Machilipatnam, Andhra Pradesh: Among the major port cities of Andhra Pradesh, Machilipatnam holds one of the prominent places. Machilipatnam is a popular city located along the shore of Bay of Bengal in Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh. The city at the Bay, Machilipatnam has a port located on the Coromandel Coast (southeastern part) of India. Ever-since Machilipatnam existed, the port witnessed a flourishing sea trade. This brought the name as "Bandar City" to the town ("Bandar" is a port in Hindi). Machilipatnam has rich history of foreign conquest, business and trade. In the earlier days, the city was also known as Masulipatnam and Masalia. It is said that the gateway to the town was decorated with eyes of a fish (fish is called as "Machili" in Hindi) and so it got the name as Machilipatnam.
Machilipatnam is famous for many small scale industries such as imitation jewellery made of fashion gold (also known as rolled gold or gold covering). Agriculture is one of the most engaged occupations in and around the city, cultivating paddy and sugar. Also, heavy industries like Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) (a unit of the Union Defense Ministry), has a manufacturing unit in Machilipatnam. This unit undertakes the design, development and manufacture of state-of-the art electronic equipment that is used by the Indian Defense Services and Para-military organizations.
The proximity of the sea and the temples in this place are the prime attractions of Machilipatnam. The Panduranga Swami Temple of Lord Vishnu at Chilakalapudi is a famous pilgrimage centre while Manginapudi Beach with black soil and shallow water at 11kms from Machilipatnam is a place with beautiful scenic beauty.
Machilipatnam is well-known as a pilgrimage centre for its Panduranga Swami Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. There is a beach called Manginapudi about 11kms from Machilipatnam known for its scenic beauty. At a stone's throw away from this beach you also have a beautifully laid park with fountain and splendid surroundings which makes it a good place for relaxing. Thousands of pilgrims take a holy dip in the sea during Maghapoornami, an annual Hindu festival, and then visit the temple of Panduranga Swami. Another pilgrimage site, Dattashram, a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Dattatreya, is on the banks of the sea coast.
There is Ghantasala, 21kms away from Machilipatnam, which has the remains of an old Buddhist Stupa. Ghantasala has both Hindu and Buddhist sculptures along with artistic excellence of Kalabhairava and Saraswathi which gives it a colossal image. Another pilgrimage centre, Agastheeswara Temple, 36kms from Machilipatnam, is a temple dedicated to Ekaratri Mallikarjuna Swami, Lord Shiva. Further up the coast of Machilipatnam there are five temples dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The Machilipatnam Church with big prayer hall, built in 19th century, is also a tourist destination. There is a temple of Anjaneya Swami (Lord Hanuman) in Paraspet that was built by Samardha Ramadasa Swami, the guru (teacher) of Chatrapathi Shivaji.
Arts and crafts in Machilipatnam:
The city is also famous for some of the famous handicrafts called Kalamkari works and designs made on the cotton cloth. Kalamkari designs are world famous for their unique and intricate designs made on the wall hangings, bed sheets, hand kerchiefs, curtains, dresses and mementos etc. The name is derived from the words "Kalam" (means pen) and "Kari" (means work) which implies that the design work is done using a pen like tool. All the colors and dyes used in the designs are made of vegetables and minerals. The basic design and outlines are first marked on the cloth with a cotton-tipped bamboo stick and dyed with mineral and vegetable colors. For making colors, they use indigo for blue, madder for red, mango bark and dried myrobalan fruit for yellow, palm sugar and rusted iron processed for black. The designs are first carved on the wood to prepare the mould of the dye. The subsequent processes include washing, rinsing, soaking and bleaching muslin, and applying shades and dyes using natural substances. It takes several days to complete the entire process. While some fabrics are designed using dyes and moulds, some other fabrics are hand-drawn and painted and chint (spotted). Particular designs are very popular in the European market on the name of Machilipatnam Chint. It is a very popular traditional occupation that has been prevailing over centuries which got the patronage of Kings and huge amount of exports were made in the earlier times itself.
Culture and Tradition at Machilipatnam:
People of the city celebrate many festivals but one of the major festivals is Deepavali, which is the most bright and colorful of all Hindu festivals. During Deepavali, there is an ancient tradition of firing and throwing crackers and rockets playfully among one another. For that, they use locally made rockets called "Pichikalu" (means sparrows in vernacular language). They look very small with a bird like structure having wings and tail. They should be ignited and gently released after the first ignition to make them fly like a rocket close to the ground, ascending up like a jet aircraft and finally hitting the target like a missile. They are so unpredictable and may take a wrong path if handled improperly which leads to danger. So, people fire these Pichikalu on one another and have fun without harming each other. It is a sort of fun game making the rockets hit the target maximum times. Some people even hire experts, who are good at throwing Pichikalu, to win the game.
Machilipatnam has some of the earliest and most reputed educational institutions in the state that have been offering quality education for over centuries. Some of them are given as under.
