Visakhapatnam pronunciation (also Vis'a-khapattanamu, shortened and anglicized: Vizag or Vizagapatnam) is a coastal, port city in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, located on the eastern shore of India, nestled among the hills of the Eastern Ghats and facing the Bay of Bengal to the east. The city is about 650km northeast of the state capital Hyderabad. It is the administrative headquarters of Visakhapatnam District and is also home of the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy.
Alternatively, it sometimes goes by its now mostly defunct colonial British name, Waltair. During the colonial era, the city had at its hub the Waltair railway station, and that part of the city still goes by the name of Waltair. It is sometimes also referred to as the "City of Destiny".
The city is home to several state owned heavy industries, one of the most advanced steel plants and has one of the country's largest ports and its oldest shipyard. It has the only natural harbour on the eastern coast of India.
Andhra University, a prominent seat of education in Andhra Pradesh is located here.
Vizag is primarily an industrial city, apart from being a tourist destination. Tourists are attracted by its unspoilt beaches, nearby scenic Araku Valley and Borra caves, the 11th-century Simhachalam temple and ancient Buddhist sites like Totlakonda & Bavikonda spread across the area.
The city boasts a submarine museum, the first of its kind in South Asia, at Rama Krishna Beach.
From being a small fishing village in the twentieth century, Vizag has grown into an industrial hub. Its saga began with the quest of British to find a suitable port that connects the rich mineral belt of Central provinces with the East Coast. Unlike the western coast of India, the east coast have few undulations to form a natural harbor. Their quest for finding out a harbor ended with Vizag. Vizag is the most protected natural harbour in Asia. They started building the harbor in 1927 and in 1933 it was opened to traffic. One more important milestone is setting up of Scindia Steam Navigation Co., later known as Hindustan Shipyard Ltd in 1940. With the construction of the K.K. line connecting the iron ore mines of Biladila in M.P. (Present day Chattisgarh), its importance grew. In 1950s and 1960s Government and private sector setting up some largescale Basic industries like Bharat Heavy plates and vessels (B.H.P.V.), Hindustan Zinc Ltd., Caltex oil refinery (Later acquired by government as H.P.C.L.), Coramandel fertilizers, Andhra Polymers (Now L.G. Polymers), etc. 1980s saw a major development with the development of Vizag Steel and other major industries. Economic liberalization in the 1990s brought a modest growth to the city but not as much as it did to Hyderabad. However, some industries sprang up like Rain calclining Ltd., expansion of H.P.C.L., setting up of Vizag Export Processing zone, Simhadri Thermal Power plant of N.T.P.C., etc. Vizag is now declared as one of ten fastest growing cities of the world a recent study conducted by the United Nations.
Due to the presence of the Eastern Naval Command, Steel Plant, H.P.C.L., the city has been the home to people from different parts of the country and due to this the city has a cosmopolitan texture to it.
The city's main commercial and shopping centres are located in the Dwaraka Nagar-R.T.C. complex area and Jagadamda Junction area. Since 2000, the Dwaraka Nagar-R.T.C. complex area has transformed into a commercial hub with new shopping malls and complexes spring up within a radius of 2-3 kilometers. The city is home to many five star hotels such as Taj group, I.T.C. Welcome Group & Park Hotels.
There has been a rise in the real estate prices attributed to the Telangana movement for a separate Telangana state, fuelinge speculation on Vizag becoming the next capital. Recently various large and small software and BPO companies have announced plans for starting development and outsourcing centers in Vizag, which has also contributed to the rise in real estate prices. Inflows from N.R.I.'s (Non Resident Indians) from Vizag has further added to this rise.
Indira Gandhi Zoological Park was setup in 1972 in the city outskirts. The Zoo Park features some of the rarest species in India.
Vizag is a cosmopolitan mix of people from various parts of the country. From a population of a few thousand locals during the 18th century and early 19th century the population grew steadily every decade. The city doubled its population from 1990 - 2000 owing to a large migrant population from surrounding areas and other parts of the country coming to the city to work in its heavy industries.
As of 2001 India census, Visakhapatnam had a population
of 2,845,938. After the state government approved the formation
of Greater Visakhapatnam with the merger of Gajuwaka municipality
and 32 villages in the vicinity in the Visakhapatnam Municipal
Corporation, the population of the city and the metro area
swelled to 3.1 Million. Males constitute 50% of the population
and females 50%. Average literacy rate of 69%, higher than
the national average of 59.5%. Male literacy is 74% and
female literacy is 63%. 10% of the population is younger
than six. Visakhapatnam is listed as one of the Hundred
Fastest Growing Cities of the World.
Hinduism is practised by the majority of vizagites followed by Islam and Christianity. The city patronised Buddhism for 2 millennia as evident from the presence of many Buddhist sangharamas in the outskirts. The Buddhist population has however waned since. All the religions co-exist peacefully, Vizag never witnessed communal riots during its entire history.
Visakhapatnam is predominantly a Telugu speaking city. The Telugu spoken by the middle classes is a standard dialect, while a significant population who have settled down in the city from adjoining villages and neighbouring districts of Vizianagaram and Srikakulam speak Uttarandhra (North Coastal) Mandalikam dialects. Historians believe that centuries ago, when Uttarandhra was part of the Kalinga Empire, Buddhist missionaries and merchants might have taken Telugu (Derived from Brahmi script) script to Southeast Asia from the shores of Uttarandhra where it parented into the scripts of Mon, Burmese, Thai, Khmer, Siam, Javanese and Balinese languages and even Sinhala of Sri Lanka. Their similarities to Telugu script can be discerned even today.
Visakhapatnam is also home to large Oriya community. One can find Oriya inscriptions in Simhachalam temple as earlier this region was a part of different dynasties of ancient Orissa and the temple in fact thrives on pilgrims from Orissa. The original inhabitants were tribals found in the hilly region of Vishakhapatnam who speak Desiya Oriya,a dilect of Oriya language. Visakhapatnam due to the Naval presence and high concentration of public sector industries has a significant Hindi speaking population. It is also home to a large section of Muslims; most of them date back many generations which makes Hindi the second most spoken language.
The climate of Visakhapatnam has no appreciable seasonal changes. Being close to the sea, the level of humidity is high. The fluctuations in temperature are fairly uniform in character, except during the dry months when the rise in temperature is higher than it is during the monsoon period. From February onwards, the temperature rises progressively till May, which is the hottest month. From 1931-60 the maximum average (Mean) temperature was 340C. This has been showing an upward trend with the minimum and maximum for the period of 1975-81 being reported as 380C and 290C, respectively. In recent years, it has not been uncommon for the daytime temperature to exceed 430C during May. December, January are the coldest period of the year.
The average annual rainfall for the city and its surrounding area is of the order of 95 centimeters with the bulk of the rain coming from north-east monsoon. Between September and November, storms and depressions originating in the Bay of Bengal cross the east coast in the neighbourhood causing heavy rains and gales. As per Thornthwaite’s classification, Visakhapatnam and its environs come under the semi–arid (D) category. All the elements of climate viz. temperature, pressure, wind, rainfall, relative humidity and other weather phenomena hardly exist and exhibit a well marked variation while January is the coolest month of the year with average temperatures of 30°c and 22.5°c respe
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