Guntur (Greater Guntur) is a city and a municipal corporation in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, located to the west of the Bay of Bengal. It is approximately to the south of the national capital, New Delhi and south-east of the state capital, Hyderabad. The city has a population of 1,028,667 (as per the 2011 census). Since the year 2012, the city limits have been expanded by merging ten surrounding villages into the corporation and the population of the city has increased to more than million with an urban agglomeration around 1,028,667. It is the fourth largest city in the state by population and the fourth largest in the state by area.
Guntur is a centre of learning and is the administrative capital of Guntur district, which is home to the historically significant Amaravati, Undavalli caves, Kondavid Fort and Sitanagaram monuments. The city is also a centre for business/commerce, industry, and agriculture. The region is identified as a major transportation and textile hub in India. The economy of Guntur has an agricultural component that is internationally known for its exports of chilies, cotton and tobacco. In recent years the cultivation of maize and chickpeas has gained prominence.
The earliest recorded reference of Guntur comes from the Idern plates of Ammaraja I (922–929 CE), the Vengi Chalukyan king. Guntur also appears in two other inscriptions dated 1147 CE and 1158 CE. The Sanskrit (ancient Vedic culture/tradition) name for Guntur was Garthapuri, a place surrounded by water ponds (garta/gunta) as per the writings in the old Agasthyeswara-Shivalayam temple of the old city. There are inscriptions in the temple on stones in 'Naga Lipi' (an ancient script) dating back to about 1100 CE. It is considered one of the most famous temples in the city. It is said that Agastya built the temple in the last Treta yuga around the Swayambhu Linga and hence it has this name. The 'Nagas' were said to have ruled the region at that time. The region has been historically known for Buddhism and the first Kalachakra ceremony performed by Buddha himself. The place of Sitanagaram and the Guthikonda Caves are referred in the ancient texts (Vedic puranas) going back to the Treta yuga and Dwapara yuga (traditional time scale). Also check Timeline of Guntur.
With the arrival of the Europeans the city has attained national and international significance. The French shifted their headquarters from Kondavid Fort to here in 1752, probably because of the ample availability of water due to the two large tanks. This settlement formed the nucleus of the modern city. The Nizams and Haidar Ali also ruled the town until it came under the British in 1788. It was made the headquarters of a district named after it that was abolished in 1859, only to be reconstituted in 1904. The city rapidly became a major market for agricultural produce from the surrounding countryside due to the opening of the railway link in 1890. The expansion continued post independence as well and was concentrated in what is now called "New Guntur", with many urban areas such as Brodiepet, Arundelpet and suburban areas like Pattabhi Puram, Chandramouli nagar, Sitarama nagar, Brindavan Gardens etc. The current size of the city has an inner radius of about . The City-region comprises the surrounding suburban and rural areas spanning in all the directions. New townships are mushrooming in these areas. On 13 July 2012 a new government order was issued adding 10 adjacent villages to be part of the city with 'Greater' status.
Following the decision of the Union Government of India on 30 July 2013 to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh with the formation of Telangana, speculation is rife that a plan for locating the new capital of Andhra Pradesh in between Guntur and Vijayawada is on anvil.