Nestled on the banks of River Krishna in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Vijayawada is the second-largest populated city in the state. Known as the ‘commercial, political and media capital of Andhra Pradesh’, the city is one of the most rapidly growing urban cities in India. Covered by hills and canals, Vijayawada is also home to numerous caves and rock-cut temples carved out of these caves.
Vijayawada is an amalgamation of the old world and the new; the air echoes with the clanking of temple bells mixed with the cacophony of traffic, the ancient monuments stand in perfect harmony with the modern architecture of the metro city. Among the most popular places to visit in Vijayawada are Bhavani Island, Victoria Museum, Hazratbal Mosque, Rajiv Gandhi Park, and Kolleru Lake etc., in addition to the host of temples and several caves. Other than this, the city is mostly a base to explore the nearby attractions like the Undavalli Caves, Kondapalli Fort, and Mangalagiri Hill etc.
Places to Visit
Bhavani island is one of the largest islands on a river and is located over the Krishna river at Vijayawada. The vast expanse of the island proves to be the perfect place for a relaxing weekend. If you are one for adventure sports and water slides, this is an exhilarating place to visit! It is named after the Goddess Bhavani or Kanaka Durga whose temple is on the Indrakeeladri hill close to the island. Bhavani island can be reached by boat from the banks of Krishna river. Approaching the island from the banks, you will enjoy the lush green surroundings and beauty of the Krishna river. If you are on the island especially during sunrise, you have the most spectacular view of the sunlight dancing on the flowing waters of the river.
There are also numerous activities to pursue on the island- like water-skiing, kayaking, parasailing, as well as opportunities to enjoy some leisurely time snoozing on hammocks, fishing and picnicking with your family. Take your gang of best buddies to this little island-park on the weekend to kick back and unwind from a tiresome daily routine. You can also say at a tiny resort on the island.
Kanaka Durga Temple
The Kanaka Durga Temple is a famous shrine dedicated to the Goddess Durga. Located in Vijayawada district of Andhra Pradesh, this astounding architecture is built in Dravidian fashion. The temple is surrounded by the hills of Inrakeeladri, right along the banks of the Krishna River. The temple finds mention in many sacred texts and Vedic literature as well and is a revered temple among devotees and followers. People visit this temple every year to show their respect and devotion to the Goddess Supreme and seek her blessings. The temple has detailed timings and rules of darshans and seva opportunities which can be booked online on their website. The temple also runs a food donation programme as a part of their many charitable activities.
The Kanaka Durga Temple of Andhra Pradesh is one of the many Shaktipeethas that are situated in the country. The goddess appears in her Mahishasurmardini form here, along with the image of slain demon king Mahishasura. It is believed that the deity is Swayambhu or self-manifested. The imposing image of Kanakadurga is a humbling and unforgettable sight. The deity’s face and body colour are of molten gold shade, and the idol is also bedecked with golden jewellery from which the temple gets its name Kanaka Durga – Kanaka in Sanskrit means gold.
A monolithic example of Indian rock-cut architecture, the Undavalli Caves are located in the city of Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. Carved out of a solid sandstone on a hillside, these caves date back to the 4th to 5th centuries and are a paradise for history lovers. One of the preserved monuments of national importance, this attraction was originally the Jain caves and was later converted into a Hindu temple.
Regarded as one of the earliest examples of Gupta architecture, the Undavalli Caves leave one in amazement and awe because of its marvellous design. From the outside, it looks like rows of cells arranged in different positions which arouse curiosity. There are three levels in the cave. The lower level resembles the Jain abode with many chambers and Thirthankara Sculptures. The second level has as the statue of reclining God whose identity cannot be found out. However, locals believe the statue is of Lord Vishnu. The sculptures of lions and elephants on the walls add to the beauty of the attraction. When you reach the top of the cave, you get a breath-taking view of the lush green surroundings and hills. You can also see the Krishna River flowing behind the caves. Tourists can even take the boat ride on the river enjoying the natural beauty. A perfect blend of architectural marvel and historical significance, you should add Undavalli Caves to your bucket list because it will swoon you with its charm and grandeur.
Kondapalli Fort is a marvellous 14th-century fort located in the village of Kondapalli in Guntur district near Vijayawada. The resplendent fort is considered of great historical importance and attracts tourists from all over the world. Locals frequent the site for a day-long picnic with friends and family due to its proximity from Vijayawada, which is just 23 kilometres away. As you explore the exalted fort, be sure to notice the breathtaking view of the valley. The village is famous for wooden toys, especially the Kondapalli Dolls. If you are lucky, you might just find a vendor selling these beautiful dolls for you to take back as souvenirs.