Lady Ampthill's High School:
According to the historical records, the Lady Ampthill's is one of the oldest girls' schools in town which was founded by Sri Kumbhakonam Krishnamachary in 1892. The school was established in a view of facilitating and encouraging girls' primary education which led a controversy at that time and people called it as Jenda (flag) School. Later, the school was taken over by the government in 1919 and upgraded it as a higher secondary school. A junior college was conjoined to the school in 1969 and many girls were educated in it. The school has been imparting education in the hinterland for over a century.
The institution was initially started as a primary school and turned out to be a mini University. The founder, Sri Amaravathi Seshayya Sasthriar Garu, has started the Hindu Anglo-Vernacular School on 1st January 1856 in order to facilitate quality education for the Hindu children. Because, in those days, the English Missionaries had only admitted the Christian or converted children in their schools. Later, the school was taken care of by Sri Munganuri Narasimham Panthulu and even though very nominal fees are collected from the students, the school has gradually become a huge success over the time. Rapid developments were made to the school and even branches of it were started in 1871 at Ramanaidupeta and Jawwarpeta. Soon, it became a secondary high school, graduate college in 1928 and a post-graduate college by 1971 with a separate college (Padmavathi College) for women started in 1976. Subsequently, an engineering college (Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering) was established in 1976, a Law college in 1983 and a Management school in 1985. Soon, it turned into a mini University and Medical College is the only wing lacking in this institution.
The college has its own buildings covering in large area over acres. It has a 108 roomed hostel, a stupendous auditorium with a statue of Goddess Saraswathi in the premises. It is one of the prestigious colleges of all time educating the legendary people of our earlier generations.
Starting with the Native English School on 21st November 1843 with two British teachers, Turnington Noble and Edmond Sharkey, there were only two Christian converted students who joined the school. Later, in lieu of proselytization many students and teachers joined the school who also were converted Christians. The main objectives of the school included the aim of proselytization which is termed by the Missionaries as - "Spreading the Gospel". Gradually, the school allowed many students and teachers from backward castes and other sects. In spite of the proselytization, the school imparted first quality standard of education and knowledge. It turned into a higher secondary school in 1855 and became a college in 1864. Many eminent personalities have studied in this institution and reached significant heights in their lives.
Traditional Cuisines of Machilipatnam:
Savories and Spicy Dishes:
While you can find some varieties like Manchurian, Noodles, Pizzas, Sandwiches and Burgers in town, you ought to taste the native and traditional spicy mouth watering dishes and savories. The city is very famous for savories like Jantikalu, Mirch Masala, Tomato Masala, Muntakinda Pappu, Pappu Chegodilu, Appadala Pindi Vundalu, Pakundalu, Pappundalu etc and spicy dishes like Mirchi Bajjilu, Aratikaya Bajjilu, Pesara Punukulu, Cut Mirchi, Gatti Pakodilu, Kasingayalu, Pakodilu, etc garnished with fresh coriander leaves, grated onion And carrot and lemon juice. One cannot resist their temptation to have such delicious and lip-smacking dishes. Many poets and food connoisseurs are the great patrons of Bandar cuisines.
Yet another famous and very own dish of Bandar is Pesarattu. It is a typical crepe kind of dish made with the battered whole green gram sprouts. This Andhra dish is believed to be born in Bandar and later spread to the other parts of the country. It is garnished with pieces of ginger, onion and green chillies and Upma is added to it to get a wonderful taste. Complementing some coconut chutney, ginger chutney and Nalla Karappodi to it makes the tongue sizzling and yummy. Apart from these there are many more native dishes namely Rawa Pulihora, Perugu vada, Sada vada, Curd Rice, Pulao, Chakkera Pongali (sweet dish), Rawa Kesari (sweet dish) etc which are some of the best gastronomies.
One of the most renowned and originated sweets of the city is Bandar Laddu (which is also known as Tokkudu Laddu). Laddu is famous all over India but the authentic Bandar Laddu is an original sweet born in Bandar. The taste of it is so unique and special, that you can't just have one and stop with that. It is made up of Besan flour and Jaggery and/or Sugar syrup and some spices. First, small crisps are made using Besan Flour and they are pounded and mixed up with the syrup to make a soft mixture. Spices are added to it for flavor and mixed thoroughly. And using hands small spheres are made. Studding some cashew nuts makes the Bandar Laddus ready. It is still a secret about the recipe and actual ingredients used to make them, keeping them so authentic and extremely delicious. Some of the other sweets exclusively made in town are Nalla Halwa and Jeedipappu Pakam.
Port and Fishing Harbor:
The port here is nothing but a roadstead that anchors the vessels 5 meters out. Earlier, huge exports of more than 2.7 lakh tons and imports of over 37,000 tons were made through this port. Majority of the trade includes iron ore exports made to Japan. But, there is neither trade nor any further developments. Recently, in 2006, the state government has proposed some plans to restore and develop the port at a cost of Rs.1200 crores and allocated a land of 24sq.km (6000 acres) for the project. The port also has a moderate-sized fishing harbor which can accommodate up to 350 vessels.