Freedom Struggle | Vizag's contribution to a free nation
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Freedom Struggle

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Though not featured in mainstream independence movement of india, vizag did its best as its part for contribution for a for a free India. Major stalwarts of vizag for freedom struggle include, Front runners - Tenneti Viswanwadham, Alluri Sita Rama Raju, and Stategic planners like Bhupathiraju Venkatapathi Raju, AV bhanoji row, Gode Narayana Gajapathi, and many more.

  • The Freedom Movement in here started with the Vandemataram Movement. In 1906 a Provincial Conference was held in Vizagapatam. Bipinchandrapal and N.S. Ramaswami attended and addressed the gathering at a public meeting held in Town Hall. Subsequently, another meeting was held in the Beach opposite Town Hall. Bhupathiraju Venkatapathi Raju chaired League provincial conference at chennai.

  • A Swadeshi Shop was opened and run by Marepalli Ramachndra Sastry.

  • In 1916 a provincial Political Conference was held under the leadership of Bhupathiraju Venkatapathi Raju and Prabhala Lakshminarsimham.

  • Sixth April 1919 was called the Satyagraha Day. Defying the Press Act, meetings were held on the Town Hall.

  • In 1920 Town Congress Committee was formed with Kavi garu as President, Butchi Sundara Rao and Kothandaramaswamy as joint Secretaries, and Bangarayya as the Treasurer.

  • In 1921 the Medical School students and the Engineering School students were started attending their classes wearing Gandhi Caps. The authorities suspended about thirty Medical School students and few Engineering School Students and punished vigorously . Later some students gave up their studies and joined the National struggle for freedom.

  • In 1921 Mahatma Gandhi and Mohammed Ali stopped at Waltair on their way to Calcutta from Vijayawada AICC Section. With Gandhiji Mohammed Ali addressed the people gathered at Waltair Railway Station Platform. Mohammad Ali was arrested at Waltair, and the people became restive. Nationalist Muslim Razak was very much agitated and protested strongly at the arrests and also tried to prevent the police from taking away Mohammed Ali. At this stage Gandhiji and Butchi Sundara Rao pacified Razak by explaining to him the principle of Satyagraha and the spirit of non-violence.

  • In August, 1922, the AICC met at Vizag, at that meeting Vallabai Patel and Vithalbai Patel were congratulated for the lead they have taken in the *Flag Satyagraha*. At the same session once again resolutions were passed concerning the safety of Indians who were living in foreign countries.

  • In 1924 a Khadi Board was formed and the Board members were selected.

  • In 1925 Karra Seethramayya started the publication of *Swashakti* and Kothanda Ramaswami looked after the publication. And later Puripanda was taken it over the publication job and Ramaswami devoted more time for the production of Khadi.

  • In 1926 Khadi Board was replaced by Charaka Sangham and Kothada Ramaswami was put in charge. He developed the five Yarn Centres at Ponduru, Bonthalakoduru and other places.

  • In 1930 the Charaka Sangham's Khadi Bhandar was seized and sealed by the Government.

  • In April 1930 Salt laws were broken. A batch of five leaders, one woman leader (Marepalli Ramachandra Kavi, Digumarthi Venkata Ramaswami, Tenneti Vswanadham, Kolluru Suryam Gupta, Bhamidipati Chinayagananarayana Sarma, Digumarthi Janakibai) and large number of volunteers marched to Visakhapatnam to the beach in front of Town Hall and started manufacturing Salt.

  • A volunteer camp, congress Sibiram, was opened in the Woodyard street in the firewood sales depot owned by Tekumalla Seetharamaswami, just behind the Canadian Baptist Mission Church.
    Kavigaru was the first director. He was arrested with Tenneti, Ramaswami, gupta and Sarma. He nominated Pusapati Butchi Seetharama Raju, as the next director.