Kondapalli fort is also called as Kondapalli Kota and was built by the Musunuri Nayaks in the district. Many consider this imperial fort has roots in parallel histories. It served as a military fortification during the British era and was said to have been built as a centre of recreation, business and trade during the 14th century. This is an architectural marvel with an entrance gate, called the Dargah Darwaja, that is carved out of a single boulder of granite and other features including a reservoir, Golconda Darwaza, Dargah of Gareeb Saheeb, Tanisha Mahal and several bits of history that are now in ruins. One must not miss exploring the Kondapalli Fort while in this area.
These are ancient caves, dating back to the 5th century and one of the most significant landmarks of the heritage of Vijayawada. Though a lot has been lost to ruins, the caves still hold religious and spiritual value as they house idols of Lord Nataraja and Lord Vinayaka amongst many more, a few cave temples and a shrine for Goddess Durga.
The carvings here also hold amongst themselves, a carving of Ardhanariswara, which is said to be the only one of its kind across the whole of South India.
Subramanya Swamy Temple
Dedicated to the Lord of serpents Kartikeya, the Subramanya Swamy Temple is a shrine located in Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh), set on the foot of the Indrakiladari Hills. The temple worships all three forms of Lord Subramanya- Sri Dandayudhapani Swamy as a boy, Sri Valli Devayanai- his original form and lastly in the form of a serpent. It is carved out of sparkling white stone with intricate stonework embellishing the facade. The temple also houses a silver covered Garuda pillar which holds great religious significance for the devotees. There is an anthill by the temple, the natural habitat of snakes, which is worshipped by the devotees with equal zeal and belief.
Situated in the midst of beautiful mountains, forests and rivers, a visit to this temple is an unanticipated rendezvous with nature a well. One has to take a holy dip in the Kumaradhara River to reach the temple gates. The entrance to the temple is made from the back, from where you can walk around the deity.
Beyond the aforementioned Garuda, the pillar is the main sanctum of the temple where the presiding deities, Subramanya and Shesha reside. These deities are worshipped on a daily basis by pilgrims from all across the country, and this temple is fast gaining popularity.
A museum of the Archaeology Department, this is a walk through imprints of time and all it left behind. Browse through a rich and ancient collection of sculptures, idols, inscriptions, paintings, cutlery and weapons.
The museum leaves you fascinated not only by its artifacts from the past but also with a huge Buddha statue. The sprawling, glistening white, marble statue was brought from Alluru.
The busiest trade centers of the city, bustling with activity and trade, Besant Road is a dynamic place in Vijayawada. The road has grown into a pivot of commercial hustle in recent times.
It now houses some of the best modern eateries in the town. With multi-cuisine restaurants providing quality services, the foodies in the town love this road. Filled with exuberance and vibrance, with many number of cinema halls, (more than 50 we hear!) it is a heaven of film fraternities and lovers. People swarm to this street to experience some of the most modern films from all languages, a major source of entertainment for the citizens. A commercial, trade and entertainment center, Besant Road is a street to visit to witness the everyday, livelihoods and bits of the spirit of the town.
Known as the Capital of Andhra Pradesh, Amaravathi is a planned city on the banks of the River Krishna. Amaravathi is renowned for being a site of a Buddhist Stupa that is a semi-hemispherical structure containing Buddhist relics and often called the Abode of God.
Located 32 kilometres north of Guntur District, Amaravati is a prime hub of pilgrimage and sightseeing. The original structure was established during the reign of Emperor Ashoka which is now a meditation site in the city.
Being built on a 217km riverfront, the city is designed to have 51% of green spaces. Its foundation stone was laid on 22 October 2015 by prime Minister Narendra Modi. After the separation into two states in the year 2014, Hyderabad was declared the capital city of the then newly formed state Telangana.
It led to Amaravathi being chosen as the Capital of Andhra Pradesh. The word Amaravathi in itself was derived from the ancient capital of Satavahana dynasty. Pilgrims visit this town almost throughout the year owing to the number of temples and shrines that adorn the little town in different parts.
