Ongole is a city and a Municipal Corporation in Prakasam district in Andhra Pradesh. Ongole is the administrative headquarters of Prakasam District.
Previously Prakasam District was known as 'Ongole' District, this district was renamed as Prakasam in order to pay homage to the great patriot and Andhra Leader, Tanguturi Prakasam Panthulu, also known as Andhra Kesari (Lion of Andhra) who was born in Kanuparthi village of this district.
Ongole is famous for its Ongolu Gitta, a breed of oxen. This is one of the major Zebu cattle breeds in the world.
Ongole was originally known as Gundigapuri(Town Near to Gundlakamma rivilet), Vangalaprolu, Vangavolu and Vangolu after the surname of an astrologer in the court of an Addanki chief. It was part of Punginadu during the time of Ikshavakus, and was in the area of Karmarashtra(means work place) during the Pallava period.
The town's history goes back to the era of the Mauryas and Sathavahanas who ruled most of what is now present day Andhra Pradesh. A few inscriptions dating to the Satavahana period were found in a village called China Ganjam, near Ongole. After the Satavahanas, this place came into the limelight again during the Kakatiya dynasty, when the nearby towns of Motupalli and Voda Revu served as major seaports. Ongole is also mentioned in the inscriptions of the Pallava rulers of the 3rd and 4th Century A.D. The City was also ruled by Krishna Deva Raya. The last dynasty to rule the Ongole region before the British was the Mandapati Dynasty(Zamindars). According to the historical inscriptions available at Sri Raja Rajeswara Swami Temple in Ongole City was Constructed by Cholas. Kaasi Visweswara Swami temple, Chenna Keswva Swami Temple and Veeranjaneya Swami temple were built in early 17th century by King Vankayalapati Mantri and Army Chief.
Ongole is famous for the breed of bulls in that area. Ongole bulls have gone as far as America, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Brazil, Argentina, Columbia, Mexico, Paraguay, Indonesia, West Indies, Australia, Fiji, Mauritius, Indo-China and Philippines. The Brahmana bull in America is an off-breed of the Ongole. An Island in Malaysia where there are many Ongoles is named as Ongole Island. The population of Ongole off-breed in Brazil is said to be around several millions. During the time of Rev. Clough of Ongole, an Ongole bull named Potu Ramudu owned by Sri Potu Venkatadri Naidu was reported to have gone to the Netherlands. It is said that in the Wageningen Agricultural University in the Netherlands, a commemorative plaque exists with the name and image of Potu Ramudu. The mascot of the 2002 Indian National Games was Veera, an Ongole Bull. The original breed of Ongole stud bulls are found in a small region around Ongole town between rivers Gundlakamma, and Musi. Ongole Cattle are the pride of India for they are unequivocally world class.
Short horned Ongole bulls exactly look like Nandi sculptures seen in any Temple of Lord Shiva. Further the Ongoles are phylogenetically related to Tharparkar breed of North Western India and Sind area of Pakistan where the Indus Valley Civilization thrived approximately between 8000 to 2000 years BCE. Going by the theory that the civilization was initiated by Dravidians, it is not unlikely that Ongoles evolved into Tharparkars.
Ongole bull of Polavarapu Hanumaiah from Karavadi village received first prize from Indian first Prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Ongole bull rock-pulling competitions (Banda Lagudu Potilu) are conducted as a part of traditional festival celebrations at a few villages near the Prakasam district. In the competitions, a pair of ongole bulls are made to pull a heavy rock, weighing around one and a half tons.