  • As usual meetings were held and Salt was prepared in the congress Camp and on the beach and also in the district. Kandala Sarweswara Sastry, Mallimadugula Jagannadhra Rao and Dr. M.V. Krishna Rao planned to go to Balacheruvu and raid the Sald depots. Accordingly they did and three were arrested and sentenced and sent to prison.
    Reports reached to Sitharama Raju, and inspite of his indifferent health, he at once came to Visakhapatnam and took control of the congress camp and he was immediately arrested with six other volunteers and sentenced. The congress camp was sealed.

  • Early in the morning Janakibai with all the volunteers went in a procession giving slogans and singing national songs. All were arrested, sentenced and sent to jail.

  • V.J. Gupta and Tekumulla Seetha Ramaswami were arrested for giving the Firewood Depot as congress camp.

  • In 1932 during the second Satyagraha after the arrest of the National Leaders Kavi garu was the first violator and the Kapuganti Chidambaram was the second dictator. He was taken into police custody. He was very badly beaten beaten with lathis and made to walk from Hindu Reading Room to the Town Police Station and later sent to jail.

  • After the arrest of Digumarthi Venkataramaswami, his wife Janaki bai cam back to Vizag and took charge. In the discharge of her duties Ranganayakamma helped and assisted her very much.

  • Janakibai with the help of a cyclostyle (photo copy) machine printed congress programes and information. In a few days she was arrested with Ranganayakamma, Bangaramma and few volunteers. Subsequently four or five batches of volunteers were arrested and sentenced.

  • During the lull period people concentrated on the constructive programme. In Vizag Swadeshi Exhibitions were held every year. Only Hand made and hand spun cloth was allowed to be sold. Cottage Industries and home-made articles were demonstrated and also such articles were sold. Ivory works for which Vizag was famous and Horn works, toys, and Hand-made paper were exhibited and sold. To open this exhibition and to deliver lectures prominent people from all the parts of India were invited. Important among those who visited vizag were K.T. Shaw and Dr. B.C. Roy. In the exhibition Uppala Lakshmana Rao and a Swiss lady Melly Sollingar, who had training in Sabarmathi Ashram, gave demonstration about Ginning, Gradding etc.

  • In 1940 individual stayagraha was started. Jagannadharao and Kodavanti Brahmaji Rao and other offered Satyagraha and were arrested. They were sentenced and sent to Jail.

  • During the *Quit India* movement the National Working Committee which met at Sevagram drafted the code of conduct. Along with all the leaders Tenneti and Rama Swami were arrested.

  • A political news paper, cyclostyled, known as *Vijaya Bheri* was published and distributed by Kodavanti Brahmaji and Jagannadhra Rao. Cartoons were drawn by DV Pratap.

  • The movement lasted till 1944 as the British Government used both the Police and army to suppress the movement. The Government gave a turn to twist the movement as a violent movement. in fact some violence did take place. On hearing the news, while Gandhiji was in jail he went on Fast denouncing violence in 1942. Quit India movement which was started by him was absolutely a non-violent movement.

Early Movement

The earliest freedom movement in Vizagapatam could date back to October 13, 1780, when a group of Indian sepoys rebelled against the English Raj. The sepoys not only shot dead Lieutenant Crisps, Cadets Kingsford Venner and Robert Rutherford and the paymaster and injured Captain Maxtone and Captain Lane, but were determined to liberate the district and join the forces of Hyder Ali. Thanks to betrayal, the leader of the rebellion Shaik Mohammed, a subedar among the sepoys, was caught and hanged and the rebellion was quashed.

The district saw another bloody rebellion led by the iconic figure of Alluri Seetharamaraju between 1922 and 1924. Treading the revolutionary route of armed struggle, he carried out his campaign in the border areas of East Godavari and Visakhapatnam districts. He organised lightning raids at the police stations of Chintapalli, Rampa Chodavaram and Annavaram with the aid of his few tribal followers. He was trapped by the British in the forests of Chintapalli and was tied to a tree and shot dead without a trial.

