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.