Visakhapatnam (popularly known as Vizag) is a port city on the southeast coast of India. With a population of 1,730,520, it is the second-largest city in the state of Andhra Pradesh (after Hyderabad) and the third-largest city on the east coast (after Chennai and Kolkata). Visakhapatnam is located 625 kilometres (388 mt) east of the state capital, Hyderabad. The city is home to several state-owned heavy industries and a steel plant; it is one of India's largest seaports and has the country's oldest shipyard. Visakhapatnam has the only natural harbour on the east coast of India.
The city was named after Visakha, the Hindu god of valour. It is nestled among the hills of the Eastern Ghats and faces the Bay of Bengal on the east. Visakhapatnam is the administrative headquarters of Visakhapatnam district and headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy. Visakhapatnam has a nickname The City of Destiny and, more recently, the Goa of the East Coast. Like its west-coast counterpart it has attractive beaches, laterite hillocks and a pleasing landscape. It is also a focus of urban and tourist development.
Visakhapatnam is the headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command [ENC], the Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (DRDO Lab), a CQAE [Chief Quality Assurance Establishment], an EFS office, a naval dockyard (established in 1949) and naval bases including INS Kalinga, INS Samudrika, INS Satavahana, ENC Base and INS Dega. A new base (INS Rambilli) is being built on 5,000 acres (20 sq km) with an investment of INR1,500 crore (US$273 million), the first dedicated submarine base in India. India's first nuclear submarine (the INS Arihant) was launched in the naval dockyard, and Bharat Dynamics has begun manufacturing torpedoes. Visakhapatnam also has Indian Coast Guard offices.
Visakhapatnam was mentioned in the Indian epics Rāmāyana and Mahābhārata in the forests of the Eastern Ghats where the two brothers, Rama and Lakshmana, wandered in search of Sita (wife of Lord Rama). According to the epics, Rama formed his army of monkey men in the region with the help of Hanuman and Jambavant. His monkey army later defeated King Ravan to regain his wife, Sita. A scene in Mahābhārata (where Bheema killed the demon Bakasura) is believed to have occurred in the village of Karmanvati, 40 kilometres (25 mt) from the city.
- Visakhapatnam has a range of tourist attractions including beaches, cliffs, hilltop parks facing the sea, a beach road, a zoological park and wildlife sanctuary, a Submarine Museum, hill stations, limestone caves, mountain ranges and valleys within a 100-kilometre (62 mt) radius of the city. There are three five-star hotels (the Taj, the Park and the World famous Novotel) and a range of other accommodations.
- Kailasagiri is a hilltop park adjacent to the sea which offers views of the Bay of Bengal, Visakhapatnam and the Eastern Ghats. An aerial tramway accesses the park from the bottom of the hill. Beach Road, from the East Point colony to the coastal battery, is dotted with parks and statues and is an evening gathering point. On the road is India's only submarine museum (the INS Kursura), the Visakha Museum and Matsyadarsini (an aquarium). Vuda Park, at the beginning of Beach Road, has a musical fountain, entertainment for children and a roller rink which has hosted national and international skating competitions.
- Rushikonda Beach, 6 kilometres (3.7 mt) from the city, is a popular evening spot. The 30-kilometre (19 mt) Bhimili-Visakhapatnam Beach Road offers views of sea, sand, hills and greenery. Many parks are located on this road. Tenneti Beach Park is on the cliff of Kailasagiri; there are several points from which the rocky beach beneath can be seen, and a number of Telugu, Tamil and Hindi movies were filmed here. Rama Naidu Film Studios is located in Visakhapatnam.
- The Araku Valley, 112 km (70 mt) from Visakhapatnam, is a tourist destination. The Araku hill station is at an elevation of over 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) and known for its gardens, valleys, waterfalls and streams. On the way to the Araku hill station are the Borra Caves, which were discovered by British geologist William King in 1807. The Marriage Bureau For Rich People series of novels, written by Farahad Zama and published internationally in 13 languages, are set in Visakhapatnam and feature landmarks of the city and its surroundings.
An ISKCON Temple for Universal Peace is planned in Visakhapatnam, with a budget of INR57 crore (US$10 million). The temple will feature Kalyan mandapams, a multimedia theatre and museum, a Vedic planetarium and an underwater meditation hall, a school and a naturopathic hospital. Construction on the first phase began April 24, 2012.