Political Awakening

The political awakening in the district was initiated with the Vande Mataram movement in 1906. Bhupathiraju Venkatpathi Raju was instrumental in starting the movement. It gained momentum after Bipin Chandra Pal and N.S. Ramaswami addressed a public meeting at the Town Hall. To give fillip to the movement, Marepalli Ramachandra Sastry popularly known as Kavi garu started a Swadeshi shop.

After the Nagpur Congress session in 1920, a town Congress committee was formed with Kavi garu as its president and Butchi Sundara Rao and Kothanda Ramaswamy as joint secretaries.

In tune with Gandhi’s clarion call, the committee organised large scale khaddar sale and door-to-door campaign. Regular ‘prabhat bheri’ was an integral part of the political awakening. Digumarthi Venkata Ramaswamy and his wife Janakibai, V.J. Gupta, Kavi garu, Tenneti Viswanadham and others were regulars at the bheri. Patriotic songs written by Vaddadi Seetharamanjenaya Kavi and Garimella Satyanarayana like ‘Maaku oddu ee tella dorathanam’ and ‘dandalu dandalu bharat matha’ were sung by the activists. Farid-ur-Zama who was popularly known as Babulal, played the role of lead singer in the group.

Act of Defiance

The first act of real defiance came in the form of Salt Satyagraha. Following Mahatma Gandhi’s orders, a group of volunteers led by Kavi garu, Digumarthi Venkata Ramaswamy, Tenneti Viswanadham, Kolluru Suryam Gupta, Bhamidipati Chinayagnanarayana Sarma and Digumarthi Janakibai marched from Vizianagaram to the beach opposite the Town Hall (now where the Visakha Container Terminal stands) to manufacture and auction salt. All the leaders except for Janakibai were arrested. She took over the leadership and during the auctioning of salt, the then Tashildar Kothuru Paparao had to physically prick her hand to make her drop the salt that she had been holding as act of defiance. Janakibai joined her husband for four months of rigorous imprisonment. It was in the Bellary Jail that she was delivered of her first child.

It was during that time, another leader Kapuganti Chidambaram was taken into custody. To instil fear among the people, he was made to walk from the Hindu Reading Room to the One Town Police Station and was beaten and kicked all along the route by the police.

Despite the severe beatings, he went on to chant ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Gandhiji ki jai’ till he fell unconscious near the police station.

Kandala Sarweswara Sastry, Dr. M.V. Krishna Rao and Mallimadugula Jagannadha Rao broke the salt law at Balacheruvu.

Student Movement

During the Gandhian era, the Gandhi cap became the symbol of non-violent freedom struggle. The students of medical and engineering college took it as a challenge and joined the movement by wearing the Gandhi cap and khaddar to the classroom. Thirty students were suspended and a few quoted arrested but that did not prove to be a deterrent. The students joined Lanka Sundaram and K.V. Gopalaswamy in the mock parliaments conducted by them.

Gandhiji in Vizag

Mahatma Gandhi visited Vizag for five times between (1921 and 1946) to promote his message of "Ahimsa " .

Gandhiji addressed a large gathering on the Khaddar Movement on April 28, 1929, at the beach opposite the Town Hall. Women satyagrahis out beat the men in attendance. It was during this meeting that the Father of the Nation was moved when the eldest daughter of K.S. Gupta, K. Sarojini, who was barely 10 years old donated her golden bangle for the cause.

Gandhiji also addressed a large gathering at the Waltair Railway Station in 1921, on his return journey to Calcutta from Vijayawada after the Congress session. He was accompanied by Maulana Mohammed Ali the pioneer of Khilafat Movement. The police arrested Mohammed Ali at the station. A few people tried to prevent the arrest and Gandhiji had to pacify the crowd.

His 1933 conference at the beach for the freedom movement is a big success.










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Alluri Sitaama Raju
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