chennai to Calcutta and the National Highway 9 from Machilipatnam to Hyderabad pass through the city connecting it to other parts of the country. It is connected to other areas of the state, by state highways and district roads.
Air:The domestic airport located at Gannavaram, about 20-km, from the city connects Vijayawada to Hyderabad and Vishakhapatnam. It's about a 30-minute flight from Hyderabad.
Rail: Situated along the Chennai- Howrah and Chennai-Delhi rail route, this is the largest railway junction of the South Central Railway. There are a number of express and super fast trains that connect Vijayawada with almost all the important places of the country.
Road:Good motorable roads connect Vijayawada with all the places within the state and also with the major cities in India. Transport by road from Vijayawada to all the places of Buddhist interest is available in the form of Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) buses.