Visakhapatnam history
Visakhapatnam History

Vizag History



Vizag, the Port city is the jewel on the eastern coast of India, 2nd Biggest City Next to Capital Hyderabad. The City is a harmonious blend of the magical past and the bustling present with a breath taking panorama of golden beaches, lush green fields, verdant valleys and splendid monuments from a historically rich and religious heritage.

Matchless in beauty and landscape, Vizag is said to have derived its name from the deity 'Visaka' ( the God of Valour) the son of Shiva and Parvati, who is also the ruler of the planet Mars and the God of war. Legend says that an Andhra king (9-11th century) on his way to Benares rested here. So enchanted was he with the sheer beauty of the place that he ordered a temple to be built in honour of his family deity, Visakha. Archaeological sources, however, reveal that the temple was possibly built between the 11th and 12th centuries by the Chola king, Kulottunga Chola I. A shipping merchant, Sankarayya Chetty, built one of the mandapams, or 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.

The Epic City. The antiquity of the region is evident as it is mentioned in both the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The former tells of the forests through which Rama travelled in search of his abducted wife Sita , and where he meets his devotee, Shabari, who directs him to the mountains where Hanuman lives. Rama also meets Jambuvan, half-bear half-man, who helps him in his battle with Ravana. It was here, too, that Bheema defeated the demon Bakasura - the Pandava's huge stone club can be seen in the village of Uppada, about 40 km away.

Buddhist Influence. The religious Hindu texts mention that the region of Vizag 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.

Business Center. The territory of Vizag then came under the Andhra Rulers of Vengi. Then Chankyas, 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.

Once a Small fishing Village under the Mighty Kalinga Empire during the regime of Ashoka the Great (272-232 B.C). Later on this Port town successively passed on from the Andhra Kings of Vengi to the Pallavas, Cholas and the Gangas and then later in the 15th century Vizag became a part of the Vijaya Nagar Empire. In the 18th century, Vizag was part of the Northern Circars, a region of Coastal Andhra that came first under French control and later that of the British. During British Vizag became a district in the Madras Presidency of British India. The British took charge of this beautiful land and transformed it into a busy and flourishing Port town.


Vizagapatnam the colonial name given to the city have become one of the important and strategic power centre for the British. British built its settlement here in Waltair which housed their Residence.

A branch of the English East India Company appears to have settled at Vizagpatnam in the middle of the seventeenth century. The presence of the Dutch, their rivals in trade at Bhimilipatnam and Vizagapatnam, and 'interloper' Thomas Bowerey who interfered with the Company to decide upon the establishment of a factory and settlement at Vizagapatnam in 1682 A.D. In 1689 on account of a state of war betweeen Aurangazeb and the Company, the emperor had got the Company's warehouses here seized and put all the English residents to the sword. This disaster to the Company's warehouses here seized and put all the English residents to the sword.

In 1690 two English Commissioners negotiated peace with the Moghul Emperor, and as its result the cowle for the Madras settlements including "the English factories at Metchlepatam, Madapallam, Vizagapatnam, etc., within the territories of the Golconda country" was granted on 28th December 1690 by Zulfikhar Khan, the Moghul General in the Deccan. On a representation from the President and Council at Madras in April 1692, the same high official (the Moghul General) permitted the Company to fortify their settlement at Vizagapatnam to protect them and their goods against the depredations of the various polygars and thieves.

In 1741 the Chief of the council at Vizagapatmam (Mr. John Stratton) in inviting the serious attention of the authorities to the necessity of strengthening the defences of the town. More European soldiers and ammunition were sent from Madras, the only real work done on the defence seems to have been the construction of "Benyon's battery" & "Middle Point" .

In 1744 the Maratha panic revived and estimates were submitted for 'buildig and repairing sundry fortifications namely, "the battery on Dolphin's Nose erroneously called the Dutch Battery, the small battery fornting the fort (near the present flagstaff), the power magazine and the guard house. It was urged that the battery on the Black Rock should be completed."

In 1753 Vizagapatnam captured by French

The defences of Vizagapatnam were not strong enough to resist the attack, and the Chief Engineer of Madras who landed at Vizagapatnam on is way to Calcutta in the "Marlborough" reviewed the defences with Captain Campbell who was commanding the troops and both came to the conclusion that the place could not be defended even with a larger force and that all the Europeans should be immediately embarked leaving the sepoys with two or three officers to make the best capitulation they could. The surf being high, the Europeans could not get into the "Marlborough" and the capitulation was signed at 11 in the night after the exchange of a few messages. The Indians were allowed to go where they liked and all the Europeans were taken prisoners with their effects. The "Marlborough" being at anchor at Bhimlipatnam, the Chief, Mr. Percival, Captain Campbell and several others were permitted to embark on her to Bengal.

At the end of 1756 Bussy marched in person against Vizagapatnam and reached the place on the 24th June 1757 with a very large force.

1758 Vizagapatam regained by Ananda Raz

In 1758 Ananda Raz attacked the Vizagapatnam Settlement which was in French possession then and wrested it back from them. He then wrote to the Company at Madras and Calcutta for reinforcements to enable him to drive the French out of the Circars. Clive sent Clonel Forde to Vizagapatnam by sea from Calcutta with a force of 500 Europeans, 2000 sepoys and 100 lascars. The Madras authorities sent Mr. Andrews, Colonel Forde and several assitants to re-establishing the Vizagapatnam Settlement. The army moved out of Vizagapatnam on 1st November and on the 3rd joined Ananda Raz at Kasimkota.

