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Nellore

Nellore is one of the more prominent cities in Andhra Pradesh. It is also the district headquarters of the former Nellore district, now known as the district of Potti Sri Ramulu Nellore. It lies between the cities of Madras and Vijayawada, making it strategically important on the commercial level. This, combined with its proximity to the sea and its central location in the agricultural heartland of the district, makes it one of the faster growing cities of the Andhra Pradesh. As of the last census, Nellore has a population of about 404,158 people; the 2001 Indian census pegs the statistics at an even 50% each for males and females, as well as a 100% literacy rate.

The city has an approximate mean sea average elevation of about 17 meters. Geographically, Nellore has the coast of the Bay of Bengal along its eastern side, Ongole district to the north, Chittoor district to the south, and the district of Cuddappah to the west. The places near Nellore are also highly populated such as Sulurpeta and Gudur, which contributes much to the commerce in the area. Due to its geographic location, the city is frequently affected by cyclones, with water becoming scarce in some areas during the summer.

Historically, Nellore has been a significant Telugu city. Ever since its establishment, it has been under the rule of the Pallavas, Kakatitayas, Cholas and Vijayanagaras. Perhaps its most famous period was during the 13th century when it served as the hometown of Tikkana Somayaji, the second poet of Kavi Trayam, the trinity of poets that translated the Hindu epic Mahabharata into Telugu. During this time, Nellore was known as Vikramasimhapuri, and it was the capital of King Manuma Siddhi’s kingdom. Across the centuries, the name was changed to Nellore, from the Telugu word “nellu” which means paddy and “ur” which means town. It roughly translates to “rice paddy town,” which is a reference to the rice paddy fields that were found within and outside the city.

Nellore is a very important market center for cotton and oilseed products. This is boosted more by the fact that a major railway and a national highway goes through the city, so transfer of commerce and commercial products are never a problem. Recently, Nellore was changed from a town to a Corporation, with infrastructure projects being undertaken to accommodate the increasing population of immigrants as well as tourists.

There are several temples that are worth visiting when in Nellore. The Rangayanaka Temple is located on the banks of the Pennar River, and it is almost 500 years old. The temple is known for its architectural splendor, marked by a 29-meter tall Galigopuram with seven gold kalasams. Another temple worth visiting is the Sri Venugopala Swamy Devasthanam temple, built in 1883 and dedicated to Sri Rukmini Satyabhama Sametha Sri Venugopala Swamy. It is found in the Udaygiri Fort, some 96 kilometers from Nellore. The place is historical as it was the site of a mighty fortress built by the reigning Vijayanagar kings of the 14th century.

Kakinada

Kakinada is a city in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. It is the headquarters of the district. According to the 2001 census, Kakinada has a total population of about 704,921 people (853,340 if the extended settlements are included). Thanks to the newly-granted status of being one of Andhra Pradesh’s Special Economic Zones, the city has seen rapid growth. Being a coastal city with a deep-water port that is rapidly expanding, it only has an elevation of 2 meters. Hope Island, a small island some 5 kilometers from Kakinda coast, makes the city a natural harbor. Before the deep-water port was constructed, this old anchorage port was considered as the largest minor port in India. Currently, both operate side by side.

There are several theories as to the origin of the city. The most popular one states that before the current city was established, an old and small settlement called “Kaki Nandiwada” (or “Kakavandivada” by some sources) was already in existence, established there by the Nandi kings who ruled the area prior to the arrival of the European immigrants. The first European settlers who stepped foot in Kakinada were the Dutch, who called the place “Cocanada”. It is from this that the present name of Kakinada was derived.

The Dutch influence is still evident today by the architecture and design of some of the old buildings there. The British followed the Dutch and then, in 1874, the missionaries of the Canadian Baptist Mission came. Since then, the city grew into prominence, especially after the British made Kakinada into an administrative headquarters for the region. The influence of the Raja of Pithapuram, Sri Surya Rao Bahadur, was also an important factor in the growth of the city, through various liberal donations and grants. After the independence of India, the city’s name was reverted back to Kakinada from Cocanada, although there are still a few organizations established during the British rule which retained the old name, such as the Cocanada Chamber of Commerce.

The people living in Kakinada can be largely identified by their characteristic accent, which is Godavari Telugu. They are known for being hospitable and cultured in their dealings with others. Hinduism is the predominant religion, although Islam is also fairly practiced. Christianity is slowly growing in the city as well. All three religions’ churches can be found in the city to cater to their respective followers’ needs.

Kakinada is a major hub of education in the region, with the past decade seeing the growth of many residential colleges that offer quality secondary education. The pride of the city’s education is the widely recognized Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in the field of engineering and the Rangaraya Medical College, which is considered to be one of the best medical colleges in Andhra Pradesh.

In terms of industry, Kakinada is known as the “Fertilizer City” of the state. It is home to two prominent fertilizer companies: Nagarjuna Fertilizers, which is the biggest urea manufacturer of Andhra Pradesh, and Godavari Fertilizers, which produces di-ammonium phosphate. Other industries include auto and steel ancillaries, sugar production, as well as petroleum and oil refineries. The IT industry also got a boost after a facility was set up by the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI).