Situated on the banks of River Krishna, Vijayawada, part of the AP Capital city, ‘Amravati’, is the business hub of AP. It is famous for ‘Krishna Pushkaraluand Dusshera celebrations. The city is well connected with major cities in South India by road, rail and air routes.

Vijayawada has got a good mixture of tourist places covering Historic monuments, Religious places and Parks. The below blog is written with the intention to give a glimpse on the places of interest in (and around) Vijayawada, which I have visited during my (multiple) visits to the City. The key landmark of the city is ‘Prakasham Barrage built across the Krishna River, adjacent to the ‘Kanaka Durgamma Temple (on Indrakeeladri hill). Other key place in Vijayawada are ‘Mangalagiri Temple’, ‘Krishnaveni Mandapam (River Museum), ‘Undavalli Caves (Buddhist landmark), ‘Kondapalli Fort’,Bhavani Island’ (one of the largest island in Krishna River) and ‘Gandhi Hill (first Gandhi Memorial in the country).

Other worth seeing places around Vijayawada are Amareswara temple and Buddha statue at Amravati (around 50 kms from Vijayawada); and Dwaraka Tirumala at Elluru (around 100 kms from Vijayawada).

Note: A Proposed Two Day trip to Vijayawada will cover the below destinations:

  • Day 1: Kondapalli Fort (morning time), Prakasham Barrage, Krishnaveni mandapam, Undavalli Caves and Kanaka Durgamma Temple (evening time). 
  • Day 2: Mangalagiri Temple (morning time) and Bhavani Island (evening time).

Kondapalli Fort (also known as Kondapalli Kota), located at Kondapalli village (Eastern Ghats) was built during Kondaveedu dynasty in 14th century and it was under the province of Vijayanagara Empire and Golkonda Empire. During British period, it was used as military training base. The Kondapalli village is also famous for crafting of colourful toys (using lightwood known as Ponuku), known across world as ‘Kondapalli Bommalu (or Toys)’.

The Fort is located at around 24 kms from Vijayawada on NH65 connecting Hyderabad. One needs to cross Kondapalli Village Junction and then take a right to take the Ghat road leading to the fort. The highway is pretty well laid out, and the Ghat road (forest) is pretty scenic to drive. Tourists interested in trekking can opt for Kondapalli village route. One needs to park his/her vehicle at the village, and then trek to reach the fort (around 2 kms; but, ensure to carry water and Caps as the climate is pretty hot).

The fort area is guarded by fortification walls and it comprises of king’s area {comprising of Gajasala (restricted for tourists) and Darbar Hall (open area above Gajasala)}, Rani Mahal (and recreation area), Market Yard, Jail and Tope Khana (there is also a mosque at the entrance of the fort). The Rani Mahal and Market yard are pretty eloquently designed (and pretty well restored by APTDC). It takes around 40 mins to roam and visit all the places in the fort area. Trekking enthusiasts will have a good time exploring the palace and the adjoining areas. There is also building on the hill adjacent to the palace, which is said to be used by King’s mistress. APTDC maintains the fort and charges 5Rs per person for entry to the fort.

Connecting Vijayawada and Guntur districts, Prakasham Barrage is 1224 mts (4015 ft) long and is built across River Krishna in 1950s. The barrage was built upon (i.e. strengthened) the dam constructed during British regime in 1855s (the construction was endorsed of Major Cotton). The barrage has 76 pillars in total, with 70 pillars belonging to Guntur district and 6 pillars belonging to Krishna district. The Barrage is beautifully illuminated by colourful lights by APTDC during evening time. Near to the Prakasham Barrage, we have Krishnaveni mandapam, which has the statue of Krishnaveni and a Museum.

