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Machilipatnam. also known as Masulipatnam or Bandar or Masula (in short), is a city on the southeastern or Coromandel Coast of India. Situated on one of the mouths of the river Krishna at the Bay of Bengal, Machilipatnam is the administrative center of Krishna District in the state of Andhra Pradesh. It was a 17th century port for French, British and Dutch trade. It is a small fishing town; has a carpet-weaving industry; other products include rice, oilseed, and scientific instruments. The town is a railway terminus and an educational center. Masulipatam is a station of the Church Missionary Society.
Machilipatnam is known for its Kalamkari textiles and paintings created using vegetable dyes. As a kalam (pen) is used in the technique of painting, it was called "Kalamkari Painting". During the 17th century, western traders were attracted by this art.
The Andhra Pradesh coast between Ongole and Machilipatnam is most vulnerable to high surges due to a cyclone. Andhra Cyclone of 14-20 November 1977 that crossed coast near Nizampatnam took a toll of about 10,000 lives. As the storm approached the coast, gale winds reaching 200 km/h lashed Prakasam, Guntur, Krishna, East Godavari and West Godavari districts. Storm surge, 5 meters high, inundated Krishna estuary and the coasts south of Machilipatnam. The 2004 Tsunami affected many fishing villages around Machilipatnam. The Government and the NGOs are involved in rebuilding and reconstruction of the devastated villages.
It is believed that Machlipatnam derived its name owing to the construction of a gateway to the town decorated with eyes of a fish (also called Machili in Hindi).
Machilipatnam was founded in the 14th century by the trading Arabs who found their way from the red sea to southern India to the spot of eastern peninsula. Machilipatnam was a flourishing seaport on the east coast during the time of the Satavahanas and in the 17th century AD, it was a centre of French, British, and Dutch trade.
It is one of the earliest known British settlements in the subcontinent of India, its importance being due to the fact that it was the bandar or port of Golconda. It was the British East India Company's first trading post on the coromandel coast. An agency was established there in 1611. During the wars of the Carnatic, the English were temporarily expelled from the town, which was held by the French for some years. In 1759 the town and port were carried by storm by Colonel Forde, an achievement followed by the acquisition of the Northern Circars (q.v.). In 1864 a great storm-wave swept over the entire town and is said to have destroyed 30,000 lives.
Once a flourishing port, the port of Machilipatnam today is in desperate need for modernization. It has not seen any ships in the last decade. In its heyday, the port used to handle export of different items weighing more than 27 thousand tonnes and imports of 37,000 tonnes. Much needs to be done to bring the city back to its glory. In January 2006, Government of Andhra Pradesh revealed plans for reviving the Machilipatnam port at a cost of Rs. 12 billion. It has allocated 6000 acres of land for the project.
Machilipatnam is well known for its Kalamkari painting. The art was introduced during the reign of Qutub Shahis when the entire Telugu country was under their control. Weavers form a large portion of the inhabitants, though their trade has greatly declined since the beginning of the 19th century. Their operations, besides weaving, include printing, bleaching washing and dressing. In former days the chintzes of Masulipatam had a great reputation abroad for the freshness and permanency of their dyes.
Kalamkari floor spread, block-printed and mordant-dyed cotton (kalamkari) from Machilipatnam. This spread, in the Muslim style, was used for gatherings such as community dinners.The Kalamkari fabrics of Machilipatnam and Kalahasti with their intricate designs, are used in clothing and wall hangings. Kalamkari refers to dye-painted cloths and the technique used to create them. Their name derives from kalam. the Persian word for a pen-like tool used to draw outlines on the cloth, and kari (work). Fabrics are outlined with a cotton-tipped bamboo stick and dyed in vegetable or mineral colours. The process involves washing, rinsing, soaking and bleaching muslin, and applying mordants and dyes using natural substances like indigo for blue, madder for red, mango bark and dried myrobalan fruit for yellow, palm sugar and rusted iron for black.
The dyeing process is very elaborate and can take several days to complete. While some pieces are hand-drawn, large canvas and sheets are block-printed. Kalahasti is noted for its wall hangings depicting mythological tales and characters, while Machilipatnam for the block-painted large prints used for sarees. The work done in Machilipatnam, often using block printing in conjunction with hand painting, features more decorative floral and vegetal designs that appealed to local kingdoms and to an extraordinary export trade. This culminated in European demand for Machilipatnam chintz, which derives its name from the Hindi word chint (spotted). Kalahasti is known for the distinctive temple hangings, chariot decorations and canopies of typically feature Hindu stories, and the images are often identified with text in Telegu, the regional language.
There are two railway stations in Machilipatnam: Machilipatnam Railway Station and Chilakalapudi Railway Station. Although there is a third railway station called Bandar Port, that is not being used. South Central Railways runs its services from Machilipatnam to Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam (Vizag), Tirupati and Bangalore. Recently it has been approved in the budget to run a train to mumbai via Hyderabad.
Machilipatnam is well-connected to most parts of the Andhra Pradesh and some parts of South India. APSRTC (state-run bus service) runs buses to most parts of state.
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