Nellore district (or Sri Potti Sriramulu Nellore district), located in Coastal Andhra region, is one of the 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh. The population of the district according to the Census 2011 was 2,966,082 of which 29.07% were urban. Nellore city is its administrative headquarters. The district is bordered by the Bay of Bengal to the east, Kadapa district to the west, Prakasam District to the north, Chittoor district and Thiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu to the south.
Mauryas, early Cholas and Pallavas
With the rise of the Mauryan Empire, many parts of the Andhra Pradesh including Nellore came under its influence and was part of the Ashoka empire in the third century B.C. The caves near Nellore have inscriptions in the brahmi script used by Ashoka. The Cholas were an important dynasty in the south peninsula. The early Cholas ruled between the 1st and the 4th centuries A.D. The earliest chola inscription from 1096 A.D. was found at Jummaluru. The district was part of the first and the most famous Chola, Karikalan. He was well known for his great engineering marvel.
Chola power declined with frequent attacks by the Pallavas, Cheras and Pandyas, until they rose to power again around the 9th century. Chola rule was broken when the Cholas were overthrown by Simha Vishnu Pallava and the region came under the Pallava rule between the fourth and sixth centuries A.D. With the dawn of the seventh century, the political centre of Gravity of the Pallavas shifted to the south and weakened their power towards the north. Several ancient Pallava and Chola temples are in Udayagiri village. Several inscriptions about Pallava rule were found in the Guntur-Nellore tract of the Andhra Pradesh. The big four storeyed cave at Vundavalli and 8 cave temple at Bhairavkonda resembles the Pallava architecture during Mahendravarma's period.
Nellore Chola kings
This was the period when the political power of Nellore was at its peak and also reached its ebb. Tikkana Somayajulu, a minister and famous Telugu poet who translated Mahabharatham into Telugu, gave the account of the history of this family in his other book called Nirvachanottara Ramayanamu. A branch of Telugu Cholas, feudatory of the Western Chalukyas of Kalyani appointed them as rulers of Pakanadu for helping in the war between Cholas and Chalukyas. They ruled over the region consisting of the Nellore, Kadapa, Chittur and Chengalput districts with Vikramasimhapuri (modern Nellore) as their head capital.
Tikka (1223–1248) defeated both the Hoyasala and the Pandyas and got the Tondaimandalam region and assumed the title Cholasthapanacharya. During the reign of Tikka's son and successor Manumasiddhi II (1248–1263), Nellore faced lot of attacks from other Chalukyas and Pandyas. Tikkana visited Ganapatideva of Kakatiyas and gained military support for his king. About the year 1260, a dangerous feud broke out between Manumasiddhi and Katamaraju, the chief of Erragaddapadu in Kanigiri region. The feud was on the issue of the rights of the two princes to use certain wide meadows as grazing grounds for their flocks of cattle. It led to the bloody battle fought at Panchalingala near Muttukuru on the coast of river Penna. Manumasiddhi's forces led by Khadga Tikkana, the cousin of poet Tikkana won the battle, but the leader perished. This feud and the consequent battle formed the theme of the popular ballad entitled "Katamaraju Katha". Shortly after or during this battle, Manumasiddhi died and Nellore lost its significance.
Kakatiyas, Pandyas and Vijanagaras
The Kakatiyas, the feudatories of the Western Chalukyas of Kalyani, under influence of Prola declared his independence. Ganapati Deva, the first great king of Kakatiyas brought most of the Telugu area under his rule. Nellore was part of kakatiya kingdom in the 13th century. It changed hands between them and Pandyas few times until Prataprudra II defeated Pandyas. After the fall of Kakatiya Empire, the region was under Tuglaq and then was later under Kondavidi Reddis.
The most parts of the district were annexed by the Sangama dynasty of the Vijayanagara empire in the 14th century. The remaining portions of the district like Udayagiri were conquered in 1512 by Krishnadeva Rayalu, the greatest king of the kingdom. The ruins of fortress built by the Vijayanagar kings in the 14th century are at Udayagiri.
The Nawabs and the British period
After the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire, the area was ruled by the Nawabs. It was under rule of Najeebullah, the brother of Arcot Nawab in 1753. The district witnessed wars between Najeebullah and Nawab with support from French at Machilipatnam and British at Madras. Army under colonel Cailluad took over Nellore fort in 1762 and handed it over to Nawab. On the assignment of revenues, Nawab Ajim Ud Duaula gave Nellore town back in 1781 and gave the rest of the district to East India company in 1801. East India Company had taken control appointed Mr. Dyton as the 1st Collector. Nellore was declared the revenue unit for the district.
During the British period, the district was at peace, the only event of any political importance being the sequestration in 1838, of the Jagir of Udayagiri, owing to its title holder's participation in a conspiracy, engineered by the Nawab of Kurnool, against the ruling power. After the district came under the British administration, the jurisdiction of the district did not undergo any major changes, but for the transfer of Ongole taluk in 1904 to Guntur district when it was newly constituted.
Post Indian Independence
It was part of the composite Madras state until 1 October 1953. On 1 November 1956, when the states were reorganized on a linguistic basis, the district came under Andhra Pradesh. Nellore played a major role in the formation of Andhra Pradesh state. Potti Sriramulu, a Telugu patriot and activist, fasted to death for the formation of Andhra Pradhesh state.
Nellore people participated in Indian Independence movement. Notable freedom fighters are Muttharaju Gopalarao and Potti Sriramulu. Nellore has produced two former chief ministers of state, Dr Bezawada Gopala Reddy and Nedurumalli Janardhana Reddy. The main political parties of the district are YSR Congress and Telugu Desam party. Communist parties of India also have more followers compared to the neighboring districts like Kadapa and Ongole. Puchalapalli Sundaraiah, a founding member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), attempted to establish communism here.
In 1970, part of Nellore district was split off to become part of Prakasam district.