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Andhra Pradesh - Guntur Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Momentous path to a crackling `century'

By Ramesh Susarla

GUNTUR, SEPT. 30. Guntur district has completed 100 years of its existence as a revenue collecting administrative unit. The district with an illustrious history and cultural heritage dating back to the third century BC came under British rule in 1788 and was under the control of the East India Company from Machalipatnam till 1794.

Ruled by the Maurya dynasty and emperor Ashoka, Guntur fell into the hands of the Satavahanas, but only for a gap of 200 years. The void gave rise to small regional kings like Kuberaka and Sivamaka Sada. The Ikshavas made present-day Nagarjunakonda their capital after taking over from the Satavahanas and Buddhism flourished during their reign.

Later, Guntur was ruled by the Chalukyas, Velnatis, Cholas, Kakatiyas, Reddi kings, Gajapathis, Qutubshahis, Mughals and the French for many years before it finally came under British rule.

Revenue collection under the administrative control of a `Collector' began in 1794 with 14 talukas - Mangalagiri, Dachepalli, Vinukonda, Narsaraopet, Pedakurapadu, Kondaveedu, Ponnuru, Tenali Repalle, Guntur, Bapatla, Tumrukota, Prattipadu, and Marturu - but for administrative convenience it was merged with the Krishna district in 1859.

Guntur district was given its current geo-physical status as a district again on October 1, 1904 with N.S. Brodie, as its Collector in 1905.

The centrally located commercial district of the present city is named after him - Brodipet. The first collector after independence was A. Dorairaj in 1948, while the first collector from the Indian Administrative Service was A. Krishnaswami in 1953.

Rutherford as Collector

It is interesting to note that General Rutherford, responsible for the killing of the freedom fighter Alluri Seetharama Raju in Visakhapatnam district, had served as one of the Collectors of Guntur district. The current District Collector, K. Ramakrihsna Rao, is the 154th Collector and will go into history as the Collector in the centenary year.

The district was the nerve centre of many revolutionary movements with the development of the delta areas following the construction of the Sir Arthur Cotton Barrage (Prakasam Barrage) in1853 between Vijayawada and Mangalagiri.

This project transformed the entire socio-economic landscape of the district, bringing in increasing affluence with flourishing agriculture, says 84-year-old freedom fighter Daruvuri Veeraiah.

When there were no projects on the Godavari or Krishna, famine had taken its toll, he said. "Now one of the most active districts politically in the State, it did not have any presence either at the national or State level politics with only the Justice Party existing prior to 1930, the freedom fighter said. The Nagarjunasagar dam, brainchild of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, built from 1955 to 1969, transformed the Palnadu region.

Mahatma Gandhi's visit

The visit of Mahatma Gandhi in 1931 to address a meeting where the Gandhi Park (Swaraj Maidan) is currently located, transformed the political scenario with many youth joining the Congress with Konda Venkatappaiah and P. Lakshmaiah, playing a major role. Sarada Niketan is one of the oldest organisations set up after inspiration from Gandhian principles.

Though Guntur town is relatively young compared with the history of the district, the Collectorate was built in 1912, and has three major colleges started during the pre-independence days - the Hindu College, the Andhra Christian College and the Andhra Muslim College.

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