The spectacular event was attended by lakhs of enthusiastic people from across the state and beyond. Scores of Telugu people settled in United States, Dubai, United Kingdom, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries too flew in specially to be part of the historic occasion.
The first brick of the ‘People’s Capital’ of Andhra Pradesh was symbolically put in place by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Vijayadasami (October 22) when he laid the foundation for Amaravati on the banks of the Krishna between Vijayawada and Guntur.
On that afternoon, the newly formed state of Andhra Pradesh heralded the beginnings of its newest capital city, Amaravati. The foundation stone for the building of the new capital was laid by the Prime Minister at 12.45 pm, as he unveiled plaque in the presence of several national as well as foreign dignitaries.
The rituals leading up to the foundation ceremony were elaborate. Prime Minister Narendra Modi performed Yantra Pratishta, after the Poorna Aahuti at the venue. All religion prayer was held on main dais before Amaravati Foundation Ceremony started.
Among the dignitaries in attendance were Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narasimhan, Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah, Assam and Nagaland Governor Padmanabha Acharya, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, Central ministers, P Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Nirmala Sitaraman, YS Chowdary and Bandaru Dattatreya. Ministers and delegations from Singapore and Japan also attended the event.
After “Maa Telugu Talliki” was rendered by singer Sunitha, the guests addressed the huge gathering. While 15 most important guests were seated on the main dais (other VIPs were accommodated on two other daises), only the Prime Minister, Chandrababu Naidu, Venkaiah Naidu, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao and Japanese and Singapore Ministers had the opportunity to give their message to the gathering of lakhs of people at the venue in Uddandarayunipalem village.
In his speech, translated by Central Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra modi, referring to his gift of soil and water from the precincts of Parliament and River Yamuna in Delhi, said this endowment signified that the entire Indian nation stood with the people of Andhra Pradesh in building Amaravati and, in accordance, Delhi would stand shoulder to shoulder with Andhra Pradesh in its endeavour.
The Prime Minister’s speech was preceded by an impassioned plea by Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu for support from the Centre in building a world class capital for the people of Andhra Pradesh. Referring to the farmers who gave 33,000 acres of land for the capital, he said their gesture would be remembered by history.
The spectacular event was attended by lakhs of enthusiastic people from across the state and beyond. Scores of Telugu people settled in United States, Dubai, United Kingdom, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries too flew in specially to be part of the historic occasion. Despite the presence of VVIPS and vast crowds, the mega event went off smoothly due to the elaborate arrangements that were put in place by the administration with minute guidance by Chandrababu Naidu.
The event was streamed live and popular hashtags appeared on platforms like Twitter in support of the new capital city. The government had also started a social media campaign for the initiative with the hashtag #Mana Amaravati-ManaRajadhani.
The historic event started with cultural programs including a Kuchipudi ballet. Well-known drummer Sivamani performed on stage, with Kerala’s talented keyboard player Stephen Devassy joining in.
On the eve of the ceremony, a huge security blanket was thrown over the venue, with all access to the main stage sealed. However, a festive atmosphere pervaded Uddandarayunipalem and the surrounding villages, with families from all over the broader capital area turning up to see the decorations and local farmers sitting around in groups to discuss what is to become of them and their villages.
More than 15,000 policemen from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka and paramilitary forces were deployed at the venue and at the vantage points along seven routes leading to the site, and to escort VVIPs. Twenty-five closed-circuit TV cameras were installed at the venue.
Banners and festoons hailing the construction of the capital were seen at many places leading to the venue.
A day eariler, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu flew over the core area of the capital in a helicopter and sprinkled holy water and soil brought from 16,000 villages across the State. Naidu had flown in soil from the holy sites of Jerusalem and Mecca, sprinkled the site with holy water from the Ganga and Godavari, and gone to great lengths to seek blessings from people across Andhra Pradesh and the rest of the country.
“Holy water and soil — that is puttamatti — from 16,000 villages and 3,000 wards, besides sacred water and soil from all holy rivers of the world and India has been collected for the foundation ceremony,” Naidu said.
Water and soil was collected from the Sikh holy site Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Vaishnodevi shrine of the Hindus, as well as the Islamic shrine Ajmer Sharif Dargah in Rajasthan, among other places. Naidu said that soil was also collected from birth places of Indian leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Subhas Chandra Bose, B R Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru.
The Prime Minister, along with dignitaries were taken round the specially erected exhibition of Buddhist relics preserved at the Archaeological Museum in Amaravati. A collection of exclusive artefacts from the museum, including bone relics of Buddha were on display.
Anchors Sai Kumar and Sunitha compered the show at the Amaravati Foundation Stone laying venue in Uddandarayunipalem village of Guntur district.
Singapore minister Eswran and Japan State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) , Yosuke Takagi, besides industrialists such as Pratap C Reddy of Apollo Hospitals, GM Rao of GMR Group and diplomats from several countries were present.
