Vijayawada\'s Gandhi Hill: A Historic Tribute to Mahatma Gandhi\'s Legacy

Vijayawada: Mahatma Gandhi is remembered every day in Vijayawada. It has the Gandhi Hill. There is no other hill in the country named after him. His six visits between 1919 and 1946 to Bezawada, later called Vijayawada, ignited the spirit of freedom among Telugu people, strengthening the Indian freedom movement.

According to history, Captain Charles Alexander Orr supervised the construction of the anicut on the Krishna River in Vijayawada in 1852. It later got modernised as Prakasam Barrage. Alexander Orr used to stay on the hill adjacent to Vijayawada railway station. This came to be known as Orr Hill after him.

Gandhi visited Vijayawada several times, conducting AICC meetings in the footsteps of the hill. Freedom fighters then referred to Orr Hill as Gandhi Hill. The name has stuck since then, the only hill named after Gandhi in the country.

It has is 52-foot stupa with quotations from the Father of the Nation, apart from a library, a planetarium and a children’s train.

Gandhi first came to Vijayawada on March 31, 1919. He spoke on Satyagraha at a public meeting in Rammohan Roy Library. All India Congress Working Committee meeting was held on March 31 and April 1 1921 at the historic Victoria Museum.

Freedom fighter Pingali Venkayya, a staunch follower of Mahatma Gandhi, designed the tricolour and presented it to him during the meeting. It got approval as the national flag.

Gandhi inspired several Telugu stalwarts, including Andhra Bank founder Bhogaraju Pattabhi Sitharamaiah, Desoddarakudu Kasinadhuni Nageswara Rao, Ayyadevara Kaleswara Rao, Mutnuri Krishna Rao, Goparaju Ramachandra Rao and other nationalist movement leaders.

Elders recall a big public meeting at the open area near Vijayawada railway station. Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Sarojini Naidu and Nehru were among those who addressed the meeting. The location is now Vijayawada’s busiest commercial centre – Gandhinagar.

India’s first Rashtrapathi Babu Rajendra Prasad, in his autobiography, recalls that he and Gandhi had reached Vijayawada railway station at 3 a.m. They received a mammoth response from people at that hour. Rajendra Prasad described Vijayawada as a crucial centre of the Indian freedom movement.

Andhra Arts Academy chairman Golla Narayana Rao, who belongs to the family of freedom fighters, recalls Gandhi staying with the family in 1921. The family offered Gandhi food on a gold plate.

Father of the Nation chose to eat his food on his own silver plate. He took their gold plate as a donation for Swarajya Nidhi.

During his visits. Gandhi vigorously toured coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema many times, waging agitations against the British, be it the Non-Cooperation Movement, Civil Disobedience or the Khaddar Yatra.

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