Shopping In Vijayawada
Being a shopaholic, you might be finding it a bit hard to concentrate on just the history of Vijayawada, aren’t you? So here is what the place has in store for you – beautifully intricate kalamkari paintings, woodworks, etikoppaka and kondapalli toys, leather paintings and of course the beautiful Mangalgiri sarees. The place is a heartland of age-old arts and crafts that has stood the test of time.
What to buy?
Perhaps one of the most famous art forms of this region would be the Kalamkari paintings, which are an endearing illustration of the regional culture. It is nearly a 3000-year-old art, where natural vegetable dyes are used to colour textiles – either blocks are used to print on textile, or motifs and patterns are hand painted on them. From animal forms to Gods in mortal bodies, this form of hand and block painting manifests itself in two forms- Srikalahasti and Machilipatnam style. The former style requires the use of a pen for a freehand drawing of the subject and then filling in the colours. The Machilipatnam style involves vegetable dyed block painting of the fabric. Beautifully intricate sarees, dupattas, wrappers, dress materials, wall paintings, curtains and many such things adorn the markets of Vijayawada, waiting to be picked up!
Woodworks are another one of the most popular crafts of Andhra Pradesh. The red sandalwood, which is widely known for its rust colour, is used to carve out several delicate products, are famous across India and abroad. Cutlery, jewellery boxes, trays and other household items along with dolls and deities can be found carved out of this beautiful redwood. These items are not just pretty, but also hardy and last a really long time! Be sure to check these out!
Etikoppaka Bommalu or Etikoppaka toys are made out of wood and polished with lacquer colours. These originated in a small village on the banks of river Varaha, and now holds the GI tag for Andhra Pradesh. You will find a wide array of toys to choose from, be it Ganesha or a bullock cart; grinding bowl to spinning tops to animal and human figurines – these toys are quintessential handicraft elements of Andhra Pradesh, which can be found nowhere else in India, or the world!
These wooden toys are made in a village near Vijayawada and are used in Andhra houses to decorate during festivals like Sankranti and Navratri. The softwood from which these toys are carved can only be found in nearby forests of Vijayawada, and the art itself is a few centuries old. One will mostly get to buy Kondapalli toys that depict mythological figures, animals, birds, bullock carts, and scenes from rural life.
Leather puppets and Lamp shades are other hallmarks of Andhra Pradesh crafts. Goats and sheepskin are used to make lamps, clocks, and beautiful paintings depicting stories from Hindu mythologies of Ramayana and Mahabharata. The lamps are the most popular ones for their translucent, vivid colours used for the figures and the perforated design signifying pieces of jewellery, which when lighted seems like glowing gold!
And then, of course, there are puppets made out of leather, which is used for puppet shows and decorative purposes as well.
These much heard about cotton sarees with beautiful zari borders, and no designs on the body are local to this place only. One can find these sarees of varying qualities in various textiles shops across the city. If you are a saree person, you will absolutely love the uniqueness of these sarees!
Must Try Food in Vijayawada
1. Sarovar Mess
2. Bamboo & Biryani
3. Barkaas Arabic Restaurant
4. Minerva Grand Restaurant
5. Dalchin Fine Dining Restaurant
6. Milaps Punjabi Hotel
7. New Gulab Restaurant
9. Element E7 Restrobar
10. Zaatar Arabian Mandi Restaurant
How To Get Here
Vijayawada is well connected to the rest of India by rail, road, and air. Regular rail and bus services ply to and fro the city of Vijayawada; buses being operated both by private and government owners. Vijayawada airport, 13.5 km. away from the main city, is the principal airport that connects Vijayawada to the rest of India, as well as the world. Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Kingfisher Airlines connect the city with Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. Also, it is situated along the Chennai-Howrah, and Chennai-Delhi rail route, and is thus easily accessible.
Vijayawada Airport, 15.5 km. away from the main city approximately, is the nearest airport that serves the city of Vijayawada via airways. Regular flights from air carriers like Air India, Spicejet etc. operate on a daily and nonstop basis for Vijayawada.
Nearest Airport: Vijayawada Airport (VGA)
Regular bus services ply to and fro the city of Vijayawada. They operate on a daily basis, whether day or night, from places like Nellore, Visakhapatnam etc. You can also take shared taxis or cabs for the same route.
Vijayawada is well connected to the rest of India via railways as well. Regular rail services operate on a daily basis to and fro Vijayawada. Vijayawada Junction is the principal railway station that serves the city of Vijayawada.