On the 9th December, near Condor about 35 miles ENE of Rajahumndry, an action was fought with the French which ranks as one of the decisive battles of India, for as its result the Northern Circars were cleared of the French and the English power established.

Vizagapatnam Sepoy Mutiny

On the 3rd of October 1780 a serious mutiny occured among the sepoys at Vizagapatnam. To meet Haider Ali's invasion of the Carnatic the Government ordered four companies of the troops then stationed at Vizagapatnam to embark for Madras.

Circuit Committee and after

The weak and corrupt administration of Chiefs in Council and the power of Sitaram Raz was a constant menace to the British settlement at Vizagapatnam and their authority in the district, have compelled the authorities at Madras Council to investigate matters. The Raja having agreed to the enhanced peshkash and disbanding of troops as recommended by the Committee in its report of 1784, a new lease was granted to him in 1788. But the troops continued to be kept in spite of the promise, and their maintenance and the increased peshkash created financial difficulties. The Government thought that as long as Viziarama Raju was remaining in the district tranquility could not be secured and the estate managed. Having been directed by the Government to proceed to Masulipatam within a stated time on an allowance of Rs. 1,200 a month and an advance of Rs.30,000 for expenses, the Raja, though reluctant to leave the district and in the hope that a stiff and determined attitude would stave off extreme measures, retired with his entourage to Padmanabham, a village between Vizianagram and Bimlipatam, instead of taking the road to Masulipatam as stipulated by the Company. This was interpreted as an open defiance of the Company's authority.

Battle of Padmanabham

The Governor of Madras then directed Colonel Prendergast to proceed to Padmanabham on 5th July 1794. The Raja was given twenty-four hours for his depature. A fight was inevitable as the Sardars of the Raja and all the troops swore on the holy prasadam of the temple Padmanabham that they would prefer to die sword in hand to an ignominious capitulation. On 10th July 1794 all was over; Padmanabham will long be remembered as the Flodden of the Rajputs of district.

On 3rd August, Sir Charles Oakley's cowle to Narayanababau was received at the Chiefship of Vizagapatnam. The permanent settlement of 1802 and the parcelling out of the Haveli lands into a number of small proprietary estates and their sale by acution subject to a permanent peshkash were the events that followed for the organization of the district. Waltair and Allipuram, two wards in Vizagapatnam, form part of the estates carved out at this time. The Povincial Council was abolished in the year 1794 and the district was divided into three Collectorates, the Northern division including Tekkali and Parlakimedi Zamindaries.

Vizagapatnam made a Collectorate

In 1803 the district was made one Collectorate and placed under Hon'ble L.G. Keith Murray. Vizagapatnam continued to be an important military station till the year 1882-83 when, during Lord Ripon's Viceroyalty, a number of military stations were abolished. Many of the bungalows in Waltair, and the two roads - one leading to the beach and the other to the town - were built for military purposes.

The site on which Maharanipeta is built was occupied by the Indian Infantry, and the building in which the Office of the Deputy Inspector General of Police is now located was the old Military Hospital. The importance of the town has begun to increase. It is not only the headquarters of the various offices incidental to district administration, but also of many departments of the Northern Range. It is also became the educational centre of the Telugu districts and, with the construction of the Harbour, a new and bright chapter in the history of the town have begun.

After independence this was the biggest district in the country, which was then divided into three districts viz. Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram and Vizag.

The city was also an important target of Japanese attack during the World War II. The Pakistanis too attacked the city during the Indo Pak war in 1972, but fortunately no damage was done to the city.


From a tiny little fishing village in the previous century, Vizag as part of the coastal Andhra region came under French control in the late 18th century; the Dutch had established a colony in the early part of the 18th century. The English on establishing the Raj developed Waltair as a sister town of Vizag in the Madras Presidency. The city was the largest city at the time of Indian Independence and was divided into three manageable districts.

Industrial Revolution. The city got its first shipyard in 1949, the Hindustan Shipyards. The petroleum refinery was setup in the late fifties by Caltex, later taken over by Hindustan Petroleum. The saga of progress never stopped and the steel plant was established in the early eighties. Vizag has emerged into an industrial hub and has seen tremendous growth since India's economic liberalization in the early 1990s. Fortunately, the city has not seen the urban sprawl that characterizes many older Indian cities. The plans of 1200 acre SEZ and the first crude reserve of the country are already in the pipeline. This ancient city with the beauty of a Sakhi and the piety of the temples has indeed come a long way into becoming the industrial hub of the State of Andhra Prade

While the airport is relatively small, activity has picked up with the entry of new airlines. Vizag Airport has recently received permission to operate night flights, and recently finished the constructing of 10000-foot long runway to accommodate international flights and larger aircraft.

The city's growth has mostly been due to its heavy industries (both state owned and private) such as...HPCL – Oil Refinery (Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited) Vizag Steel Plant (Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL)) Hindustan Zinc Limited Bharat Heavy Plate and Vessels Ltd (BHPV). Hindustan Shipyard Limited Coramandel Fertilizers

Its traditional importance in ship building is confirmed by the fact that India's first ship, the "Jala Usha" was launched in Vizag.

Vizag 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.


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