Vijayawada is a commercial city in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh and the third largest after Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam, with an area of 261.88 sq km. The city municipal limits has a population of 1,048,240 (2011 Census), while the population of the metropolitan area is 1,491,202. The city is also popularly known by its historic name Bezawada, which is used by the Indian Railways in assigning its railway station code "BZA". The city is located on the bank of river Krishna.The city is also called as the land of victory.
Vijayawada is the commercial capital of Andhra Pradesh, Vijayawada is politically active, sociologically dominant, agriculturally rich, and is an industrial transportation hub. The city is well connected to other regions by road, rail and air. Vijayawada has been recognised as a Global City of the Future by McKinsey Quarterly.
Vijayawada history reveals the power of the prolonged reigns of the Chalukyas of Kalyan and the great king Krishna Deva Raya, on the society and culture of Vijayawada. The remains of the pre-historic man and society of the Stone Age is found all along the River Krishna, which dominates the landscape of Vijayawada.
The history of Vijayawada is largely shaped by the changes that were brought about in the city by the British rule. The British period was marked by significant growth in the basic infrastructure and facilities in the city. A major project, the Prakasam Barrage was completed and a railway bridge over the River Krishna that connected Guntur City and its district was also constructed. The famous Chinese Huin Tsang had visited this place in 639 A.D. when Buddhism was at its zenith.
The Undavalli Caves, a monolithic example of Indian rock-cut architecture and one of the finest testimonials to ancient vishwakarma sthapathis, are located in the village of Undavalli in Tadepalle Mandal in the Guntur District, and near the southern bank of the Krishna River in Andhra Pradesh. The caves are located 6 km south west from Vijayawada, 22 km north east of Guntur City and about 280 km from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.
These caves were carved out of solid sandstone on a hillside in the 4th to 5th centuries A.D.
There are several caves. The best known and largest one has four stories with a huge recreated statue of Vishnu in a reclining posture, sculpted from a single block of granite inside the second floor. It was originally a Jain cave resembling the architecture of Udayagiri and Khandgiri. The main cave is one of the earliest examples of Gupta architecture, primarily primitive rock-cut monastery cells carved into the sandstone hills. Initially the caves were shaped as a Jain abode and the first floor abode still retains the Jain style; the vihara exhibits Jain monastics and includes tirthankara sculptures. This first level of the cave is a carved vihara and includes Buddhist art work. The site served as the Bhikkhu monastic complex during ancient period. The walls of the caves display sculptures carved by skilled craftsmen. The caves are associated with the Jain kings of 420 to 620 A.D.
The caves are surrounded by the green countryside. From the high hill above the cave overlooking the Krishna River many fine specimens of rock cut architecture can be seen.