In Guntur District, we have Undavalli caves which are located at around 4 Kms from Prakasham Barrage (after crossing Prakasham Barrage, we need to take right turn). The sandstone cave dates back to 7th century A.D and were used by Buddhist monks as a rest house during the monsoon Season. The key attraction of the 4-storey building is a 5mt long statue of Lord Vishnu in reclining posture (Padmanabha) on Adi-Sesha. The first floor retains Jain architectural style and has many Jain monastics including Tirthankara sculptures. The front façade of the caves have beautiful carvings and offers great view of the lush green countryside. The caves can be covered in around 40mins time and the ideal time to visit them is evening hours.

Located on Indrakeeladri hill overlooking the city and River Krishna, Kanaka Durga Temple is the most popular Hindu temples of Goddess Durga in and around Vijayawada. As per Vedic scripts, the deity is Swayambhu (self-manifested) and the temple was constructed by Arjuna, who prayed to Lord Shiva on top of Indrakeela hill to win his blessings (and obtain the Pasupatha astra) before Mahabharata War. Another popular legend is that, on request of Sage Indrakila (who practiced severe penance), Goddess Durga made Indrakila her permanent abode and slayed many demons including the demon king Mahishasura.

One can reach the hill top, either via motor way or take the steps (around 1 kms with 70steps). The temple trust offers free bus service to the temple top from the base. From the hill top, one gets an awesome view of the city covering Krishna River, Prakasham Barrage and Gandhi Hill (1st Gandhi Memorial). The Devotees can opt for premier Darshan (price range from Rs100 to Rs. 500), to get a closer look of Goddess Durga. The Goddess Durga idol is depicted in standing posture with eight arms, with each holding a weapon, and with one piercing Mahishashura with her trident. The idol is beautifully decorated. In front of the temple, we have Ashwattha tree, where devotees offers bangles, sinduram etc. In the temple compound, there is also a shrine of Malleswara Swamy (Lord Shiva).

Located at around 12 Kms from Vijayawada in Guntur district, Mangalgiri is famous for the temple of Lord Narasimha on a hillock. It is one of the 8 Lord Vishnu’s Mahakshetrams (sacred places where Lord Vishnu manifested himself) in India. The eight places are Sri Rangam, Srimushnam, Naimisam, Pushkaram, Salagamadri, Thothadri (Mangalagiri), Narayanasramam and Venkatadri. It is believed that, Goddess Lakshmi Devi performed penance (tapasaya) on this hill, hence, it got the name, ‘Mangalgiri’.

There are three Narasimha Swamy temples in Mangalagiri, first one called Laxmi Narasimha Swamy temple, which is situated at the foothills (it is believed that eldest of the pandavas, Yudhishtira constructed this temple); The second temple, called Panakala Narasimha Swamy, is situated on the hill. The unique feature of this temple, is that the mouth of the Lord Narasimha idol (covered by metal face of the god), accepts half the quantity of Panakam (Jaggery dissolved in water) offered by devotees, irrespective of the size of the vessel. And, the Third temple, called Gandala Narasimha Swamy is situated at the hill top. The temples situated on the hill is opened only till afternoon (around 3PM), as it is believed that Gods performs puja in the night (the Laxmi Narasimha Swamy temple at foothill is open till 8PM). The star attraction of this place is the huge Gopuram (153ft in height and 49 ft in wide with 11 storeys) situated on the eastern gate of the Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy temple, which was constructed by Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu in 18th Century.

Bhavani Island is one of the largest islands on river Krishna. The APTDC has transformed this 134 Acre island into a beautiful attractive tourist spot, with attractions like boat rides, sporting activities, Park, Rope-way and a riverfront resort (with accommodation facility, although I won’t recommend night stay, as the place doesn't seem to be maintained properly). The boat ride from main land to Bhavani Island takes around 30mins and is available only during day time (At night, there is no transportation from Bhavani Island to main land). The Island park can be explored in around 2 hours time.

P.S. If we have time crunch i.e. option for 1-Day, One can skip, Kondapalli Fort (as we better forts at Hyderabad) and (maybe) Bhavani Island also.

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Hari K