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Prakasam District is one of the administrative districts of Andhra Pradesh, located in the southeast portion of the state. It is a coastal district, bounded by a bay and other districts of the state. To the north is found the district of Guntur while Mahbubnagar is found to the northwest edge. The south is occupied by the districts of Nellore and Cuddapah, slightly to the west. The west is bounded by Kurnool district while the Bay of Bengal is found on the east. The district has a total area of 17,626 square kilometers, and a total population of 3,059,423 distributed across 702,559 households, as of the 2001 Indian census. Of those, 15.28% were living in urban zones. The district’s district headquarters is the big town of Ongole.
The district was previously known as Ongole, and it has a history that goes back to the time when the Mauryas ruled the place in the 3rd century. Buddhism was introduced to the land when the Satavahanas came after the Mauryas and the construction of several stupas was started. In later centuries, the Ikhsvaku, the Vijavanagar kings, the Qutub Shahis, and the Mughals also took part in reigning over the region. Each left an indelible mark to the culture of modern day Prakasam.
The district itself was carved out of Guntur, Nellore and the Kurnool districts of Andhra Pradesh, and was originally constituted on February 2, 1970. On May 12, 1972, it was renamed from Ongole to Prakasam in memory of the great Andhra leader and patriot Tanguturi Prakasam Panthulu, otherwise known as Andhra Kesari (meaning “Lion of Andhra”), who was born in the village of Kanuparthi, in the district. Tanguturi Prakasam Panthulu was the first Chief Minister Andhra Pradesh and was a prominent figure in the country’s struggle for independence. When the district was constituted, it was formed from three taluks of Guntur. Four taluks came out of the Nellore district and two taluks came from the district of Kurnool.
More than a third of the whole area is cultivated land, making agriculture a prime source of economy for the district. The main crops include rice, maize, jowar, cotton, sesame and sugar cane. Fishing also augments a large portion of the population’s livelihood courtesy of the 105-kilometer coastline, making for a thriving fishing industry. Other flourishing industries include seed processing, floriculture and plantation, food processing, tobacco, cotton fabrics, and plastics and rubber. Several main towns in Prakasam engage in specialized industries that augment the district’s income. For example, Markapur is India’s main slate manufacturing town, which also happens to house the temple of Lord Chennakesava. The town of Chimakurthi is known the world over for its vast granite reserves. Lastly, to the religious, Dornala is known as diguva Srisailam, mainly because it is very near the historic pilgrimage center of Srisailam.
Other places of interest are the Bhairava Konda temple, the Motupalle, and the temple of Malayadri Lakshminarasimhasamy. In order to reach Prakasam district, one can take the train, since Ongole is an important railway station on the Chennai-Waltair broad gauge line. The district is also well-connected via road to all the major cities and towns in southern India. Lastly, the nearest airport is located 128 kilometers away, at Vijayawada.