Located on the north bank of the river Krishna in Andhra Pradesh, Vijayawada is the second most populated city in the state and is about 5 km from the capital city of Amravati. Steeped in legend and culture, the city is one of the fastest growing cities of South India and has been widely recognized as a “Global city of the Future”. With a number of interesting sites spanning history, religion, adventure and entertainment, Vijayawada forms for a great place to explore.
A perfect way to start your holiday would be to take a tour of the cave temples starting with the triple storeyed rock cut Hindu cave temple of Undavalli. Situated about 5 km southwest of the city on the Vijayawada-Guntur highway, these caves date as early as the 6th-7th century and are believed to belong to the early Eastern Chalukyas. A massive monument that measures 28 meters long and 15 meters high, it faces north and overlooks the river Krishna. Each of the rock cut mandapas have pillared halls with the pillars replete with carvings of medallions, half medallions, figures of Gods, dwarfs etc.
The highlight of the temple is the shrine of Anantasayana or Vishnu in a reclining position that has been carved out of a single block of granite. With the face of the Lord resembling Buddha and magnificent sculptures of Brahma, Garuda and Markandeya maharishi surrounding the shrine, it is truly a stunning sight.
Akkana Maddana caves are yet another set of cave temples located in the city centre in close proximity to the renowned Kanaka Durga temple. Named after two ministers under Quli Qutb Shah, the then Nawab of Golconda, these triple-celled caves, dedicated to the Trimurthi (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) are simple and devoid of elaborate sculptures.
The Mogalarajapuram caves also situated in the heart of the city is a set of three cave temples which are now nationally protected monuments.
Kanaka Durga temple
A focal point of the city, the Kanakadurgamma temple as it is also known, is the second largest temple of the state. A highly revered deity that attracts scores of devotees all year round, the idol is believed to have self-manifested (Swayambhu). Located on Indrakeeladri hill, overlooking the river Krishna, the temple has been mentioned in several holy texts and has very high religious significance.
An ideal break from the hustle bustle, Gandhi hill is a small hillock within the city close to the railway station. With a magnificent memorial dedicated to Gandhiji, this complex has a small park and also a toy train ride for children. The hill provides some wonderful views of the city’s panorama.
Prakasam Barrage and Bhavani Island
A symbol of the city, Prakasam Barrage is a road bridge across the river Krishna built way back in 1855. One of the major irrigation projects of the state, it is a little over 1200 meters long and is one of the most prominent land marks of the city. The back waters of the river create a truly scenic picture and provide some beautiful views. A highly popular tourist spot, a walk along the barrage during dusk is a great way to enjoy the spectacular setting and sunset.
A little island amidst the back waters of the river Krishna, Bhavani Island is yet another hot spot amongst tourists and locals. Developed as a river front resort by the tourism department, this 130- odd acre island can be reached by boat. If water sports and adventure is your cup of tea, then there are multiple options like speed boating, jet skiing, banana rides and the like. A perfect place to relax and unwind, Bhavani island has restaurants, mini parks and ample green space.
Local shopping and eating out
When it comes shopping, Vijaywada is a perfect mix of the contemporary and the traditional. While Eluru road and M G roads host some of the swankiest malls and branded outlets, head to Besant road if you want to experience the pulse of the city. Teeming with vendors, shoppers and locals, the road is filled with little shops selling native textiles, household goods and a host of other knick knacks. Do check out the colourful Kalamkari fabrics and paintings if you are a fan of indigenous art. Mangalgiri textiles and sarees are yet another speciality of the region.
Rasoie, Minerva Grand, Sevendays café and Sweet magic are some of the famous local eateries. Try out the spicy Andhra cuisine including the red hot, lip smacking ‘avakkai’ (mango pickle) as well the famous biryani while there.