The gesture of Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu to personally invite his Telangana counterpart was appreciated by one and all. Visiting Andhra Pradesh for the first time since the acrimonious division of the State, Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao was the cynosure of all eyes. Rao was extended all courtesies and lustily cheered when he promised all help from his government to build Amaravati. Modi referred to Rao’s presence at the ceremony, and said “My heart overflowed with joy when I heard that Mr. Chandrababu Naidu went to the house of Chandrasekhar Rao to invite him to the ceremony.”
Lauding Naidu for the speed with which he was proceeding to build the capital, the PM pointed out that many of the cities built in the country since Independence did not accord with modern notions of livability. Urbanisation was the need of the hour and urban development was not a problem, but an opportunity.
The capital region has been designed to cater for an 11.5-million population, with a provision for 3.3 million jobs by 2035, while the core capital area, spread over 16.9 sq.km, will meet the requirements of four million people, creating close to 1.8 million jobs by 2050.
Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu unveiled his vision of a grand capital that would, he said, match the world’s great cities in aesthetics, infrastructure, liveability, connectivity, and as the seat of e-governance and administration.
Amaravati will be the fifth planned capital city in India. The city, the first phase of which is expected to be completed by 2018, will boast of both modern technology and heritage.
Amaravati, the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, is set to be an amalgamation of ‘navratnas’- knowledge city, financial city, health city, tourism city, government city, sports city, electronics city, justice city and education city.
In Hindu mythology, Amaravati is said to the capital of Indra, the king of Gods. In history, Amaravati, situated in Guntur district, was once the seat of power of Satavahana rulers. CM Naidu, too, plans a capital as grand. He said wants it to be a “people’s capital” and a haven of opportunities.
Naidu promised that Amaravati will rise again as the capital city, a vibrant economic centre and one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Observers have noted the drive and passion behind Amaravati. In both conceptualisation and ambition, Amaravati is perhaps unmatched in independent India. According to Times of India, this brand new city, Driven by the zeal of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, aims to be 25% larger than present day Chennai and to accommodate 11 million people — in 20 years.
‘Donate an e-brick as your contribution’
A novel initiative called Amaravati Brick (e-brick) was launched by the state government in a bid to make the people of the state partners in the construction of the new capital. To ensure the participation of every single person in the State in this once-in-a-life opportunity, a payment gateway, through which at least one brick can be donated, was launched by the Chief Minister. “My Brick-My Amaravati” is the tagline for this initiative.
The facility enables every person to purchase an e-brick at a cost of Rs 10 for one unit as a donation to the building of the capital. The total number of donors who bought the 34.40 lakh bricks as of 26th October stood at 52,764, raising Rs 3.40 crore so far.
Efforts are also on to approach The Guinness Books of World Records to enter this initiative as the first crowd-funding programme using the concept of digital bricks.
Timeline: The Road to Amaravati
- March 14, 2014: The date of June 2 is set for the formal bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into Telangana and residuary Andhra Pradesh states.
- June 8: Chandrababu Naidu takes office as chief minister of residuary Andhra Pradesh.
- July 22: The State Government says new capital will be between Vijayawada and Guntur.
- Oct. 30: State Government says the new capital will built upon 30,000 acres of land across 17 villages — 14 in Tullur mandal and three in Managalgiri mandal. Land will be acquired through land pooling and landowners would be persuaded.
- Dec. 8: Chief Minister unveils the land pooling policy and compensation package for land owners.
- Dec. 31: Government notifies an area covering 7068 sq. km as the broader AP Capital Region and 122 sq. km as the Capital City region. The AP Capital Region Development Authority Act, 2014 comes approves Amaravati as the name of the new capital.
- May 26, 2015: Singapore’s Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran hands over master plan for Amaravati. He calls it the People’s Capital and says it will be a “very liveable city”. He says the plan envisages use of green spaces and natural assets with emphasis on public transport.
- June 7: Chandrababu Naidu performs the bhoomi puja for Amaravati. Announces his resolve to develop it into an economic hub to beat even Singapore.
- July 21: The government of Singapore presents a master plan for the seed capital area (SCA) of Amaravati. The plan defines the exact locations of the legislative and administrative buildings and the downtown area. The seed capital is spread over an area of 16.9 sq. km. The seed capital is planned for three lakh residents.
- Oct. 22: Amaravati foundation ceremony at Uddandarayunipallem held on a grand scale with the participation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- In Indian mythology, Amaravati is the capital of the celestial beings. Historically, it was the capital of Satavahanas, the first great Andhra kings who ruled from the 2nd century BCE to the 3rd century CE after the downfall of the Maurya Empire.
- Heritage development: Amaravati is among 12 cities selected for implementation of the Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana in the first phase.
- Tourism: With Amaravati being a key constituent in the Buddhist circuit, a 250-km religious tourism circuit has been incorporated into the core capital region.