History of Nellore

Nellore is one of the oldest cities in the state of Andhra Pradesh. One can find the name of Nellore in the ancient texts of the Mauryan Empire. During that period, Nellore was popularly known as "Vikrama Simhapuri". In the 3rd Century B.C. the Great Mauryan King Ashoka had ruled Nellore and the subsequent regions. After King Ashoka, Nellore was conquered by the Pallava Rulers who continued their rule in these lands till the 6th Century AD. The Chola rulers had ruled Nellore for a long time, after the Pallava Dynasty declined from the place. The Cholas met their decline in the 13th Century. Arcot Nawabs were another important dynasty who had ruled Nellore. The British Rulers of India took the control of Nellore from the Arcot Nawabs. During the time of British rule, Nellore was included as a prominent part of the Madras Presidency.

The Reign of Mauryas, Cholas and Pallavas in Nellore

At the peak of the Mauryan rule, a large part of South India, which included Andhra Pradesh was under the direct rule of Ashoka. The Bramhi inscriptions of the time of King Ashoka (3rd B.C.) still shows the gigantic nature of the Mauryan Empire. After the Mauryan Empire, which was a Pan Indian Empire in nature, the Cholas became the most powerful dynasty in South India and they ruled Nellore and the subsequent regions. The early Chola rulers ruled South India from 1st Century A.D. to 4th Century A.D. The earliest Chola inscription of the period dates back to 1096 A.D. and it was found in Jummaluru. Nellore was an important part of the very famous Chola ruler Karikalan Chola, who was famous for his architectural marvels at the time. At the end of the Chola Dynasty, frequent attacks by different outfits like the Pandyas, Pallavas and Cheras made the Chola power weak and they subsequently vanished from the map of South India. The Cholas again rose to power in the 9th Century A.D. when they defeated the reigning Pallava King Simha Vishnu Pallava. Still now, one can see ancient Chola and Pallava temples in Udaygiri Village. During the rule of Pallava King Mahendravarma, the four storied cave in Vundavalli and the eight cave temples in Bhairavkonda are the examples of the brilliance of Pallava architecture.

Chola Kings of Nellore

The Cholas came to power for the second time in the 9th century and it was during that period, Nellore reached its peak. In the book by Tikkana Somayajulu, a popular Telegu poet at that time, the account of development of Nellore can be obtained. Somayajulu also translated The Mahabharata into Telegu. His popular book "Nirvachanottara Ramayanamu" contains the history of the Chola Family. The Chola kingdom was spread all over the distrcits like modern day Chittur, Nellore, Chengalput and Kadapa. Modern day Nellore, at that time it was known as "Vikram Simhapuri" was the capital of the Cholas.

Tikka (1223-1248) was the first prominent Chola King at the time and he had conquered the Tondaimandalam region. He was honoured with the title of "Cholasthapanacharya" and he had also overpowered the regional forces like the Pandyas and the Hoyasalas. Another important Chola king was Manumasiddhi II, the son and successor of Tikka. During the reign of Manumasiddhi II, the kingdom was frequently attacked by the Pandyas and the Chalukyas. After his death, Nellore lost its importance in the political context of South India.

Kakatiyas, Pandyas, Vijanagaras, and others in Nellore

The Kakatiyas descended from the Western Chalukyas based in Kalyani. The leaders of the Kakatiyas, Prola, declared independence and started to gain political power. Ganapati Deva was the first great king of the Kakatiyas  and he was able to bring a large part of modern Andhra Pradesh under his direct rule. Nellore became an important part of the Kakatiya Dynasty in the 13th century.

After the fall of the Kakatiyas, Tuglaq became the only ruler of Nellore. After Tuglaq, the Kondavidi Reddis conquered a large part of South India including Nellore. But it was the time of the Sangama Dynasty, of the Vijayanagar Empire, Nellore got back its prosperity. The kings of the Vijayanagar Empire annexed most part of modern day Nellore. Among the remaining parts, like Udaygiri, was under the rule of some small regional rulers until 1512 when Krishnadeva Rayalu defeated these small regional leaders. The Fort in Udaygiri is a testimony to the military powers of the area at that time. This fortress was built by the Vijayanagar rulers in the 14th century.

udaygiri fort

The Nawabs and the British period

The Nawabs became the rulers of Nellore as well as of most parts of South India after the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire. In the year 1753, Najeebullah, the brother of the Arcot Nawab, became the ruler of Nellore. In the year 1762, Colonel Cailluad won Nellore, but he restored the power of the Nawabs. In the year 1781, Nawab Ajim Ud Duaula gave the control of the Nellore town to the British East India Company. He handed over the rest of Nellore to the East India Company on 1801. The East India Company appointed Mr. Dyton as the first collector of Nellore and it was declared as the Revenue district for the whole surrounding area. During the British rule, peace prevailed in the area except only the time of sequestration in the year 1838. At that time, the jagir of Udaygiri was convicted of being an active participant in a conspiracy against the Nawab of Kurnool and the ruling British power. But after that there was no major change in the formation of the district, only in the year 1904, the Ongole taluk was shifted to the Guntoor district.

Nellore after Independence

Until 1st October, 1953, Nellore district was a part of the Madras state. When the states began to be re-organized on the basis of the local language, the district came under Andhra Pradesh. Nellore district and the famous Telugu poet Potti Sri Ramalu played an important part in the creation of the state of Andhra Pradesh. He fasted to his death for the demand of a separate Andhra Pradesh state. He is still one of the most respected figures of Nellore and Andhra Pradesh. In the year 1970, some parts of the Nellore district was spit off and it became a part of the Prakasam district.
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